Impact of nuclear organization and dynamics on epigenetic regulation in the central nervous system: Implications for neurological disease states

Irfan A. Qureshi, Mark F. Mehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Epigenetic mechanisms that are highly responsive to interoceptive and environmental stimuli mediate the proper execution of complex genomic programs, such as cell type-specific gene transcription and posttranscriptional RNA processing, and are increasingly thought to be important formodulating the development, homeostasis, and plasticity of the central nervous system (CNS). These epigenetic processes include DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin remodeling, all of which play roles in neural cellular diversity, connectivity, and plasticity. Further, large-scale transcriptomic analyses have revealed that the eukaryotic genome is pervasively transcribed, forming interleaved protein-coding RNAs and regulatory nonprotein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), which act through a broad array of molecular mechanisms. Most of these ncRNAs are transcribed in a cell type- and developmental stage- specific manner in the CNS. A broad array of posttranscriptional processes, such as RNA editing and transport, can modulate the functions of both protein-codingRNAs and ncRNAs. Additional studies implicate nuclear organization and dynamics inmediating epigenetic regulation. The compartmentalization ofDNA sequences and othermolecular machinery into functional nuclear domains, such as transcription factories, Cajal bodies, promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies, nuclear speckles, and paraspeckles, some of which are found prominently in neural cells, is associated with regulation of transcriptional activity and posttranscriptional RNA processing. These observations suggest that genomic architecture and RNA biology in the CNS are much more complex and nuanced than previously appreciated. Increasing evidence now suggests that most, if not all, human CNS diseases are associated with either primary or secondary perturbations in one or more aspects of the epigenome. In this review, we provide an update of our emerging understanding of genomic architecture, RNA biology, and nuclear organization and highlight the interconnected roles that deregulation of these factors may play in diverse CNS disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-37
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Cohesinopathies
  • Epigenetic memory
  • Epigenetics
  • Genomic architecture
  • Laminopathies
  • Noncoding rnas
  • Nuclear ataxias
  • Nuclear organization
  • Posttranscriptional processing
  • RNA editing
  • RNA trafficking
  • Spinal muscular atrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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