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      Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Environmental Toxicants: Epigenetics as an Underlying Mechanism

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      International Journal of Genomics

      Hindawi

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          Abstract

          The increasing prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders, especially autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), calls for more research into the identification of etiologic and risk factors. The Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesizes that the environment during fetal and childhood development affects the risk for many chronic diseases in later stages of life, including neurodevelopmental disorders. Epigenetics, a term describing mechanisms that cause changes in the chromosome state without affecting DNA sequences, is suggested to be the underlying mechanism, according to the DOHaD hypothesis. Moreover, many neurodevelopmental disorders are also related to epigenetic abnormalities. Experimental and epidemiological studies suggest that exposure to prenatal environmental toxicants is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, there is also evidence that environmental toxicants can result in epigenetic alterations, notably DNA methylation. In this review, we first focus on the relationship between neurodevelopmental disorders and environmental toxicants, in particular maternal smoking, plastic-derived chemicals (bisphenol A and phthalates), persistent organic pollutants, and heavy metals. We then review studies showing the epigenetic effects of those environmental factors in humans that may affect normal neurodevelopment.

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          Most cited references 232

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          Rett syndrome is caused by mutations in X-linked MECP2, encoding methyl-CpG-binding protein 2.

          Rett syndrome (RTT, MIM 312750) is a progressive neurodevelopmental disorder and one of the most common causes of mental retardation in females, with an incidence of 1 in 10,000-15,000 (ref. 2). Patients with classic RTT appear to develop normally until 6-18 months of age, then gradually lose speech and purposeful hand use, and develop microcephaly, seizures, autism, ataxia, intermittent hyperventilation and stereotypic hand movements. After initial regression, the condition stabilizes and patients usually survive into adulthood. As RTT occurs almost exclusively in females, it has been proposed that RTT is caused by an X-linked dominant mutation with lethality in hemizygous males. Previous exclusion mapping studies using RTT families mapped the locus to Xq28 (refs 6,9,10,11). Using a systematic gene screening approach, we have identified mutations in the gene (MECP2 ) encoding X-linked methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) as the cause of some cases of RTT. MeCP2 selectively binds CpG dinucleotides in the mammalian genome and mediates transcriptional repression through interaction with histone deacetylase and the corepressor SIN3A (refs 12,13). In 5 of 21 sporadic patients, we found 3 de novo missense mutations in the region encoding the highly conserved methyl-binding domain (MBD) as well as a de novo frameshift and a de novo nonsense mutation, both of which disrupt the transcription repression domain (TRD). In two affected half-sisters of a RTT family, we found segregation of an additional missense mutation not detected in their obligate carrier mother. This suggests that the mother is a germline mosaic for this mutation. Our study reports the first disease-causing mutations in RTT and points to abnormal epigenetic regulation as the mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of RTT.
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            Global epigenomic reconfiguration during mammalian brain development.

            DNA methylation is implicated in mammalian brain development and plasticity underlying learning and memory. We report the genome-wide composition, patterning, cell specificity, and dynamics of DNA methylation at single-base resolution in human and mouse frontal cortex throughout their lifespan. Widespread methylome reconfiguration occurs during fetal to young adult development, coincident with synaptogenesis. During this period, highly conserved non-CG methylation (mCH) accumulates in neurons, but not glia, to become the dominant form of methylation in the human neuronal genome. Moreover, we found an mCH signature that identifies genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation. Last, whole-genome single-base resolution 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (hmC) maps revealed that hmC marks fetal brain cell genomes at putative regulatory regions that are CG-demethylated and activated in the adult brain and that CG demethylation at these hmC-poised loci depends on Tet2 activity.
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              Function and information content of DNA methylation.

              Cytosine methylation is a DNA modification generally associated with transcriptional silencing. Factors that regulate methylation have been linked to human disease, yet how they contribute to malignances remains largely unknown. Genomic maps of DNA methylation have revealed unexpected dynamics at gene regulatory regions, including active demethylation by TET proteins at binding sites for transcription factors. These observations indicate that the underlying DNA sequence largely accounts for local patterns of methylation. As a result, this mark is highly informative when studying gene regulation in normal and diseased cells, and it can potentially function as a biomarker. Although these findings challenge the view that methylation is generally instructive for gene silencing, several open questions remain, including how methylation is targeted and recognized and in what context it affects genome readout.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Genomics
                Int J Genomics
                IJG
                International Journal of Genomics
                Hindawi
                2314-436X
                2314-4378
                2017
                8 May 2017
                : 2017
                Affiliations
                Department of Health Sciences, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Research, University of Yamanashi, 1110, Shimokato, Chuo, Yamanashi 409-3898, Japan
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Saivageethi Nuthikattu

                10.1155/2017/7526592
                5439185
                Copyright © 2017 Nguyen Quoc Vuong Tran and Kunio Miyake.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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