An epigenetic contribution to dendritic development
In a recently published paper in Nature Communications, Jose Sanchez-Mut and Johannes Gräff in a collaboration under the guidance of Denis Jabaudon from the University of Geneva, describe a new pathway that - epigenetically - contributes to dendritic maturation during early postnatal development.
Input from sensory organs is crucial for early neuronal development. However, how precisely sensory signals determine dendritic maturation remains to be determined. In the newly published study, the authors describe a functional pathway that links sensory inputs, neuronal excitability, epigenetic modifications and dendritic maturation. Specifically, NMDA receptors were found to epigenetically regulate, via DNA methylation, Kv1.1-type potassium channels, and thereby to contribute to neuronal excitability as well as the maturation of dendrites in somatosensory thalamocortical neurons.