Author(s): Ding B
During the central nervous system (CNS) development, the interactions between intrinsic genes and extrinsic environment ensure that each neuronal developmental stage (eg. neuronal proliferation, differentiation, migration, axon extension, dendritogenesis and formation of functional synapses) occurs in the proper timing and sequence. The successful coordination requires that numerous groups of genes are exquisitely regulated in a spatiotemporal manner by various regulatory mechanisms, including sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins, histone modifications, DNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, and microRNAs (miRNAs). By targeting chromatin structure, transcription and translation processes, these mechanisms form a regulatory network to accomplish the fine regulation of gene expression in response to environmental stimuli at different developmental stages. Dysregulation of the gene expression during neuronal development has been shown to be implicated in a number of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Rett syndrome (RTT), Fragile-X syndrome (FXS) and other genetic diseases. The further understanding of the regulation of gene expression during neuronal development may provide new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.