Polycomb-mediated gene regulation in human brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders.
IF: 3.102


The neocortex is considered the seat of higher cognitive function in humans. It develops from a sheet of neural progenitor cells, most of which eventually give rise to neurons. This process of cell fate determination is controlled by precise temporal and spatial gene expression patterns that in turn are affected by epigenetic mechanisms including Polycomb group (PcG) regulation. PcG proteins assemble in multi-protein complexes and catalyze repressive post-translational histone modifications. Their association with neurodevelopmental disease and various types of cancer of the central nervous system, as well as observations in mouse models, have implicated these epigenetic modifiers in controlling various stages of cortex development. The precise mechanisms conveying PcG-associated transcriptional repression remain incompletely understood and are an active field of research. PcG activity appears to be highly context-specific, raising the question of species-specific differences in the regulation of neural stem and progenitor regulation. In this review, we will discuss our growing understanding of how PcG regulation affects human cortex development, based on studies in murine model systems, but focusing mostly on findings obtained from examining impaired PcG activity in the context of human neurodevelopmental disorders and cancer. Furthermore, we will highlight relevant experimental approaches for functional investigations of PcG regulation in human cortex development. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Spatial Gene Expression
epigenome editing
gene regulation
neurodevelopmental disorder


Bölicke, Nora
Albert, Mareike

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