Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have published a groundbreaking new study on how the neurotransmitter serotonin can influence gene expression within brain cells. DNA within cells is wound into tight spools made up of histone proteins, and genes that are wound more tightly are less likely to be expressed than ones that more loosely spooled. The researchers found that under some circumstances, serotonin can bond directly to histone proteins, and that this loosens the histone protein spools and makes the genes in that part of the spool more likely to express.
- Research conducted by neurosurgeons have discovered that serotonin, a chemical in the brain that is known for passing signal between neurons, can also regulate expression of genes within neurons.
- The researchers note that their discovery punches holes in the currently accepted dogma that brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are only able to help in passing signals.
- DNA affects many functions of a given cells. A DNA expression is more likely to be expressed in a cell when a gene is wound tightly in the spool.
“The discovery may help scientists better understand a variety of brain disorders, including mood disorders, substance abuse/addiction, and neurodegenerative diseases.”