Despite more than a decade of research suggesting histone acetyltransferases play a role in learning and memory, the targets have proven difficult to selectively activate in the brain. Now, a French and Indian team has preclinical proof of concept for activating histone acetyltransferases with a small molecule formulated to cross the blood brain barrier.1 The compound enhanced brain activity in wild-type mice, but its selectivity and utility in neurodegenerative disease remain to be seen.
Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) are a family of epigenetic regulators that, in the brain, broadly modulate gene expression in response to neural stimulation. HATs work by adding acetyl groups to histones, which are nuclear proteins that package and organize chromosomal DNA. Acetylation