Schahram Akbarian, MD PhD
Director, Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute
Department of Psychiatry
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Worcester, MA 01604
Faculty page: http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=681
Schizophrenia, autism and mood disorders represent neuropsychiatric diseases that lack consensus neuropathology and, in a large majority of cases, a straightforward genetic risk architecture. However, there is evidence that dysregulated gene transcription, indicative of compromised neural circuitry, contributes to disordered brain function in psychosis and mood spectrum disorders. While a number of transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms may contribute to these changes, chromatin-associated proteins and epigenetic regulators invoked in sustained alterations of gene expression and function could play a critical role in the pathophysiology, or treatment of mental illness. The focus of our laboratory is on the regulation of post-translational histone modifications, in particular the methylation of lysine residues, in the context of normal and diseased neurodevelopment. We study these mechanisms in genetically engineered mice and other preclinical model systems, and in human (postmortem) brain tissue.
Papers of Reference
Developmental regulation and individual differences of neuronal H3K4me3 epigenomes in the prefrontal cortex. Cheung I, Shulha HP, Jiang Y, Matevossian A, Wang J, Weng Z, Akbarian S. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 May 11;107(19):8824-9.
Prefrontal dysfunction in schizophrenia involves mixed-lineage leukemia 1-regulated histone methylation at GABAergic gene promoters. Huang HS, Matevossian A, Whittle C, Kim SY, Schumacher A, Baker SP, Akbarian S. J Neurosci. 2007 Oct 17;27(42):11254-62.