Background: Genetic, pharmacological, and environmental interventions that alter total levels of histone acetylation in specific brain regions can modulate behaviors and treatment responses. Efforts have been made to identify specific genes that are affected by alterations in total histone acetylation and to propose that such gene specific modulation could explain the effects of total histone acetylation levels on behavior - the implication being that under naturalistic conditions variability in histone acetylation occurs primarily around the promoters of specific genes. Methods/Results: Here we challenge this hypothesis by demonstrating with a novel flow cytometry based technique that normal variability in open field exploration, a hippocampus-related behavior, was associated with total levels of histone acetylation in the hippocampus but not in other brain regions. Conclusions: Results suggest that modulation of total levels of histone acetylation may play a role in regulating biological processes. We speculate in the discussion that endogenous regulation of total levels of histone acetylation may be a mechanism through which organisms regulate cellular plasticity. Flow cytometry provides a useful approach to measure total levels of histone acetylation at the single cell level. Relating such information to behavioral measures and treatment responses could inform drug delivery strategies to target histone deacetylase inhibitors and other chromatin modulators to places where they may be of benefit while avoiding areas where correction is not needed and could be harmful. © 2014 Nesbitt et al.
Nesbitt, A. M. I., McCurdy, R. D., Bryant, S. M., & Alter, M. D. (2014). Total levels of hippocampal histone acetylation predict normal variability in mouse behavior. PLoS ONE, 9(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094224