A chemical process that switches genes off during embryonic development plays a surprising role in memory formation in adult rats, new research shows. It's the first time that scientists have seen this switching mechanism regulate normal adult cells.
The discovery adds a new layer to the control of gene activity in nerve cells, and it raises the possibility that this mechanism, called methylation, influences gene activity in other cell types as well. "This may be a more routinely used mechanism for triggering cell function," says lead researcher J. David Sweatt of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
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