• α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor;
  • epigenetic;
  • histone methylation;
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor;
  • N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor;
  • schizophrenia


Glutamatergic signaling is regulated, in part, through differential expression of NMDA and AMPA/KA channel subunits and G protein-coupled metabotropic receptors. In human brain, region-specific expression patterns of glutamate receptor genes are maintained over the course of decades, suggesting a role for molecular mechanisms involved in long-term regulation of transcription, including methylation of lysine residues at histone N-terminal tails. Using a native chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, we studied histone methylation marks at proximal promoters of 16 ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptor genes (GRIN1,2A–D; GRIA1,3,4; GRIK2,4,5; GRM1,3,4,6,7 ) in cerebellar cortex collected across a wide age range from midgestation to 90 years old. Levels of di- and trimethylated histone H3-lysine 4, which are associated with open chromatin and transcription, showed significant differences between promoters and a robust correlation with corresponding mRNA levels in immature and mature cerebellar cortex. In contrast, levels of trimethylated H3-lysine 27 and H4-lysine 20, two histone modifications defining silenced or condensed chromatin, did not correlate with transcription but were up-regulated overall in adult cerebellum. Furthermore, differential gene expression patterns in prefrontal and cerebellar cortex were reflected by similar differences in H3-lysine 4 methylation at promoters. Together, these findings suggest that histone lysine methylation at gene promoters is involved in developmental regulation and maintenance of region-specific expression patterns of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. The association of a specific epigenetic mark, H3-(methyl)-lysine 4, with the molecular architecture of glutamatergic signaling in human brain has potential implications for schizophrenia and other disorders with altered glutamate receptor function.