Class IIA HDACs in the regulation of neurodegeneration.
Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of patients annually and are a significant burden on the health care systems around the world. While there are symptomatic remedies for patients suffering from various neurodegenerative diseases, there are no cures as of today. Cell death by apoptosis is a common hallmark of neurodegeneration. Therefore, deciphering the molecular pathways regulating this process is of significant value to scientists' endeavor to understand neurodegenerative disorders. Efforts along these lines have uncovered a number of molecular pathways that regulate neuronal apoptosis. Recently, a family of proteins known as histone deacetylases (HDACs) has been linked to regulation of cell survival as well as death. The focus of this review is to summarize our current understanding of the role of HDACs and in particular a subgroup of proteins in this family classified as class IIa HDACs in the regulation of neuronal cell death. It is apparent based on the information presented in this review that although very similar in their primary sequence, members of this family of proteins often have distinct roles in orchestrating apoptotic cell death in the brain.