Eradicating the Mediators of Neuronal Death with a Fine-Tooth Comb

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Science Signaling  08 Jun 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 125, pp. pe20
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3125pe20

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Ischemic tolerance is an evolutionarily conserved form of cerebral plasticity in which a brief period of cerebral ischemia (called ischemic preconditioning) confers transient tolerance to a subsequent ischemic challenge in the brain. Polycomb group proteins are gene-silencing factors that are abundant and widely distributed during embryogenesis and are essential to epigenetic cellular memory, pluripotency, and stem cell self-renewal. New insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying ischemic tolerance is highlighted by the finding that ischemic preconditioning activates polycomb proteins in mature neurons. Polycomb proteins act through epigenetic gene silencing to eradicate potential mediators of neuronal death and promote cellular arrest, enabling mature neurons to survive ischemic stroke.

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