Serotonin Transporter-dependent Histone Serotonylation in Placenta Contributes to the Neurodevelopmental Transcriptome

Jennifer C. Chan, Natalia Alenina, Ashley M. Cunningham, Aarthi Ramakrishnan, Li Shen, Michael Bader, Ian Maze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Brain development requires appropriate regulation of serotonin (5-HT) signaling from distinct tissue sources across embryogenesis. At the maternal-fetal interface, the placenta is thought to be an important contributor of offspring brain 5-HT and is critical to overall fetal health. Yet, how placental 5-HT is acquired, and the mechanisms through which 5-HT influences placental functions, are not well understood. Recently, our group identified a novel epigenetic role for 5-HT, in which 5-HT can be added to histone proteins to regulate transcription, a process called H3 serotonylation. Here, we show that H3 serotonylation undergoes dynamic regulation during placental development, corresponding to gene expression changes that are known to influence key metabolic processes. Using transgenic mice, we demonstrate that placental H3 serotonylation is dependent on 5-HT uptake by the serotonin transporter (SERT/SLC6A4). SERT deletion robustly reduces enrichment of H3 serotonylation across the placental genome, and disrupts neurodevelopmental gene networks in early embryonic brain tissues. Thus, these findings suggest a novel role for H3 serotonylation in coordinating placental transcription at the intersection of maternal physiology and offspring brain development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number168454
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • 5 total: epigenetics
  • H3 serotonylation
  • development
  • placenta
  • serotonin transporter


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