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Gretchen M Ehrenkaufer1, Daniel J Eichinger2 and Upinder Singh1,3
1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, 94305-5107, USA
2Department of Medical Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA
3Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, S-143 Grant Building, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA
Histone modification regulates chromatin structure and influences gene expression associated with diverse biological functions including cellular differentiation, cancer, maintenance of genome architecture, and pathogen virulence. In Entamoeba, a deep-branching eukaryote, short chain fatty acids (SCFA) affect histone acetylation and parasite development. Additionally, a number of active histone modifying enzymes have been identified in the parasite genome. However, the overall extent of gene regulation tied to histone acetylation is not known.
In order to identify the genome-wide effects of histone acetylation in regulating E. histolytica gene expression, we used whole-genome expression profiling of parasites treated with SCFA and Trichostatin A (TSA). Despite significant changes in histone acetylation patterns, exposure of parasites to SCFA resulted in minimal transcriptional changes (11 out of 9,435 genes transcriptionally regulated). In contrast, exposure to TSA, a more specific inhibitor of histone deacetylases, significantly affected transcription of 163 genes (122 genes upregulated and 41 genes downregulated). Genes modulated by TSA were not regulated by treatment with 5-Azacytidine, an inhibitor of DNA-methyltransferase, indicating that in E. histolytica the crosstalk between DNA methylation and histone modification is not substantial. However, the set of genes regulated by TSA overlapped substantially with genes regulated during parasite development: 73/122 genes upregulated by TSA exposure were upregulated in E. histolytica cysts (p-value = 6 × 10-53) and 15/41 genes downregulated by TSA exposure were downregulated in E. histolytica cysts (p-value = 3 × 10-7).
This work represents the first genome-wide analysis of histone acetylation and its effects on gene expression in E. histolytica. The data indicate that SCFAs, despite their ability to influence histone acetylation, have minimal effects on gene transcription in cultured parasites. In contrast, the effect of TSA on E. histolytica gene expression is more substantial and includes genes involved in the encystation pathway. These observations will allow further dissection of the effects of histone acetylation and the genetic pathways regulating stage conversion in this pathogenic parasite.
◊ An open access article from BMC Genomics 2007, 8:216 distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), viewed from biologyonline.com.