Schistosoma mansoni is a human endoparasite with a complex life cycle that also infects an invertebrate mollusk intermediate host and exhibits many diverse phenotypes. Its complexity is reflected in a large genome and different transcriptome profiles specific to each life cycle stage. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression such as the post-translational modification of histones has a significant impact on phenotypes, and this information storage function resides primarily at histone tails, which results in a varied histone code. Evidence of transcription of the different histone families at all life stages of the parasite was detected by a survey of transcriptome databases; manual curation of each gene prediction at the genome sequence level showed errors in the coding sequences of three of them. The biogenesis of histones is coupled to DNA replication, and a detailed in silico analysis of the specialized machinery of histone mRNA processing in the S. mansoni genome reveals that it is as conserved as in other eukaryotes, consisting in transcription factors and stem-loop binding proteins which recognize the stem loop structure at the histone mRNA 3'UTR. Histone modifying enzymes (HMEs) such as histone acetyltransferases, methyltransferases and deacetylases (HDACs) have been described in S. mansoni, and their potential as new therapeutic targets was evidenced with the apoptotic phenotype that resulted from HDAC inhibition. However, the overall regulation of transcription coupled with gene expression profiles correlated to histone modifications has not yet been characterized. Besides the interaction of HMEs with histones, many factors involved in cellular processes are known to bind to histones, and were identified here by an in silico analysis of the S. mansoni genome. Knowledge of the histone families opens up perspectives for further studies that will lead to a better identification of their post-translational modifications, their gene regulation and to the possible characterization of HMEs as targets for the development of new drugs.
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