Crosstalk between the microbiome and epigenome: messages from bugs

J Biochem. 2018 Feb 1;163(2):105-112. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvx080.


Mammals exist in a complicated symbiotic relationship with their gut microbiome, which is postulated to have broad impacts on host health and disease. As omics-based technologies have matured, the potential mechanisms by which the microbiome affects host physiology are being addressed. The gut microbiome, which provides environmental cues, can modify host cell responses to stimuli through alterations in the host epigenome and, ultimately, gene expression. Increasing evidence highlights microbial generation of bioactive compounds that impact the transcriptional machinery in host cells. Here, we review current understanding of the crosstalk between gut microbiota and the host epigenome, including DNA methylation, histone modification and non-coding RNAs. These studies are providing insights into how the host responds to microbial signalling and are predicted to provide information for the application of precision medicine.

Keywords: DNA methylation; epigenome; gut microbiome; histone modification; non-coding RNAs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • Epigenomics*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism


  • Histones
  • RNA, Untranslated