Genome integrity is essential to maintain cellular function and viability. Consequently, genome instability is frequently associated with dysfunction in cells and associated with plant, animal, and human diseases. One consequence of relaxed genome maintenance that may be less appreciated is an increased potential for rapid adaptation to changing environments in all organisms. Here, we discuss evidence for the control and function of facultative heterochromatin, which is delineated by methylation of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me) in many fungi. Aside from its relatively well understood role in transcriptional repression, accumulating evidence suggests that H3K27 methylation has an important role in controlling the balance between maintenance and generation of novelty in fungal genomes. We present a working model for a minimal repressive network mediated by H3K27 methylation in fungi and outline challenges for future research.
Keywords: Cryptococcus; Fusarium; Neurospora; PRC2; Zymoseptoria; fungi; histones; lysine methylation; polycomb repressive complex.