Trichomonas vaginalis is an extracellular flagellated protozoan parasite that causes trichomoniasis, one of the most common non-viral sexually transmitted diseases. To survive and to maintain infection, T. vaginalis adapts to a hostile host environment by regulating gene expression. However, the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation are poorly understood for this parasite. Histone modification has a marked effect on chromatin structure and directs the recruitment of transcriptional machinery, thereby regulating essential cellular processes. In this study, we aimed to outline modes of chromatin-mediated gene regulation in T. vaginalis. Inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) alters global transcriptional responses and induces hyperacetylation of histones and hypermethylation of H3K4. Analysis of the genome of T. vaginalis revealed that a number of enzymes regulate histone modification, suggesting that epigenetic mechanisms are important to controlling gene expression in this organism. Additionally, we describe the genome-wide localization of two histone H3 modifications (H3K4me3 and H3K27Ac), which we found to be positively associated with active gene expression in both steady and dynamic transcriptional states. These results provide the first direct evidence that histone modifications play an essential role in transcriptional regulation of T. vaginalis, and may help guide future epigenetic research into therapeutic intervention strategies against this parasite.
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