About this Research Topic
The term ‘epigenetics’ was traditionally used to refer to the study of heritable phenotype alterations not involving changes to the DNA sequence of genomes. More recently, a broader meaning has evolved, including the modification to both DNA and associated histones that lead to modulation of gene expression. It is well established that epigenetics has various roles in the control of many virus life cycles. Through both virus and host directed means, epigenetic enzymes known as ‘writers’ and ‘erasers’ can modify DNA methylation and chromatin structure, whilst ‘reader’ proteins associate with certain modifications. In concert, these changes lead to differential recruitment of transcription factor proteins and RNAs, alterations to chromatin compaction and three-dimensional genome structure and, ultimately, regulation of transcription and the outcome of virus infection.
Virus-host epigenetic interactions have myriad roles across the life cycles of virus families. These interplays have effects on the productive infection of most viruses, as well as latency status and reactivation of viruses such as the herpes family and HIV. Additionally, epigenetics plays a pivotal role in the immortalisation and transformation of host cells infected with adeno-, hepatitis-, herpes-, papilloma- and polyomaviruses to name but a few. This consistent role of epigenetic regulation during viral infection across both DNA and RNA virus families, especially involving changes to the gene expression of the host cell, offers an opportunity for clinical intervention.
Advances in technologies that allow genome-wide analyses of both transcription and its regulation have recently allowed a more targeted approach to treatment design. However, investigations still only scratch the surface of the events occurring within infected cells. Moreover, there remains a paucity of co-infection studies where virus-virus interplay may be resulting in more severe pathology. As such, a continued effort to gain a more in-depth and global understanding of the mechanisms of viral epigenetic control is necessary to be able to efficiently combat virus-related diseases.
This Research Topic welcomes submissions across the broad remit of epigenetic control of viral infection, particularly those focusing on:
• pre-clinical studies with a therapeutic angle;
• investigations of virus co-infections and transcriptional control.
These could comprise Original Research and Brief Research Report articles that further our understanding of the fundamental epigenetic mechanisms by which the viral life cycle is regulated. Additionally, Review or Mini Review articles that provide an overview of the recent findings of epigenetic studies into a particular virus/virus family, or bring together the general themes or mechanisms of virus transcriptional control would also be of interest.
Keywords: epigenetic, virus, transcription, gene expression
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.