About this Research Topic
Microorganisms comprise a group of highly diverse life forms on Earth. Microbes, including bacteria and fungi, produce a vast variety of secondary metabolites that have industrial and pharmaceutical significance. However, under standard laboratory conditions, only a portion of these compounds was found to be accessible. Genome sequencing disclosed the presence of numerous secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters, yet under normal conditions some of these genes remain silent. Gene expression can be triggered by changing cultivation parameters or by applying physical, biological or chemical stresses. These silent genes may also be activated by employing epigenetic manipulation approaches. Epigenetics is a new field that describes the heritable changes in gene expression that occur without a change in genome sequence. These epigenetic changes of the DNA strands are reversible, enabling adaptation and modulation of gene expression in fluctuating environments.
In recent years, such epigenetic modulation led to the discovery of several newly identified natural biomolecules. Epigenetic manipulations include gene knockouts that alter the expression and functionality of specific enzymes involved in creating and modulating DNA methylation patterns. Common molecular modifications that form the basis of epigenetic gene regulation include DNA methylation, chromatin remodelling, covalent histone modification, the localization of histone variants and feedback loops. Consequently, DNA methyltransferase inhibitors and/or histone deacetylase inhibitors are frequent targets of gene knockouts. In addition to genetic modulation, a number of recent studies have suggested that various active food components present in the dietary ingredients like turmeric, grapes, or green tea may also stimulate epigenetic changes. Pathogen triggered epigenetic changes may alter host cell functions either to promote host defense or to favour pathogen persistence. Epigenetic mechanisms are known to repress and control expression of genes involved in pathogenicity. Thus epigenetic regulation can be potentially used to control pathogenesis and post-harvest plant pathogens.
The main goal of this Research Topic is to bring together key experimental and theoretical research about epigenetic modulation of microorganisms with special focus on microbial biosynthetic gene clusters. This Topic will gather crucial information in the areas of microbial epigenetics as well as epigenetic stimulation of the gene clusters for biosynthesizing new chemical entities with pharmaceutical and industrial importance, as well as the possible pathways involved in the epigenetic modulation and metabolite regulation.
We encourage the contributions assessing the role of epigenetics in modulating biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) responsible for production of secondary metabolites by microorganisms. We particularly welcome articles (Original Research, Methods, Opinion, Review, Mini Review, Perspective, or Hypothesis & Theory) focusing on the following subtopics:
• Epigenetic manipulations that affect the metabolite pathways such as polyketide biosynthesis
• Chemical epigenetic modulators
• Natural epigenetic modulators
• Biotechnological application of epigenetic modifiers of secondary metabolites
• Production of cryptic compounds through epigenetic approaches
• Restoration of attenuated compounds through epigenetic modulation
• Production of host origin and bioactive compounds through epigenetic modulation
• Epigenetic regulation to control the pathogenicity or toxicity of microbe
Note that merely descriptive papers won't be considered for review
Keywords: Epigenetics, epigenetic engineering, epigenetic regulators, cryptic metabolite production, secondary metabolites
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.