About this Research Topic
For all living organisms, processing and remodeling of the highly organized genomic DNA are among the most essential cellular processes. Archaea employ DNA processing machineries that appear to be more similar to those found in eukaryotes than those of bacteria. The archaeal proteins/enzymes constituting these machineries are usually simpler versions of their eukaryotic counterparts. Therefore, archaea have been regarded as valuable prokaryotic model systems to explore the genetic mechanisms of eukaryotes, such as DNA replication, repair and recombination. Owing to the stability of the proteins/enzymes in vitro and the powerful genetic manipulation techniques, thermophilic archaea have previously attracted attention from scientists in the areas of structural biology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Studies on molecular mechanisms of DNA transactions in thermophilic archaea not only shed light on the functioning of eukaryotic cells but also provide clues to the mystery of life’s evolution in the three domains.
To withstand extreme environmental conditions, such as elevated temperatures and low pH, archaea have evolved distinct strategies in chromosome organization and DNA transactions by employing unique proteins or enzymes. In Crenarchaea, a widespread lineage of thermophilic archaea, typical archaeal histones are substituted in most species with several small basic chromatin proteins. How these proteins compact and organize genomic DNA is less clear. For DNA replication, repair and recombination, a lot of new enzymes or subunits of the complexes involved have also been isolated from thermophilic archaea and well characterized in vitro. Large multi-component complexes functioning as a molecular machinery in these processes, however, are rarely reported to now, implying that more components and protein-protein interactions need to be discovered. In addition, the control mechanisms of DNA replication and repair, which may be connected with chromatin organization and post-translational modifications, remains to be understood. Taken together, the diversity of the genetic mechanism of thermophilic archaea may have resembled a melting pot, from which the sophisticated system common to eukaryotes has emerged.
The aim of the current Research Topic is to fill the gaps in our knowledge on the molecular mechanisms of chromosome organization and cellular DNA transactions in thermophilic and hyperthermophilic archaea. The topic welcomes Original research, Review, and Mini-Review articles. Areas of interest may include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Chromosomal DNA organization
• Structures and functions of the proteins/complexes involved in DNA replication, repair and recombination
• Replication and integration of viral DNA
• Mechanisms of transcription regulation
• Functions of post-translational protein modifications
• Advanced techniques for studying DNA transactions
• New genetic tools
Keywords: Thermophile, Hyperthermophile, Archaea, Archaeal virus, Chromosome organization, DNA replication, DNA repair, DNA recombination, RNA transcription
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