Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26031999
Cell. Microbiol. 2015 Aug;17(8):1098-107
The modulation of the chromatin organization of eukaryotic cells plays an important role in regulating key cellular processes including host defence mechanisms against pathogens. Thus, to successfully survive in a host cell, a sophisticated bacterial strategy is the subversion of nuclear processes of the eukaryotic cell. Indeed, the number of bacterial proteins that target host chromatin to remodel the host epigenetic machinery is expanding. Some of the identified bacterial effectors that target the chromatin machinery are ‘eukaryotic-like’ proteins as they mimic eukaryotic histone writers in carrying the same enzymatic activities. The best-studied examples are the SET domain proteins that methylate histones to change the chromatin landscape. In this review, we will discuss SET domain proteins identified in the Legionella, Chlamydia and Bacillus genomes that encode enzymatic activities targeting host histones. Moreover, we discuss their possible origin as having evolved from prokaryotic ancestors or having been acquired from their eukaryotic hosts during their co-evolution. The characterization of such bacterial effectors as modifiers of the host chromatin landscape is an exciting field of research as it elucidates new bacterial strategies to not only manipulate host functions through histone modifications but it may also identify new modifications of the mammalian host cells not known before.