How apicomplexan parasites regulate their gene expression is poorly understood. The complex life cycle of these parasites implies tight control of gene expression to orchestrate the appropriate expression pattern at the right moment. Recently, several studies have demonstrated the role of epigenetic mechanisms for control of coordinated expression of genes. In this review, we discuss the contribution of epigenomics to the understanding of gene regulation in Toxoplasma gondii. Studying the distribution of modified histones on the genome links chromatin modifications to gene expression or gene repression. In particular, coincident trimethylated lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4me3), acetylated lysine 9 on histone H3 (H3K9ac), and acetylated histone H4 (H4ac) mark promoters of actively transcribed genes. However, the presence of these modified histones at some non-expressed genes and other histone modifications at only a subset of active promoters implies the presence of other layers of regulation of chromatin structure in T. gondii. Epigenomics analysis provides a powerful tool to characterize the activation state of genomic loci of T. gondii and possibly of other Apicomplexa including Plasmodium or Cryptosporidium. Further, integration of epigenetic data with expression data and other genome-wide datasets facilitates refinement of genome annotation based upon experimental data.
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