Epigenetics and animal virus infections

Epigenetics, modifications of the genome, heritable during cell division, that do not involve changes in DNA sequences include several mechanisms mainly: histone modifications, DNA
methylation and related modifications, non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) and
others that regulate gene expression.
The past two decades has seen an explosion of interest for revealing mechanisms that
control epigenetic modifications, mainly based on the influence they
have on chromatin structure and their impact in biological processes
such as programmed DNA rearrangements, imprinting, germ line silencing,
developmentally cued stem cell division, and overall chromosomal
stability and identity. It has also become obvious that epigenetics
changes are fundamental in the interplay between viruses and their host
cells. Generally speaking, when retroviruses and DNA viruses integrate
their genomes into the host genome, they can stay latent by silencing
their genes or can be productive by activating them, and viral gene
expression can be regulated just like as the host. In fact, viral DNA
uses host transcription factors as well as epigenetic regulators, in
such a way that the effect of viral epigenetic control of its own gene
expression also extends to regulate host gene expression. At the same
time cells use similar mechanisms, transcription factors and epigenetic
modifications, in order to try to eliminate viral infections. In
summary, epigenetic mechanisms are involved in most of the virus-cell
The goal of this special issue is to bring
together key experimental and theoretical research linking
state-of-the-art knowledge of epigenetic mechanisms involved in
regulating virus-cell interactions.

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