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The impact of parasites on host insect epigenetics

: Vilcinskas, A.


Ligoxygakis, P.:
Insect immunity
Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2017 (Advances in insect physiology 52)
ISBN: 978-0-12-811775-0
ISBN: 0-12-811775-3
ISBN: 978-0-12-811776-7
ISBN: 0-12-811776-1
Aufsatz in Buch
Fraunhofer IME ()

The epigenetic regulation of gene expression has been recognized as an alternative to genetic mutation for the conversion of environmental stressors, such as the presence of parasites, into heritable phenotypic changes. The activation of immune responses in insects involves the orchestrated expression of genes that mediate pathogen recognition and immunity-related signalling, which in turn induces the synthesis of effector molecules such as antimicrobial peptides. This transcriptional reprogramming is regulated by DNA methylation and the acetylation and deacetylation of histones, which operate before transcription begins, and by microRNAs, which control protein synthesis posttranscriptionally. Therefore, research on epigenetic regulation at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organ and organism levels in insects represents an emerging field to understand the regulation of complex parameters such as longevity, fecundity and reproduction. Microbial parasites and parasitic wasps have evolved strategies to interfere with the epigenetic mechanisms of their host insects to favour their own development. The impact of parasites on host insect epigenetics is a growing area of research because it influences phenomena such as host-parasite coevolution, the transmission of diseases by vector insects, and the control of endogenous symbionts. This research field could also pave the way for the development of novel strategies to control pest and vector insects.