The histone code of the fungal genus Aspergillus uncovered by evolutionary and proteomic analyses

Xin Zhang, Roberta Noberini, Tiziana Bonaldi, Jerome Collemare*, Michael F. Seidl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Chemical modifications of DNA and histone proteins impact the organization of chromatin within the nucleus. Changes in these modifications, catalysed by different chromatin-modifying enzymes, influence chromatin organization, which in turn is thought to impact the spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression. While combinations of different histone modifications, the histone code, have been studied in several model species, we know very little about histone modifications in the fungal genus Aspergillus, whose members are generally well studied due to their importance as models in cell and molecular biology as well as their medical and biotechnological relevance. Here, we used phylogenetic analyses in 94 Aspergilli as well as other fungi to uncover the occurrence and evolutionary trajectories of enzymes and protein complexes with roles in chromatin modifications or regulation. We found that these enzymes and complexes are highly conserved in Aspergilli, pointing towards a complex repertoire of chromatin modifications. Nevertheless, we also observed few recent gene duplications or losses, highlighting Aspergillus species to further study the roles of specific chromatin modifications. SET7 (KMT6) and other components of PRC2 (Polycomb Repressive Complex 2), which is responsible for methylation on histone H3 at lysine 27 in many eukaryotes including fungi, are absent in Aspergilli as well as in closely related Penicillium species, suggesting that these lost the capacity for this histone modification. We corroborated our computational predictions by performing untargeted MS analysis of histone post-translational modifications in Aspergillus nidulans. This systematic analysis will pave the way for future research into the complexity of the histone code and its functional implications on genome architecture and gene regulation in fungi.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000856
JournalMicrobial genomics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Aspergilli
  • chromatin
  • DNA methylation
  • H3K27 methylation
  • histone modification
  • mass spectrometry


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