We used chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by massively parallel sequencing (ChIPSeq) to characterize the profile of two histone post-translational modifications (trimethylation on lysine 4 of histone H3, H3K4me3, and trimethylation on lysine 27 of histone H3 H3K27me3) over five developmental stages (miracidium, primary sporocyst, cercaria, schistosomulum, adult) of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni. While H3K4me3 profiles remain relatively constant, H3K27 trimethylation and bivalent methylation show strong variation. Inhibitors (A366 and GSK343) of H3K27 histone methyltransferase activity in S. mansoni efficiently blocked miracidium to sporocyst transition indicating that H3K27 trimethylation is required for life cycle progression. As S. mansoni is a multicellular parasite that significantly affects both the health and economy of endemic areas, a better understanding of fluke developmental processes
within the definitive host will likely highlight novel disease control strategies. Towards this goal, we also studied H4K20me1 in female cercariae and adults. In particular, we found that bivalent trimethylation of H3K4 and H3K27 at the transcription start site of genes is a landmark of the cercarial stage. In cercariae, H3K27me3 presence and strong enrichment in H4K20me1 over long regions (10±100 kb) is associated with development related genes. Here, we provide a broad overview of the chromatin structure of a metazoan parasite throughout its most important lifecycle stages. The five developmental stages studied here present distinct chromatin structures, indicating that histone methylation plays an important role during development. Hence, components of the histone methylation (and demethylation) machinery may provide suitable Schistosomiasis control targets.