July 19, 2019  |  

The methylomes of six bacteria.

Six bacterial genomes, Geobacter metallireducens GS-15, Chromohalobacter salexigens, Vibrio breoganii 1C-10, Bacillus cereus ATCC 10987, Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni 81-176 and C. jejuni NCTC 11168, all of which had previously been sequenced using other platforms were re-sequenced using single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing specifically to analyze their methylomes. In every case a number of new N(6)-methyladenine ((m6)A) and N(4)-methylcytosine ((m4)C) methylation patterns were discovered and the DNA methyltransferases (MTases) responsible for those methylation patterns were assigned. In 15 cases, it was possible to match MTase genes with MTase recognition sequences without further sub-cloning. Two Type I restriction systems required sub-cloning to differentiate their recognition sequences, while four MTase genes that were not expressed in the native organism were sub-cloned to test for viability and recognition sequences. Two of these proved active. No attempt was made to detect 5-methylcytosine ((m5)C) recognition motifs from the SMRT® sequencing data because this modification produces weaker signals using current methods. However, all predicted (m6)A and (m4)C MTases were detected unambiguously. This study shows that the addition of SMRT sequencing to traditional sequencing approaches gives a wealth of useful functional information about a genome showing not only which MTase genes are active but also revealing their recognition sequences.


July 19, 2019  |  

Bacteriophage orphan DNA methyltransferases: insights from their bacterial origin, function, and occurrence.

Type II DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are enzymes found ubiquitously in the prokaryotic world, where they play important roles in several cellular processes, such as host protection and epigenetic regulation. Three classes of type II MTases have been identified thus far in bacteria which function in transferring a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) to a target nucleotide base, forming N-6-methyladenine (class I), N-4-methylcytosine (class II), or C-5-methylcytosine (class III). Often, these MTases are associated with a cognate restriction endonuclease (REase) to form a restriction-modification (R-M) system protecting bacterial cells from invasion by foreign DNA. When MTases exist alone, which are then termed orphan MTases, they are believed to be mainly involved in regulatory activities in the bacterial cell. Genomes of various lytic and lysogenic phages have been shown to encode multi- and mono-specific orphan MTases that have the ability to confer protection from restriction endonucleases of their bacterial host(s). The ability of a phage to overcome R-M and other phage-targeting resistance systems can be detrimental to particular biotechnological processes such as dairy fermentations. Conversely, as phages may also be beneficial in certain areas such as phage therapy, phages with additional resistance to host defenses may prolong the effectiveness of the therapy. This minireview will focus on bacteriophage-encoded MTases, their prevalence and diversity, as well as their potential origin and function.


July 19, 2019  |  

Entering the era of bacterial epigenomics with single molecule real time DNA sequencing.

DNA modifications, such as methylation guide numerous critical biological processes, yet epigenetic information has not routinely been collected as part of DNA sequence analyses. Recently, the development of single molecule real time (SMRT) DNA sequencing has enabled detection of modified nucleotides (e.g. 6mA, 4mC, 5mC) in parallel with acquisition of primary sequence data, based on analysis of the kinetics of DNA synthesis reactions. In bacteria, genome-wide mapping of methylated and unmethylated loci is now feasible. This technological advance sets the stage for comprehensive, mechanistic assessment of the effects of bacterial DNA methyltransferases (MTases)-which are ubiquitous, extremely diverse, and largely uncharacterized-on gene expression, chromosome structure, chromosome replication, and other fundamental biological processes. SMRT sequencing also enables detection of damaged DNA and has the potential to uncover novel DNA modifications. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Global methylation state at base-pair resolution of the Caulobacter genome throughout the cell cycle.

The Caulobacter DNA methyltransferase CcrM is one of five master cell-cycle regulators. CcrM is transiently present near the end of DNA replication when it rapidly methylates the adenine in hemimethylated GANTC sequences. The timing of transcription of two master regulator genes and two cell division genes is controlled by the methylation state of GANTC sites in their promoters. To explore the global extent of this regulatory mechanism, we determined the methylation state of the entire chromosome at every base pair at five time points in the cell cycle using single-molecule, real-time sequencing. The methylation state of 4,515 GANTC sites, preferentially positioned in intergenic regions, changed progressively from full to hemimethylation as the replication forks advanced. However, 27 GANTC sites remained unmethylated throughout the cell cycle, suggesting that these protected sites could participate in epigenetic regulatory functions. An analysis of the time of activation of every cell-cycle regulatory transcription start site, coupled to both the position of a GANTC site in their promoter regions and the time in the cell cycle when the GANTC site transitions from full to hemimethylation, allowed the identification of 59 genes as candidates for epigenetic regulation. In addition, we identified two previously unidentified N(6)-methyladenine motifs and showed that they maintained a constant methylation state throughout the cell cycle. The cognate methyltransferase was identified for one of these motifs as well as for one of two 5-methylcytosine motifs.


July 19, 2019  |  

Comparison of genome sequencing technology and assembly methods for the analysis of a GC-rich bacterial genome.

Improvements in technology and decreases in price have made de novo bacterial genomic sequencing a reality for many researchers, but it has created a need to evaluate the methods for generating a complete and accurate genome assembly. We sequenced the GC-rich Caulobacter henricii genome using the Illumina MiSeq, Roche 454, and Pacific Biosciences RS II sequencing systems. To generate a complete genome sequence, we performed assemblies using eight readily available programs and found that builds using the Illumina MiSeq and the Roche 454 data produced accurate yet numerous contigs. SPAdes performed the best followed by PANDAseq. In contrast, the Celera assembler produced a single genomic contig using the Pacific Biosciences data after error correction with the Illumina MiSeq data. In addition, we duplicated this build using the Pacific Biosciences data with HGAP2.0. The accuracy of these builds was verified by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of genomic DNA cut with restriction enzymes.


July 19, 2019  |  

Exploring bacterial epigenomics in the next-generation sequencing era: a new approach for an emerging frontier.

Epigenetics has an important role for the success of foodborne pathogen persistence in diverse host niches. Substantial challenges exist in determining DNA methylation to situation-specific phenotypic traits. DNA modification, mediated by restriction-modification systems, functions as an immune response against antagonistic external DNA, and bacteriophage-acquired methyltransferases (MTase) and orphan MTases – those lacking the cognate restriction endonuclease – facilitate evolution of new phenotypes via gene expression modulation via DNA and RNA modifications, including methylation and phosphorothioation. Recent establishment of large-scale genome sequencing projects will result in a significant increase in genome availability that will lead to new demands for data analysis including new predictive bioinformatics approaches that can be verified with traditional scientific rigor. Sequencing technologies that detect modification coupled with mass spectrometry to discover new adducts is a powerful tactic to study bacterial epigenetics, which is poised to make novel and far-reaching discoveries that link biological significance and the bacterial epigenome. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Single molecule-level detection and long read-based phasing of epigenetic variations in bacterial methylomes.

Beyond its role in host defense, bacterial DNA methylation also plays important roles in the regulation of gene expression, virulence and antibiotic resistance. Bacterial cells in a clonal population can generate epigenetic heterogeneity to increase population-level phenotypic plasticity. Single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing enables the detection of N6-methyladenine and N4-methylcytosine, two major types of DNA modifications comprising the bacterial methylome. However, existing SMRT sequencing-based methods for studying bacterial methylomes rely on a population-level consensus that lacks the single-cell resolution required to observe epigenetic heterogeneity. Here, we present SMALR (single-molecule modification analysis of long reads), a novel framework for single molecule-level detection and phasing of DNA methylation. Using seven bacterial strains, we show that SMALR yields significantly improved resolution and reveals distinct types of epigenetic heterogeneity. SMALR is a powerful new tool that enables de novo detection of epigenetic heterogeneity and empowers investigation of its functions in bacterial populations.


July 7, 2019  |  

The functions of DNA methylation by CcrM in Caulobacter crescentus: a global approach.

DNA methylation is involved in a diversity of processes in bacteria, including maintenance of genome integrity and regulation of gene expression. Here, using Caulobacter crescentus as a model, we exploit genome-wide experimental methods to uncover the functions of CcrM, a DNA methyltransferase conserved in most Alphaproteobacteria. Using single molecule sequencing, we provide evidence that most CcrM target motifs (GANTC) switch from a fully methylated to a hemi-methylated state when they are replicated, and back to a fully methylated state at the onset of cell division. We show that DNA methylation by CcrM is not required for the control of the initiation of chromosome replication or for DNA mismatch repair. By contrast, our transcriptome analysis shows that >10% of the genes are misexpressed in cells lacking or constitutively over-expressing CcrM. Strikingly, GANTC methylation is needed for the efficient transcription of dozens of genes that are essential for cell cycle progression, in particular for DNA metabolism and cell division. Many of them are controlled by promoters methylated by CcrM and co-regulated by other global cell cycle regulators, demonstrating an extensive cross talk between DNA methylation and the complex regulatory network that controls the cell cycle of C. crescentus and, presumably, of many other Alphaproteobacteria.


July 7, 2019  |  

CauloBrowser: A systems biology resource for Caulobacter crescentus.

Caulobacter crescentus is a premier model organism for studying the molecular basis of cellular asymmetry. The Caulobacter community has generated a wealth of high-throughput spatiotemporal databases including data from gene expression profiling experiments (microarrays, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ribosome profiling, LC-ms proteomics), gene essentiality studies (Tn-seq), genome wide protein localization studies, and global chromosome methylation analyses (SMRT sequencing). A major challenge involves the integration of these diverse data sets into one comprehensive community resource. To address this need, we have generated CauloBrowser (www.caulobrowser.org), an online resource for Caulobacter studies. This site provides a user-friendly interface for quickly searching genes of interest and downloading genome-wide results. Search results about individual genes are displayed as tables, graphs of time resolved expression profiles, and schematics of protein localization throughout the cell cycle. In addition, the site provides a genome viewer that enables customizable visualization of all published high-throughput genomic data. The depth and diversity of data sets collected by the Caulobacter community makes CauloBrowser a unique and valuable systems biology resource.© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 7, 2019  |  

Conservation of the essential genome among Caulobacter and Brevundimonas species.

When the genomes of Caulobacter isolates NA1000 and K31 were compared, numerous genome rearrangements were observed. In contrast, similar comparisons of closely related species of other bacterial genera revealed nominal rearrangements. A phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA indicated that K31 is more closely related to Caulobacter henricii CB4 than to other known Caulobacters. Therefore, we sequenced the CB4 genome and compared it to all of the available Caulobacter genomes to study genome rearrangements, discern the conservation of the NA1000 essential genome, and address concerns about using 16S rRNA to group Caulobacter species. We also sequenced the novel bacteria, Brevundimonas DS20, a representative of the genus most closely related to Caulobacter and used it as part of an outgroup for phylogenetic comparisons. We expected to find that there would be fewer rearrangements when comparing more closely related Caulobacters. However, we found that relatedness was not correlated with the amount of observed “genome scrambling.” We also discovered that nearly all of the essential genes previously identified for C. crescentus are present in the other Caulobacter genomes and in the Brevundimonas genomes as well. However, a few of these essential genes were only found in NA1000, and some were missing in a combination of one or more species, while other proteins were 100 % identical across species. Also, phylogenetic comparisons of highly conserved genomic regions revealed clades similar to those identified by 16S rRNA-based phylogenies, verifying that 16S rRNA sequence comparisons are a valid method for grouping Caulobacters.


July 7, 2019  |  

Cell cycle constraints and environmental control of local DNA hypomethylation in a-proteobacteria.

Heritable DNA methylation imprints are ubiquitous and underlie genetic variability from bacteria to humans. In microbial genomes, DNA methylation has been implicated in gene transcription, DNA replication and repair, nucleoid segregation, transposition and virulence of pathogenic strains. Despite the importance of local (hypo)methylation at specific loci, how and when these patterns are established during the cell cycle remains poorly characterized. Taking advantage of the small genomes and the synchronizability of a-proteobacteria, we discovered that conserved determinants of the cell cycle transcriptional circuitry establish specific hypomethylation patterns in the cell cycle model system Caulobacter crescentus. We used genome-wide methyl-N6-adenine (m6A-) analyses by restriction-enzyme-cleavage sequencing (REC-Seq) and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to show that MucR, a transcriptional regulator that represses virulence and cell cycle genes in S-phase but no longer in G1-phase, occludes 5′-GANTC-3′ sequence motifs that are methylated by the DNA adenine methyltransferase CcrM. Constitutive expression of CcrM or heterologous methylases in at least two different a-proteobacteria homogenizes m6A patterns even when MucR is present and affects promoter activity. Environmental stress (phosphate limitation) can override and reconfigure local hypomethylation patterns imposed by the cell cycle circuitry that dictate when and where local hypomethylation is instated.


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