July 19, 2019  |  

Genome-wide mapping of methylated adenine residues in pathogenic Escherichia coli using single-molecule real-time sequencing.

Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing allows the systematic detection of chemical modifications such as methylation but has not previously been applied on a genome-wide scale. We used this approach to detect 49,311 putative 6-methyladenine (m6A) residues and 1,407 putative 5-methylcytosine (m5C) residues in the genome of a pathogenic Escherichia coli strain. We obtained strand-specific information for methylation sites and a quantitative assessment of the frequency of methylation at each modified position. We deduced the sequence motifs recognized by the methyltransferase enzymes present in this strain without prior knowledge of their specificity. Furthermore, we found that deletion of a phage-encoded methyltransferase-endonuclease (restriction-modification; RM) system induced global transcriptional changes and led to gene amplification, suggesting that the role of RM systems extends beyond protecting host genomes from foreign DNA.


July 19, 2019  |  

Characterization of DNA methyltransferase specificities using single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing.

DNA methylation is the most common form of DNA modification in prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. We have applied the method of single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing that is capable of direct detection of modified bases at single-nucleotide resolution to characterize the specificity of several bacterial DNA methyltransferases (MTases). In addition to previously described SMRT sequencing of N6-methyladenine and 5-methylcytosine, we show that N4-methylcytosine also has a specific kinetic signature and is therefore identifiable using this approach. We demonstrate for all three prokaryotic methylation types that SMRT sequencing confirms the identity and position of the methylated base in cases where the MTase specificity was previously established by other methods. We then applied the method to determine the sequence context and methylated base identity for three MTases with unknown specificities. In addition, we also find evidence of unanticipated MTase promiscuity with some enzymes apparently also modifying sequences that are related, but not identical, to the cognate site.


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  |  

The complex methylome of the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori.

The genome of Helicobacter pylori is remarkable for its large number of restriction-modification (R-M) systems, and strain-specific diversity in R-M systems has been suggested to limit natural transformation, the major driving force of genetic diversification in H. pylori. We have determined the comprehensive methylomes of two H. pylori strains at single base resolution, using Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT®) sequencing. For strains 26695 and J99-R3, 17 and 22 methylated sequence motifs were identified, respectively. For most motifs, almost all sites occurring in the genome were detected as methylated. Twelve novel methylation patterns corresponding to nine recognition sequences were detected (26695, 3; J99-R3, 6). Functional inactivation, correction of frameshifts as well as cloning and expression of candidate methyltransferases (MTases) permitted not only the functional characterization of multiple, yet undescribed, MTases, but also revealed novel features of both Type I and Type II R-M systems, including frameshift-mediated changes of sequence specificity and the interaction of one MTase with two alternative specificity subunits resulting in different methylation patterns. The methylomes of these well-characterized H. pylori strains will provide a valuable resource for future studies investigating the role of H. pylori R-M systems in limiting transformation as well as in gene regulation and host interaction.


July 19, 2019  |  

Modeling kinetic rate variation in third generation DNA sequencing data to detect putative modifications to DNA bases.

Current generation DNA sequencing instruments are moving closer to seamlessly sequencing genomes of entire populations as a routine part of scientific investigation. However, while significant inroads have been made identifying small nucleotide variation and structural variations in DNA that impact phenotypes of interest, progress has not been as dramatic regarding epigenetic changes and base-level damage to DNA, largely due to technological limitations in assaying all known and unknown types of modifications at genome scale. Recently, single-molecule real time (SMRT) sequencing has been reported to identify kinetic variation (KV) events that have been demonstrated to reflect epigenetic changes of every known type, providing a path forward for detecting base modifications as a routine part of sequencing. However, to date no statistical framework has been proposed to enhance the power to detect these events while also controlling for false-positive events. By modeling enzyme kinetics in the neighborhood of an arbitrary location in a genomic region of interest as a conditional random field, we provide a statistical framework for incorporating kinetic information at a test position of interest as well as at neighboring sites that help enhance the power to detect KV events. The performance of this and related models is explored, with the best-performing model applied to plasmid DNA isolated from Escherichia coli and mitochondrial DNA isolated from human brain tissue. We highlight widespread kinetic variation events, some of which strongly associate with known modification events, while others represent putative chemically modified sites of unknown types.


July 19, 2019  |  

Complex interplay among DNA modification, noncoding RNA expression and protein-coding RNA expression in Salvia miltiorrhiza chloroplast genome.

Salvia miltiorrhiza is one of the most widely used medicinal plants. As a first step to develop a chloroplast-based genetic engineering method for the over-production of active components from S. miltiorrhiza, we have analyzed the genome, transcriptome, and base modifications of the S. miltiorrhiza chloroplast. Total genomic DNA and RNA were extracted from fresh leaves and then subjected to strand-specific RNA-Seq and Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing analyses. Mapping the RNA-Seq reads to the genome assembly allowed us to determine the relative expression levels of 80 protein-coding genes. In addition, we identified 19 polycistronic transcription units and 136 putative antisense and intergenic noncoding RNA (ncRNA) genes. Comparison of the abundance of protein-coding transcripts (cRNA) with and without overlapping antisense ncRNAs (asRNA) suggest that the presence of asRNA is associated with increased cRNA abundance (p<0.05). Using the SMRT Portal software (v1.3.2), 2687 potential DNA modification sites and two potential DNA modification motifs were predicted. The two motifs include a TATA box-like motif (CPGDMM1, "TATANNNATNA"), and an unknown motif (CPGDMM2 "WNYANTGAW"). Specifically, 35 of the 97 CPGDMM1 motifs (36.1%) and 91 of the 369 CPGDMM2 motifs (24.7%) were found to be significantly modified (p<0.01). Analysis of genes downstream of the CPGDMM1 motif revealed the significantly increased abundance of ncRNA genes that are less than 400 bp away from the significantly modified CPGDMM1motif (p<0.01). Taking together, the present study revealed a complex interplay among DNA modifications, ncRNA and cRNA expression in chloroplast genome.


July 19, 2019  |  

Detecting DNA modifications from SMRT sequencing data by modeling sequence context dependence of polymerase kinetic.

DNA modifications such as methylation and DNA damage can play critical regulatory roles in biological systems. Single molecule, real time (SMRT) sequencing technology generates DNA sequences as well as DNA polymerase kinetic information that can be used for the direct detection of DNA modifications. We demonstrate that local sequence context has a strong impact on DNA polymerase kinetics in the neighborhood of the incorporation site during the DNA synthesis reaction, allowing for the possibility of estimating the expected kinetic rate of the enzyme at the incorporation site using kinetic rate information collected from existing SMRT sequencing data (historical data) covering the same local sequence contexts of interest. We develop an Empirical Bayesian hierarchical model for incorporating historical data. Our results show that the model could greatly increase DNA modification detection accuracy, and reduce requirement of control data coverage. For some DNA modifications that have a strong signal, a control sample is not even needed by using historical data as alternative to control. Thus, sequencing costs can be greatly reduced by using the model. We implemented the model in a R package named seqPatch, which is available at https://github.com/zhixingfeng/seqPatch.


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  |  

Comprehensive methylome characterization of Mycoplasma genitalium and Mycoplasma pneumoniae at single-base resolution.

In the bacterial world, methylation is most commonly associated with restriction-modification systems that provide a defense mechanism against invading foreign genomes. In addition, it is known that methylation plays functionally important roles, including timing of DNA replication, chromosome partitioning, DNA repair, and regulation of gene expression. However, full DNA methylome analyses are scarce due to a lack of a simple methodology for rapid and sensitive detection of common epigenetic marks (ie N(6)-methyladenine (6 mA) and N(4)-methylcytosine (4 mC)), in these organisms. Here, we use Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing to determine the methylomes of two related human pathogen species, Mycoplasma genitalium G-37 and Mycoplasma pneumoniae M129, with single-base resolution. Our analysis identified two new methylation motifs not previously described in bacteria: a widespread 6 mA methylation motif common to both bacteria (5′-CTAT-3′), as well as a more complex Type I m6A sequence motif in M. pneumoniae (5′-GAN(7)TAY-3’/3′-CTN(7)ATR-5′). We identify the methyltransferase responsible for the common motif and suggest the one involved in M. pneumoniae only. Analysis of the distribution of methylation sites across the genome of M. pneumoniae suggests a potential role for methylation in regulating the cell cycle, as well as in regulation of gene expression. To our knowledge, this is one of the first direct methylome profiling studies with single-base resolution from a bacterial organism.


July 19, 2019  |  

Exploring the roles of DNA methylation in the metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1.

We performed whole-genome analyses of DNA methylation in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 to examine its possible role in regulating gene expression and other cellular processes. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing revealed extensive methylation of adenine (N6mA) throughout the genome. These methylated bases were located in five sequence motifs, including three novel targets for type I restriction/modification enzymes. The sequence motifs targeted by putative methyltranferases were determined via SMRT sequencing of gene knockout mutants. In addition, we found that S. oneidensis MR-1 cultures grown under various culture conditions displayed different DNA methylation patterns. However, the small number of differentially methylated sites could not be directly linked to the much larger number of differentially expressed genes under these conditions, suggesting that DNA methylation is not a major regulator of gene expression in S. oneidensis MR-1. The enrichment of methylated GATC motifs in the origin of replication indicates that DNA methylation may regulate genome replication in a manner similar to that seen in Escherichia coli. Furthermore, comparative analyses suggest that many Gammaproteobacteria, including all members of the Shewanellaceae family, may also utilize DNA methylation to regulate genome replication.


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  |  

Unlocking the mystery of the hard-to-sequence phage genome: PaP1 methylome and bacterial immunity.

Whole-genome sequencing is an important method to understand the genetic information, gene function, biological characteristics and survival mechanisms of organisms. Sequencing large genomes is very simple at present. However, we encountered a hard-to-sequence genome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa phage PaP1. Shotgun sequencing method failed to complete the sequence of this genome.After persevering for 10 years and going over three generations of sequencing techniques, we successfully completed the sequence of the PaP1 genome with a length of 91,715 bp. Single-molecule real-time sequencing results revealed that this genome contains 51?N-6-methyladenines and 152?N-4-methylcytosines. Three significant modified sequence motifs were predicted, but not all of the sites found in the genome were methylated in these motifs. Further investigations revealed a novel immune mechanism of bacteria, in which host bacteria can recognise and repel modified bases containing inserts in a large scale. This mechanism could be accounted for the failure of the shotgun method in PaP1 genome sequencing. This problem was resolved using the nfi- mutant of Escherichia coli DH5a as a host bacterium to construct a shotgun library.This work provided insights into the hard-to-sequence phage PaP1 genome and discovered a new mechanism of bacterial immunity. The methylome of phage PaP1 is responsible for the failure of shotgun sequencing and for bacterial immunity mediated by enzyme Endo V activity; this methylome also provides a valuable resource for future studies on PaP1 genome replication and modification, as well as on gene regulation and host interaction.


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  |  

REBASE–a database for DNA restriction and modification: enzymes, genes and genomes.

REBASE is a comprehensive and fully curated database of information about the components of restriction-modification (RM) systems. It contains fully referenced information about recognition and cleavage sites for both restriction enzymes and methyltransferases as well as commercial availability, methylation sensitivity, crystal and sequence data. All genomes that are completely sequenced are analyzed for RM system components, and with the advent of PacBio sequencing, the recognition sequences of DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are appearing rapidly. Thus, Type I and Type III systems can now be characterized in terms of recognition specificity merely by DNA sequencing. The contents of REBASE may be browsed from the web http://rebase.neb.com and selected compilations can be downloaded by FTP (ftp.neb.com). Monthly updates are also available via email. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 19, 2019  |  

A random six-phase switch regulates pneumococcal virulence via global epigenetic changes.

Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the world’s foremost bacterial pathogen in both morbidity and mortality. Switching between phenotypic forms (or ‘phases’) that favour asymptomatic carriage or invasive disease was first reported in 1933. Here, we show that the underlying mechanism for such phase variation consists of genetic rearrangements in a Type I restriction-modification system (SpnD39III). The rearrangements generate six alternative specificities with distinct methylation patterns, as defined by single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) methylomics. The SpnD39III variants have distinct gene expression profiles. We demonstrate distinct virulence in experimental infection and in vivo selection for switching between SpnD39III variants. SpnD39III is ubiquitous in pneumococci, indicating an essential role in its biology. Future studies must recognize the potential for switching between these heretofore undetectable, differentiated pneumococcal subpopulations in vitro and in vivo. Similar systems exist in other bacterial genera, indicating the potential for broad exploitation of epigenetic gene regulation.


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