April 21, 2020  |  

Single-molecule sequencing detection of N6-methyladenine in microbial reference materials.

The DNA base modification N6-methyladenine (m6A) is involved in many pathways related to the survival of bacteria and their interactions with hosts. Nanopore sequencing offers a new, portable method to detect base modifications. Here, we show that a neural network can improve m6A detection at trained sequence contexts compared to previously published methods using deviations between measured and expected current values as each adenine travels through a pore. The model, implemented as the mCaller software package, can be extended to detect known or confirm suspected methyltransferase target motifs based on predictions of methylation at untrained contexts. We use PacBio, Oxford Nanopore, methylated DNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (MeDIP-seq), and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data to generate and orthogonally validate methylomes for eight microbial reference species. These well-characterized microbial references can serve as controls in the development and evaluation of future methods for the identification of base modifications from single-molecule sequencing data.


September 22, 2019  |  

The DNA methylome of the hyperthermoacidophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius.

DNA methylation is the most common epigenetic modification observed in the genomic DNA (gDNA) of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Methylated nucleobases, N6-methyl-adenine (m6A), N4-methyl-cytosine (m4C), and 5-methyl-cytosine (m5C), detected on gDNA represent the discrimination mark between self and non-self DNA when they are part of restriction-modification systems in prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea). In addition, m5C in Eukaryotes and m6A in Bacteria play an important role in the regulation of key cellular processes. Although archaeal genomes present modified bases as in the two other domains of life, the significance of DNA methylations as regulatory mechanisms remains largely uncharacterized in Archaea. Here, we began by investigating the DNA methylome of Sulfolobus acidocaldarius. The strategy behind this initial study entailed the use of combined digestion assays, dot blots, and genome resequencing, which utilizes specific restriction enzymes, antibodies specifically raised against m6A and m5C and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, respectively, to identify DNA methylations occurring in exponentially growing cells. The previously identified restriction-modification system, specific of S. acidocaldarius, was confirmed by digestion assay and SMRT sequencing while, the presence of m6A was revealed by dot blot and identified on the characteristic Dam motif by SMRT sequencing. No m5C was detected by dot blot under the conditions tested. Furthermore, by comparing the distribution of both detected methylations along the genome and, by analyzing DNA methylation profiles in synchronized cells, we investigated in which cellular pathways, in particular the cell cycle, this m6A methylation could be a key player. The analysis of sequencing data rejected a role for m6A methylation in another defense system and also raised new questions about a potential involvement of this modification in the regulation of other biological functions in S. acidocaldarius.


September 22, 2019  |  

Analyzing AbrB-knockout effects through genome and transcriptome sequencing of Bacillus licheniformis DW2.

As an industrial bacterium, Bacillus licheniformis DW2 produces bacitracin which is an important antibiotic for many pathogenic microorganisms. Our previous study showed AbrB-knockout could significantly increase the production of bacitracin. Accordingly, it was meaningful to understand its genome features, expression differences between wild and AbrB-knockout (?AbrB) strains, and the regulation of bacitracin biosynthesis. Here, we sequenced, de novo assembled and annotated its genome, and also sequenced the transcriptomes in three growth phases. The genome of DW2 contained a DNA molecule of 4,468,952 bp with 45.93% GC content and 4,717 protein coding genes. The transcriptome reads were mapped to the assembled genome, and obtained 4,102~4,536 expressed genes from different samples. We investigated transcription changes in B. licheniformis DW2 and showed that ?AbrB caused hundreds of genes up-regulation and down-regulation in different growth phases. We identified a complete bacitracin synthetase gene cluster, including the location and length of bacABC, bcrABC, and bacT, as well as their arrangement. The gene cluster bcrABC were significantly up-regulated in ?AbrB strain, which supported the hypothesis in previous study of bcrABC transporting bacitracin out of the cell to avoid self-intoxication, and was consistent with the previous experimental result that ?AbrB could yield more bacitracin. This study provided a high quality reference genome for B. licheniformis DW2, and the transcriptome data depicted global alterations across two strains and three phases offered an understanding of AbrB regulation and bacitracin biosynthesis through gene expression.


September 22, 2019  |  

A reference genome and methylome for the Plasmodium knowlesi A1-H.1 line.

Plasmodium knowlesi, a common parasite of macaques, is recognised as a significant cause of human malaria in Malaysia. The P. knowlesi A1H1 line has been adapted to continuous culture in human erythrocytes, successfully providing an in vitro model to study the parasite. We have assembled a reference genome for the PkA1-H.1 line using PacBio long read combined with Illumina short read sequence data. Compared with the H-strain reference, the new reference has improved genome coverage and a novel description of methylation sites. The PkA1-H.1 reference will enhance the capabilities of the in vitro model to improve the understanding of P. knowlesi infection in humans. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

N6-methyladenine DNA modification in the human genome.

DNA N6-methyladenine (6mA) modification is the most prevalent DNA modification in prokaryotes, but whether it exists in human cells and whether it plays a role in human diseases remain enigmatic. Here, we showed that 6mA is extensively present in the human genome, and we cataloged 881,240 6mA sites accounting for ~0.051% of the total adenines. [G/C]AGG[C/T] was the most significantly associated motif with 6mA modification. 6mA sites were enriched in the coding regions and mark actively transcribed genes in human cells. DNA 6mA and N6-demethyladenine modification in the human genome were mediated by methyltransferase N6AMT1 and demethylase ALKBH1, respectively. The abundance of 6mA was significantly lower in cancers, accompanied by decreased N6AMT1 and increased ALKBH1 levels, and downregulation of 6mA modification levels promoted tumorigenesis. Collectively, our results demonstrate that DNA 6mA modification is extensively present in human cells and the decrease of genomic DNA 6mA promotes human tumorigenesis. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Repeat elements organise 3D genome structure and mediate transcription in the filamentous fungus Epichloë festucae.

Structural features of genomes, including the three-dimensional arrangement of DNA in the nucleus, are increasingly seen as key contributors to the regulation of gene expression. However, studies on how genome structure and nuclear organisation influence transcription have so far been limited to a handful of model species. This narrow focus limits our ability to draw general conclusions about the ways in which three-dimensional structures are encoded, and to integrate information from three-dimensional data to address a broader gamut of biological questions. Here, we generate a complete and gapless genome sequence for the filamentous fungus, Epichloë festucae. We use Hi-C data to examine the three-dimensional organisation of the genome, and RNA-seq data to investigate how Epichloë genome structure contributes to the suite of transcriptional changes needed to maintain symbiotic relationships with the grass host. Our results reveal a genome in which very repeat-rich blocks of DNA with discrete boundaries are interspersed by gene-rich sequences that are almost repeat-free. In contrast to other species reported to date, the three-dimensional structure of the genome is anchored by these repeat blocks, which act to isolate transcription in neighbouring gene-rich regions. Genes that are differentially expressed in planta are enriched near the boundaries of these repeat-rich blocks, suggesting that their three-dimensional orientation partly encodes and regulates the symbiotic relationship formed by this organism.


September 22, 2019  |  

Reconstitution of eukaryotic chromosomes and manipulation of DNA N6-methyladenine alters chromatin and gene expression

DNA N6-adenine methylation (6mA) has recently been reported in diverse eukaryotes, spanning unicellular organisms to metazoans. Yet the functional significance of 6mA remains elusive due to its low abundance, difficulty of manipulation within native DNA, and lack of understanding of eukaryotic 6mA writers. Here, we report a novel DNA 6mA methyltransferase in ciliates, termed MTA1. The enzyme contains an MT-A70 domain but is phylogenetically distinct from all known RNA and DNA methyltransferases. Disruption of MTA1 in vivo leads to the genome-wide loss of 6mA in asexually growing cells and abolishment of the consensus ApT dimethylated motif. Genes exhibit subtle changes in chromatin organization or RNA expression upon loss of 6mA, depending on their starting methylation level. Mutants fail to complete the sexual cycle, which normally coincides with a peak of MTA1 expression. Thus, MTA1 functions in a developmental stage-specific manner. We determine the impact of 6mA on chromatin organization in vitro by reconstructing complete, full-length ciliate chromosomes harboring 6mA in native or ectopic positions. Using these synthetic chromosomes, we show that 6mA directly disfavors nucleosomes in vitro in a local, quantitative manner, independent of DNA sequence. Furthermore, the chromatin remodeler ACF can overcome this effect. Our study identifies a novel MT-A70 protein necessary for eukaryotic 6mA methylation and defines the impact of 6mA on chromatin organization using epigenetically defined synthetic chromosomes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of DNA base modifications by means of Pacific Biosciences RS Sequencing technology.

Whole phage genomes can be sequenced readily using one or a combination of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. One of the most recently developed NGS platforms, the so-called Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing approach provided by the PacBio RS platform, is particularly useful in providing complete (i.e., un-gapped) genome sequences, but differs from other technologies in that the platform also allows for downstream analysis to identify nucleotides that have been modified by DNA methylation. Here, we describe the methodological approach for the detection of genomic methylation motifs by means of SMRT sequencing.


September 22, 2019  |  

DNA Methylation by Restriction Modification Systems Affects the Global Transcriptome Profile in Borrelia burgdorferi.

Prokaryote restriction modification (RM) systems serve to protect bacteria from potentially detrimental foreign DNA. Recent evidence suggests that DNA methylation by the methyltransferase (MTase) components of RM systems can also have effects on transcriptome profiles. The type strain of the causative agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi B31, possesses two RM systems with N6-methyladenosine (m6A) MTase activity, which are encoded by the bbe02 gene located on linear plasmid lp25 and bbq67 on lp56. The specific recognition and/or methylation sequences had not been identified for either of these B. burgdorferi MTases, and it was not previously known whether these RM systems influence transcript levels. In the current study, single-molecule real-time sequencing was utilized to map genome-wide m6A sites and to identify consensus modified motifs in wild-type B. burgdorferi as well as MTase mutants lacking either the bbe02 gene alone or both bbe02 and bbq67 genes. Four novel conserved m6A motifs were identified and were fully attributable to the presence of specific MTases. Whole-genome transcriptome changes were observed in conjunction with the loss of MTase enzymes, indicating that DNA methylation by the RM systems has effects on gene expression. Genes with altered transcription in MTase mutants include those involved in vertebrate host colonization (e.g., rpoS regulon) and acquisition by/transmission from the tick vector (e.g., rrp1 and pdeB). The results of this study provide a comprehensive view of the DNA methylation pattern in B. burgdorferi, and the accompanying gene expression profiles add to the emerging body of research on RM systems and gene regulation in bacteria.IMPORTANCE Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in North America and is classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an emerging infectious disease with an expanding geographical area of occurrence. Previous studies have shown that the causative bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, methylates its genome using restriction modification systems that enable the distinction from foreign DNA. Although much research has focused on the regulation of gene expression in B. burgdorferi, the effect of DNA methylation on gene regulation has not been evaluated. The current study characterizes the patterns of DNA methylation by restriction modification systems in B. burgdorferi and evaluates the resulting effects on gene regulation in this important pathogen. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 21, 2019  |  

The advantages of SMRT sequencing.

Of the current next-generation sequencing technologies, SMRT sequencing is sometimes overlooked. However, attributes such as long reads, modified base detection and high accuracy make SMRT a useful technology and an ideal approach to the complete sequencing of small genomes.


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