September 22, 2019  |  

Occurrence, evolution, and functions of DNA phosphorothioate epigenetics in bacteria.

The chemical diversity of physiological DNA modifications has expanded with the identification of phosphorothioate (PT) modification in which the nonbridging oxygen in the sugar-phosphate backbone of DNA is replaced by sulfur. Together with DndFGH as cognate restriction enzymes, DNA PT modification, which is catalyzed by the DndABCDE proteins, functions as a bacterial restriction-modification (R-M) system that protects cells against invading foreign DNA. However, the occurrence of dnd systems across a large number of bacterial genomes and their functions other than R-M are poorly understood. Here, a genomic survey revealed the prevalence of bacterial dnd systems: 1,349 bacterial dnd systems were observed to occur sporadically across diverse phylogenetic groups, and nearly half of these occur in the form of a solitary dndBCDE gene cluster that lacks the dndFGH restriction counterparts. A phylogenetic analysis of 734 complete PT R-M pairs revealed the coevolution of M and R components, despite the observation that several PT R-M pairs appeared to be assembled from M and R parts acquired from distantly related organisms. Concurrent epigenomic analysis, transcriptome analysis, and metabolome characterization showed that a solitary PT modification contributed to the overall cellular redox state, the loss of which perturbed the cellular redox balance and induced Pseudomonas fluorescens to reconfigure its metabolism to fend off oxidative stress. An in vitro transcriptional assay revealed altered transcriptional efficiency in the presence of PT DNA modification, implicating its function in epigenetic regulation. These data suggest the versatility of PT in addition to its involvement in R-M protection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Flow cytometry analysis of Clostridium beijerinckii NRRL B-598 populations exhibiting different phenotypes induced by changes in cultivation conditions.

Biobutanol production by clostridia via the acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) pathway is a promising future technology in bioenergetics , but identifying key regulatory mechanisms for this pathway is essential in order to construct industrially relevant strains with high tolerance and productivity. We have applied flow cytometric analysis to C. beijerinckii NRRL B-598 and carried out comparative screening of physiological changes in terms of viability under different cultivation conditions to determine its dependence on particular stages of the life cycle and the concentration of butanol.Dual staining by propidium iodide (PI) and carboxyfluorescein diacetate (CFDA) provided separation of cells into four subpopulations with different abilities to take up PI and cleave CFDA, reflecting different physiological states. The development of a staining pattern during ABE fermentation showed an apparent decline in viability, starting at the pH shift and onset of solventogenesis, although an appreciable proportion of cells continued to proliferate. This was observed for sporulating as well as non-sporulating phenotypes at low solvent concentrations, suggesting that the increase in percentage of inactive cells was not a result of solvent toxicity or a transition from vegetative to sporulating stages. Additionally, the sporulating phenotype was challenged with butanol and cultivation with a lower starting pH was performed; in both these experiments similar trends were obtained-viability declined after the pH breakpoint, independent of the actual butanol concentration in the medium. Production characteristics of both sporulating and non-sporulating phenotypes were comparable, showing that in C. beijerinckii NRRL B-598, solventogenesis was not conditional on sporulation.We have shown that the decline in C. beijerinckii NRRL B-598 culture viability during ABE fermentation was not only the result of accumulated toxic metabolites, but might also be associated with a special survival strategy triggered by pH change.


September 22, 2019  |  

The complete methylome of an entomopathogenic bacterium reveals the existence of loci with unmethylated adenines.

DNA methylation can serve to control diverse phenomena in eukaryotes and prokaryotes, including gene regulation leading to cell differentiation. In bacteria, DNA methylomes (i.e., methylation state of each base of the whole genome) have been described for several species, but methylome profile variation during the lifecycle has rarely been studied, and only in a few model organisms. Moreover, major phenotypic changes have been reported in several bacterial strains with a deregulated methyltransferase, but the corresponding methylome has rarely been described. Here we report the first methylome description of an entomopathogenic bacterium, Photorhabdus luminescens. Eight motifs displaying a high rate of methylation (>94%) were identified. The methylome was strikingly stable over course of growth, but also in a subpopulation responsible for a critical step in the bacterium’s lifecycle: successful survival and proliferation in insects. The rare unmethylated GATC motifs were preferentially located in putative promoter regions, and most of them were methylated after Dam methyltransferase overexpression, suggesting that DNA methylation is involved in gene regulation. Our findings bring key insight into bacterial methylomes and encourage further research to decipher the role of loci protected from DNA methylation in gene regulation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Large scale changes in host methylation patterns induced by IncA/C plasmid transformation in Vibrio cholerae

DNA methylation is a central epigenetic modification and has diverse biological functions in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms alike. The IncA/C plasmid genomes are approximately 150kb in length and harbour three methylase genes, two of which demonstrate cytosine specificity. Transformation of the Vibrio cholerae strain C6706 with the IncA/C plasmid pVC211 resulted in a significant relabelling of the methylation patterns on the host chromosomes. The new methylation patterns induced by transformation with IncA/C plasmid were accepted by the restriction enzymes of the hosttextquoterights restriction modification (RM) system. These data uncover a novel mechanism by which plasmids can be compatible with a hosttextquoterights RM system and suggest a possible reason that plasmids of the IncA/C family are broad-host-range.


September 22, 2019  |  

A model for the evolution of prokaryotic DNA restriction-modification systems based upon the structural malleability of Type I restriction-modification enzymes.

Restriction Modification (RM) systems prevent the invasion of foreign genetic material into bacterial cells by restriction and protect the host’s genetic material by methylation. They are therefore important in maintaining the integrity of the host genome. RM systems are currently classified into four types (I to IV) on the basis of differences in composition, target recognition, cofactors and the manner in which they cleave DNA. Comparing the structures of the different types, similarities can be observed suggesting an evolutionary link between these different types. This work describes the ‘deconstruction’ of a large Type I RM enzyme into forms structurally similar to smaller Type II RM enzymes in an effort to elucidate the pathway taken by Nature to form these different RM enzymes. Based upon the ability to engineer new enzymes from the Type I ‘scaffold’, an evolutionary pathway and the evolutionary pressures required to move along the pathway from Type I RM systems to Type II RM systems are proposed. Experiments to test the evolutionary model are discussed.


September 22, 2019  |  

The landscape of repetitive elements in the refined genome of chilli anthracnose fungus Colletotrichum truncatum.

The ascomycete fungus Colletotrichum truncatum is a major phytopathogen with a broad host range which causes anthracnose disease of chilli. The genome sequencing of this fungus led to the discovery of functional categories of genes that may play important roles in fungal pathogenicity. However, the presence of gaps in C. truncatum draft assembly prevented the accurate prediction of repetitive elements, which are the key players to determine the genome architecture and drive evolution and host adaptation. We re-sequenced its genome using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology to obtain a refined assembly with lesser and smaller gaps and ambiguities. This enabled us to study its genome architecture by characterising the repetitive sequences like transposable elements (TEs) and simple sequence repeats (SSRs), which constituted 4.9 and 0.38% of the assembled genome, respectively. The comparative analysis among different Colletotrichum species revealed the extensive repeat rich regions, dominated by Gypsy superfamily of long terminal repeats (LTRs), and the differential composition of SSRs in their genomes. Our study revealed a recent burst of LTR amplification in C. truncatum, C. higginsianum, and C. scovillei. TEs in C. truncatum were significantly associated with secretome, effectors and genes in secondary metabolism clusters. Some of the TE families in C. truncatum showed cytosine to thymine transitions indicative of repeat-induced point mutation (RIP). C. orbiculare and C. graminicola showed strong signatures of RIP across their genomes and “two-speed” genomes with extensive AT-rich and gene-sparse regions. Comparative genomic analyses of Colletotrichum species provided an insight into the species-specific SSR profiles. The SSRs in the coding and non-coding regions of the genome revealed the composition of trinucleotide repeat motifs in exons with potential to alter the translated protein structure through amino acid repeats. This is the first genome-wide study of TEs and SSRs in C. truncatum and their comparative analysis with six other Colletotrichum species, which would serve as a useful resource for future research to get insights into the potential role of TEs in genome expansion and evolution of Colletotrichum fungi and for development of SSR-based molecular markers for population genomic studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomic and methylome analysis of non-virulent D74 and virulent Nagasaki Haemophilus parasuis isolates.

Haemophilus parasuis is a respiratory pathogen of swine and the etiological agent of Glässer’s disease. H. parasuis isolates can exhibit different virulence capabilities ranging from lethal systemic disease to subclinical carriage. To identify genomic differences between phenotypically distinct strains, we obtained the closed whole-genome sequence annotation and genome-wide methylation patterns for the highly virulent Nagasaki strain and for the non-virulent D74 strain. Evaluation of the virulence-associated genes contained within the genomes of D74 and Nagasaki led to the discovery of a large number of toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems within both genomes. Five predicted hemolysins were identified as unique to Nagasaki and seven putative contact-dependent growth inhibition toxin proteins were identified only in strain D74. Assessment of all potential vtaA genes revealed thirteen present in the Nagasaki genome and three in the D74 genome. Subsequent evaluation of the predicted protein structure revealed that none of the D74 VtaA proteins contain a collagen triple helix repeat domain. Additionally, the predicted protein sequence for two D74 VtaA proteins is substantially longer than any predicted Nagasaki VtaA proteins. Fifteen methylation sequence motifs were identified in D74 and fourteen methylation sequence motifs were identified in Nagasaki using SMRT sequencing analysis. Only one of the methylation sequence motifs was observed in both strains indicative of the diversity between D74 and Nagasaki. Subsequent analysis also revealed diversity in the restriction-modification systems harbored by D74 and Nagasaki. The collective information reported in this study will aid in the development of vaccines and intervention strategies to decrease the prevalence and disease burden caused by H. parasuis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Excision-reintegration at a pneumococcal phase-variable restriction-modification locus drives within- and between-strain epigenetic differentiation and inhibits gene acquisition.

Phase-variation of Type I restriction-modification systems can rapidly alter the sequence motifs they target, diversifying both the epigenetic patterns and endonuclease activity within clonally descended populations. Here, we characterize the Streptococcus pneumoniae SpnIV phase-variable Type I RMS, encoded by the translocating variable restriction (tvr) locus, to identify its target motifs, mechanism and regulation of phase variation, and effects on exchange of sequence through transformation. The specificity-determining hsdS genes were shuffled through a recombinase-mediated excision-reintegration mechanism involving circular intermediate molecules, guided by two types of direct repeat. The rate of rearrangements was limited by an attenuator and toxin-antitoxin system homologs that inhibited recombinase gene transcription. Target motifs for both the SpnIV, and multiple Type II, MTases were identified through methylation-sensitive sequencing of a panel of recombinase-null mutants. This demonstrated the species-wide diversity observed at the tvr locus can likely specify nine different methylation patterns. This will reduce sequence exchange in this diverse species, as the native form of the SpnIV RMS was demonstrated to inhibit the acquisition of genomic islands by transformation. Hence the tvr locus can drive variation in genome methylation both within and between strains, and limits the genomic plasticity of S. pneumoniae.


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.


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.


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