April 21, 2020  |  

Rational development of transformation in Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405 via complete methylome analysis and evasion of native restriction-modification systems.

A major barrier to both metabolic engineering and fundamental biological studies is the lack of genetic tools in most microorganisms. One example is Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405T, where genetic tools are not available to help validate decades of hypotheses. A significant barrier to DNA transformation is restriction-modification systems, which defend against foreign DNA methylated differently than the host. To determine the active restriction-modification systems in this strain, we performed complete methylome analysis via single-molecule, real-time sequencing to detect 6-methyladenine and 4-methylcytosine and the rarely used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing to detect 5-methylcytosine. Multiple active systems were identified, and corresponding DNA methyltransferases were expressed from the Escherichia coli chromosome to mimic the C. thermocellum methylome. Plasmid methylation was experimentally validated and successfully electroporated into C. thermocellum ATCC 27405. This combined approach enabled genetic modification of the C. thermocellum-type strain and acts as a blueprint for transformation of other non-model microorganisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Functional genomics reveals extensive diversity in Staphylococcus epidermidis restriction modification systems compared to Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus epidermidis is a significant opportunistic pathogen of humans. Molecular studies in this species have been hampered by the presence of restriction-modification (RM) systems that limit introduction of foreign DNA. Here we establish the complete genomes and methylomes for seven clinically significant, genetically diverse S. epidermidis isolates and perform the first systematic genomic analyses of the type I RM systems within both S. epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus. Our analyses revealed marked differences in the gene arrangement, chromosomal location and movement of type I RM systems between the two species. Unlike S. aureus, S. epidermidis type I RM systems demonstrate extensive diversity even within a single genetic lineage. This is contrary to current assumptions and has important implications for approaching the genetic manipulation of S. epidermidis. Using Escherichia coli plasmid artificial modification (PAM) to express S. epidermidis hsdMS, we readily overcame restriction barriers in S. epidermidis, and achieved transformation efficiencies equivalent to those of modification deficient mutants. With these functional experiments we demonstrate how genomic data can be used to predict both the functionality of type I RM systems and the potential for a strain to be transformation proficient. We outline an efficient approach for the genetic manipulation of S. epidermidis from diverse genetic backgrounds, including those that have hitherto been intractable. Additionally, we identified S. epidermidis BPH0736, a naturally restriction defective, clinically significant, multidrug-resistant ST2 isolate as an ideal candidate for molecular studies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence of Helicobacter pylori B128 7.13 and a single-step method for the generation of unmarked mutations.

Helicobacter pylori represents an interesting model of bacterial pathogenesis given that most infections are asymptomatic, while a minority of infections cause severe gastric disease. H pylori strain B128 7.13 is used extensively to understand H pylori pathophysiology. Due to extensive restriction-modification systems, the fact that only some H pylori strains are naturally transformable, the inability of common plasmid and transposon vectors to replicate in this bacterium, as well as the limited number of antibiotic cassettes that are functional in H pylori, there are relatively few genetic tools for the mutagenesis of this bacterium.Here, we use PacBio and Illumina sequencing to reveal the complete genome sequence of H pylori B128 7.13. Furthermore, we describe a system to generate markerless and scarless mutations on the H pylori chromosome using the counter-selection marker, galactokinase from Escherichia coli.We show that this mutagenesis strategy can be used to generate in-frame insertions, gene deletions, and multiple independent mutations in B128 7.13. Using the closed genome as a reference, we also report the absence of second site chromosomal mutations and/or rearrangements in our mutagenized strains. We compare the genome sequence of H pylori B128 7.13 with a closely related strain, H pylori B8, and reveal one notable region of difference, which is a 1430 bp insertion encoding a H pylori-specific DUF874 family protein of unknown function.This article reports the closed genome of the important H pylori B128 7.13 strain and a mutagenesis method that can be adopted by researchers as an alternative strategy to generate isogenic mutants of H pylori in order to further our understanding of this bacterium. © 2019. The Authors. Helicobacter Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

DNA methylation from a Type I restriction modification system influences gene expression and virulence in Streptococcus pyogenes.

DNA methylation is pervasive across all domains of life. In bacteria, the presence of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) has been detected among diverse species, yet the contribution of m6A to the regulation of gene expression is unclear in many organisms. Here we investigated the impact of DNA methylation on gene expression and virulence within the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A Streptococcus. Single Molecule Real-Time sequencing and subsequent methylation analysis identified 412 putative m6A sites throughout the 1.8 Mb genome. Deletion of the Restriction, Specificity, and Methylation gene subunits (?RSM strain) of a putative Type I restriction modification system lost all detectable m6A at the recognition sites and failed to prevent transformation with foreign-methylated DNA. RNA-sequencing identified 20 genes out of 1,895 predicted coding regions with significantly different gene expression. All of the differentially expressed genes were down regulated in the ?RSM strain relative to the parent strain. Importantly, we found that the presence of m6A DNA modifications affected expression of Mga, a master transcriptional regulator for multiple virulence genes, surface adhesins, and immune-evasion factors in S. pyogenes. Using a murine subcutaneous infection model, mice infected with the ?RSM strain exhibited an enhanced host immune response with larger skin lesions and increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines compared to mice infected with the parent or complemented mutant strains, suggesting alterations in m6A methylation influence virulence. Further, we found that the ?RSM strain showed poor survival within human neutrophils and reduced adherence to human epithelial cells. These results demonstrate that, in addition to restriction of foreign DNA, gram-positive bacteria also use restriction modification systems to regulate the expression of gene networks important for virulence.


April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

SMRT sequencing reveals differential patterns of methylation in two O111:H- STEC isolates from a hemolytic uremic syndrome outbreak in Australia.

In 1995 a severe haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) outbreak in Adelaide occurred. A recent genomic analysis of Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) O111:H- strains 95JB1 and 95NR1 from this outbreak found that the more virulent isolate, 95NR1, harboured two additional copies of the Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2) genes encoded within prophage regions. The structure of the Stx2-converting prophages could not be fully resolved using short-read sequence data alone and it was not clear if there were other genomic differences between 95JB1 and 95NR1. In this study we have used Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to characterise the genome and methylome of 95JB1 and 95NR1. We completely resolved the structure of all prophages including two, tandemly inserted, Stx2-converting prophages in 95NR1 that were absent from 95JB1. Furthermore we defined all insertion sequences and found an additional IS1203 element in the chromosome of 95JB1. Our analysis of the methylome of 95NR1 and 95JB1 identified hemi-methylation of a novel motif (5′-CTGCm6AG-3′) in more than 4000 sites in the 95NR1 genome. These sites were entirely unmethylated in the 95JB1 genome, and included at least 177 potential promoter regions that could contribute to regulatory differences between the strains. IS1203 mediated deactivation of a novel type IIG methyltransferase in 95JB1 is the likely cause of the observed differential patterns of methylation between 95NR1 and 95JB1. This study demonstrates the capability of PacBio SMRT sequencing to resolve complex prophage regions and reveal the genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity within a clonal population of bacteria.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide systematic identification of methyltransferase recognition and modification patterns.

Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation patterns using single molecule real-time DNA sequencing has boosted the number of publicly available methylomes. However, there is a lack of tools coupling methylation patterns and the corresponding methyltransferase genes. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput method for coupling methyltransferases with their respective motifs, using automated cloning and analysing the methyltransferases in vectors carrying a strain-specific cassette containing all potential target sites. To validate the method, we analyse the genomes of the thermophile Moorella thermoacetica and the mesophile Acetobacterium woodii, two acetogenic bacteria having substantially modified genomes with 12 methylation motifs and a total of 23 methyltransferase genes. Using our method, we characterize the 23 methyltransferases, assign motifs to the respective enzymes and verify activity for 11 of the 12 motifs.


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