April 21, 2020  |  

BREX system of Escherichia coli distinguishes self from non-self by methylation of a specific DNA site.

Authors: Gordeeva, Julia and Morozova, Natalya and Sierro, Nicolas and Isaev, Artem and Sinkunas, Tomas and Tsvetkova, Ksenia and Matlashov, Mikhail and Truncaite, Lidija and Morgan, Richard D and Ivanov, Nikolai V and Siksnys, Virgis and Zeng, Lanying and Severinov, Konstantin

Prokaryotes evolved numerous systems that defend against predation by bacteriophages. In addition to well-known restriction-modification and CRISPR-Cas immunity systems, many poorly characterized systems exist. One class of such systems, named BREX, consists of a putative phosphatase, a methyltransferase and four other proteins. A Bacillus cereus BREX system provides resistance to several unrelated phages and leads to modification of specific motif in host DNA. Here, we study the action of BREX system from a natural Escherichia coli isolate. We show that while it makes cells resistant to phage ? infection, induction of ? prophage from cells carrying BREX leads to production of viruses that overcome the defense. The induced phage DNA contains a methylated adenine residue in a specific motif. The same modification is found in the genome of BREX-carrying cells. The results establish, for the first time, that immunity to BREX system defense is provided by an epigenetic modification.

Journal: Nucleic acids research
DOI: 10.1093/nar/gky1125
Year: 2019

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