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Authors: Ouellette, Matthew and Gogarten, J Peter and Lajoie, Jessica and Makkay, Andrea M and Papke, R Thane

DNA methyltransferases (MTases), which catalyze the methylation of adenine and cytosine bases in DNA, can occur in bacteria and archaea alongside cognate restriction endonucleases (REases) in restriction-modification (RM) systems or independently as orphan MTases. Although DNA methylation and MTases have been well-characterized in bacteria, research into archaeal MTases has been limited. A previous study examined the genomic DNA methylation patterns (methylome) of the halophilic archaeonHaloferax volcanii, a model archaeal system which can be easily manipulated in laboratory settings, via single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and deletion of a putative MTase gene (HVO_A0006). In this follow-up study, we deleted other putative MTase genes inH. volcaniiand sequenced the methylomes of the resulting deletion mutants via SMRT sequencing to characterize the genes responsible for DNA methylation. The results indicate that deletion of putative RM genesHVO_0794,HVO_A0006, andHVO_A0237in a single strain abolished methylation of the sole cytosine motif in the genome (Cm4TAG). Amino acid alignments demonstrated thatHVO_0794shares homology with characterized cytosine CTAG MTases in other organisms, indicating that this MTase is responsible for Cm4TAG methylation inH. volcanii. The CTAG motif has high density at only one of the origins of replication, and there is no relative increase in CTAG motif frequency in the genome ofH. volcanii, indicating that CTAG methylation might not have effectively taken over the role of regulating DNA replication and mismatch repair in the organism as previously predicted. Deletion of the putative Type I RM operonrmeRMS(HVO_2269-2271) resulted in abolished methylation of the adenine motif in the genome (GCAm6BN6VTGC). Alignments of the MTase (HVO_2270) and site specificity subunit (HVO_2271) demonstrate homology with other characterized Type I MTases and site specificity subunits, indicating that thermeRMSoperon is responsible for adenine methylation inH. volcanii. Together with HVO_0794, these genes appear to be responsible for all detected methylation inH. volcanii, even though other putative MTases (HVO_C0040,HVO_A0079) share homology with characterized MTases in other organisms. We also report the construction of a multi-RM deletion mutant (?RM), with multiple RM genes deleted and with no methylation detected via SMRT sequencing, which we anticipate will be useful for future studies on DNA methylation inH. volcanii.

Journal: Genes
DOI: 10.3390/genes9030129
Year: 2018

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