Bifidobacterium breve represents one of the most abundant bifidobacterial species in the gastro-intestinal tract of breast-fed infants, where their presence is believed to exert beneficial effects. In the present study whole genome sequencing, employing the PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing platform, combined with comparative genome analysis allowed the most extensive genetic investigation of this taxon. Our findings demonstrate that genes encoding Restriction/Modification (R/M) systems constitute a substantial part of the B. breve variable gene content (or variome). Using the methylome data generated by SMRT sequencing, combined with targeted Illumina bisulfite sequencing (BS-seq) and comparative genome analysis, we were able to detect methylation recognition motifs and assign these to identified B. breve R/M systems, where in several cases such assignments were confirmed by restriction analysis. Furthermore, we show that R/M systems typically impose a very significant barrier to genetic accessibility of B. breve strains, and that cloning of a methyltransferase-encoding gene may overcome such a barrier, thus allowing future functional investigations of members of this species.
Journal: Nucleic acids research