We report the complete sequence of ER2796, a laboratory strain of Escherichia coli K-12 that is completely defective in DNA methylation. Because of its lack of any native methylation, it is extremely useful as a host into which heterologous DNA methyltransferase genes can be cloned and the recognition sequences of their products deduced by Pacific Biosciences Single-Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing. The genome was itself sequenced from a long-insert library using the SMRT platform, resulting in a single closed contig devoid of methylated bases. Comparison with K-12 MG1655, the first E. coli K-12 strain to be sequenced, shows an essentially co-linear relationship with no major rearrangements despite many generations of laboratory manipulation. The comparison revealed a total of 41 insertions and deletions, and 228 single base pair substitutions. In addition, the long-read approach facilitated the surprising discovery of four gene conversion events, three involving rRNA operons and one between two cryptic prophages. Such events thus contribute both to genomic homogenization and to bacteriophage diversification. As one of relatively few laboratory strains of E. coli to be sequenced, the genome also reveals the sequence changes underlying a number of classical mutant alleles including those affecting the various native DNA methylation systems.
Journal: PloS one