DNA modifications, such as methylation guide numerous critical biological processes, yet epigenetic information has not routinely been collected as part of DNA sequence analyses. Recently, the development of single molecule real time (SMRT) DNA sequencing has enabled detection of modified nucleotides (e.g. 6mA, 4mC, 5mC) in parallel with acquisition of primary sequence data, based on analysis of the kinetics of DNA synthesis reactions. In bacteria, genome-wide mapping of methylated and unmethylated loci is now feasible. This technological advance sets the stage for comprehensive, mechanistic assessment of the effects of bacterial DNA methyltransferases (MTases)-which are ubiquitous, extremely diverse, and largely uncharacterized-on gene expression, chromosome structure, chromosome replication, and other fundamental biological processes. SMRT sequencing also enables detection of damaged DNA and has the potential to uncover novel DNA modifications. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal: Current opinion in microbiology