DNA methylation can serve to control diverse phenomena in eukaryotes and prokaryotes, including gene regulation leading to cell differentiation. In bacteria, DNA methylomes (i.e., methylation state of each base of the whole genome) have been described for several species, but methylome profile variation during the lifecycle has rarely been studied, and only in a few model organisms. Moreover, major phenotypic changes have been reported in several bacterial strains with a deregulated methyltransferase, but the corresponding methylome has rarely been described. Here we report the first methylome description of an entomopathogenic bacterium, Photorhabdus luminescens. Eight motifs displaying a high rate of methylation (>94%) were identified. The methylome was strikingly stable over course of growth, but also in a subpopulation responsible for a critical step in the bacterium's lifecycle: successful survival and proliferation in insects. The rare unmethylated GATC motifs were preferentially located in putative promoter regions, and most of them were methylated after Dam methyltransferase overexpression, suggesting that DNA methylation is involved in gene regulation. Our findings bring key insight into bacterial methylomes and encourage further research to decipher the role of loci protected from DNA methylation in gene regulation.
Journal: Scientific reports