Integration of the Salmonella Typhimurium methylome and transcriptome reveals DNA methylation and transcriptional regulation are largely decoupled under virulence-related conditions

Journal Article

Despite being in a golden age of bacterial epigenomics, little work has systematically examined the plasticity and functional impacts of the bacterial DNA methylome. Here, we leveraged SMRT sequencing to examine the m 6 A DNA methylome of two Salmonella enterica ser. Typhimurium strains: 14028s and a Δ metJ mutant with derepressed methionine metabolism, grown in Luria Broth or a media that simulates the intracellular environment. We find that the methylome is remarkably static—over 95% of adenosine bases retain their methylation status across conditions. Integration of methylation with transcriptomic data revealed limited correlation between changes in methylation and gene expression. Further, examining the transcriptome in Δ yhdJ bacteria, lacking the m 6 A methylase with the most dynamic methylation pattern in our dataset, revealed little evidence of YhdJ-mediated gene regulation. Curiously, despite G(m 6 A)TC motifs being particularly resistant to change across conditions, incorporating dam mutants into our analyses revealed two examples where changes in methylation and transcription may be linked across conditions. This includes the novel finding that the Δ metJ motility defect may be partially driven by hypermethylation of the chemotaxis gene tsr . Together, these data redefine the S . Typhimurium epigenome as a highly stable system that has rare, but important, roles in transcriptional regulation. Incorporating these lessons into future studies will be critical as we progress through the epigenomic era.


While recent breakthroughs have enabled intense study of bacterial DNA modifications, limitations in current work have potentiated a surprisingly untested narrative that DNA methylation is a common mechanism of the bacterial response to environmental conditions. Essentially, whether epigenetic regulation of bacterial transcription is a common, generalizable phenomenon is a critical unanswered question that we address here. We find that most DNA methylation is static in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, even when the bacteria are grown under dramatically different conditions that cause broad changes in the transcriptome. Further, even when the methylation of individual bases change, these changes generally do not correlate with changes in gene expression. Finally, we demonstrate methods by which data can be stratified in order to identify coupled changes in methylation and gene expression.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bourgeois, J; Anderson, C; Wang, L; Modliszewski, J; Chen, W; Schott, B; Devos, N; Ko, D

Published Date

  • November 12, 2021

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2021.11.11.468322