Integration of the Salmonella Typhimurium Methylome and Transcriptome Reveals That DNA Methylation and Transcriptional Regulation Are Largely Decoupled under Virulence-Related Conditions.
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 single-molecule, real-time sequencing (SMRT-seq) to examine the m6A DNA methylome of two Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strains: 14028s and a ΔmetJ mutant with derepressed methionine metabolism, grown in Luria broth or medium that simulates the intracellular environment. We found that the methylome is remarkably static: >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, examination of the transcriptome in ΔyhdJ bacteria lacking the m6A methylase with the most dynamic methylation pattern in our data set revealed little evidence of YhdJ-mediated gene regulation. Curiously, despite G(m6A)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 ΔmetJ 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. IMPORTANCE 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 found 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.
Bourgeois, JS; Anderson, CE; Wang, L; Modliszewski, JL; Chen, W; Schott, BH; Devos, N; Ko, DC
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