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J Bacteriol. 1984 November; 160(2): 586–590.
PMCID: PMC214774

DNA adenine methylation of GATC sequences appeared recently in the Escherichia coli lineage.


We have examined the presence of methylated adenine at GATC sequences (Dam phenotype) in the DNA of 23 eubacteria and 13 archaebacteria by using isoshizomer restriction enzymes. We have found a completely Dam+ phenotype in bacteria of nine genera related to the families Enterobacteriaceae, Parvobacteriaceae, and Vibrionaceae, and in the five cyanobacteria tested. We have found a partial Dam+ phenotype in the two archaebacteria Halobacterium saccharovorum and Methanobacterium sp. strain Ivanov. All of the other archaebacteria (three genera) and eubacteria (nine genera) tested were Dam-. Phylogenetic analysis, based on the evolutionary tree of Fox et al. (Science 209:457-463, 1980), indicates that dam methylation in the Escherichia coli lineage appeared recently in bacterial evolution and is restricted to a small range of closely related bacteria.

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