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1.  Structural basis of the methylation specificity of R.DpnI 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(13):8745-8754.
R.DpnI consists of N-terminal catalytic and C-terminal winged helix domains that are separately specific for the Gm6ATC sequences in Dam-methylated DNA. Here we present a crystal structure of R.DpnI with oligoduplexes bound to the catalytic and winged helix domains and identify the catalytic domain residues that are involved in interactions with the substrate methyl groups. We show that these methyl groups in the Gm6ATC target sequence are positioned very close to each other. We further show that the presence of the two methyl groups requires a deviation from B-DNA conformation to avoid steric conflict. The methylation compatible DNA conformation is complementary with binding sites of both R.DpnI domains. This indirect readout of methylation adds to the specificity mediated by direct favorable interactions with the methyl groups and solvation/desolvation effects. We also present hydrogen/deuterium exchange data that support ‘crosstalk’ between the two domains in the identification of methylated DNA, which should further enhance R.DpnI methylation specificity.
PMCID: PMC4117772  PMID: 24966351
2.  Unusual Modification of Bacteriophage Mu DNA 
Journal of Virology  1979;32(2):468-475.
Bacteriophage Mu DNA was labeled after induction in the presence of [2-3H]adenine or [8-3H]adenine. Both Mu mom+·dam+ DNA and Mu mom−·dam+ DNA have similar N6-methyladenine (MeAde) contents, as well as similar frequencies of MeAde nearest neighbors. Both DNAs are sensitive to in vitro cleavage by R·DpnI but resistant to cleavage by R·DpnII. These results indicate that the mom+ protein does not alter the sequence specificity of the host dam+ methylase to produce MeAde at new sites. However, we have discovered a new modified base, denoted Ax, in Mu mom+·dam+ DNA; approximately 15% of the adenine residues are modified to Ax. Although the precise nature of the modification is not yet defined, analysis by electrophoresis and chromatography indicates that the N6-amino group is not the site of modification, and that the added moiety contains a free carboxyl group. Ax is not present in Mu mom+·dam+ or Mu mom−·dam+ phage DNA or in cellular DNA from uninduced Mu mom+·dam+ lysogens. These results suggest that expression of the dam+ and mom+ genes are required for the Ax modification and that this modification is responsible for protecting Mu DNA against certain restriction nucleases. Mu mom+·dam− DNA and Mu mom−·dam− DNA contain a very low level of MeAde (ca. 1 MeAde per 5,000 adenine residues). Since the only nearest neighbor to MeAde appears to be cytosine, we suggest that the methylated sequence is 5′... C-A*-C... 3′ and that this methylation is mediated by the EcoK modification enzyme.
PMCID: PMC353578  PMID: 159363
3.  Programmed Protection of Foreign DNA from Restriction Allows Pathogenicity Island Exchange during Pneumococcal Transformation 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(2):e1003178.
In bacteria, transformation and restriction-modification (R-M) systems play potentially antagonistic roles. While the former, proposed as a form of sexuality, relies on internalized foreign DNA to create genetic diversity, the latter degrade foreign DNA to protect from bacteriophage attack. The human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae is transformable and possesses either of two R-M systems, DpnI and DpnII, which respectively restrict methylated or unmethylated double-stranded (ds) DNA. S. pneumoniae DpnII strains possess DpnM, which methylates dsDNA to protect it from DpnII restriction, and a second methylase, DpnA, which is induced during competence for genetic transformation and is unusual in that it methylates single-stranded (ss) DNA. DpnA was tentatively ascribed the role of protecting internalized plasmids from DpnII restriction, but this seems unlikely in light of recent results establishing that pneumococcal transformation was not evolved to favor plasmid exchange. Here we validate an alternative hypothesis, showing that DpnA plays a crucial role in the protection of internalized foreign DNA, enabling exchange of pathogenicity islands and more generally of variable regions between pneumococcal isolates. We show that transformation of a 21.7 kb heterologous region is reduced by more than 4 logs in dpnA mutant cells and provide evidence that the specific induction of dpnA during competence is critical for full protection. We suggest that the integration of a restrictase/ssDNA-methylase couplet into the competence regulon maintains protection from bacteriophage attack whilst simultaneously enabling exchange of pathogenicicy islands. This protective role of DpnA is likely to be of particular importance for pneumococcal virulence by allowing free variation of capsule serotype in DpnII strains via integration of DpnI capsule loci, contributing to the documented escape of pneumococci from capsule-based vaccines. Generally, this finding is the first evidence for a mechanism that actively promotes genetic diversity of S. pneumoniae through programmed protection and incorporation of foreign DNA.
Author Summary
Natural genetic transformation can compensate for the absence of sexual reproduction in bacteria, allowing genetic diversification by recombination. It proceeds through the internalization of single stranded (ss) DNA fragments created from an exogenous double stranded (ds) DNA substrate, which are incorporated into the genome by homology. On the other hand, restriction-modification (R-M) systems, which protect bacteria from bacteriophage attack by degrading invading foreign DNA, potentially antagonize transformation. About half of the strains of the naturally transformable species and human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae possess an R-M system, DpnII, restricting unmethylated dsDNA. DpnII strains possess DpnA which is unusual in that it methylates ssDNA. Here we show that DpnA plays a crucial role in the protection of internalized heterologous transforming ssDNA, preventing the post-replicative destruction by DpnII of transformants produced by chromosomal integration of heterogolous DNA by virtue of flanking homology. This protective role of DpnA is of particular importance for acquisition of pathogenicity islands, such as capsule loci, from non-DpnII origin by DpnII strains, likely contributing to pneumococcal virulence via escape from capsule-based vaccines. Generally, this finding is the first evidence for a mechanism that actively promotes genetic diversity of S. pneumoniae through active protection and incorporation of foreign DNA.
PMCID: PMC3573125  PMID: 23459610
4.  Transformation of restriction endonuclease phenotype in Streptococcus pneumoniae. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1982;152(1):183-190.
The genetic basis of the unique restriction endonuclease DpnI, that cleaves only at a methylated sequence, 5'-GmeATC-3', and of the complementary endonuclease DpnII, which cleaves at the same sequence when it is not methylated, was investigated. Different strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae isolated from patients contained either DpnI (two isolates) or DpnII (six isolates). The latter strains also contained DNA methylated at the 5'-GATC-3' sequence. A restrictable bacteriophage, HB-3, was used to characterize the various strains and to select for transformants. One laboratory strain contained neither DpnI nor Dpn II. It was probably derived from a DpnI-containing strain, and its DNA was not methylated at 5'-GATC-3'. Cells of this strain were transformed to the DpnI restriction phenotype by DNA from a DpnI-containing strain and to the DpnII restriction phenotype by DNA from a DpnII-containing strain. Neither cross-transformation, that is, transformation to one phenotype by DNA from a strain of the other phenotype, nor spontaneous conversion was observed. Extracts of transformants to the new restriction phenotype were shown to contain the corresponding endonuclease.
PMCID: PMC221390  PMID: 6288656
5.  Origin of adeno-associated virus DNA replication is a target of carcinogen-inducible DNA amplification. 
Journal of Virology  1991;65(6):3175-3184.
DNA amplification of the helper-dependent parvovirus AAV (adeno-associated virus) can be induced by a variety of genotoxic agents in the absence of coinfecting helper virus. Here we investigated whether the origin of AAV type 2 DNA replication cloned into a plasmid is sufficient to promote replication activity in cells treated by the carcinogen N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG). A pUC19-based plasmid, designated pA2Y1, which contains the left terminal repeat sequences (TRs) representing the AAV origin of replication and the p5 and p19 promoter but lacks any functional parvoviral genes is shown to confer replication activity and to allow selective DNA amplification in carcinogen-treated cells. Following transfection of plasmid pA2Y1 or plasmid pUC19 as a control, density labeling by a bromodeoxyuridine and DpnI resistance assay suggested a semi-conservative mode of replication of the AAV origin-containing plasmid. Furthermore, the amount of DpnI-resistant full-length pA2Y1 DNA molecules was increased by MNNG treatment of cells in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, DNA synthesis of plasmid pA2Y1 was studied in vitro. Extracts derived from MNNG-treated CHO-9 and L1210 cells displayed greater synthesis of DpnI-resistant full-length pA2Y1 molecules than did nontreated controls. Experiments with specific enzyme inhibitors suggested that the reaction is largely dependent on DNA polymerase alpha, DNA primase, and DNA topoisomerase I. Furthermore, restriction endonuclease mapping analysis of the in vitro reaction products revealed the occurrence of specific initiation at the AAV origin of DNA replication. Though elongation was not very extensive, extracts from carcinogen-treated cells markedly amplified the AAV origin region. Our results, including electron microscopic examination, suggest that the AAV origin/terminal repeat structure is recognized by the cellular DNA replicative machinery induced or modulated by carcinogen treatment in the absence of parvoviral gene products.
PMCID: PMC240974  PMID: 2033669
6.  Transfer of recombinant plasmids containing the gene for DpnII DNA methylase into strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae that produce DpnI or DpnII restriction endonucleases. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;158(3):905-909.
Plasmid transfer via the transformation pathway of Streptococcus pneumoniae was weakly restricted by the DpnI or DpnII restriction endonuclease, either of which gave a reduction only to 0.4, compared with phage infection, which was restricted to 10(-5). The greater sensitivity of plasmid transfer compared with chromosomal transformation, which was not at all restricted, can be attributed to partially double-stranded intermediates formed from two complementary donor fragments. However, clustering of potential restriction sites in the plasmids increased the probability of escape from restriction. The recombinant plasmid pMP10 , in which the gene for the DpnII DNA methylase was cloned, can be transferred to strains that contain neither restriction enzyme or that contain DpnII as readily as can the vector pMP5 . Introduction of pMP10 raised the level of methylase by five times the level normally present in DpnII strains. Transfer of pMP10 to DpnI -containing strains was infrequent, presumably owing to the suicidal methylation of DNA which rendered it susceptible to the host endonuclease. The few clones in which pMP10 was established had lost DpnI . Loss of the plasmid after curing of the cell eliminated the methylase but did not restore DpnI . Although this loss of DpnI could result from spontaneous mutation, its relatively high frequency, 0.1% suggested that the loss was due to a regulatory shift.
PMCID: PMC215527  PMID: 6327647
7.  Structure of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine-specific restriction enzyme, AbaSI, in complex with DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(12):7947-7959.
AbaSI, a member of the PvuRts1I-family of modification-dependent restriction endonucleases, cleaves deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) containing 5-hydroxymethylctosine (5hmC) and glucosylated 5hmC (g5hmC), but not DNA containing unmodified cytosine. AbaSI has been used as a tool for mapping the genomic locations of 5hmC, an important epigenetic modification in the DNA of higher organisms. Here we report the crystal structures of AbaSI in the presence and absence of DNA. These structures provide considerable, although incomplete, insight into how this enzyme acts. AbaSI appears to be mainly a homodimer in solution, but interacts with DNA in our structures as a homotetramer. Each AbaSI subunit comprises an N-terminal, Vsr-like, cleavage domain containing a single catalytic site, and a C-terminal, SRA-like, 5hmC-binding domain. Two N-terminal helices mediate most of the homodimer interface. Dimerization brings together the two catalytic sites required for double-strand cleavage, and separates the 5hmC binding-domains by ∼70 Å, consistent with the known activity of AbaSI which cleaves DNA optimally between symmetrically modified cytosines ∼22 bp apart. The eukaryotic SET and RING-associated (SRA) domains bind to DNA containing 5-methylcytosine (5mC) in the hemi-methylated CpG sequence. They make contacts in both the major and minor DNA grooves, and flip the modified cytosine out of the helix into a conserved binding pocket. In contrast, the SRA-like domain of AbaSI, which has no sequence specificity, contacts only the minor DNA groove, and in our current structures the 5hmC remains intra-helical. A conserved, binding pocket is nevertheless present in this domain, suitable for accommodating 5hmC and g5hmC. We consider it likely, therefore, that base-flipping is part of the recognition and cleavage mechanism of AbaSI, but that our structures represent an earlier, pre-flipped stage, prior to actual recognition.
PMCID: PMC4081097  PMID: 24895434
8.  Cloning in Streptococcus pneumoniae of the gene for DpnII DNA methylase. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;157(3):934-936.
The gene coding for the pneumococcal DNA adenine methylase that recognizes the sequence 5'-GATC-3' was cloned in a strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae that lacked both restriction endonucleases DpnI and DpnII. The gene was cloned as a 3.7-kilobase fragment of chromosomal DNA from a DpnII-containing strain inserted in both possible orientations in the multicopy plasmid vector pMP5 to give recombinant plasmids pMP8 and pMP10. Recombinant plasmids were selected by their resistance to DpnII cleavage. Cells carrying the recombinant plasmids modified phage in vivo so that it was restricted by DpnI- but not DpnII-containing hosts. They also showed levels of DNA methylase activity five times higher than that in cells of the original DpnII strain. No DpnII activity was observed in the clones; therefore, it was concluded that the insert did not contain an intact DpnII endonuclease gene and that methylation of host DNA did not turn on a latent form of the gene.
PMCID: PMC215349  PMID: 6321445
9.  Purification of Mbo II methylase (GAAGmA) from Moraxella bovis: site specific cleavage of DNA at nine and ten base pair sequences. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1985;13(20):7171-7182.
The restriction modification methylase M. Mbo II has been purified using a sensitive oligonucleotide linker assay. The enzyme methylates the Mbo II recognition sequence* GAAGA at adenine to produce GAAGmA. M. Mbo II can be used in conjunction with the methylation dependent restriction endonuclease Dpn I (GmATC) to produce cleavage at the 10 base sequence GAAGATCTTC. When M. Mbo II is used in combination with M. Cla I (ATCGATCGAT), cleavage by Dpn I occurs at the four ten base sequences GAAGATCTTC, GAAGATCGAT, ATCGATCTTC and ATCGATCGAT, which is equivalent to a nine base recognition site. The use of combinations of adenine methylases and Dpn I to generate highly selective DNA cleavages at a variety of sequences up to fourteen base pairs is discussed.
PMCID: PMC322036  PMID: 2997742
10.  Restriction analysis and quantitative estimation of methylated bases of filamentous and unicellular cyanobacterial DNAs. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1988;170(4):1934-1939.
The DNAs of strains of three cyanobacterial genera (Anabaena, Plectonema, and Synechococcus) were found to be partially or fully resistant to many restriction endonucleases. This could be due to the absence of specific sequences or to modifications, rendering given sequences resistant to cleavage. The latter explanation is substantiated by the content of N6-methyladenine and 5-methylcytosine in these genomes, which is high in comparison with that in other bacterial genomes. dcm- and dam-like methylases are present in the three strains (based on the restriction patterns obtained with the appropriate isoschizomeric enzymes). Their contribution to the overall content of methyladenine and methylcytosine in the genomes was calculated. Partial methylation of GATC sequences was observed in Anabaena DNA. In addition, the GATC methylation patterns might not have been random in the three cyanobacterial DNA preparations, as revealed by the appearance of discrete fragments (possibly of plasmid origin) withstanding cleavage by DpnI (which requires the presence of methyladenine in the GATC sequence).
PMCID: PMC211053  PMID: 2832390
11.  Hjc resolvase is a distantly related member of the type II restriction endonuclease family 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(22):4540-4543.
Hjc resolvase is an archaeal enzyme involved in homologous DNA recombination at the Holliday junction intermediate. However, the structure and the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme have not yet been identified. We performed database searching using the amino acid sequence of the enzyme from Pyrococcus furiosus as a query. We detected 59 amino acid sequences showing weak but significant sequence similarity to the Hjc resolvase. The detected sequences included DpnII, HaeII and Vsr endonuclease, which belong to the type II restriction endonuclease family. In addition, a highly conserved region was identified from a multiple alignment of the detected sequences, which was similar to an active site of the type II restriction endonucleases. We substituted three conserved amino acid residues in the highly conserved region of the Hjc resolvase with Ala residues. The amino acid replacements inactivated the enzyme. The experimental study, together with the results of the database searching, suggests that the Hjc resolvase is a distantly related member of the type II restriction endonuclease family. In addition, the results of our database searches suggested that the members of the RecB domain superfamily are evolutionarily related to the type II restriction endonuclease family.
PMCID: PMC113866  PMID: 11071943
12.  Functional Analysis of MmeI from Methanol Utilizer Methylophilus methylotrophus, a Subtype IIC Restriction-Modification Enzyme Related to Type I Enzymes▿  
MmeI from Methylophilus methylotrophus belongs to the type II restriction-modification enzymes. It recognizes an asymmetric DNA sequence, 5′-TCCRAC-3′ (R indicates G or A), and cuts both strands at fixed positions downstream of the specific site. This particular feature has been exploited in transcript profiling of complex genomes (using serial analysis of gene expression technology). We have shown previously that the endonucleolytic activity of MmeI is strongly dependent on the presence of S-adenosyl-l-methionine (J. Nakonieczna, J. W. Zmijewski, B. Banecki, and A. J. Podhajska, Mol. Biotechnol. 37:127-135, 2007), which puts MmeI in subtype IIG. The same cofactor is used by MmeI as a methyl group donor for modification of an adenine in the upper strand of the recognition site to N6-methyladenine. Both enzymatic activities reside in a single polypeptide (919 amino acids [aa]), which puts MmeI also in subtype IIC of the restriction-modification systems. Based on a molecular model, generated with the use of bioinformatic tools and validated by site-directed mutagenesis, we were able to localize three functional domains in the structure of the MmeI enzyme: (i) the N-terminal portion containing the endonucleolytic domain with the catalytic Mg2+-binding motif D70-X9-EXK82, characteristic for the PD-(D/E)XK superfamily of nucleases; (ii) a central portion (aa 310 to 610) containing nine sequence motifs conserved among N6-adenine γ-class DNA methyltransferases; (iii) the C-terminal portion (aa 610 to 919) containing a putative target recognition domain. Interestingly, all three domains showed highest similarity to the corresponding elements of type I enzymes rather than to classical type II enzymes. We have found that MmeI variants deficient in restriction activity (D70A, E80A, and K82A) can bind and methylate specific nucleotide sequence. This suggests that domains of MmeI responsible for DNA restriction and modification can act independently. Moreover, we have shown that a single amino acid residue substitution within the putative target recognition domain (S807A) resulted in a MmeI variant with a higher endonucleolytic activity than the wild-type enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2612229  PMID: 18997032
13.  Methylation of ribosomal RNA genes in the macronucleus of Tetrahymena thermophila. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1983;11(15):5131-5145.
We have investigated the occurrence of methylated adenine residues in the macronuclear ribosomal RNA genes of Tetrahymena thermophila. It has been shown previously that macronuclear DNA, including the palindromic ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA), of Tetrahymena thermophila contains the modified base N-6-methyladenine, but no 5-methylcytosine. Purified rDNA was digested with restriction enzymes Sau 3AI, MboI and DpnI to map the positions and levels of N-6-methyladenine in the sequence 5' GATC 3'. A specific pattern of doubly methylated GATC sequences was found; hemimethylated sites were not detected. The patterns and levels of methylation of these sites did not change significantly in different physiological states. A molecular form of the rDNA found in the newly developing macronucleus and for several generations following the sexual process, conjugation, contained no detectably methylated GATC sites. However, both the bulk macronuclear DNA and palindromic rDNA from the same macronuclei were methylated. Possible roles for N-6-methyladenine in macronuclear DNA are discussed in light of these findings.
PMCID: PMC326242  PMID: 6308573
14.  Cleavage at the twelve-base-pair sequence 5'-TCTAGATCTAGA-3' using M.Xbal (TCTAGm6A) methylation and DpnI (Gm6A/TC) cleavage. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1990;18(6):1603-1607.
The DNA methylase M.Xbal was isolated from an E. coli recombinant clone. We deduce that the enzyme methylates at the sequence 5'-TCTAGm6A-3'. In combination with the methylation-dependent restriction endonuclease, DpnI (5'-Gm6A/TC-3'), DNA cleavage occurs at the sequence 5'-TCTAGA/TCTAGA-3'. This twelve-base-pair site should occur once every 16,000,000 base pairs in a random sequence of DNA. The exceptional rarity of the M.XbaI/DpnI sequence makes it an ideal candidate for transpositional integration of a unique cleavage site into bacterial genomes. Retrotransposition into mammalian genomes is also an attractive possibility.
PMCID: PMC330532  PMID: 2158082
15.  DNA Adenine Methyltransferase Influences the Virulence of Aeromonas hydrophila  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(1):410-424.
Among the various virulence factors produced by Aeromonas hydrophila, a type II secretion system (T2SS)-secreted cytotoxic enterotoxin (Act) and the T3SS are crucial in the pathogenesis of Aeromonas-associated infections. Our laboratory molecularly characterized both Act and the T3SS from a diarrheal isolate, SSU of A. hydrophila, and defined the role of some regulatory genes in modulating the biological effects of Act. In this study, we cloned, sequenced, and expressed the DNA adenine methyltransferase gene of A. hydrophila SSU (damAhSSU) in a T7 promoter-based vector system using Escherichia coli ER2566 as a host strain, which could alter the virulence potential of A. hydrophila. Recombinant Dam, designated as M.AhySSUDam, was produced as a histidine-tagged fusion protein and purified from an E. coli cell lysate using nickel affinity chromatography. The purified Dam had methyltransferase activity, based on its ability to transfer a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine to N6-methyladenine-free lambda DNA and to protect methylated lambda DNA from digestion with DpnII but not against the DpnI restriction enzyme. The dam gene was essential for the viability of the bacterium, and overproduction of Dam in A. hydrophila SSU, using an arabinose-inducible, PBAD promoter-based system, reduced the virulence of this pathogen. Specifically, overproduction of M.AhySSUDam decreased the motility of the bacterium by 58%. Likewise, the T3SS-associated cytotoxicity, as measured by the release of lactate dehydrogenase enzyme in murine macrophages infected with the Dam-overproducing strain, was diminished by 55% compared to that of a control A. hydrophila SSU strain harboring the pBAD vector alone. On the contrary, cytotoxic and hemolytic activities associated with Act as well as the protease activity in the culture supernatant of a Dam-overproducing strain were increased by 10-, 3-, and 2.4-fold, respectively, compared to those of the control A. hydrophila SSU strain. The Dam-overproducing strain was not lethal to mice (100% survival) when given by the intraperitoneal route at a dose twice that of the 50% lethal dose, which within 2 to 3 days killed 100% of the animals inoculated with the A. hydrophila control strain. Taken together, our data indicated alteration of A. hydrophila virulence by overproduction of Dam.
PMCID: PMC1346675  PMID: 16368997
16.  Methylome Diversification through Changes in DNA Methyltransferase Sequence Specificity 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(4):e1004272.
Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation have large effects on gene expression and genome maintenance. Helicobacter pylori, a human gastric pathogen, has a large number of DNA methyltransferase genes, with different strains having unique repertoires. Previous genome comparisons suggested that these methyltransferases often change DNA sequence specificity through domain movement—the movement between and within genes of coding sequences of target recognition domains. Using single-molecule real-time sequencing technology, which detects N6-methyladenines and N4-methylcytosines with single-base resolution, we studied methylated DNA sites throughout the H. pylori genome for several closely related strains. Overall, the methylome was highly variable among closely related strains. Hypermethylated regions were found, for example, in rpoB gene for RNA polymerase. We identified DNA sequence motifs for methylation and then assigned each of them to a specific homology group of the target recognition domains in the specificity-determining genes for Type I and other restriction-modification systems. These results supported proposed mechanisms for sequence-specificity changes in DNA methyltransferases. Knocking out one of the Type I specificity genes led to transcriptome changes, which suggested its role in gene expression. These results are consistent with the concept of evolution driven by DNA methylation, in which changes in the methylome lead to changes in the transcriptome and potentially to changes in phenotype, providing targets for natural or artificial selection.
Author Summary
Living organisms are affected by epigenetic variation in addition to DNA sequence variation. DNA methylation is one of the most studied epigenetic modifications in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In prokaryotes, most DNA methylation is by DNA methyltransferases with high sequence specificity. Helicobacter pylori, a human stomach pathogen responsible for stomach cancer and other diseases, carries a large number of DNA methyltransferase genes that vary among strains. In this work, we examined the distribution of DNA methylation in multiple H. pylori genomes using single-molecule real-time sequencing technology, which detects DNA methylation with single-base resolution. Comparison of methylation motifs between closely related genomes allowed assignment of a recognition sequence to each DNA methylation specificity-determining gene. Highly methylated genes were detected, although the general DNA methylation pattern varied among strains. Knockout of a methylation specificity-determining gene led to changes in the transcriptome. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis that changes in the methylome lead to changes in the transcriptome and to changes in phenotypes, providing potential targets for natural and artificial selection in adaptive evolution.
PMCID: PMC3983042  PMID: 24722038
17.  Expression of the Escherichia coli dam methylase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: effect of in vivo adenine methylation on genetic recombination and mutation. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1985;5(4):610-618.
The Escherichia coli DNA adenine methylase (dam) gene has been introduced into Saccharomyces cerevisiae on a yeast-E. coli shuttle vector. Sau3AI, MboI, and DpnI restriction enzyme digests and Southern hybridization analysis indicated that the dam gene is expressed in yeast cells and methylates GATC sequences. Analysis of digests of total genomic DNA indicated that some GATC sites are not sensitive to methylation. The failure to methylate may reflect an inaccessibility to the methylase due to chromosome structure. The effects of this in vivo methylation on the processes of recombination and mutation in mitotic cells were determined. A small but definite general increase was found in the frequency of mitotic recombination. A similar increase was observed for reversion of some auxotrophic markers; other markers demonstrated a small decrease in mutation frequency. The effects on mutation appear to be locus (or allele) specific. Recombination in meiotic cells was measured and was not detectably altered by the presence of 6-methyladenine in GATC sequences.
PMCID: PMC366761  PMID: 3887134
18.  A genetic dissection of the LlaJI restriction cassette reveals insights on a novel bacteriophage resistance system 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:40.
Restriction/modification systems provide the dual function of protecting host DNA against restriction by methylation of appropriate bases within their recognition sequences, and restriction of foreign invading un-methylated DNA, such as promiscuous plasmids or infecting bacteriphage. The plasmid-encoded LlaJI restriction/modification system from Lactococcus lactis recognizes an asymmetric, complementary DNA sequence, consisting of 5'GACGC'3 in one strand and 5'GCGTC'3 in the other and provides a prodigious barrier to bacteriophage infection. LlaJI is comprised of four similarly oriented genes, encoding two 5mC-MTases (M1.LlaJI and M2.LlaJI) and two subunits responsible for restriction activity (R1.LlaJI and R2.LlaJI). Here we employ a detailed genetic analysis of the LlaJI restriction determinants in an attempt to characterize mechanistic features of this unusual hetero-oligomeric endonuclease.
Detailed bioinformatics analysis confirmed the presence of a conserved GTP binding and hydrolysis domain within the C-terminal half of the R1.LlaJI amino acid sequence whilst the N-terminal half appeared to be entirely unique. This domain architecture was homologous with that of the "B" subunit of the GTP-dependent, methyl-specific McrBC endonuclease from E.coli K-12. R1.LlaJI did not appear to contain a catalytic centre, whereas this conserved motif; PD....D/EXK, was clearly identified within the amino acid sequence for R2.LlaJI. Both R1.LlaJI and R2.LlaJI were found to be absolutely required for detectable LlaJI activity in vivo. The LlaJI restriction subunits were purified and examined in vitro, which allowed the assignment of R1.LlaJI as the sole specificity determining subunit, whilst R2.LlaJI is believed to mediate DNA cleavage.
The hetero-subunit structure of LlaJI, wherein one subunit mediates DNA binding whilst the other subunit is predicted to catalyze strand hydrolysis distinguishes LlaJI from previously characterized restriction-modification systems. Furthermore, this distinction is accentuated by the fact that whilst LlaJI behaves as a conventional Type IIA system in vivo, in that it restricts un-methylated DNA, it resembles the Type IV McrBC endonuclease, an enzyme specific for methylated DNA. A number of similar restriction determinants were identified in the database and it is likely LlaJI together with these homologous systems, comprise a new subtype of the Type II class incorporating features of Type II and Type IV systems.
PMCID: PMC1459862  PMID: 16646963
19.  A Novel 3-Sulfinopropionyl Coenzyme A (3SP-CoA) Desulfinase from Advenella mimigardefordensis Strain DPN7T Acting as a Key Enzyme during Catabolism of 3,3′-Dithiodipropionic Acid Is a Member of the Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Superfamily 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(7):1538-1551.
3-Sulfinopropionyl coenzyme A (3SP-CoA) desulfinase (AcdDPN7) is a new desulfinase that catalyzes the sulfur abstraction from 3SP-CoA in the betaproteobacterium Advenella mimigardefordensis strain DPN7T. During investigation of a Tn5::mob-induced mutant defective in growth on 3,3′-dithiodipropionate (DTDP) and also 3-sulfinopropionate (3SP), the transposon insertion was mapped to an open reading frame with the highest homology to an acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (Acd) from Burkholderia phenoliruptrix strain BR3459a (83% identical and 91% similar amino acids). An A. mimigardefordensis Δacd mutant was generated and verified the observed phenotype of the Tn5::mob-induced mutant. For enzymatic studies, AcdDPN7 was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3)/pLysS by using pET23a::acdDPN7. The purified protein is yellow and contains a noncovalently bound flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) cofactor, as verified by high-performance liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS) analyses. Size-exclusion chromatography revealed a native molecular mass of about 173 kDa, indicating a homotetrameric structure (theoretically 179 kDa), which is in accordance with other members of the acyl-CoA dehydrogenase superfamily. In vitro assays unequivocally demonstrated that the purified enzyme converted 3SP-CoA into propionyl-CoA and sulfite (SO32−). Kinetic studies of AcdDPN7 revealed a Vmax of 4.19 μmol min−1 mg−1, an apparent Km of 0.013 mM, and a kcat/Km of 240.8 s−1 mM−1 for 3SP-CoA. However, AcdDPN7 is unable to perform a dehydrogenation, which is the usual reaction catalyzed by members of the acyl-CoA dehydrogenase superfamily. Comparison to other known desulfinases showed a comparably high catalytic efficiency of AcdDPN7 and indicated a novel reaction mechanism. Hence, AcdDPN7 encodes a new desulfinase based on an acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (EC 1.3.8.x) scaffold. Concomitantly, we identified the gene product that is responsible for the final desulfination step during catabolism of 3,3′-dithiodipropionate (DTDP), a sulfur-containing precursor substrate for biosynthesis of polythioesters.
PMCID: PMC3624521  PMID: 23354747
20.  Structure and mutagenesis of the DNA modification-dependent restriction endonuclease AspBHI 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4246.
The modification-dependent restriction endonuclease AspBHI recognizes 5-methylcytosine (5mC) in the double-strand DNA sequence context of (C/T)(C/G)(5mC)N(C/G) (N = any nucleotide) and cleaves the two strands a fixed distance (N12/N16) 3′ to the modified cytosine. We determined the crystal structure of the homo-tetrameric AspBHI. Each subunit of the protein comprises two domains: an N-terminal DNA-recognition domain and a C-terminal DNA cleavage domain. The N-terminal domain is structurally similar to the eukaryotic SET and RING-associated (SRA) domain, which is known to bind to a hemi-methylated CpG dinucleotide. The C-terminal domain is structurally similar to classic Type II restriction enzymes and contains the endonuclease catalytic-site motif of DX20EAK. To understand how specific amino acids affect AspBHI recognition preference, we generated a homology model of the AspBHI-DNA complex, and probed the importance of individual amino acids by mutagenesis. Ser41 and Arg42 are predicted to be located in the DNA minor groove 5′ to the modified cytosine. Substitution of Ser41 with alanine (S41A) and cysteine (S41C) resulted in mutants with altered cleavage activity. All 19 Arg42 variants resulted in loss of endonuclease activity.
PMCID: PMC3946040  PMID: 24604015
21.  Evidence for Horizontal Transfer of SsuDAT1I Restriction-Modification Genes to the Streptococcus suis Genome 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(2):500-511.
Different strains of Streptococcus suis serotypes 1 and 2 isolated from pigs either contained a restriction-modification (R-M) system or lacked it. The R-M system was an isoschizomer of Streptococcus pneumoniae DpnII, which recognizes nucleotide sequence 5′-GATC-3′. The nucleotide sequencing of the genes encoding the R-M system in S. suis DAT1, designated SsuDAT1I, showed that the SsuDAT1I gene region contained two methyltransferase genes, designated ssuMA and ssuMB, as does the DpnII system. The deduced amino acid sequences of M.SsuMA and M.SsuMB showed 70 and 90% identity to M.DpnII and M.DpnA, respectively. However, the SsuDAT1I system contained two isoschizomeric restriction endonuclease genes, designated ssuRA and ssuRB. The deduced amino acid sequence of R.SsuRA was 49% identical to that of R.DpnII, and R.SsuRB was 72% identical to R.LlaDCHI of Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris DCH-4. The four SsuDAT1I genes overlapped and were bounded by purine biosynthetic gene clusters in the following gene order: purF-purM-purN-purH-ssuMA-ssuMB-ssuRA-ssuRB-purD-purE. The G+C content of the SsuDAT1I gene region (34.1%) was lower than that of the pur region (48.9%), suggesting horizontal transfer of the SsuDAT1I system. No transposable element or long-repeat sequence was found in the flanking regions. The SsuDAT1I genes were functional by themselves, as they were individually expressed in Escherichia coli. Comparison of the sequences between strains with and without the R-M system showed that only the region from 53 bp upstream of ssuMA to 5 bp downstream of ssuRB was inserted in the intergenic sequence between purH and purD and that the insertion target site was not the recognition site of SsuDAT1I. No notable substitutions or insertions could be found, and the structures were conserved among all the strains. These results suggest that the SsuDAT1I system could have been integrated into the S. suis chromosome by an illegitimate recombination mechanism.
PMCID: PMC94905  PMID: 11133943
22.  High correlation of the presence of methyladenine in Neisseria gonorrhoeae DNA with the AHU auxotype. 
Infection and Immunity  1982;36(2):586-590.
Strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae were tested for the presence of methyladenine in the DNA sequence GATC by using the site-specific restriction endonucleases MboI and DpnI. It was found that 43 of 83 strains tested contained methylated DNA. When methylation was compared with the auxotype of the organism, 35 of 35 strains with the AHU (arginine-, hypoxanthine-, and uracil-requiring) auxotype and 8 of 48 strains with other auxotypes contained methyladenine. When the incidence of methylation in strains isolated from patients suffering from disseminated gonococcal infection was compared with that in strains isolated from patients suffering from uncomplicated gonococcal infection, no correlation with methylation and disseminated gonococcal infection was observed.
PMCID: PMC351268  PMID: 6806191
23.  Adenine methylation may contribute to endosymbiont selection in a clonal aphid population 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):999.
The pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum has two modes of reproduction: parthenogenetic during the spring and summer and sexual in autumn. This ability to alternate between reproductive modes and the emergence of clonal populations under favorable conditions make this organism an interesting model for genetic and epigenetic studies. The pea aphid hosts different types of endosymbiotic bacteria within bacteriocytes which help the aphids survive and adapt to new environmental conditions and habitats. The obligate endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola has a drastically reduced and stable genome, whereas facultative endosymbionts such as Regiella insecticola have large and dynamic genomes due to phages, mobile elements and high levels of genetic recombination. In previous work, selection toward cold adaptation resulted in the appearance of parthenogenetic A. pisum individuals characterized by heavier weights and remarkable green pigmentation.
Six adenine-methylated DNA fragments were isolated from genomic DNA (gDNA) extracted from the cold-induced green variant of A. pisum using deoxyadenosine methylase (Dam) by digesting the gDNA with the restriction enzymes DpnI and DpnII, which recognize the methylated and unmethylated GATC sites, respectively. The six resultant fragments did not match any sequence in the A. pisum or Buchnera genomes, implying that they came from facultative endosymbionts. The A1 fragment encoding a putative transposase and the A6 fragment encoding a putative helicase were selected for further comparison between the two A. pisum variants (green and orange) based on Dam analysis followed by PCR amplification. An association between adenine methylation and the two A. pisum variants was demonstrated by higher adenine methylation levels on both genes in the green variant as compared to the orange one.
Temperature selection may affect the secondary endosymbiont and the sensitive Dam involved in the survival and adaptation of aphids to cold temperatures. There is a high degree of adenine methylation at the GATC sites of the endosymbiont genes at 8°C, an effect that disappears at 22°C. We suggest that endosymbionts can be modified or selected to increase host fitness under unfavorable climatic conditions, and that the phenotype of the newly adapted aphids can be inherited.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-999) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4246565  PMID: 25406741
Acyrthosiphon pisum; Bacteriocyte; Facultative/secondary bacterium; Epigenetic; Deoxyadenosine methylase (Dam)
24.  Functional Dissection of Latency-Associated Nuclear Antigen 1 of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Involved in Latent DNA Replication and Transcription of Terminal Repeats of the Viral Genome 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(20):10320-10331.
Latency-associated nuclear antigen 1 (LANA1) of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is implicated in the maintenance of the viral genome during latent infection. LANA1 colocalizes with KSHV episomes on the host chromosome and mediates their maintenance by attaching these viral structures to host chromosomes. Data from long-term selection of drug resistance in cells conferred by plasmids containing the terminal repeat (TR) sequence of KSHV revealed that KSHV TRs and LANA1 act as cis and trans elements of viral latent replication, respectively. In this study, we further characterized the cis- and trans-acting elements of KSHV latent replication by using a transient replication assay with a methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme, DpnI. Transient reporter and replication assays disclosed that the orientation and basal transcriptional activity of TR constructs did not significantly affect the efficiency of replication. However, at least two TR units were necessary for efficient replication. The N-terminal 90 amino acids comprising the chromosome-binding domain of LANA1 were required for the mediation of LANA1 C-terminal DNA-binding and dimerization domains to support the transient replication of KSHV TRs. LANA1 interacted with components of the origin recognition complexes (ORCs), similar to Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1. Our data suggest that LANA1 recruits ORCs to KSHV TRs for latent replication of the viral genome.
PMCID: PMC136563  PMID: 12239308
25.  Structural Basis of a Histone H3 Lysine 4 Demethylase Required for Stem Elongation in Rice 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003239.
Histone lysine methylation is an important epigenetic modification in regulating chromatin structure and gene expression. Histone H3 lysine 4 methylation (H3K4me), which can be in a mono-, di-, or trimethylated state, has been shown to play an important role in gene expression involved in plant developmental control and stress adaptation. However, the resetting mechanism of this epigenetic modification is not yet fully understood. In this work, we identified a JmjC domain-containing protein, JMJ703, as a histone lysine demethylase that specifically reverses all three forms of H3K4me in rice. Loss-of-function mutation of the gene affected stem elongation and plant growth, which may be related to increased expression of cytokinin oxidase genes in the mutant. Analysis of crystal structure of the catalytic core domain (c-JMJ703) of the protein revealed a general structural similarity with mammalian and yeast JMJD2 proteins that are H3K9 and H3K36 demethylases. However, several specific features were observed in the structure of c-JMJ703. Key residues that interact with cofactors Fe(II) and N-oxalylglycine and the methylated H3K4 substrate peptide were identified and were shown to be essential for the demethylase activity in vivo. Several key residues are specifically conserved in known H3K4 demethylases, suggesting that they may be involved in the specificity for H3K4 demethylation.
Author Summary
Genomic DNA is associated with histone proteins to form the basic structure of chromatin. Lysine residues within the N-terminal end of histones H3 and H4 can be methylated, which may have a positive or a negative effect on the activity of associated DNA or genes, depending on the position of the lysines in the histones. Histone lysine methylation can be reversed by histone demethylases. However, it is not very clear how the specificity of histone demethylases to different histone lysines is determined. In this work we have identified a rice histone demethylase, namely JMJ703, which specifically demethylates methylated histone H3 lysine 4. We found that loss of the enzyme reduces cell division rate of the stem and the size of plant stature, indicating the importance of the protein in plant growth. The crystal structure of the catalytic domain of the protein shares a general similarity with that of mammalian and yeast proteins that demethylate methylated histone H3 lysine 9 and lysine 36, but displays several distinct structural features that are important for substrate and cofactor binding and enzymatic activity of the protein. We found that key amino acids involved in the specific structures are conserved within known H3 lysine 4 demethylases, which may be involved in the specificity to histone H3 lysine 4.
PMCID: PMC3554631  PMID: 23357881

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