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Horizontal transfer of DNA methylation patterns into bacterial chromosomes.


ABSTRACT: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the non-inherited acquisition of novel DNA sequences. HGT is common and important in bacteria because it enables the rapid generation of new phenotypes such as antibiotic resistance. Here we show that in vivo and in vitro DNA methylation patterns can be horizontally transferred into bacterial chromosomes to program cell phenotypes. The experiments were performed using a synthetic system in Escherichia coli where different DNA methylation patterns within the cis-regulatory sequence of the agn43 gene turn on or off a fluorescent reporter (CFP). With this system we demonstrated that DNA methylation patterns not only accompany the horizontal transfer of genes into the bacterial cytoplasm but can be transferred into chromosomes by: (i) bacteriophage P1 transduction; and (ii) transformation of extracellular synthetic DNA. We also modified the experimental system by replacing CFP with the SgrS small RNA, which regulates glucose and methyl ?-D-glucoside uptake, and showed that horizontally acquired DNA methylation patterns can increase or decrease cell fitness. That is, horizontally acquired DNA methylation patterns can result in the selection for and against cells that have HGT. Findings from these proof-of-concept experiments have applications in synthetic biology and potentially broad implications for bacterial adaptation and evolution.

SUBMITTER: Shin JE 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4872104 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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