Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the most common infectious diseases caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC). To panoramically analyze MTBC's genomic methylation, we completed the genomes of 12 MTBC strains (Mycobacterium bovis; M. bovis BCG; M. microti; M. africanum; M. tuberculosis H37Rv; H37Ra; and 6 M. tuberculosis clinical isolates) belonging to different lineages and characterized their methylomes using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) technology. We identified three (m6)A sequence motifs and their corresponding methyltransferase (MTase) genes, including the reported mamA, hsdM and a newly discovered mamB. We also experimentally verified the methylated motifs and functions of HsdM and MamB. Our analysis indicated the MTase activities varied between 12 strains due to mutations/deletions. Furthermore, through measuring 'the methylated-motif-site ratio' and 'the methylated-read ratio', we explored the methylation status of each modified site and sequence-read to obtain the 'precision methylome' of the MTBC strains, which enabled intricate analysis of MTase activity at whole-genome scale. Most unmodified sites overlapped with transcription-factor binding-regions, which might protect these sites from methylation. Overall, our findings show enormous potential for the SMRT platform to investigate the precise character of methylome, and significantly enhance our understanding of the function of DNA MTase.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.