Impacts of Mycoplasma agalactiae restriction-modification systems on pan-epigenome dynamics and genome plasticity

Microb Genom. 2022 May;8(5):mgen000829. doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.000829.


DNA methylations play an important role in the biology of bacteria. Often associated with restriction modification (RM) systems, they are important drivers of bacterial evolution interfering in horizontal gene transfer events by providing a defence against foreign DNA invasion or by favouring genetic transfer through production of recombinogenic DNA ends. Little is known regarding the methylome of the Mycoplasma genus, which encompasses several pathogenic species with small genomes. Here, genome-wide detection of DNA methylations was conducted using single molecule real-time (SMRT) and bisulphite sequencing in several strains of Mycoplasma agalactiae, an important ruminant pathogen and a model organism. Combined with whole-genome analysis, this allowed the identification of 19 methylated motifs associated with three orphan methyltransferases (MTases) and eight RM systems. All systems had a homolog in at least one phylogenetically distinct Mycoplasma spp. Our study also revealed that several superimposed genetic events may participate in the M. agalactiae dynamic epigenomic landscape. These included (i) DNA shuffling and frameshift mutations that affect the MTase and restriction endonuclease content of a clonal population and (ii) gene duplication, erosion, and horizontal transfer that modulate MTase and RM repertoires of the species. Some of these systems were experimentally shown to play a major role in mycoplasma conjugative, horizontal DNA transfer. While the versatility of DNA methylation may contribute to regulating essential biological functions at cell and population levels, RM systems may be key in mycoplasma genome evolution and adaptation by controlling horizontal gene transfers.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Mycoplasma; epigenome; horizontal gene transfer; methylome; restriction-modification system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Restriction-Modification Enzymes* / genetics
  • Epigenome
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Mycoplasma agalactiae* / genetics


  • DNA Restriction-Modification Enzymes