Comparative methylomics reveals gene-body H3K36me3 in Drosophila predicts DNA methylation and CpG landscapes in other invertebrates

The Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 2AT, United Kingdom.
Genome Research (Impact Factor: 14.63). 09/2011; 21(11):1841-50. DOI: 10.1101/gr.121640.111
Source: PubMed


In invertebrates that harbor functional DNA methylation enzymatic machinery, gene-bodies are the primary targets for CpG methylation. However, virtually all other aspects of invertebrate DNA methylation have remained a mystery until now. Here, using a comparative methylomics approach, we demonstrate that Nematostella vectensis, Ciona intestinalis, Apis mellifera, and Bombyx mori show two distinct populations of genes differentiated by gene-body CpG density. Genome-scale DNA methylation profiles for A. mellifera spermatozoa reveal CpG-poor genes are methylated in the germline, as predicted by the depletion of CpGs. We find an evolutionarily conserved distinction between CpG-poor and GpC-rich genes: The former are associated with basic biological processes, the latter with more specialized functions. This distinction is strikingly similar to that recently observed between euchromatin-associated genes in Drosophila that contain intragenic histone 3 lysine 36 trimethylation (H3K36me3) and those that do not, even though Drosophila does not display CpG density bimodality or methylation. We confirm that a significant number of CpG-poor genes in N. vectensis, C. intestinalis, A. mellifera, and B. mori are orthologs of H3K36me3-rich genes in Drosophila. We propose that over evolutionary time, gene-body H3K36me3 has influenced gene-body DNA methylation levels and, consequently, the gene-body CpG density bimodality characteristic of invertebrates that harbor CpG methylation.

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