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The red thread between methylation and mutation in bacterial antibiotic resistance: How third-generation sequencing can help to unravel this relationship

Publication at Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen |


DNA methylation is an important mechanism involved in bacteria limiting foreign DNA acquisition, maintenance of mobile genetic elements, DNA mismatch repair, and gene expression. Changes in DNA methylation pattern are observed in bacteria under stress conditions, including exposure to antimicrobial compounds.

These changes can result in transient and fast-appearing adaptive antibiotic resistance (AdR) phenotypes, e.g., strain overexpressing efflux pumps. DNA methylation can be related to DNA mutation rate, because it is involved in DNA mismatch repair systems and because methylated bases are well-known mutational hotspots.

The AdR process can be the first important step in the selection of antibiotic-resistant strains, allowing the survival of the bacterial population until more efficient resistant mutants emerge. Epigenetic modifications can be investigated by third-generation sequencing platforms that allow us to simultaneously detect all the methylated bases along with the DNA sequencing.

In this scenario, this sequencing technology enables the study of epigenetic modifications in link with antibiotic resistance and will help to investigate the relationship between methylation and mutation in the development of stable mechanisms of resistance.