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Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


In addition to its role in genome protection, DNA methylation can regulate gene expression. In this study, we characterized the impact of acidity, phase variation, and the ArsRS TCS on the expression of the Type I m6A DNA methyltransferase HsdM1 (HP0463) of Helicobacter pylori 26695 and their subsequent effects on the methylome. Transcription of hsdM1 increases at least fourfold in the absence of the sensory histidine kinase ArsS, the major acid-sensing protein of H. pylori. hsdM1 exists in the phase-variable operon hsdR1-hsdM1. Phase-locking hsdR1 (HP0464), the restriction endonuclease gene, has significant impacts on the transcription of hsdM1. To determine the impacts of methyltransferase transcription patterns on the methylome, we conducted methylome sequencing on samples cultured at pH 7 or pH 5. We found differentially methylated motifs between these growth conditions and that deletions of arsS and/or hsdM1 interfere with the epigenetic acid response. Deletion of arsS leads to altered activity of HsdM1 and multiple other methyltransferases under both pH conditions indicating that the ArsRS TCS, in addition to direct effects on regulon transcription during acid acclimation, may also indirectly impact gene expression via regulation of the methylome. We determined the target motif of HsdM1 (HP0463) to be the complementary bipartite sequence pair 5′-TCAm6AVN6TGY-3′ and 3′-AGTN6GAm6ACA-5′. This complex regulation of DNA methyltransferases, and thus differential methylation patterns, may have implications for the decades-long persistent infection by H. pylori.


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