Characterization of DNA methylation in Malawian Mycobacterium tuberculosis clinical isolates

Victor Ndhlovu*, Anmol Kiran, Derek J. Sloan, Wilson Mandala, Marriott Nliwasa, Dean B. Everett, Benjamin Kumwenda, Mphatso Mwapasa, Konstantina Kontogianni, Mercy Kamdolozi, Elizabeth Corbett, Maxine Caws, Gerry Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background. Although Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strains exhibit genomic homology of >99%, there is considerable variation in the phenotype. The underlying mechanisms of phenotypic heterogeneity in Mtb are not well understood but epigenetic variation is thought to contribute. At present the methylome of Mtb has not been completely characterized.

Methods. We completed methylomes of 18 Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) clinical isolates from Malawi representing the largest number of Mtb genomes to be completed in a single study using Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing to date.

Results. We replicate and confirm four methylation disrupting mutations in 4 lineages of Mtb. For the first time we report complete loss of methylation courtesy of C758T (S253L) mutation in the MamB gene of Indo-oceanic lineage of Mtb. Additionally, we report a novel missense mutation G454A (G152S) in the MamA gene of the Euro-American lineage which could potentially be attributed to total disruption of methylation in the CCCAG motif but partial loss in a partner motif. Through a genomic and methylome comparative analysis with a global sample of sixteen, we report previously unknown mutations affecting the pks15/1 locus in L6 isolates. We confirm that methylation in Mtb is lineage specific although some unresolved issues still remain.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10432
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2020


  • DNA methylation
  • Malawian Mtb clinical isolates
  • Motif
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Single Molecule Real Time Sequencing


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