Critical assessment of DNA adenine methylation in eukaryotes using quantitative deconvolution

Yimeng Kong, Lei Cao, Gintaras Deikus, Yu Fan, Edward A. Mead, Weiyi Lai, Yizhou Zhang, Raymund Yong, Robert Sebra, Hailin Wang, Xue Song Zhang, Gang Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The discovery of N6-methyldeoxyadenine (6mA) across eukaryotes led to a search for additional epigenetic mechanisms. However, some studies have highlighted confounding factors that challenge the prevalence of 6mA in eukaryotes. We developed a metagenomic method to quantitatively deconvolve 6mA events from a genomic DNA sample into species of interest, genomic regions, and sources of contamination. Applying this method, we observed high-resolution 6mA deposition in two protozoa. We found that commensal or soil bacteria explained the vast majority of 6mA in insect and plant samples. We found no evidence of high abundance of 6mA in Drosophila, Arabidopsis, or humans. Plasmids used for genetic manipulation, even those from Dam methyltransferase mutant Escherichia coli, could carry abundant 6mA, confounding the evaluation of candidate 6mA methyltransferases and demethylases. On the basis of this work, we advocate for a reassessment of 6mA in eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA26
Pages (from-to)515-522
Number of pages8
Issue number6580
StatePublished - 4 Feb 2022


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