mEnrich-seq: methylation-guided enrichment sequencing of bacterial taxa of interest from microbiome

Lei Cao, Yimeng Kong, Yu Fan, Mi Ni, Alan Tourancheau, Magdalena Ksiezarek, Edward A. Mead, Tonny Koo, Melissa Gitman, Xue Song Zhang, Gang Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metagenomics has enabled the comprehensive study of microbiomes. However, many applications would benefit from a method that sequences specific bacterial taxa of interest, but not most background taxa. We developed mEnrich-seq (in which ‘m’ stands for methylation and seq for sequencing) for enriching taxa of interest from metagenomic DNA before sequencing. The core idea is to exploit the self versus nonself differentiation by natural bacterial DNA methylation and rationally choose methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes, individually or in combination, to deplete host and background taxa while enriching targeted taxa. This idea is integrated with library preparation procedures and applied in several applications to enrich (up to 117-fold) pathogenic or beneficial bacteria from human urine and fecal samples, including species that are hard to culture or of low abundance. We assessed 4,601 bacterial strains with mapped methylomes so far and showed broad applicability of mEnrich-seq. mEnrich-seq provides microbiome researchers with a versatile and cost-effective approach for selective sequencing of diverse taxa of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
JournalNature Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


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