Functional CpG methylation system in a social insect

Ying Wang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mireia Jorda, IDIBELL–Cancer Research Institute
Peter L. Jones, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Ryszard Maleszka, The Australian National University
Xu Ling, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Hugh M. Robertson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Craig A. Mizzen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Miguel A. Peinado, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Gene E. Robinson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

At the time of publication, Peter Jones was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Abstract

DNA methylation systems are well characterized in vertebrates, but methylation in Drosophila melanogaster and other invertebrates remains controversial. Using the recently sequenced honey bee genome, we present a bioinformatic, molecular, and biochemical characterization of a functional DNA methylation system in an insect. We report on catalytically active orthologs of the vertebrate DNA methyltransferases Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a and b, two isoforms that contain a methyl-DNA binding domain, genomic 5-methyl-deoxycytosine, and CpG-methylated genes. The honey bee provides an opportunity to study the roles of methylation in social contexts.