Distribution of 5-methylcytosine residues in 5S rRNA genes in Arabidopsis thaliana and Secale cereale
Bisulfite genomic sequencing was used to localise 5-methylcytosine residues (mC) in 5S rRNA genes of Arabidopsis thaliana and Secale cereale. The maps of mC distribution were compared with the previously published map of the corresponding region in Nicotiana tabacum. In all three species, the level of methylation of 5S rRNA genes was generally higher than the average for the entire genome. The ratio of 5S rDNA methylation to average overall methylation was 44%/30-33% for N. tabacum, 27%/4-6% for A. thaliana and 24%/20-22% for S. cereale. With the exception of one clone from S. cereale, no methylation-free 5S rDNA was detected. The level of methylation at different sequence motifs in 5S rDNA was calculated for N. tabacum/A. thaliana/S. cereale, and this analysis yielded the following values (expressed as a percentage of total Q: mCG 90%/78%/85'Vo, mCWG 89%/41%/ 53%, mCmCG 72%/32%/16%, mCCG 4%/2%/0%, mCHH 15%/6%/1%, where W = A or T, and H = A or C or T. Non-symmetrical methylation was almost negligible in the large genome of S. cereale but relatively frequent in N. tabacum and A. thaliana, suggesting that the strict correlation between genome size and cytosine methylation might be violated for this type of methylation. Among non-symmetrical motifs the mCWA triplets were significantly over-represented in Arabidopsis, while in tobacco this preference was not as pronounced. The differences in methylation levels in different sequence contexts might be of phylogenetic significance, but further species in related and different taxa need to be studied before firm conclusions can be drawn.