Jeon J, Choi J, Lee GW, Park SY, Huh A, Dean RA, Lee YH
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification that regulates development of plants and mammals. To investigate the roles of DNA methylation in fungal development, we profiled genome-wide methylation patterns at single-nucleotide resolution during vegetative growth, asexual reproduction, and infection-related morphogenesis in a model plant pathogenic fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae. We found that DNA methylation occurs in and around genes as well as transposable elements and undergoes global reprogramming during fungal development. Such reprogramming of DNA methylation suggests that it may have acquired new roles other than controlling the proliferation of TEs. Genetic analysis of DNA methyltransferase deletion mutants also indicated that proper reprogramming in methylomes is required for asexual reproduction in the fungus. Furthermore, RNA-seq analysis showed that DNA methylation is associated with transcriptional silencing of transposable elements and transcript abundance of genes in context-dependent manner, reinforcing the role of DNA methylation as a genome defense mechanism. This comprehensive approach suggests that DNA methylation in fungi can be a dynamic epigenetic entity contributing to fungal development and genome defense. Furthermore, our DNA methylomes provide a foundation for future studies exploring this key epigenetic modification in fungal development and pathogenesis.