A functional DNA methylation system in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum


Thomas K. Walsh, CSIRO Entomology, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences (CELS), Floreat Park, WA 6914, Australia. Tel.: +61 (0)8 9333 6126; fax: +61 (0)8 9333 6646; e-mail: tom.walsh@csiro.au


Methylation of cytosine is one of the main epigenetic mechanisms involved in controlling gene expression. Here we show that the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) genome possesses homologues to all the DNA methyltransferases found in vertebrates, and that 0.69% (±0.25%) of all cytosines are methylated. Identified methylation sites are predominantly restricted to the coding sequence of genes at CpG sites. We identify twelve methylated genes, including genes that interact with juvenile hormone, a key endocrine signal in insects. Bioinformatic prediction using CpG ratios for all predicted genes suggest that a large proportion of genes are methylated within the pea aphid.