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Etude de la méthylation de l'ADN chez la bactérie pathogène d'insectes Photorhabdus luminescens

Abstract : Photorhabdus luminescens is an Enterobacteriaceae found in soils in symbiosis with a nematode from the genus Heterorhabditis. This nemato-bacterial complex is highly pathogenic against insect pest crops and so used in biocontrol. The nematode enters into the insect and releases Photorhabdus in the hemolymph of the insect. Photorhabdus multiplies and produces diverse virulence factors as toxins. Insect die from septicemia and both nematodes and bacteria feed on the nutrients in the cadaver. Once nutrients are lacking, the nematodes and the bacteria reassociate and exit from the cadaver to find new insects to infect. Photorhabdus is switching between pathogenic and symbiotic state. This bacterium displays phenotypic heterogeneity as we observe subpopulations coexisting in a same bacterial culture. Phenotypic heterogeneity can be explained by epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. In Enterobacteriaceae, Dam methyltransferase is broadly distributed. It methylates the adenine of GATC sites. Dam is involved in post-replicative mismatch repair, cell-cycle regulation and also gene transcription regulation. This methyltransferase can be in competition with some transcriptional regulators. Depending on which will bind first on the promoter region, gene will be expressed or not, leading to the rise of two subpopulations. This thesis aims to understand roles of Dam in Photorhabdus luminescens. Overexpression of the methyltransferase leads to a decrease in motility and pathogenicity of Photorhabdus Dam+ strain whereas it increases biofilms formation. A transcriptomic analysis (RNAseq) revealed differential expression of genes involved in the observed phenotypes. Symbiosis establishment does not seem to be strongly impacted in Dam+ strain as the only difference observed when compared to the nematode associated with the control strain is the same as with bacteria alone (a delayed virulence). A methylome analysis was also done (screening of all methylated sites in the genome using SMRT sequencing) in several growth conditions which revealed that DNA methylation is stable over growth kinetics. Dam+ strain methylome analysis confirmed the hypothesis that Dam overexpression increases GATC methylation over the genome. Comparative analysis of methylome and RNAseq experiments between control and Dam+ strains highlighted several common genes. In fact, some genes are differentially expressed between both strains and also have GATC sites differentially methylated in their promoter region. Their transcription regulation by methylation is a future aim and may give some explanation for a part of the phenotypes observed in Photorhabdus luminescens.
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Amaury Payelleville. Etude de la méthylation de l'ADN chez la bactérie pathogène d'insectes Photorhabdus luminescens. Bactériologie. Université Montpellier, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018MONTG063⟩. ⟨tel-02045899⟩

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