DNA cytosine methylation is central to many biological processes, including regulation of gene expression, cellular differentiation, and development. This DNA modification is conserved across animals, having been found in representatives of sponges, ctenophores, cnidarians, and bilaterians, and with very few known instances of secondary loss in animals. Myxozoans are a group of microscopic, obligate endoparasitic cnidarians that have lost many genes over the course of their evolution from free-living ancestors. Here, we investigated the evolution of the key enzymes involved in DNA cytosine methylation in 29 cnidarians and found that these enzymes were lost in an ancestor of Myxosporea (the most speciose class of Myxozoa). Additionally, using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, we confirmed that the genomes of two distant species of myxosporeans, Ceratonova shasta and Henneguya salminicola, completely lack DNA cytosine methylation. Our results add a notable and novel taxonomic group, the Myxosporea, to the very short list of animal taxa lacking DNA cytosine methylation, further illuminating the complex evolutionary history of this epigenetic regulatory mechanism.
- cytosine methylation
- methylome evolution
- whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS)