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Friday, July 19, 2019

Analysis of recombinational switching at the antigenic variation locus of the Lyme spirochete using a novel PacBio sequencing pipeline.

The Lyme disease spirochete evades the host immune system by combinatorial variation of VlsE, a surface antigen. Antigenic variation occurs via segmental gene conversion from contiguous silent cassettes into the vlsE locus. Because of the high degree of similarity between switch variants and the size of vlsE, short-read NGS technologies have been unsuitable for sequencing vlsE populations. Here we use PacBio sequencing technology coupled with the first fully-automated software pipeline (VAST) to accurately process NGS data by minimizing error frequency, eliminating heteroduplex errors and accurately aligning switch variants. We extend earlier studies by showing use of almost all of the vlsE…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Mechanisms of surface antigenic variation in the human pathogenic fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii.

Microbial pathogens commonly escape the human immune system by varying surface proteins. We investigated the mechanisms used for that purpose by Pneumocystis jirovecii This uncultivable fungus is an obligate pulmonary pathogen that in immunocompromised individuals causes pneumonia, a major life-threatening infection. Long-read PacBio sequencing was used to assemble a core of subtelomeres of a single P. jirovecii strain from a bronchoalveolar lavage fluid specimen from a single patient. A total of 113 genes encoding surface proteins were identified, including 28 pseudogenes. These genes formed a subtelomeric gene superfamily, which included five families encoding adhesive glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored glycoproteins and one family encoding…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Genetic diversity of O-antigens in Hafnia alvei and the development of a suspension array for serotype detection.

Hafnia alvei is a facultative and rod-shaped gram-negative bacterium that belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family. Although it has been more than 50 years since the genus was identified, very little is known about variations among Hafnia species. Diversity in O-antigens (O-polysaccharide, OPS) is thought to be a major factor in bacterial adaptation to different hosts and situations and variability in the environment. Antigenic variation is also an important factor in pathogenicity that has been used to define clones within a number of species. The genes that are required to synthesize OPS are always clustered within the bacterial chromosome. A serotyping…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Structural basis for recombinatorial permissiveness in the generation of Anaplasma marginale Msp2 antigenic variants.

Sequential expression of outer membrane protein antigenic variants is an evolutionarily convergent mechanism used by bacterial pathogens to escape host immune clearance and establish persistent infection. Variants must be sufficiently structurally distinct to escape existing immune effectors yet retain core structural elements required for localization and function within the outer membrane. We examined this balance using Anaplasma marginale, which generates antigenic variants in the outer membrane protein Msp2 using gene conversion. The overwhelming majority of Msp2 variants expressed during long-term persistent infection are mosaics, derived by recombination of oligonucleotide segments from multiple alleles to form unique hypervariable regions (HVR). As…

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