July 19, 2019  |  

Comparative analysis of tandem repeats from hundreds of species reveals unique insights into centromere evolution.

Centromeres are essential for chromosome segregation, yet their DNA sequences evolve rapidly. In most animals and plants that have been studied, centromeres contain megabase-scale arrays of tandem repeats. Despite their importance, very little is known about the degree to which centromere tandem repeats share common properties between different species across different phyla. We used bioinformatic methods to identify high-copy tandem repeats from 282 species using publicly available genomic sequence and our own data.Our methods are compatible with all current sequencing technologies. Long Pacific Biosciences sequence reads allowed us to find tandem repeat monomers up to 1,419 bp. We assumed that the most abundant tandem repeat is the centromere DNA, which was true for most species whose centromeres have been previously characterized, suggesting this is a general property of genomes. High-copy centromere tandem repeats were found in almost all animal and plant genomes, but repeat monomers were highly variable in sequence composition and length. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of sequence homology showed little evidence of sequence conservation beyond approximately 50 million years of divergence. We find that despite an overall lack of sequence conservation, centromere tandem repeats from diverse species showed similar modes of evolution.While centromere position in most eukaryotes is epigenetically determined, our results indicate that tandem repeats are highly prevalent at centromeres of both animal and plant genomes. This suggests a functional role for such repeats, perhaps in promoting concerted evolution of centromere DNA across chromosomes.


July 19, 2019  |  

Chaos of rearrangements in the mating-type chromosomes of the anther-smut fungus Microbotryum lychnidis-dioicae.

Sex chromosomes in plants and animals and fungal mating-type chromosomes often show exceptional genome features, with extensive suppression of homologous recombination and cytological differentiation between members of the diploid chromosome pair. Despite strong interest in the genetics of these chromosomes, their large regions of suppressed recombination often are enriched in transposable elements and therefore can be challenging to assemble. Here we show that the latest improvements of the PacBio sequencing yield assembly of the whole genome of the anther-smut fungus, Microbotryum lychnidis-dioicae (the pathogenic fungus causing anther-smut disease of Silene latifolia), into finished chromosomes or chromosome arms, even for the repeat-rich mating-type chromosomes and centromeres. Suppressed recombination of the mating-type chromosomes is revealed to span nearly 90% of their lengths, with extreme levels of rearrangements, transposable element accumulation, and differentiation between the two mating types. We observed no correlation between allelic divergence and physical position in the nonrecombining regions of the mating-type chromosomes. This may result from gene conversion or from rearrangements of ancient evolutionary strata, i.e., successive steps of suppressed recombination. Centromeres were found to be composed mainly of copia-like transposable elements and to possess specific minisatellite repeats identical between the different chromosomes. We also identified subtelomeric motifs. In addition, extensive signs of degeneration were detected in the nonrecombining regions in the form of transposable element accumulation and of hundreds of gene losses on each mating-type chromosome. Furthermore, our study highlights the potential of the latest breakthrough PacBio chemistry to resolve complex genome architectures. Copyright © 2015 by the Genetics Society of America.


July 19, 2019  |  

Single-molecule sequencing of the desiccation-tolerant grass Oropetium thomaeum.

Plant genomes, and eukaryotic genomes in general, are typically repetitive, polyploid and heterozygous, which complicates genome assembly. The short read lengths of early Sanger and current next-generation sequencing platforms hinder assembly through complex repeat regions, and many draft and reference genomes are fragmented, lacking skewed GC and repetitive intergenic sequences, which are gaining importance due to projects like the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE). Here we report the whole-genome sequencing and assembly of the desiccation-tolerant grass Oropetium thomaeum. Using only single-molecule real-time sequencing, which generates long (>16?kilobases) reads with random errors, we assembled 99% (244?megabases) of the Oropetium genome into 625 contigs with an N50 length of 2.4?megabases. Oropetium is an example of a ‘near-complete’ draft genome which includes gapless coverage over gene space as well as intergenic sequences such as centromeres, telomeres, transposable elements and rRNA clusters that are typically unassembled in draft genomes. Oropetium has 28,466 protein-coding genes and 43% repeat sequences, yet with 30% more compact euchromatic regions it is the smallest known grass genome. The Oropetium genome demonstrates the utility of single-molecule real-time sequencing for assembling high-quality plant and other eukaryotic genomes, and serves as a valuable resource for the plant comparative genomics community.


July 19, 2019  |  

Complete telomere-to-telomere de novo assembly of the Plasmodium falciparum genome through long-read (>11?kb), single molecule, real-time sequencing.

The application of next-generation sequencing to estimate genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal malaria parasite, has proved challenging due to the skewed AT-richness [~80.6% (A?+?T)] of its genome and the lack of technology to assemble highly polymorphic subtelomeric regions that contain clonally variant, multigene virulence families (Ex: var and rifin). To address this, we performed amplification-free, single molecule, real-time sequencing of P. falciparum genomic DNA and generated reads of average length 12?kb, with 50% of the reads between 15.5 and 50?kb in length. Next, using the Hierarchical Genome Assembly Process, we assembled the P. falciparum genome de novo and successfully compiled all 14 nuclear chromosomes telomere-to-telomere. We also accurately resolved centromeres [~90-99% (A?+?T)] and subtelomeric regions and identified large insertions and duplications that add extra var and rifin genes to the genome, along with smaller structural variants such as homopolymer tract expansions. Overall, we show that amplification-free, long-read sequencing combined with de novo assembly overcomes major challenges inherent to studying the P. falciparum genome. Indeed, this technology may not only identify the polymorphic and repetitive subtelomeric sequences of parasite populations from endemic areas but may also evaluate structural variation linked to virulence, drug resistance and disease transmission. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.


July 19, 2019  |  

Centromere evolution and CpG methylation during vertebrate speciation.

Centromeres and large-scale structural variants evolve and contribute to genome diversity during vertebrate speciation. Here, we perform de novo long-read genome assembly of three inbred medaka strains that are derived from geographically isolated subpopulations and undergo speciation. Using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, we obtain three chromosome-mapped genomes of length ~734, ~678, and ~744Mbp with a resource of twenty-two centromeric regions of length 20-345kbp. Centromeres are positionally conserved among the three strains and even between four pairs of chromosomes that were duplicated by the teleost-specific whole-genome duplication 320-350 million years ago. The centromeres do not all evolve at a similar pace; rather, centromeric monomers in non-acrocentric chromosomes evolve significantly faster than those in acrocentric chromosomes. Using methylation sensitive SMRT reads, we uncover centromeres are mostly hypermethylated but have hypomethylated sub-regions that acquire unique sequence compositions independently. These findings reveal the potential of non-acrocentric centromere evolution to contribute to speciation.


July 19, 2019  |  

Structure and distribution of centromeric retrotransposons at diploid and allotetraploid Coffea centromeric and pericentromeric regions.

Centromeric regions of plants are generally composed of large array of satellites from a specific lineage ofGypsyLTR-retrotransposons, called Centromeric Retrotransposons. Repeated sequences interact with a specific H3 histone, playing a crucial function on kinetochore formation. To study the structure and composition of centromeric regions in the genusCoffea, we annotated and classified Centromeric Retrotransposons sequences from the allotetraploidC. arabicagenome and its two diploid ancestors:Coffea canephoraandC. eugenioides. Ten distinct CRC (Centromeric Retrotransposons inCoffea) families were found. The sequence mapping and FISH experiments of CRC Reverse Transcriptase domains inC. canephora, C. eugenioides, andC. arabicaclearly indicate a strong and specific targeting mainly onto proximal chromosome regions, which can be associated also with heterochromatin. PacBio genome sequence analyses of putative centromeric regions onC. arabicaandC. canephorachromosomes showed an exceptional density of one family of CRC elements, and the complete absence of satellite arrays, contrasting with usual structure of plant centromeres. Altogether, our data suggest a specific centromere organization inCoffea, contrasting with other plant genomes.


July 7, 2019  |  

A unique chromatin complex occupies young a-satellite arrays of human centromeres.

The intractability of homogeneous a-satellite arrays has impeded understanding of human centromeres. Artificial centromeres are produced from higher-order repeats (HORs) present at centromere edges, although the exact sequences and chromatin conformations of centromere cores remain unknown. We use high-resolution chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) of centromere components followed by clustering of sequence data as an unbiased approach to identify functional centromere sequences. We find that specific dimeric a-satellite units shared by multiple individuals dominate functional human centromeres. We identify two recently homogenized a-satellite dimers that are occupied by precisely positioned CENP-A (cenH3) nucleosomes with two ~100-base pair (bp) DNA wraps in tandem separated by a CENP-B/CENP-C-containing linker, whereas pericentromeric HORs show diffuse positioning. Precise positioning is largely maintained, whereas abundance decreases exponentially with divergence, which suggests that young a-satellite dimers with paired ~100-bp particles mediate evolution of functional human centromeres. Our unbiased strategy for identifying functional centromeric sequences should be generally applicable to tandem repeat arrays that dominate the centromeres of most eukaryotes.


July 7, 2019  |  

Diversity and evolution of centromere repeats in the maize genome.

Centromere repeats are found in most eukaryotes and play a critical role in kinetochore formation. Though centromere repeats exhibit considerable diversity both within and among species, little is understood about the mechanisms that drive centromere repeat evolution. Here, we use maize as a model to investigate how a complex history involving polyploidy, fractionation, and recent domestication has impacted the diversity of the maize centromeric repeat CentC. We first validate the existence of long tandem arrays of repeats in maize and other taxa in the genus Zea. Although we find considerable sequence diversity among CentC copies genome-wide, genetic similarity among repeats is highest within these arrays, suggesting that tandem duplications are the primary mechanism for the generation of new copies. Nonetheless, clustering analyses identify similar sequences among distant repeats, and simulations suggest that this pattern may be due to homoplasious mutation. Although the two ancestral subgenomes of maize have contributed nearly equal numbers of centromeres, our analysis shows that the majority of all CentC repeats derive from one of the parental genomes, with an even stronger bias when examining the largest assembled contiguous clusters. Finally, by comparing maize with its wild progenitor teosinte, we find that the abundance of CentC likely decreased after domestication, while the pericentromeric repeat Cent4 has drastically increased.


July 7, 2019  |  

Completing the human genome: the progress and challenge of satellite DNA assembly.

Genomic studies rely on accurate chromosome assemblies to explore sequence-based models of cell biology, evolution and biomedical disease. However, even the extensively studied human genome has not yet reached a complete, ‘telomere-to-telomere’, chromosome assembly. The largest assembly gaps remain in centromeric regions and acrocentric short arms, sites known to contain megabase-sized arrays of tandem repeats, or satellite DNAs. This review aims to briefly address the progress and challenges of generating correct assemblies of satellite DNA arrays. Although the focus is placed on the human genome, many concepts presented here are applicable to other genomes.


July 7, 2019  |  

Centromere location in Arabidopsis is unaltered by extreme divergence in CENH3 protein sequence.

During cell division, spindle fibers attach to chromosomes at centromeres. The DNA sequence at regional centromeres is fast evolving with no conserved genetic signature for centromere identity. Instead CENH3, a centromere-specific histone H3 variant, is the epigenetic signature that specifies centromere location across both plant and animal kingdoms. Paradoxically, CENH3 is also adaptively evolving. An ongoing question is whether CENH3 evolution is driven by a functional relationship with the underlying DNA sequence. Here, we demonstrate that despite extensive protein sequence divergence, CENH3 histones from distant species assemble centromeres on the same underlying DNA sequence. We first characterized the organization and diversity of centromere repeats in wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana We show that A. thaliana CENH3-containing nucleosomes exhibit a strong preference for a unique subset of centromeric repeats. These sequences are largely missing from the genome assemblies and represent the youngest and most homogeneous class of repeats. Next, we tested the evolutionary specificity of this interaction in a background in which the native A. thaliana CENH3 is replaced with CENH3s from distant species. Strikingly, we find that CENH3 from Lepidium oleraceum and Zea mays, although specifying epigenetically weaker centromeres that result in genome elimination upon outcrossing, show a binding pattern on A. thaliana centromere repeats that is indistinguishable from the native CENH3. Our results demonstrate positional stability of a highly diverged CENH3 on independently evolved repeats, suggesting that the sequence specificity of centromeres is determined by a mechanism independent of CENH3.© 2017 Maheshwari et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


July 7, 2019  |  

Trichoderma reesei complete genome sequence, repeat-induced point mutation, and partitioning of CAZyme gene clusters.

Trichoderma reesei (Ascomycota, Pezizomycotina) QM6a is a model fungus for a broad spectrum of physiological phenomena, including plant cell wall degradation, industrial production of enzymes, light responses, conidiation, sexual development, polyketide biosynthesis, and plant-fungal interactions. The genomes of QM6a and its high enzyme-producing mutants have been sequenced by second-generation-sequencing methods and are publicly available from the Joint Genome Institute. While these genome sequences have offered useful information for genomic and transcriptomic studies, their limitations and especially their short read lengths make them poorly suited for some particular biological problems, including assembly, genome-wide determination of chromosome architecture, and genetic modification or engineering.We integrated Pacific Biosciences and Illumina sequencing platforms for the highest-quality genome assembly yet achieved, revealing seven telomere-to-telomere chromosomes (34,922,528 bp; 10877 genes) with 1630 newly predicted genes and >1.5 Mb of new sequences. Most new sequences are located on AT-rich blocks, including 7 centromeres, 14 subtelomeres, and 2329 interspersed AT-rich blocks. The seven QM6a centromeres separately consist of 24 conserved repeats and 37 putative centromere-encoded genes. These findings open up a new perspective for future centromere and chromosome architecture studies. Next, we demonstrate that sexual crossing readily induced cytosine-to-thymine point mutations on both tandem and unlinked duplicated sequences. We also show by bioinformatic analysis that T. reesei has evolved a robust repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) system to accumulate AT-rich sequences, with longer AT-rich blocks having more RIP mutations. The widespread distribution of AT-rich blocks correlates genome-wide partitions with gene clusters, explaining why clustering of genes has been reported to not influence gene expression in T. reesei.Compartmentation of ancestral gene clusters by AT-rich blocks might promote flexibilities that are evolutionarily advantageous in this fungus’ soil habitats and other natural environments. Our analyses, together with the complete genome sequence, provide a better blueprint for biotechnological and industrial applications.


July 7, 2019  |  

Centrochromatin of fungi.

The centromere is an essential chromosomal locus that dictates the nucleation point for assembly of the kinetochore and subsequent attachment of spindle microtubules during chromosome segregation. Research over the last decades demonstrated that centromeres are defined by a combination of genetic and epigenetic factors. Recent work showed that centromeres are quite diverse and flexible and that many types of centromere sequences and centromeric chromatin (“centrochromatin”) have evolved. The kingdom of the fungi serves as an outstanding example of centromere plasticity, including organisms with centromeres as diverse as 0.15-300 kb in length, and with different types of chromatin states for most species examined thus far. Some of the species in the less familiar taxa provide excellent opportunities to help us better understand centromere biology in all eukaryotes, which may improve treatment options against fungal infection, and biotechnologies based on fungi. This review summarizes the current knowledge of fungal centromeres and centrochromatin, including an outlook for future research.


July 7, 2019  |  

Hybrid de novo genome assembly and centromere characterization of the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus).

The de novo assembly of repeat-rich mammalian genomes using only high-throughput short read sequencing data typically results in highly fragmented genome assemblies that limit downstream applications. Here, we present an iterative approach to hybrid de novo genome assembly that incorporates datasets stemming from multiple genomic technologies and methods. We used this approach to improve the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) genome from early draft status to a near chromosome-scale assembly.We used a combination of advanced genomic technologies to iteratively resolve conflicts and super-scaffold the M. murinus genome.We improved the M. murinus genome assembly to a scaffold N50 of 93.32 Mb. Whole genome alignments between our primary super-scaffolds and 23 human chromosomes revealed patterns that are congruent with historical comparative cytogenetic data, thus demonstrating the accuracy of our de novo scaffolding approach and allowing assignment of scaffolds to M. murinus chromosomes. Moreover, we utilized our independent datasets to discover and characterize sequences associated with centromeres across the mouse lemur genome. Quality assessment of the final assembly found 96% of mouse lemur canonical transcripts nearly complete, comparable to other published high-quality reference genome assemblies.We describe a new assembly of the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) genome with chromosome-scale scaffolds produced using a hybrid bioinformatic and sequencing approach. The approach is cost effective and produces superior results based on metrics of contiguity and completeness. Our results show that emerging genomic technologies can be used in combination to characterize centromeres of non-model species and to produce accurate de novo chromosome-scale genome assemblies of complex mammalian genomes.


July 7, 2019  |  

High quality maize centromere 10 sequence reveals evidence of frequent recombination events.

The ancestral centromeres of maize contain long stretches of the tandemly arranged CentC repeat. The abundance of tandem DNA repeats and centromeric retrotransposons (CR) has presented a significant challenge to completely assembling centromeres using traditional sequencing methods. Here, we report a nearly complete assembly of the 1.85 Mb maize centromere 10 from inbred B73 using PacBio technology and BACs from the reference genome project. The error rates estimated from overlapping BAC sequences are 7 × 10(-6) and 5 × 10(-5) for mismatches and indels, respectively. The number of gaps in the region covered by the reassembly was reduced from 140 in the reference genome to three. Three expressed genes are located between 92 and 477 kb from the inferred ancestral CentC cluster, which lies within the region of highest centromeric repeat density. The improved assembly increased the count of full-length CR from 5 to 55 and revealed a 22.7 kb segmental duplication that occurred approximately 121,000 years ago. Our analysis provides evidence of frequent recombination events in the form of partial retrotransposons, deletions within retrotransposons, chimeric retrotransposons, segmental duplications including higher order CentC repeats, a deleted CentC monomer, centromere-proximal inversions, and insertion of mitochondrial sequences. Double-strand DNA break (DSB) repair is the most plausible mechanism for these events and may be the major driver of centromere repeat evolution and diversity. In many cases examined here, DSB repair appears to be mediated by microhomology, suggesting that tandem repeats may have evolved to efficiently repair frequent DSBs in centromeres.


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