June 1, 2021  |  

De novo assembly and preliminary annotation of the Schizocardium californicum genome

Animals in the phylum Hemichordata have provided key understanding of the origins and development of body patterning and nervous system organization. However, efforts to sequence and assemble the genomes of highly heterozygous non-model organisms have proven to be difficult with traditional short read approaches. Long repetitive DNA structures, extensive structural variation between haplotypes in polyploid species, and large genome sizes are limiting factors to achieving highly contiguous genome assemblies. Here we present the highly contiguous de novo assembly and preliminary annotation of an indirect developing hemichordate genome, Schizocardium californicum, using SMRT Sequening long reads.


October 23, 2019  |  

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and replication. We generated 3 zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) that target sequences within the HBV polymerase, core and X genes. Upon the formation of ZFN-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSB), imprecise repair by non-homologous end joining leads to mutations that inactivate HBV genes. We delivered HBV-specific ZFNs using self-complementary adeno-associated virus (scAAV) vectors and tested their anti-HBV activity in HepAD38 cells. HBV-ZFNs efficiently disrupted HBV target sites by inducing site-specific mutations. Cytotoxicity was seen with one of the ZFNs. scAAV-mediated delivery of a ZFN targeting HBV polymerase resulted in complete inhibition of HBV DNA replication and production of infectious HBV virions in HepAD38 cells. This effect was sustained for at least 2 weeks following only a single treatment. Furthermore, high specificity was observed for all ZFNs, as negligible off-target cleavage was seen via high-throughput sequencing of 7 closely matched potential off-target sites. These results show that HBV-targeted ZFNs can efficiently inhibit active HBV replication and suppress the cellular template for HBV persistence, making them promising candidates for eradication therapy.


September 22, 2019  |  

The transcriptome of human pluripotent stem cells.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs) are in vitro derivatives of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and are characterized by an undifferentiated and pluripotent state that can be perpetuated in time, indefinitely. hESCs provide a unique opportunity to both dissect the molecular mechanisms that are predisposed to the maintenance of pluripotency and model the ability to initiate differentiation and cell commitment within the developing embryo. To fully understand these mechanisms, it is necessary to accurately identify the specific transcriptome of hESCs. Many distinct gene annotation methods, such as cDNA and EST sequencing and RNA-Seq, have been used to identify the transcriptome of hESCs. Lately, we developed a new tool (IDP) to integrate the hybrid sequencing data to characterize a more reliable and comprehensive hESC transcriptome with discoveries of many novel transcripts. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single Molecule Sequencing: new outlooks for solving genome assembly and transcripts identification challenges

In this review, we introduce a novel sequencing technology, named Single Molecule Real Time sequencing. Also called Single Molecule Sequencing, as it do not requires any amplification, this new technology is able to pro- duce much longer reads than previous NGS technologies such as Illumina. This read size improvements, which can reach 150 fold, will solve many challenges caused by the actual NGS technologies. Short NGS reads, reach- ing a maximum size of 300 bp, make it hard to reconstitute a whole genome and are always leading to fragmented genome assembly. It is also difficult to correctly infer transcript quantification and identification when there is a high isoforms diversity. Despite their higher error rate, long reads have shown very promising result concerning these actual issues. We show that longer reads can produce less fragmented assembly, with a better quality, but also sequence from start to end mRNA, making it much more easier to infer correct transcript quantification, and even allow new intron structure and so new isoforms discovery.


September 22, 2019  |  

Neural circular RNAs are derived from synaptic genes and regulated by development and plasticity.

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have re-emerged as an interesting RNA species. Using deep RNA profiling in different mouse tissues, we observed that circRNAs were substantially enriched in brain and a disproportionate fraction of them were derived from host genes that encode synaptic proteins. Moreover, on the basis of separate profiling of the RNAs localized in neuronal cell bodies and neuropil, circRNAs were, on average, more enriched in the neuropil than their host gene mRNA isoforms. Using high-resolution in situ hybridization, we visualized circRNA punctae in the dendrites of neurons. Consistent with the idea that circRNAs might regulate synaptic function during development, many circRNAs changed their abundance abruptly at a time corresponding to synaptogenesis. In addition, following a homeostatic downscaling of neuronal activity many circRNAs exhibited substantial up- or downregulation. Together, our data indicate that brain circRNAs are positioned to respond to and regulate synaptic function.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing of chicken transcripts and identification of new transcript isoforms.

The chicken has long served as an important model organism in many fields, and continues to aid our understanding of animal development. Functional genomics studies aimed at probing the mechanisms that regulate development require high-quality genomes and transcript annotations. The quality of these resources has improved dramatically over the last several years, but many isoforms and genes have yet to be identified. We hope to contribute to the process of improving these resources with the data presented here: a set of long cDNA sequencing reads, and a curated set of new genes and transcript isoforms not currently represented in the most up-to-date genome annotation currently available to the community of researchers who rely on the chicken genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Cartography of neurexin alternative splicing mapped by single-molecule long-read mRNA sequencing.

Neurexins are evolutionarily conserved presynaptic cell-adhesion molecules that are essential for normal synapse formation and synaptic transmission. Indirect evidence has indicated that extensive alternative splicing of neurexin mRNAs may produce hundreds if not thousands of neurexin isoforms, but no direct evidence for such diversity has been available. Here we use unbiased long-read sequencing of full-length neurexin (Nrxn)1a, Nrxn1ß, Nrxn2ß, Nrxn3a, and Nrxn3ß mRNAs to systematically assess how many sites of alternative splicing are used in neurexins with a significant frequency, and whether alternative splicing events at these sites are independent of each other. In sequencing more than 25,000 full-length mRNAs, we identified a novel, abundantly used alternatively spliced exon of Nrxn1a and Nrxn3a (referred to as alternatively spliced sequence 6) that encodes a 9-residue insertion in the flexible hinge region between the fifth LNS (laminin-a, neurexin, sex hormone-binding globulin) domain and the third EGF-like sequence. In addition, we observed several larger-scale events of alternative splicing that deleted multiple domains and were much less frequent than the canonical six sites of alternative splicing in neurexins. All of the six canonical events of alternative splicing appear to be independent of each other, suggesting that neurexins may exhibit an even larger isoform diversity than previously envisioned and comprise thousands of variants. Our data are consistent with the notion that a-neurexins represent extracellular protein-interaction scaffolds in which different LNS and EGF domains mediate distinct interactions that affect diverse functions and are independently regulated by independent events of alternative splicing.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-molecule real-time transcript sequencing facilitates common wheat genome annotation and grain transcriptome research.

The large and complex hexaploid genome has greatly hindered genomics studies of common wheat (Triticum aestivum, AABBDD). Here, we investigated transcripts in common wheat developing caryopses using the emerging single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology PacBio RSII, and assessed the resultant data for improving common wheat genome annotation and grain transcriptome research.We obtained 197,709 full-length non-chimeric (FLNC) reads, 74.6 % of which were estimated to carry complete open reading frame. A total of 91,881 high-quality FLNC reads were identified and mapped to 16,188 chromosomal loci, corresponding to 13,162 known genes and 3026 new genes not annotated previously. Although some FLNC reads could not be unambiguously mapped to the current draft genome sequence, many of them are likely useful for studying highly similar homoeologous or paralogous loci or for improving chromosomal contig assembly in further research. The 91,881 high-quality FLNC reads represented 22,768 unique transcripts, 9591 of which were newly discovered. We found 180 transcripts each spanning two or three previously annotated adjacent loci, suggesting that they should be merged to form correct gene models. Finally, our data facilitated the identification of 6030 genes differentially regulated during caryopsis development, and full-length transcripts for 72 transcribed gluten gene members that are important for the end-use quality control of common wheat.Our work demonstrated the value of PacBio transcript sequencing for improving common wheat genome annotation through uncovering the loci and full-length transcripts not discovered previously. The resource obtained may aid further structural genomics and grain transcriptome studies of common wheat.


September 22, 2019  |  

Avian genomics lends insights into endocrine function in birds.

The genomics era has brought along the completed sequencing of a large number of bird genomes that cover a broad range of the avian phylogenetic tree (>30 orders), leading to major novel insights into avian biology and evolution. Among recent findings, the discovery that birds lack a large number of protein coding genes that are organized in highly conserved syntenic clusters in other vertebrates is very intriguing, given the physiological importance of many of these genes. A considerable number of them play prominent endocrine roles, suggesting that birds evolved compensatory genetic or physiological mechanisms that allowed them to survive and thrive in spite of these losses. While further studies are needed to establish the exact extent of avian gene losses, these findings point to birds as potentially highly relevant model organisms for exploring the genetic basis and possible therapeutic approaches for a wide range of endocrine functions and disorders. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Reconstitution of eukaryotic chromosomes and manipulation of DNA N6-methyladenine alters chromatin and gene expression

DNA N6-adenine methylation (6mA) has recently been reported in diverse eukaryotes, spanning unicellular organisms to metazoans. Yet the functional significance of 6mA remains elusive due to its low abundance, difficulty of manipulation within native DNA, and lack of understanding of eukaryotic 6mA writers. Here, we report a novel DNA 6mA methyltransferase in ciliates, termed MTA1. The enzyme contains an MT-A70 domain but is phylogenetically distinct from all known RNA and DNA methyltransferases. Disruption of MTA1 in vivo leads to the genome-wide loss of 6mA in asexually growing cells and abolishment of the consensus ApT dimethylated motif. Genes exhibit subtle changes in chromatin organization or RNA expression upon loss of 6mA, depending on their starting methylation level. Mutants fail to complete the sexual cycle, which normally coincides with a peak of MTA1 expression. Thus, MTA1 functions in a developmental stage-specific manner. We determine the impact of 6mA on chromatin organization in vitro by reconstructing complete, full-length ciliate chromosomes harboring 6mA in native or ectopic positions. Using these synthetic chromosomes, we show that 6mA directly disfavors nucleosomes in vitro in a local, quantitative manner, independent of DNA sequence. Furthermore, the chromatin remodeler ACF can overcome this effect. Our study identifies a novel MT-A70 protein necessary for eukaryotic 6mA methylation and defines the impact of 6mA on chromatin organization using epigenetically defined synthetic chromosomes.


July 19, 2019  |  

The architecture of a scrambled genome reveals massive levels of genomic rearrangement during development.

Programmed DNA rearrangements in the single-celled eukaryote Oxytricha trifallax completely rewire its germline into a somatic nucleus during development. This elaborate, RNA-mediated pathway eliminates noncoding DNA sequences that interrupt gene loci and reorganizes the remaining fragments by inversions and permutations to produce functional genes. Here, we report the Oxytricha germline genome and compare it to the somatic genome to present a global view of its massive scale of genome rearrangements. The remarkably encrypted genome architecture contains >3,500 scrambled genes, as well as >800 predicted germline-limited genes expressed, and some posttranslationally modified, during genome rearrangements. Gene segments for different somatic loci often interweave with each other. Single gene segments can contribute to multiple, distinct somatic loci. Terminal precursor segments from neighboring somatic loci map extremely close to each other, often overlapping. This genome assembly provides a draft of a scrambled genome and a powerful model for studies of genome rearrangement. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Global methylation state at base-pair resolution of the Caulobacter genome throughout the cell cycle.

The Caulobacter DNA methyltransferase CcrM is one of five master cell-cycle regulators. CcrM is transiently present near the end of DNA replication when it rapidly methylates the adenine in hemimethylated GANTC sequences. The timing of transcription of two master regulator genes and two cell division genes is controlled by the methylation state of GANTC sites in their promoters. To explore the global extent of this regulatory mechanism, we determined the methylation state of the entire chromosome at every base pair at five time points in the cell cycle using single-molecule, real-time sequencing. The methylation state of 4,515 GANTC sites, preferentially positioned in intergenic regions, changed progressively from full to hemimethylation as the replication forks advanced. However, 27 GANTC sites remained unmethylated throughout the cell cycle, suggesting that these protected sites could participate in epigenetic regulatory functions. An analysis of the time of activation of every cell-cycle regulatory transcription start site, coupled to both the position of a GANTC site in their promoter regions and the time in the cell cycle when the GANTC site transitions from full to hemimethylation, allowed the identification of 59 genes as candidates for epigenetic regulation. In addition, we identified two previously unidentified N(6)-methyladenine motifs and showed that they maintained a constant methylation state throughout the cell cycle. The cognate methyltransferase was identified for one of these motifs as well as for one of two 5-methylcytosine motifs.


July 19, 2019  |  

Palindromic GOLGA8 core duplicons promote chromosome 15q13.3 microdeletion and evolutionary instability.

Recurrent deletions of chromosome 15q13.3 associate with intellectual disability, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy. To gain insight into the instability of this region, we sequenced it in affected individuals, normal individuals and nonhuman primates. We discovered five structural configurations of the human chromosome 15q13.3 region ranging in size from 2 to 3 Mb. These configurations arose recently (~0.5-0.9 million years ago) as a result of human-specific expansions of segmental duplications and two independent inversion events. All inversion breakpoints map near GOLGA8 core duplicons-a ~14-kb primate-specific chromosome 15 repeat that became organized into larger palindromic structures. GOLGA8-flanked palindromes also demarcate the breakpoints of recurrent 15q13.3 microdeletions, the expansion of chromosome 15 segmental duplications in the human lineage and independent structural changes in apes. The significant clustering (P = 0.002) of breakpoints provides mechanistic evidence for the role of this core duplicon and its palindromic architecture in promoting the evolutionary and disease-related instability of chromosome 15.


July 19, 2019  |  

DNA methylation on N(6)-adenine in mammalian embryonic stem cells.

It has been widely accepted that 5-methylcytosine is the only form of DNA methylation in mammalian genomes. Here we identify N(6)-methyladenine as another form of DNA modification in mouse embryonic stem cells. Alkbh1 encodes a demethylase for N(6)-methyladenine. An increase of N(6)-methyladenine levels in Alkbh1-deficient cells leads to transcriptional silencing. N(6)-methyladenine deposition is inversely correlated with the evolutionary age of LINE-1 transposons; its deposition is strongly enriched at young (<1.5 million years old) but not old (>6 million years old) L1 elements. The deposition of N(6)-methyladenine correlates with epigenetic silencing of such LINE-1 transposons, together with their neighbouring enhancers and genes, thereby resisting the gene activation signals during embryonic stem cell differentiation. As young full-length LINE-1 transposons are strongly enriched on the X chromosome, genes located on the X chromosome are also silenced. Thus, N(6)-methyladenine developed a new role in epigenetic silencing in mammalian evolution distinct from its role in gene activation in other organisms. Our results demonstrate that N(6)-methyladenine constitutes a crucial component of the epigenetic regulation repertoire in mammalian genomes.


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