April 21, 2020  |  

Multi-platform discovery of haplotype-resolved structural variation in human genomes.

The incomplete identification of structural variants (SVs) from whole-genome sequencing data limits studies of human genetic diversity and disease association. Here, we apply a suite of long-read, short-read, strand-specific sequencing technologies, optical mapping, and variant discovery algorithms to comprehensively analyze three trios to define the full spectrum of human genetic variation in a haplotype-resolved manner. We identify 818,054 indel variants (<50?bp) and 27,622 SVs (=50?bp) per genome. We also discover 156 inversions per genome and 58 of the inversions intersect with the critical regions of recurrent microdeletion and microduplication syndromes. Taken together, our SV callsets represent a three to sevenfold increase in SV detection compared to most standard high-throughput sequencing studies, including those from the 1000 Genomes Project. The methods and the dataset presented serve as a gold standard for the scientific community allowing us to make recommendations for maximizing structural variation sensitivity for future genome sequencing studies.


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.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genetic stabilization of the drug-resistant PMEN1 Pneumococcus lineage by its distinctive DpnIII restriction-modification system.

The human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) exhibits a high degree of genomic diversity and plasticity. Isolates with high genomic similarity are grouped into lineages that undergo homologous recombination at variable rates. PMEN1 is a pandemic, multidrug-resistant lineage. Heterologous gene exchange between PMEN1 and non-PMEN1 isolates is directional, with extensive gene transfer from PMEN1 strains and only modest transfer into PMEN1 strains. Restriction-modification (R-M) systems can restrict horizontal gene transfer, yet most pneumococcal strains code for either the DpnI or DpnII R-M system and neither limits homologous recombination. Our comparative genomic analysis revealed that PMEN1 isolates code for DpnIII, a third R-M system syntenic to the other Dpn systems. Characterization of DpnIII demonstrated that the endonuclease cleaves unmethylated double-stranded DNA at the tetramer sequence 5′ GATC 3′, and the cognate methylase is a C5 cytosine-specific DNA methylase. We show that DpnIII decreases the frequency of recombination under in vitro conditions, such that the number of transformants is lower for strains transformed with unmethylated DNA than in those transformed with cognately methylated DNA. Furthermore, we have identified two PMEN1 isolates where the DpnIII endonuclease is disrupted, and phylogenetic work by Croucher and colleagues suggests that these strains have accumulated genomic differences at a higher rate than other PMEN1 strains. We propose that the R-M locus is a major determinant of genetic acquisition; the resident R-M system governs the extent of genome plasticity.Pneumococcus is one of the most important community-acquired bacterial pathogens. Pneumococcal strains can develop resistance to antibiotics and to serotype vaccines by acquiring genes from other strains or species. Thus, genomic plasticity is associated with strain adaptability and pneumococcal success. PMEN1 is a widespread and multidrug-resistant highly pathogenic pneumococcal lineage, which has evolved over the past century and displays a relatively stable genome. In this study, we characterize DpnIII, a restriction-modification (R-M) system that limits recombination. DpnIII is encountered in the PMEN1 lineage, where it replaces other R-M systems that do not decrease plasticity. Our hypothesis is that this genomic region, where different pneumococcal lineages code for variable R-M systems, plays a role in the fine-tuning of the extent of genomic plasticity. It is possible that well-adapted lineages such as PMEN1 have a mechanism to increase genomic stability, rather than foster genomic plasticity. Copyright © 2015 Eutsey et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Herbivorous turtle ants obtain essential nutrients from a conserved nitrogen-recycling gut microbiome.

Nitrogen acquisition is a major challenge for herbivorous animals, and the repeated origins of herbivory across the ants have raised expectations that nutritional symbionts have shaped their diversification. Direct evidence for N provisioning by internally housed symbionts is rare in animals; among the ants, it has been documented for just one lineage. In this study we dissect functional contributions by bacteria from a conserved, multi-partite gut symbiosis in herbivorous Cephalotes ants through in vivo experiments, metagenomics, and in vitro assays. Gut bacteria recycle urea, and likely uric acid, using recycled N to synthesize essential amino acids that are acquired by hosts in substantial quantities. Specialized core symbionts of 17 studied Cephalotes species encode the pathways directing these activities, and several recycle N in vitro. These findings point to a highly efficient N economy, and a nutritional mutualism preserved for millions of years through the derived behaviors and gut anatomy of Cephalotes ants.


July 19, 2019  |  

Introduction: The host-associated microbiome: Pattern, process and function.

An explosion of studies in recent years has established the ubiquity of host-associated microbes and their centrality to host biology (McFall-Ngai et al., 2013; Russell, Dubilier, & Rudgers, 2014). Microbes aid in digestion, modulate development, contribute to host immunity, mediate abiotic stress and more. While relationships with host-associated microbes are ubiquitous and important, they are cer- tainly not monolithic. Characterizing the microbial diversity associ- ated with an ever-broadening array of hosts (diverse animals, plants, algae and protists) has shown that essential functions can be per- formed by microbes that are integrated with the host to varying degrees, ranging from embedded endosymbionts to a variable cast of transient microbes acquired from the environment. The maturing host–microbiome field is now developing a mechanistic understand- ing of host/microbe relationships across this spectrum and the cross- talk mediating these interactions. Similarly, studies across systems are illuminating the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape host–microbe interactions today and providing hints into the origins of specific relationships.


July 7, 2019  |  

An amoebal grazer of cyanobacteria requires cobalamin produced by heterotrophic bacteria.

Amoebae are unicellular eukaryotes that consume microbial prey through phagocytosis, playing a role in shaping microbial foodwebs. Many amoebal species can be cultivated axenically in rich media or monoxenically with single bacterial prey species. Here we characterize heterolobosean amoeba LPG3, a recent natural isolate, which is unable to grow on unicellular cyanobacteria, its primary food source, in the absence of a heterotrophic bacterium, a Pseudomonas species coisolate. To investigate the molecular basis of this requirement for heterotrophic bacteria, we performed a screen using a defined non-redundant transposon library of Vibrio cholerae which implicated genes in corrinoid uptake and biosynthesis. Furthermore, cobalamin synthase deletion mutants in V. cholerae and the Pseudomonas species coisolate do not support growth of amoeba LPG3 on cyanobacteria. While cyanobacteria are robust producers of a corrinoid variant called pseudocobalamin, this variant does not support growth of amoeba LPG3. Instead, we show that it requires cobalamin which is produced by the Pseudomonas species coisolate. The diversity of eukaryotes utilizing corrinoids is poorly understood, and this amoebal corrinoid auxotroph serves as a model for examining predator-prey interactions and micronutrient transfer in bacterivores underpinning microbial foodwebs.Importance. Cyanobacteria are important primary producers in aquatic environments where they are grazed upon by a variety of phagotrophic protists, and hence have an impact on nutrient flux at the base of microbial foodwebs. Here we characterize amoebal isolate LPG3 which consumes cyanobacteria as its primary food source but that also requires heterotrophic bacteria as a source of corrinoid vitamins. Amoeba LPG3 specifically requires the corrinoid variant produced by the heterotrophic bacteria, and cannot grow on cyanobacteria alone, as they produce a different corrinoid variant. This same corrinoid specificity is also exhibited by other eukaryotes, including humans and algae. This amoebal model system allows us to dissect predator-prey interactions to uncover factors which may shape microbial foodwebs while also providing insight into corrinoid specificity in eukaryotes. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Phenotypic diversity and genotypic flexibility of Burkholderia cenocepacia during long-term chronic infection of cystic fibrosis lungs.

Chronic bacterial infections of the lung are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis patients. Tracking bacterial evolution during chronic infections can provide insights into how host selection pressures-including immune responses and therapeutic interventions-shape bacterial genomes. We carried out genomic and phenotypic analyses of 215 serially collected Burkholderia cenocepacia isolates from 16 cystic fibrosis patients, spanning a period of 2-20 yr and a broad range of epidemic lineages. Systematic phenotypic tests identified longitudinal bacterial series that manifested progressive changes in liquid media growth, motility, biofilm formation, and acute insect virulence, but not in mucoidy. The results suggest that distinct lineages follow distinct evolutionary trajectories during lung infection. Pan-genome analysis identified 10,110 homologous gene clusters present only in a subset of strains, including genes restricted to different molecular types. Our phylogenetic analysis based on 2148 orthologous gene clusters from all isolates is consistent with patient-specific clades. This suggests that initial colonization of patients was likely by individual strains, followed by subsequent diversification. Evidence of clonal lineages shared by some patients was observed, suggesting inter-patient transmission. We observed recurrent gene losses in multiple independent longitudinal series, including complete loss of Chromosome III and deletions on other chromosomes. Recurrently observed loss-of-function mutations were associated with decreases in motility and biofilm formation. Together, our study provides the first comprehensive genome-phenome analyses of B. cenocepacia infection in cystic fibrosis lungs and serves as a valuable resource for understanding the genomic and phenotypic underpinnings of bacterial evolution.© 2017 Lee et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


July 7, 2019  |  

Discovery of chemoautotrophic symbiosis in the giant shipworm Kuphus polythalamia (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) extends wooden-steps theory.

The “wooden-steps” hypothesis [Distel DL, et al. (2000) Nature 403:725-726] proposed that large chemosynthetic mussels found at deep-sea hydrothermal vents descend from much smaller species associated with sunken wood and other organic deposits, and that the endosymbionts of these progenitors made use of hydrogen sulfide from biogenic sources (e.g., decaying wood) rather than from vent fluids. Here, we show that wood has served not only as a stepping stone between habitats but also as a bridge between heterotrophic and chemoautotrophic symbiosis for the giant mud-boring bivalve Kuphus polythalamia This rare and enigmatic species, which achieves the greatest length of any extant bivalve, is the only described member of the wood-boring bivalve family Teredinidae (shipworms) that burrows in marine sediments rather than wood. We show that K. polythalamia harbors sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophic (thioautotrophic) bacteria instead of the cellulolytic symbionts that allow other shipworm species to consume wood as food. The characteristics of its symbionts, its phylogenetic position within Teredinidae, the reduction of its digestive system by comparison with other family members, and the loss of morphological features associated with wood digestion indicate that K. polythalamia is a chemoautotrophic bivalve descended from wood-feeding (xylotrophic) ancestors. This is an example in which a chemoautotrophic endosymbiosis arose by displacement of an ancestral heterotrophic symbiosis and a report of pure culture of a thioautotrophic endosymbiont.


July 7, 2019  |  

Comparative genomic analyses of the Moraxella catarrhalis serosensitive and seroresistant lineages demonstrate their independent evolution.

The bacterial species Moraxella catarrhalishas been hypothesized as being composed of two distinct lineages (referred to as the seroresistant [SR] and serosensitive [SS]) with separate evolutionary histories based on several molecular typing methods, whereas 16S ribotyping has suggested an additional split within the SS lineage. Previously, we characterized whole-genome sequences of 12 SR-lineage isolates, which revealed a relatively small supragenome when compared with other opportunistic nasopharyngeal pathogens, suggestive of a relatively short evolutionary history. Here, we performed whole-genome sequencing on 18 strains from both ribotypes of the SS lineage, an additional SR strain, as well as four previously identified highly divergent strains based on multilocus sequence typing analyses. All 35 strains were subjected to a battery of comparative genomic analyses which clearly show that there are three lineages-the SR, SS, and the divergent. The SR and SS lineages are closely related, but distinct from each other based on three different methods of comparison: Allelic differences observed among core genes; possession of lineage-specific sets of core and distributed genes; and by an alignment of concatenated core sequences irrespective of gene annotation. All these methods show that the SS lineage has much longer interstrain branches than the SR lineage indicating that this lineage has likely been evolving either longer or faster than the SR lineage. There is evidence of extensive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) within both of these lineages, and to a lesser degree between them. In particular, we identified very high rates of HGT between these two lineages for ß-lactamase genes. The four divergent strains aresui generis, being much more distantly related to both the SR and SS groups than these other two groups are to each other. Based on average nucleotide identities, gene content, GC content, and genome size, this group could be considered as a separate taxonomic group. The SR and SS lineages, although distinct, clearly form a single species based on multiple criteria including a large common core genome, average nucleotide identity values, GC content, and genome size. Although neither of these lineages arose from within the other based on phylogenetic analyses, the question of how and when these lineages split and then subsequently reunited in the human nasopharynx is explored. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans strain IDH781.

We report here the complete genomic sequence and methylome of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans strain IDH781. This rough strain is used extensively as a model organism to characterize localized aggressive periodontitis pathogenesis, the basic biology and oral cavity colonization of A. actinomycetemcomitans, and its interactions with other members of the oral microbiome. Copyright © 2016 May et al.


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