July 19, 2019  |  

Recent advances in inferring viral diversity from high-throughput sequencing data.

Rapidly evolving RNA viruses prevail within a host as a collection of closely related variants, referred to as viral quasispecies. Advances in high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies have facilitated the assessment of the genetic diversity of such virus populations at an unprecedented level of detail. However, analysis of HTS data from virus populations is challenging due to short, error-prone reads. In order to account for uncertainties originating from these limitations, several computational and statistical methods have been developed for studying the genetic heterogeneity of virus population. Here, we review methods for the analysis of HTS reads, including approaches to local diversity estimation and global haplotype reconstruction. Challenges posed by aligning reads, as well as the impact of reference biases on diversity estimates are also discussed. In addition, we address some of the experimental approaches designed to improve the biological signal-to-noise ratio. In the future, computational methods for the analysis of heterogeneous virus populations are likely to continue being complemented by technological developments. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

July 19, 2019  |  

Characterization of hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope diversification from acute to chronic infection within a sexually transmitted HCV cluster by using single-molecule, real-time sequencing.

In contrast to other available next-generation sequencing platforms, PacBio single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing has the advantage of generating long reads albeit with a relatively higher error rate in unprocessed data. Using this platform, we longitudinally sampled and sequenced the hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope genome region (1,680 nucleotides [nt]) from individuals belonging to a cluster of sexually transmitted cases. All five subjects were coinfected with HIV-1 and a closely related strain of HCV genotype 4d. In total, 50 samples were analyzed by using SMRT sequencing. By using 7 passes of circular consensus sequencing, the error rate was reduced to 0.37%, and the median number of sequences was 612 per sample. A further reduction of insertions was achieved by alignment against a sample-specific reference sequence. However, in vitro recombination during PCR amplification could not be excluded. Phylogenetic analysis supported close relationships among HCV sequences from the four male subjects and subsequent transmission from one subject to his female partner. Transmission was characterized by a strong genetic bottleneck. Viral genetic diversity was low during acute infection and increased upon progression to chronicity but subsequently fluctuated during chronic infection, caused by the alternate detection of distinct coexisting lineages. SMRT sequencing combines long reads with sufficient depth for many phylogenetic analyses and can therefore provide insights into within-host HCV evolutionary dynamics without the need for haplotype reconstruction using statistical algorithms.IMPORTANCE Next-generation sequencing has revolutionized the study of genetically variable RNA virus populations, but for phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses, longer sequences than those generated by most available platforms, while minimizing the intrinsic error rate, are desired. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that PacBio SMRT sequencing technology can be used to generate full-length HCV envelope sequences at the single-molecule level, providing a data set with large sequencing depth for the characterization of intrahost viral dynamics. The selection of consensus reads derived from at least 7 full circular consensus sequencing rounds significantly reduced the intrinsic high error rate of this method. We used this method to genetically characterize a unique transmission cluster of sexually transmitted HCV infections, providing insight into the distinct evolutionary pathways in each patient over time and identifying the transmission-associated genetic bottleneck as well as fluctuations in viral genetic diversity over time, accompanied by dynamic shifts in viral subpopulations. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.

July 19, 2019  |  

Improved maize reference genome with single-molecule technologies.

Complete and accurate reference genomes and annotations provide fundamental tools for characterization of genetic and functional variation. These resources facilitate the determination of biological processes and support translation of research findings into improved and sustainable agricultural technologies. Many reference genomes for crop plants have been generated over the past decade, but these genomes are often fragmented and missing complex repeat regions. Here we report the assembly and annotation of a reference genome of maize, a genetic and agricultural model species, using single-molecule real-time sequencing and high-resolution optical mapping. Relative to the previous reference genome, our assembly features a 52-fold increase in contig length and notable improvements in the assembly of intergenic spaces and centromeres. Characterization of the repetitive portion of the genome revealed more than 130,000 intact transposable elements, allowing us to identify transposable element lineage expansions that are unique to maize. Gene annotations were updated using 111,000 full-length transcripts obtained by single-molecule real-time sequencing. In addition, comparative optical mapping of two other inbred maize lines revealed a prevalence of deletions in regions of low gene density and maize lineage-specific genes.

July 19, 2019  |  

Linking secondary metabolites to gene clusters through genome sequencing of six diverse Aspergillus species.

The fungal genus ofAspergillusis highly interesting, containing everything from industrial cell factories, model organisms, and human pathogens. In particular, this group has a prolific production of bioactive secondary metabolites (SMs). In this work, four diverseAspergillusspecies (A. campestris,A. novofumigatus,A. ochraceoroseus, andA. steynii) have been whole-genome PacBio sequenced to provide genetic references in threeAspergillussections.A. taichungensisandA. candidusalso were sequenced for SM elucidation. ThirteenAspergillusgenomes were analyzed with comparative genomics to determine phylogeny and genetic diversity, showing that each presented genome contains 15-27% genes not found in other sequenced Aspergilli. In particular,A. novofumigatuswas compared with the pathogenic speciesA. fumigatusThis suggests thatA. novofumigatuscan produce most of the same allergens, virulence, and pathogenicity factors asA. fumigatus, suggesting thatA. novofumigatuscould be as pathogenic asA. fumigatusFurthermore, SMs were linked to gene clusters based on biological and chemical knowledge and analysis, genome sequences, and predictive algorithms. We thus identify putative SM clusters for aflatoxin, chlorflavonin, and ochrindol inA. ochraceoroseus,A. campestris, andA. steynii, respectively, and novofumigatonin,ent-cycloechinulin, andepi-aszonalenins inA. novofumigatusOur study delivers six fungal genomes, showing the large diversity found in theAspergillusgenus; highlights the potential for discovery of beneficial or harmful SMs; and supports reports ofA. novofumigatuspathogenicity. It also shows how biological, biochemical, and genomic information can be combined to identify genes involved in the biosynthesis of specific SMs.

July 7, 2019  |  

The effects of signal erosion and core genome reduction on the identification of diagnostic markers.

Whole-genome sequence (WGS) data are commonly used to design diagnostic targets for the identification of bacterial pathogens. To do this effectively, genomics databases must be comprehensive to identify the strict core genome that is specific to the target pathogen. As additional genomes are analyzed, the core genome size is reduced and there is erosion of the target-specific regions due to commonality with related species, potentially resulting in the identification of false positives and/or false negatives.A comparative analysis of 1,130 Burkholderia genomes identified unique markers for many named species, including the human pathogens B. pseudomallei and B. mallei Due to core genome reduction and signature erosion, only 38 targets specific to B. pseudomallei/mallei were identified. By using only public genomes, a larger number of markers were identified, due to undersampling, and this larger number represents the potential for false positives. This analysis has implications for the design of diagnostics for other species where the genomic space of the target and/or closely related species is not well defined. Copyright © 2016 Sahl et al.

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