September 22, 2019  |  

Rodent papillomaviruses.

Preclinical infection model systems are extremely valuable tools to aid in our understanding of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) biology, disease progression, prevention, and treatments. In this context, rodent papillomaviruses and their respective infection models are useful tools but remain underutilized resources in the field of papillomavirus biology. Two rodent papillomaviruses, MnPV1, which infects the Mastomys species of multimammate rats, and MmuPV1, which infects laboratory mice, are currently the most studied rodent PVs. Both of these viruses cause malignancy in the skin and can provide attractive infection models to study the lesser understood cutaneous papillomaviruses that have been frequently associated with HPV-related skin cancers. Of these, MmuPV1 is the first reported rodent papillomavirus that can naturally infect the laboratory strain of mice. MmuPV1 is an attractive model virus to study papillomavirus pathogenesis because of the ubiquitous availability of lab mice and the fact that this mouse species is genetically modifiable. In this review, we have summarized the knowledge we have gained about PV biology from the study of rodent papillomaviruses and point out the remaining gaps that can provide new research opportunities.

July 7, 2019  |  

The haplotype-resolved genome and epigenome of the aneuploid HeLa cancer cell line.

The HeLa cell line was established in 1951 from cervical cancer cells taken from a patient, Henrietta Lacks. This was the first successful attempt to immortalize human-derived cells in vitro. The robust growth and unrestricted distribution of HeLa cells resulted in its broad adoption–both intentionally and through widespread cross-contamination–and for the past 60?years it has served a role analogous to that of a model organism. The cumulative impact of the HeLa cell line on research is demonstrated by its occurrence in more than 74,000 PubMed abstracts (approximately 0.3%). The genomic architecture of HeLa remains largely unexplored beyond its karyotype, partly because like many cancers, its extensive aneuploidy renders such analyses challenging. We carried out haplotype-resolved whole-genome sequencing of the HeLa CCL-2 strain, examined point- and indel-mutation variations, mapped copy-number variations and loss of heterozygosity regions, and phased variants across full chromosome arms. We also investigated variation and copy-number profiles for HeLa S3 and eight additional strains. We find that HeLa is relatively stable in terms of point variation, with few new mutations accumulating after early passaging. Haplotype resolution facilitated reconstruction of an amplified, highly rearranged region of chromosome 8q24.21 at which integration of the human papilloma virus type 18 (HPV-18) genome occurred and that is likely to be the event that initiated tumorigenesis. We combined these maps with RNA-seq and ENCODE Project data sets to phase the HeLa epigenome. This revealed strong, haplotype-specific activation of the proto-oncogene MYC by the integrated HPV-18 genome approximately 500?kilobases upstream, and enabled global analyses of the relationship between gene dosage and expression. These data provide an extensively phased, high-quality reference genome for past and future experiments relying on HeLa, and demonstrate the value of haplotype resolution for characterizing cancer genomes and epigenomes.

July 7, 2019  |  

Chloroplast genomes: diversity, evolution, and applications in genetic engineering.

Chloroplasts play a crucial role in sustaining life on earth. The availability of over 800 sequenced chloroplast genomes from a variety of land plants has enhanced our understanding of chloroplast biology, intracellular gene transfer, conservation, diversity, and the genetic basis by which chloroplast transgenes can be engineered to enhance plant agronomic traits or to produce high-value agricultural or biomedical products. In this review, we discuss the impact of chloroplast genome sequences on understanding the origins of economically important cultivated species and changes that have taken place during domestication. We also discuss the potential biotechnological applications of chloroplast genomes.

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