April 21, 2020  |  

Amplification-free long-read sequencing of TCF4 expanded trinucleotide repeats in Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy.

Amplification of a CAG trinucleotide motif (CTG18.1) within the TCF4 gene has been strongly associated with Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD). Nevertheless, a small minority of clinically unaffected elderly patients who have expanded CTG18.1 sequences have been identified. To test the hypothesis that the CAG expansions in these patients are protected from FECD because they have interruptions within the CAG repeats, we utilized a combination of an amplification-free, long-read sequencing method and a new target-enrichment sequence analysis tool developed by Pacific Biosciences to interrogate the sequence structure of expanded repeats. The sequencing was successful in identifying a previously described interruption within an unexpanded allele and provided sequence data on expanded alleles greater than 2000 bases in length. The data revealed considerable heterogeneity in the size distribution of expanded repeats within each patient. Detailed analysis of the long sequence reads did not reveal any instances of interruptions to the expanded CAG repeats, but did reveal novel variants within the AGG repeats that flank the CAG repeats in two of the five samples from clinically unaffected patients with expansions. This first examination of the sequence structure of CAG repeats in CTG18.1 suggests that factors other than interruptions to the repeat structure account for the absence of disease in some elderly patients with repeat expansions in the TCF4 gene.


September 22, 2019  |  

The complete replicons of 16 Ensifer meliloti strains offer insights into intra- and inter-replicon gene transfer, transposon-associated loci, and repeat elements.

Ensifer meliloti (formerly Rhizobium meliloti and Sinorhizobium meliloti) is a model bacterium for understanding legume-rhizobial symbioses. The tripartite genome of E. meliloti consists of a chromosome, pSymA and pSymB, and in some instances strain-specific accessory plasmids. The majority of previous sequencing studies have relied on the use of assemblies generated from short read sequencing, which leads to gaps and assembly errors. Here we used PacBio-based, long-read assemblies and were able to assemble, de novo, complete circular replicons. In this study, we sequenced, de novo-assembled and analysed 10 E. meliloti strains. Sequence comparisons were also done with data from six previously published genomes. We identified genome differences between the replicons, including mol% G+C and gene content, nucleotide repeats, and transposon-associated loci. Additionally, genomic rearrangements both within and between replicons were identified, providing insight into evolutionary processes at the structural level. There were few cases of inter-replicon gene transfer of core genes between the main replicons. Accessory plasmids were more similar to pSymA than to either pSymB or the chromosome, with respect to gene content, transposon content and G+C content. In our population, the accessory plasmids appeared to share an open genome with pSymA, which contains many nodulation- and nitrogen fixation-related genes. This may explain previous observations that horizontal gene transfer has a greater effect on the content of pSymA than pSymB, or the chromosome, and why some rhizobia show unstable nodulation phenotypes on legume hosts.


July 19, 2019  |  

Comparative genomic analyses of Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. insidiosus and pathogenicity on Medicago truncatula.

Clavibacter michiganensis is the most economically important gram-positive bacterial plant pathogen with subspecies that cause serious diseases of maize, wheat, tomato, potato, and alfalfa. Much less is known about pathogenesis involving gram-positive plant pathogens than is known for gram-negative bacteria. Comparative genome analyses of C. michiganensis subspecies affecting tomato, potato, and maize have provided insights on pathogenicity. In this study, we identified strains of C. michiganensis subsp. insidiosus with contrasting pathogenicity on three accessions of the model legume Medicago truncatula. We generated complete genome sequences for two strains and compared these to a previously sequenced strain and genome sequences of four other subspecies. The three C. michiganensis subsp. insidiosus strains varied in gene content due to genome rearrangements, most likely facilitated by insertion elements, and plasmid number, which varied from one to three depending on strain. The core C. michiganensis genome consisted of 1,930 genes, with 401 genes unique to C. michiganensis subsp. insidiosus. An operon for synthesis of the extracellular blue pigment indigoidine, enzymes for pectin degradation, and an operon for inositol metabolism are among the unique features. Secreted serine proteases belonging to both the pat-1 and ppa families were present but highly diverged from those in other subspecies.


July 19, 2019  |  

Utility of DNA, RNA, protein, and functional approaches to solve cryptic immunodeficiencies.

We report a female infant identified by newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiencies (NBS SCID) with T cell lymphopenia (TCL). The patient had persistently elevated alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) with IgA deficiency, and elevated IgM. Gene sequencing for a SCID panel was uninformative. We sought to determine the cause of the immunodeficiency in this infant.We performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) on the patient and parents to identify a genetic diagnosis. Based on the WES result, we developed a novel flow cytometric panel for rapid assessment of DNA repair defects using blood samples. We also performed whole transcriptome sequencing (WTS) on fibroblast RNA from the patient and father for abnormal transcript analysis.WES revealed a pathogenic paternally inherited indel in ATM. We used the flow panel to assess several proteins in the DNA repair pathway in lymphocyte subsets. The patient had absent phosphorylation of ATM, resulting in absent or aberrant phosphorylation of downstream proteins, including ?H2AX. However, ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) is an autosomal recessive condition, and the abnormal functional data did not correspond with a single ATM variant. WTS revealed in-frame reciprocal fusion transcripts involving ATM and SLC35F2 indicating a chromosome 11 inversion within 11q22.3, of maternal origin. Inversion breakpoints were identified within ATM intron 16 and SLC35F2 intron 7.We identified a novel ATM-breaking chromosome 11 inversion in trans with a pathogenic indel (compound heterozygote) resulting in non-functional ATM protein, consistent with a diagnosis of AT. Utilization of several molecular and functional assays allowed successful resolution of this case.


July 19, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing across the C9orf72 ‘GGGGCC’ repeat expansion: implications for clinical use and genetic discovery efforts in human disease.

Many neurodegenerative diseases are caused by nucleotide repeat expansions, but most expansions, like the C9orf72 ‘GGGGCC’ (G4C2) repeat that causes approximately 5-7% of all amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) cases, are too long to sequence using short-read sequencing technologies. It is unclear whether long-read sequencing technologies can traverse these long, challenging repeat expansions. Here, we demonstrate that two long-read sequencing technologies, Pacific Biosciences’ (PacBio) and Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ (ONT), can sequence through disease-causing repeats cloned into plasmids, including the FTD/ALS-causing G4C2 repeat expansion. We also report the first long-read sequencing data characterizing the C9orf72 G4C2 repeat expansion at the nucleotide level in two symptomatic expansion carriers using PacBio whole-genome sequencing and a no-amplification (No-Amp) targeted approach based on CRISPR/Cas9.Both the PacBio and ONT platforms successfully sequenced through the repeat expansions in plasmids. Throughput on the MinION was a challenge for whole-genome sequencing; we were unable to attain reads covering the human C9orf72 repeat expansion using 15 flow cells. We obtained 8× coverage across the C9orf72 locus using the PacBio Sequel, accurately reporting the unexpanded allele at eight repeats, and reading through the entire expansion with 1324 repeats (7941 nucleotides). Using the No-Amp targeted approach, we attained >?800× coverage and were able to identify the unexpanded allele, closely estimate expansion size, and assess nucleotide content in a single experiment. We estimate the individual’s repeat region was >?99% G4C2 content, though we cannot rule out small interruptions.Our findings indicate that long-read sequencing is well suited to characterizing known repeat expansions, and for discovering new disease-causing, disease-modifying, or risk-modifying repeat expansions that have gone undetected with conventional short-read sequencing. The PacBio No-Amp targeted approach may have future potential in clinical and genetic counseling environments. Larger and deeper long-read sequencing studies in C9orf72 expansion carriers will be important to determine heterogeneity and whether the repeats are interrupted by non-G4C2 content, potentially mitigating or modifying disease course or age of onset, as interruptions are known to do in other repeat-expansion disorders. These results have broad implications across all diseases where the genetic etiology remains unclear.


July 7, 2019  |  

Characterization of Class IIa bacteriocin resistance in Enterococcus faecium.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci, particularly resistant Enterococcus faecium, pose an escalating threat in nosocomial environments because of their innate resistance to many antibiotics, including vancomycin, a treatment of last resort. Many class IIa bacteriocins strongly target these enterococci and may offer a potential alternative for the management of this pathogen. However, E. faecium’s resistance to these peptides remains relatively uncharacterized. Here, we explored the development of resistance of E. faecium to a cocktail of three class IIa bacteriocins: enterocin A, enterocin P, and hiracin JM79. We started by quantifying the frequency of resistance to these peptides in four clinical isolates of E. faecium We then investigated the levels of resistance of E. faecium 6E6 mutants as well as their fitness in different carbon sources. In order to elucidate the mechanism of resistance of E. faecium to class IIa bacteriocins, we completed whole-genome sequencing of resistant mutants and performed reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) of a suspected target mannose phosphotransferase (ManPTS). We then verified this ManPTS’s role in bacteriocin susceptibility by showing that expression of the ManPTS in Lactococcus lactis results in susceptibility to the peptide cocktail. Based on the evidence found from these studies, we conclude that, in accord with other studies in E. faecalis and Listeria monocytogenes, resistance to class IIa bacteriocins in E. faecium 6E6 is likely caused by the disruption of a particular ManPTS, which we believe we have identified. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Sulfuriferula sp. strain AH1, a sulfur-oxidizing autotroph isolated from weathered mine tailings from the Duluth Complex in Minnesota.

We report the closed and annotated genome sequence of Sulfuriferula sp. strain AH1. Strain AH1 has a 2,877,007-bp chromosome that includes a partial Sox system for inorganic sulfur oxidation and a complete nitrogen fixation pathway. It also has a single 39,138-bp plasmid with genes for arsenic and mercury resistance. Copyright © 2017 Jones et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans strain G11, a model sulfate-reducing, hydrogenotrophic, and syntrophic partner organism.

Here, we report the draft genome of the Gram-negative, sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans strain G11. Isolated from a rumen fluid enrichment, this culture has been a model syntrophic partner due to its metabolic flexibility. The assembly yielded a single circular chromosome of 3,414,943 bp and a 57% G+C content. Copyright © 2017 Sheik et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Isolation and genomic characterization of ‘Desulfuromonas soudanensis WTL’, a metal- and electrode-respiring bacterium from anoxic deep subsurface brine.

Reaching a depth of 713 m below the surface, the Soudan Underground Iron Mine (Soudan, MN, USA) transects a massive Archaean (2.7 Ga) banded iron formation, providing a remarkably accessible window into the terrestrial deep biosphere. Despite organic carbon limitation, metal-reducing microbial communities are present in potentially ancient anoxic brines continuously emanating from exploratory boreholes on Level 27. Using graphite electrodes deposited in situ as bait, we electrochemically enriched and isolated a novel halophilic iron-reducing Deltaproteobacterium, ‘Desulfuromonas soudanensis’ strain WTL, from an acetate-fed three-electrode bioreactor poised at +0.24 V (vs. standard hydrogen electrode). Cyclic voltammetry revealed that ‘D. soudanensis’ releases electrons at redox potentials approximately 100 mV more positive than the model freshwater surface isolate Geobacter sulfurreducens, suggesting that its extracellular respiration is tuned for higher potential electron acceptors. ‘D. soudanensis’ contains a 3,958,620-bp circular genome, assembled to completion using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing reads, which encodes a complete TCA cycle, 38 putative multiheme c-type cytochromes, one of which contains 69 heme-binding motifs, and a LuxI/LuxR quorum sensing cassette that produces an unidentified N-acyl homoserine lactone. Another cytochrome is predicted to lie within a putative prophage, suggesting that horizontal gene transfer plays a role in respiratory flexibility among metal reducers. Isolation of ‘D. soudanensis’ underscores the utility of electrode-based approaches for enriching rare metal reducers from a wide range of habitats.


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