October 23, 2019  |  

An online bioinformatics tool predicts zinc finger and TALE nuclease off-target cleavage.

Although engineered nucleases can efficiently cleave intracellular DNA at desired target sites, major concerns remain on potential ‘off-target’ cleavage that may occur throughout the genome. We developed an online tool: predicted report of genome-wide nuclease off-target sites (PROGNOS) that effectively identifies off-target sites. The initial bioinformatics algorithms in PROGNOS were validated by predicting 44 of 65 previously confirmed off-target sites, and by uncovering a new off-target site for the extensively studied zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) targeting C-C chemokine receptor type 5. Using PROGNOS, we rapidly interrogated 128 potential off-target sites for newly designed transcription activator-like effector nucleases containing either Asn-Asn (NN) or Asn-Lys (NK) repeat variable di-residues (RVDs) and 3- and 4-finger ZFNs, and validated 13 bona fide off-target sites for these nucleases by DNA sequencing. The PROGNOS algorithms were further refined by incorporating additional features of nuclease-DNA interactions and the newly confirmed off-target sites into the training set, which increased the percentage of bona fide off-target sites found within the top PROGNOS rankings. By identifying potential off-target sites in silico, PROGNOS allows the selection of more specific target sites and aids the identification of bona fide off-target sites, significantly facilitating the design of engineered nucleases for genome editing applications.


September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic second hit mutation of RASA1 in vascular endothelial cells in capillary malformation-arteriovenous malformation.

Capillary malformation-arteriovenous malformation (CM-AVM) is an autosomal dominant vascular disorder that is associated with inherited inactivating mutations of the RASA1 gene in the majority of cases. Characteristically, patients exhibit one or more focal cutaneous CM that may occur alone or together with AVM, arteriovenous fistulas or lymphatic vessel abnormalities. The focal nature and varying presentation of lesions has led to the hypothesis that somatic “second hit” inactivating mutations of RASA1 are necessary for disease development. In this study, we examined CM from four different CM-AVM patients for the presence of somatically acquired RASA1 mutations. All four patients were shown to possess inactivating heterozygous germline RASA1 mutations. In one of the patients, a somatic inactivating RASA1 mutation (c.1534C > T, p.Arg512*) was additionally identified in CM lesion tissue. The somatic RASA1 mutation was detected within endothelial cells specifically and was in trans with the germline RASA1 mutation. Together with the germline RASA1 mutation (c.2125C > T, p.Arg709*) in the same patient, the endothelial cell somatic RASA1 mutation likely contributed to lesion development. These studies provide the first clear evidence of the second hit model of CM-AVM pathogenesis. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive gene amplification as a mechanism for piperacillin-tazobactam resistance in Escherichia coli.

Although the TEM-1 ß-lactamase (BlaTEM-1) hydrolyzes penicillins and narrow-spectrum cephalosporins, organisms expressing this enzyme are typically susceptible to ß-lactam/ß-lactamase inhibitor combinations such as piperacillin-tazobactam (TZP). However, our previous work led to the discovery of 28 clinical isolates of Escherichia coli resistant to TZP that contained only blaTEM-1 One of these isolates, E. coli 907355, was investigated further in this study. E. coli 907355 exhibited significantly higher ß-lactamase activity and BlaTEM-1 protein levels when grown in the presence of subinhibitory concentrations of TZP. A corresponding TZP-dependent increase in blaTEM-1 copy number was also observed, with as many as 113 copies of the gene detected per cell. These results suggest that TZP treatment promotes an increase in blaTEM-1 gene dosage, allowing BlaTEM-1 to reach high enough levels to overcome inactivation by the available tazobactam in the culture. To better understand the nature of the blaTEM-1 copy number proliferation, whole-genome sequence (WGS) analysis was performed on E. coli 907355 in the absence and presence of TZP. The WGS data revealed that the blaTEM-1 gene is located in a 10-kb genomic resistance module (GRM) that contains multiple resistance genes and mobile genetic elements. The GRM was found to be tandemly repeated at least 5 times within a p1ESCUM/p1ECUMN-like plasmid when bacteria were grown in the presence of TZP.IMPORTANCE Understanding how bacteria acquire resistance to antibiotics is essential for treating infected patients effectively, as well as preventing the spread of resistant organisms. In this study, a clinical isolate of E. coli was identified that dedicated more than 15% of its genome toward tandem amplification of a ~10-kb resistance module, allowing it to escape antibiotic-mediated killing. Our research is significant in that it provides one possible explanation for clinical isolates that exhibit discordant behavior when tested for antibiotic resistance by different phenotypic methods. Our research also shows that GRM amplification is difficult to detect by short-read WGS technologies. Analysis of raw long-read sequence data was required to confirm GRM amplification as a mechanism of antibiotic resistance. Copyright © 2018 Schechter et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

An improved medium for colistin susceptibility testing.

The plasmid-located colistin resistance gene mcr-1 confers low-level resistance to colistin, a last-line antibiotic against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Current CLSI-EUCAST recommendations require the use of a broth microdilution (BMD) method with cation-adjusted Mueller-Hinton (CA-MH) medium for colistin susceptibility testing, but approximately 15% of all MCR-1 producers are classified as sensitive in that broth. Here we report on an improved calcium-enhanced Mueller-Hinton (CE-MH) medium that permits simple and reliable determination of mcr-1-containing Enterobacteriaceae Colistin susceptibility testing was performed for 50 mcr-1-containing Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates, 7 intrinsically polymyxin-resistant species, K. pneumoniae and E. coli isolates with acquired resistance to polymyxins due to mgrB and pmrB mutations, respectively, and 32 mcr-1-negative, colistin-susceptible isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii, Citrobacter freundii, Enterobacter cloacae, E. coli, K. pneumoniae, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. A comparison of the colistin MICs determined in CA-MH medium and those obtained in CE-MH medium was performed using both the BMD and strip-based susceptibility test formats. We validated the data using an isogenic IncX4 plasmid lacking mcr-1 Use of the CE-MH broth provides clear separation between resistant and susceptible isolates in both BMD and gradient diffusion assays; this is true for both mcr-1-containing Enterobacteriaceae isolates and those exhibiting either intrinsic or acquired colistin resistance. CE-MH medium is simple to prepare and overcomes current problems associated with BMD and strip-based colistin susceptibility testing, and use of the medium is easy to implement in routine diagnostic laboratories, even in resource-poor settings. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


July 19, 2019  |  

De novo repeat interruptions are associated with reduced somatic instability and mild or absent clinical features in myotonic dystrophy type 1.

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multisystem disorder, caused by expansion of a CTG trinucleotide repeat in the 3′-untranslated region of the DMPK gene. The repeat expansion is somatically unstable and tends to increase in length with time, contributing to disease progression. In some individuals, the repeat array is interrupted by variant repeats such as CCG and CGG, stabilising the expansion and often leading to milder symptoms. We have characterised three families, each including one person with variant repeats that had arisen de novo on paternal transmission of the repeat expansion. Two individuals were identified for screening due to an unusual result in the laboratory diagnostic test, and the third due to exceptionally mild symptoms. The presence of variant repeats in all three expanded alleles was confirmed by restriction digestion of small pool PCR products, and allele structures were determined by PacBio sequencing. Each was different, but all contained CCG repeats close to the 3′-end of the repeat expansion. All other family members had inherited pure CTG repeats. The variant repeat-containing alleles were more stable in the blood than pure alleles of similar length, which may in part account for the mild symptoms observed in all three individuals. This emphasises the importance of somatic instability as a disease mechanism in DM1. Further, since patients with variant repeats may have unusually mild symptoms, identification of these individuals has important implications for genetic counselling and for patient stratification in DM1 clinical trials.


July 7, 2019  |  

Characterization of biological pathways associated with a 1.37 Mbp genomic region protective of hypertension in Dahl S rats.

The goal of the present study was to narrow a region of chromosome 13 to only several genes and then apply unbiased statistical approaches to identify molecular networks and biological pathways relevant to blood-pressure salt sensitivity in Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rats. The analysis of 13 overlapping subcongenic strains identified a 1.37 Mbp region on chromosome 13 that influenced the mean arterial blood pressure by at least 25 mmHg in SS rats fed a high-salt diet. DNA sequencing and analysis filled genomic gaps and provided identification of five genes in this region, Rfwd2, Fam5b, Astn1, Pappa2, and Tnr. A cross-platform normalization of transcriptome data sets obtained from our previously published Affymetrix GeneChip dataset and newly acquired RNA-seq data from renal outer medullary tissue provided 90 observations for each gene. Two Bayesian methods were used to analyze the data: 1) a linear model analysis to assess 243 biological pathways for their likelihood to discriminate blood pressure levels across experimental groups and 2) a Bayesian graphical modeling of pathways to discover genes with potential relationships to the candidate genes in this region. As none of these five genes are known to be involved in hypertension, this unbiased approach has provided useful clues to be experimentally explored. Of these five genes, Rfwd2, the gene most strongly expressed in the renal outer medulla, was notably associated with pathways that can affect blood pressure via renal transcellular Na(+) and K(+) electrochemical gradients and tubular Na(+) transport, mitochondrial TCA cycle and cell energetics, and circadian rhythms. Copyright © 2014 the American Physiological Society.


July 7, 2019  |  

New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase-1-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae, Florida, USA(1).

New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase (NDM)–producing Enterobacteriaceae have swiftly spread worldwide since an initial report in 2008 from a patient who had been transferred from India back home to Sweden (1). Epidemiologically, the global diffusion of NDM-1 producers has been associated with the Indian subcontinent and the Balkan region, which are considered the primary and secondary reservoirs of these pathogens, respectively (1). However, recent reports suggest that countries in the Middle East may constitute another potential reservoir for NDM-1 producers (1). More than 100 NDM-producing isolates have been reported in the United States, most of which were associated with recent travel from the Indian subcontinent (2,3). We report an NDM-1–producing Klebsiella pneumoniae strain that was recovered from a patient who had been transferred from Iran to a hospital in Florida, United States.


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