June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing of whole mitochondrial genomes and its utility in association studies of metabolic disease.

In this study we demonstrate the utility of Single-Molecule Real Time SMRT sequencing to detect variants and to recapitulate whole mitochondrial genomes in an association study of Metabolic syndrome using samples from a well-studied cohort from Micronesia. The Micronesian island of Kosrae is a rare genetic isolate that offers significant advantages for genetic studies of human disease. Kosrae suffers from one of the highest rates of MetS (41%), obesity (52%), and diabetes (17%) globally and has a homogeneous environment making this an excellent population in which to study these significant health problems. We are conducting family-based association analyses aimed at identifying specific mitochondrial variants that contribute to obesity and other co-morbid conditions. We sequenced whole mitochondrial genomes from 10 Kosraen individuals who represent greater than 25 % of the mitochondrial genetic diversity for the entire Kosraen population. Using Pacific Biosciences C2 chemistry, SMRTbell libraries were constructed from pooled, full-length, unsheared 5 kb PCR amplicons, tiling the entire 16.6 kb mtDNA genome. Average read lengths for each sample were between 2500-3000 bp, with 5% of reads between 6,000-8,000 bases, depending on movie lengths. The data generated in this study serve as proof of principle that SMRT Sequencing data can be utilized for identification of high-quality variants and complete mitochondrial genome sequences. These data will be leveraged to identify causative variants for Metabolic syndrome and associated disorders.


June 1, 2021  |  

Harnessing kinetic information in Single-Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing.

Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing is unique in that nucleotide incorporation events are monitored in real time, leading to a wealth of kinetic information in addition to the extraction of the primary DNA sequence. The dynamics of the DNA polymerase that is observed adds an additional dimension of sequence-dependent information, and can be used to learn more about the molecule under study. First, the primary sequence itself can be determined more accurately. The kinetic data can be used to corroborate or overturn consensus calls and even enable calling bases in problematic sequence contexts. Second, using the kinetic information, we can detect and discriminate numerous chemical base modifications as a by-product of ordinary sequencing. Examples of applying these capabilities include (i) the characterization of the epigenome of microorganisms by directly sequencing the three common prokaryotic epigenetic base modifications of 4-methylcytosine, 5- methylcytosine and 6-methyladenine; (ii) the characterization of known and novel methyltransferase activities; (iii) the direct sequencing and differentiation of the four eukaryotic epigenetic forms of cytosine (5-methyl, 5-hydroxymethyl, 5-formyl, and 5-carboxylcytosine) with first applications to map them with single base-pair and DNA strand resolution across mammalian genomes; (iv) the direct sequencing and identification of numerous modified DNA bases arising from DNA damage; and (v) an exploration of the mitochondrial genome for known and novel base modifications. We will show our progress towards a generic, open-source algorithm for exploiting kinetic information for any of these purposes.


June 1, 2021  |  

Mitochondrial DNA sequencing using PacBio SMRT technology

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a compact, double-stranded circular genome of 16,569 bp with a cytosine-rich light (L) chain and a guanine-rich heavy (H) chain. mtDNA mutations have been increasingly recognized as important contributors to an array of human diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and Kearns–Sayre syndrome. mtDNA mutations can affect all of the 1000-10,000 copies of the mitochondrial genome present in a cell (homoplasmic mutation) or only a subset of copies (heteroplasmic mutation). The ratio of normal to mutant mtDNAs within cells is a significant factor in whether mutations will result in disease, as well as the clinical presentation, penetrance, and severity of the phenotype. Over time, heteroplasmic mutations can become homoplastic due to differential replication and random assortment. Full characterization of the mitochondrial genome would involve detection of not only homoplastic but heteroplasmic mutations, as well as complete phasing. Previously, we sequenced human mtDNA on the PacBio RS II System with two partially overlapping amplicons. Here, we present amplification-free, full-length sequencing of linearized mtDNA using the Sequel System. Full-length sequencing allows variant phasing along the entire mitochondrial genome, identification of heteroplasmic variants, and detection of epigenetic modifications that are lost in amplicon-based methods.


June 1, 2021  |  

High-quality de novo genome assembly and intra-individual mitochondrial instability in the critically endangered kakapo

The kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is a large, flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand. It is highly endangered with only ~150 individuals remaining, and intensive conservation efforts are underway to save this iconic species from extinction. These include genetic studies to understand critical genes relevant to fertility, adaptation and disease resistance, and genetic diversity across the remaining population for future breeding program decisions. To aid with these efforts, we have generated a high-quality de novo genome assembly using PacBio long-read sequencing. Using the new diploid-aware FALCON-Unzip assembler, the resulting genome of 1.06 Gb has a contig N50 of 5.6 Mb (largest contig 29.3 Mb), >350-times more contiguous compared to a recent short-read assembly of a closely related parrot (kea) species. We highlight the benefits of the higher contiguity and greater completeness of the kakapo genome assembly through examples of fully resolved genes important in wildlife conservation (contrasted with fragmented and incomplete gene resolution in short-read assemblies), in some cases even providing sequence for regions orthologous to gaps of missing sequence in the chicken reference genome. We also highlight the complete resolution of the kakapo mitochondrial genome, fully containing the mitochondrial control region which is missing from the previous dedicated kakapomitochondrial genome NCBI entry. For this region, we observed a marked heterogeneity in the number of tandem repeats in different mtDNAmolecules from a single bird tissue, highlighting the enhanced molecular resolution uniquely afforded by long-read, single-molecule PacBio sequencing.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparison of mitochondrial DNA variants detection using short- and long-read sequencing.

The recent advent of long-read sequencing technologies is expected to provide reasonable answers to genetic challenges unresolvable by short-read sequencing, primarily the inability to accurately study structural variations, copy number variations, and homologous repeats in complex parts of the genome. However, long-read sequencing comes along with higher rates of random short deletions and insertions, and single nucleotide errors. The relatively higher sequencing accuracy of short-read sequencing has kept it as the first choice of screening for single nucleotide variants and short deletions and insertions. Albeit, short-read sequencing still suffers from systematic errors that tend to occur at specific positions where a high depth of reads is not always capable to correct for these errors. In this study, we compared the genotyping of mitochondrial DNA variants in three samples using PacBio’s Sequel (Pacific Biosciences Inc., Menlo Park, CA, USA) long-read sequencing and illumina’s HiSeqX10 (illumine Inc., San Diego, CA, USA) short-read sequencing data. We concluded that, despite the differences in the type and frequency of errors in the long-reads sequencing, its accuracy is still comparable to that of short-reads for genotyping short nuclear variants; due to the randomness of errors in long reads, a lower coverage, around 37 reads, can be sufficient to correct for these random errors.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole-genome sequence of the oriental lung fluke Paragonimus westermani.

Foodborne infections caused by lung flukes of the genus Paragonimus are a significant and widespread public health problem in tropical areas. Approximately 50 Paragonimus species have been reported to infect animals and humans, but Paragonimus westermani is responsible for the bulk of human disease. Despite their medical and economic importance, no genome sequence for any Paragonimus species is available.We sequenced and assembled the genome of P. westermani, which is among the largest of the known pathogen genomes with an estimated size of 1.1 Gb. A 922.8 Mb genome assembly was generated from Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequence data, covering 84% of the estimated genome size. The genome has a high proportion (45%) of repeat-derived DNA, particularly of the long interspersed element and long terminal repeat subtypes, and the expansion of these elements may explain some of the large size. We predicted 12,852 protein coding genes, showing a high level of conservation with related trematode species. The majority of proteins (80%) had homologs in the human liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini, with an average sequence identity of 64.1%. Assembly of the P. westermani mitochondrial genome from long PacBio reads resulted in a single high-quality circularized 20.6 kb contig. The contig harbored a 6.9 kb region of non-coding repetitive DNA comprised of three distinct repeat units. Our results suggest that the region is highly polymorphic in P. westermani, possibly even within single worm isolates.The generated assembly represents the first Paragonimus genome sequence and will facilitate future molecular studies of this important, but neglected, parasite group.


April 21, 2020  |  

The alternative reality of plant mitochondrial DNA: One ring does not rule them all.

Plant mitochondrial genomes are usually assembled and displayed as circular maps based on the widely-held view across the broad community of life scientists that circular genome-sized molecules are the primary form of plant mitochondrial DNA, despite the understanding by plant mitochondrial researchers that this is an inaccurate and outdated concept. Many plant mitochondrial genomes have one or more pairs of large repeats that can act as sites for inter- or intramolecular recombination, leading to multiple alternative arrangements (isoforms). Most mitochondrial genomes have been assembled using methods unable to capture the complete spectrum of isoforms within a species, leading to an incomplete inference of their structure and recombinational activity. To document and investigate underlying reasons for structural diversity in plant mitochondrial DNA, we used long-read (PacBio) and short-read (Illumina) sequencing data to assemble and compare mitochondrial genomes of domesticated (Lactuca sativa) and wild (L. saligna and L. serriola) lettuce species. We characterized a comprehensive, complex set of isoforms within each species and compared genome structures between species. Physical analysis of L. sativa mtDNA molecules by fluorescence microscopy revealed a variety of linear, branched, and circular structures. The mitochondrial genomes for L. sativa and L. serriola were identical in sequence and arrangement and differed substantially from L. saligna, indicating that the mitochondrial genome structure did not change during domestication. From the isoforms in our data, we infer that recombination occurs at repeats of all sizes at variable frequencies. The differences in genome structure between L. saligna and the two other Lactuca species can be largely explained by rare recombination events that rearranged the structure. Our data demonstrate that representations of plant mitochondrial genomes as simple, circular molecules are not accurate descriptions of their true nature and that in reality plant mitochondrial DNA is a complex, dynamic mixture of forms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mitochondrial DNA and their nuclear copies in the parasitic wasp Pteromalus puparum: A comparative analysis in Chalcidoidea.

Chalcidoidea (chalcidoid wasps) are an abundant and megadiverse insect group with both ecological and economical importance. Here we report a complete mitochondrial genome in Chalcidoidea from Pteromalus puparum (Pteromalidae). Eight tandem repeats followed by 6 reversed repeats were detected in its 3308?bp control region. This long and complex control region may explain failures of amplifying and sequencing of complete mitochondrial genomes in some chalcidoids. In addition to 37 typical mitochondrial genes, an extra identical isoleucine tRNA (trnI) was detected at the opposite end of the control region. This recent mitochondrial gene duplication indicates that gene arrangements in chalcidoids are ongoing. A comparison among available chalcidoid mitochondrial genomes reveals rapid gene order rearrangements overall and high protein substitution rates in most chalcidoid taxa. In addition, we identified 24 nuclear sequences of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs) in P. puparum, summing up to 9989?bp, with 3617?bp of these NUMTs originating from mitochondrial coding regions. NUMTs abundance in P. puparum is only one-twelfth of that in its relative, Nasonia vitripennis. Based on phylogenetic analysis, we provide evidence that a faster nuclear degradation rate contributes to the reduced NUMT numbers in P. puparum. Overall, our study shows unusually high rates of mitochondrial evolution and considerable variation in NUMT accumulation in Chalcidoidea. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.


April 21, 2020  |  

The complete mitochondrial genome of the New Zealand parasitic roundworm Haemonchus contortus (Trichostrongyloidea: Haemonchidae) field strain NZ_Hco_NP

The complete mitochondrial genome of the New Zealand parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus field strain NZ_Hco_NP was sequenced and annotated. The 14,001bp-long mitogenome contains 12 protein-coding genes (atp8 gene missing), two ribosomal RNAs, 22 transfer RNAs, and a 583bp non- coding region. Phylogenetic analysis showed that H. contortus NZ_Hco_NP forms a monophyletic clus- ter with the remaining three Haemonchidae species, and further illustrates the high levels of diversity and gene flow among Trichostrongylidae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mitochondrial genome of the entomophthoroid fungus Conidiobolus heterosporus provides insights into evolution of basal fungi.

Entomophthoroid fungi represent an ecologically important group of fungal pathogens on insects. Here, the whole mitogenome of Conidiobolus heterosporus, one of the entomophthoroid fungi, was described and compared to those early branching fungi with available mitogenomes. The 53,364-bp circular mitogenome of C. heterosporus contained two rRNA genes, 14 standard protein-coding genes, 26 tRNA genes, and three free-standing ORFs. Thirty introns interrupted nine mitochondrial genes. Phylogenetic analysis based on mitochondrion-encoded proteins revealed that C. heterosporus was most close to Zancudomyces culisetae in the Zoopagomycota of basal fungi. Comparison on mitogenomes of 23 basal fungi revealed great variabilities in terms of mitogenome conformation (circular or linear), genetic code (codes 1, 4, or 16), AT contents (53.3-85.5%), etc. These mitogenomes varied from 12.0 to 97.3 kb in sizes, mainly due to different numbers of genes and introns. They showed frequent DNA rearrangement events and a high variability of gene order, although high synteny and conserved gene order were also present between closely related species. By reporting the first mitogenome in Entomophthoromycotina and the second in Zoopagomycota, this study greatly enhanced our understanding on evolution of basal fungi.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution and Diversification of Kiwifruit Mitogenomes through Extensive Whole-Genome Rearrangement and Mosaic Loss of Intergenic Sequences in a Highly Variable Region.

Angiosperm mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) are notable for their extreme diversity in both size and structure. However, our current understanding of this diversity is limited, and the underlying mechanism contributing to this diversity remains unclear. Here, we completely assembled and compared the mitogenomes of three kiwifruit (Actinidia) species, which represent an early divergent lineage in asterids. We found conserved gene content and fewer genomic repeats, particularly large repeats (>1?kb), in the three mitogenomes. However, sequence transfers such as intracellular events are variable and dynamic, in which both ancestral shared and recently species-specific events as well as complicated transfers of two plastid-derived sequences into the nucleus through the mitogenomic bridge were detected. We identified extensive whole-genome rearrangements among kiwifruit mitogenomes and found a highly variable V region in which fragmentation and frequent mosaic loss of intergenic sequences occurred, resulting in greatly interspecific variations. One example is the fragmentation of the V region into two regions, V1 and V2, giving rise to the two mitochondrial chromosomes of Actinidia chinensis. Finally, we compared the kiwifruit mitogenomes with those of other asterids to characterize their overall mitogenomic diversity, which identified frequent gain/loss of genes/introns across lineages. In addition to repeat-mediated recombination and import-driven hypothesis of genome size expansion reported in previous studies, our results highlight a pattern of dynamic structural variation in plant mitogenomes through global genomic rearrangements and species-specific fragmentation and mosaic loss of intergenic sequences in highly variable regions on the basis of a relatively large ancestral mitogenome. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes provide insights into the evolutionary origins of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.).

Quinoa has recently gained international attention because of its nutritious seeds, prompting the expansion of its cultivation into new areas in which it was not originally selected as a crop. Improving quinoa production in these areas will benefit from the introduction of advantageous traits from free-living relatives that are native to these, or similar, environments. As part of an ongoing effort to characterize the primary and secondary germplasm pools for quinoa, we report the complete mitochondrial and chloroplast genome sequences of quinoa accession PI 614886 and the identification of sequence variants in additional accessions from quinoa and related species. This is the first reported mitochondrial genome assembly in the genus Chenopodium. Inference of phylogenetic relationships among Chenopodium species based on mitochondrial and chloroplast variants supports the hypotheses that 1) the A-genome ancestor was the cytoplasmic donor in the original tetraploidization event, and 2) highland and coastal quinoas were independently domesticated.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparison of the mitochondrial genomes and steady state transcriptomes of two strains of the trypanosomatid parasite, Leishmania tarentolae.

U-insertion/deletion RNA editing is a post-transcriptional mitochondrial RNA modification phenomenon required for viability of trypanosomatid parasites. Small guide RNAs encoded mainly by the thousands of catenated minicircles contain the information for this editing. We analyzed by NGS technology the mitochondrial genomes and transcriptomes of two strains, the old lab UC strain and the recently isolated LEM125 strain. PacBio sequencing provided complete minicircle sequences which avoided the assembly problem of short reads caused by the conserved regions. Minicircles were identified by a characteristic size, the presence of three short conserved sequences, a region of inherently bent DNA and the presence of single gRNA genes at a fairly defined location. The LEM125 strain contained over 114 minicircles encoding different gRNAs and the UC strain only ~24 minicircles. Some LEM125 minicircles contained no identifiable gRNAs. Approximate copy numbers of the different minicircle classes in the network were determined by the number of PacBio CCS reads that assembled to each class. Mitochondrial RNA libraries from both strains were mapped against the minicircle and maxicircle sequences. Small RNA reads mapped to the putative gRNA genes but also to multiple regions outside the genes on both strands and large RNA reads mapped in many cases over almost the entire minicircle on both strands. These data suggest that minicircle transcription is complete and bidirectional, with 3′ processing yielding the mature gRNAs. Steady state RNAs in varying abundances are derived from all maxicircle genes, including portions of the repetitive divergent region. The relative extents of editing in both strains correlated with the presence of a cascade of cognate gRNAs. These data should provide the foundation for a deeper understanding of this dynamic genetic system as well as the evolutionary variation of editing in different strains.


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular genetic diversity and characterization of conjugation genes in the fish parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is the etiologic agent of “white spot”, a commercially important disease of freshwater fish. As a parasitic ciliate, I. multifiliis infects numerous host species across a broad geographic range. Although Ichthyophthirius outbreaks are difficult to control, recent sequencing of the I. multifiliis genome has revealed a number of potential metabolic pathways for therapeutic intervention, along with likely vaccine targets for disease prevention. Nonetheless, major gaps exist in our understanding of both the life cycle and population structure of I. multifiliis in the wild. For example, conjugation has never been described in this species, and it is unclear whether I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction, despite the presence of a germline micronucleus. In addition, no good methods exist to distinguish strains, leaving phylogenetic relationships between geographic isolates completely unresolved. Here, we compared nucleotide sequences of SSUrDNA, mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit I and cox-1 genes, and 14 somatic SNP sites from nine I. multifiliis isolates obtained from four different states in the US since 1995. The mitochondrial sequences effectively distinguished the isolates from one another and divided them into at least two genetically distinct groups. Furthermore, none of the nine isolates shared the same composition of the 14 somatic SNP sites, suggesting that I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction at some point in its life cycle. Finally, compared to the well-studied free-living ciliates Tetrahymena thermophila and Paramecium tetraurelia, I. multifiliis has lost 38% and 29%, respectively, of 16 experimentally confirmed conjugation-related genes, indicating that mechanistic differences in sexual reproduction are likely to exist between I. multifiliis and other ciliate species. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio full-length transcriptome profiling of insect mitochondrial gene expression.

In this study, we sequenced the first full-length insect transcriptome using the Erthesina fullo Thunberg based on the PacBio platform. We constructed the first quantitative transcription map of animal mitochondrial genomes and built a straightforward and concise methodology to investigate mitochondrial gene transcription, RNA processing, mRNA maturation and several other related topics. Most of the results were consistent with the previous studies, while to the best of our knowledge some findings were reported for the first time in this study. The new findings included the high levels of mitochondrial gene expression, the 3′ polyadenylation and possible 5′ m(7)G caps of rRNAs, the isoform diversity of 12S rRNA, the polycistronic transcripts and natural antisense transcripts of mitochondrial genes et al. These findings could challenge and enrich fundamental concepts of mitochondrial gene transcription and RNA processing, particularly of the rRNA primary (sequence) structure. The methodology constructed in this study can also be used to study gene expression or RNA processing of nuclear genomes.


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