June 1, 2021  |  

Advances in sequence consensus and clustering algorithms for effective de novo assembly and haplotyping applications.

One of the major applications of DNA sequencing technology is to bring together information that is distant in sequence space so that understanding genome structure and function becomes easier on a large scale. The Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) Sequencing platform provides direct sequencing data that can span several thousand bases to tens of thousands of bases in a high-throughput fashion. In contrast to solving genomic puzzles by patching together smaller piece of information, long sequence reads can decrease potential computation complexity by reducing combinatorial factors significantly. We demonstrate algorithmic approaches to construct accurate consensus when the differences between reads are dominated by insertions and deletions. High-performance implementations of such algorithms allow more efficient de novo assembly with a pre-assembly step that generates highly accurate, consensus-based reads which can be used as input for existing genome assemblers. In contrast to recent hybrid assembly approach, only a single ~10 kb or longer SMRTbell library is necessary for the hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP). Meanwhile, with a sensitive read-clustering algorithm with the consensus algorithms, one is able to discern haplotypes that differ by less than 1% different from each other over a large region. One of the related applications is to generate accurate haplotype sequences for HLA loci. Long sequence reads that can cover the whole 3 kb to 4 kb diploid genomic regions will simplify the haplotyping process. These algorithms can also be applied to resolve individual populations within mixed pools of DNA molecules that are similar to each, e.g., by sequencing viral quasi-species samples.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome and transcriptome of the refeneration-competent flatworm, Macrostomum lignano

The free-living flatworm, Macrostomum lignano, much like its better known planarian relative, Schmidtea mediterranea, has an impressive regenerative capacity. Following injury, this species has the ability to regenerate almost an entirely new organism. This is attributable to the presence of an abundant somatic stem cell population, the neoblasts. These cells are also essential for the ongoing maintenance of most tissues, as their loss leads to irreversible degeneration of the animal. This set of unique properties makes a subset of flatworms attractive organisms for studying the evolution of pathways involved in tissue self-renewal, cell fate specification, and regeneration. The use of these organisms as models, however, is hampered by the lack of a well-assembled and annotated genome sequences, fundamental to modern genetic and molecular studies. Here we report the genomic sequence of Macrostomum lignano and an accompanying characterization of its transcriptome. The genome structure of M. lignano is remarkably complex, with ~75% of its sequence being comprised of simple repeats and transposon sequences. This has made high quality assembly from Illumina reads alone impossible (N50=222 bp). We therefore generated 130X coverage by long sequencing reads from the PacBio platform to create a substantially improved assembly with an N50 of 64 Kbp. We complemented the reference genome with an assembled and annotated transcriptome, and used both of these datasets in combination to probe gene expression patterns during regeneration, examining pathways important to stem cell function. As a whole, our data will provide a crucial resource for the community for the study not only of invertebrate evolution and phylogeny but also of regeneration and somatic pluripotency.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent selection following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and Halloween genes (CYP) involved in moulting and reproduction. However, there was little overlap in these gene sets and associated GO terms, indicating different selective regimes operating on each of the parasites. Based on our findings, we suggest that species-specific strategies may be needed to combat evolving parasite communities.


April 21, 2020  |  

Morphological and genomic characterisation of the hybrid schistosome infecting humans in Europe reveals a complex admixture between Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis parasites

Schistosomes cause schistosomiasis, the worldtextquoterights second most important parasitic disease after malaria. A peculiar feature of schistosomes is their ability to produce viable and fertile hybrids. Originally only present in the tropics, schistosomiasis is now also endemic in Europe. Based on two genetic markers the European species had been identified as a hybrid between the ruminant-infective Schistosoma bovis and the human-infective Schistosoma haematobium.Here we describe for the first time the genomic composition of the European schistosome hybrid (77% of S. haematobium and 23% of S. bovis origins), its morphometric parameters and its compatibility with the European vector snail and intermediate host Compatibility is a key parameter for the parasites life cycle progression. We also show that egg morphology (a classical diagnostic parameter) does not allow for differential diagnosis while genetic tests do so. Additionally, we performed genome assembly improvement and annotation of S. bovis, the parental species for which no satisfactory genome assembly was available.For the first time since the discovery of hybrid schistosomes, these results reveal at the whole genomic level a complex admixture of parental genomes highlighting (i) the high permeability of schistosomes to other speciestextquoteright alleles, and (ii) the importance of hybrid formation for pushing species boundaries not only conceptionally but also geographically.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequences of Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis, Leishmania (Leishmania) mexicana, and Leishmania (Leishmania) aethiopica, Potential Etiological Agents of Diffuse Cutaneous Leishmaniasis.

We present here the draft genome sequences of Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis, Leishmania (Leishmania) mexicana, and Leishmania (Leishmania) aethiopica, potential etiological agents of diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis (DCL). Sequence data were obtained using PacBio and MiSeq platforms. The PacBio assemblies generated using Canu v1.6 are more contiguous than are those in the available data.


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  |  

Rapid antigen diversification through mitotic recombination in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Malaria parasites possess the remarkable ability to maintain chronic infections that fail to elicit a protective immune response, characteristics that have stymied vaccine development and cause people living in endemic regions to remain at risk of malaria despite previous exposure to the disease. These traits stem from the tremendous antigenic diversity displayed by parasites circulating in the field. For Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent of the human malaria parasites, this diversity is exemplified by the variant gene family called var, which encodes the major surface antigen displayed on infected red blood cells (RBCs). This gene family exhibits virtually limitless diversity when var gene repertoires from different parasite isolates are compared. Previous studies indicated that this remarkable genome plasticity results from extensive ectopic recombination between var genes during mitotic replication; however, the molecular mechanisms that direct this process to antigen-encoding loci while the rest of the genome remains relatively stable were not determined. Using targeted DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and long-read whole-genome sequencing, we show that a single break within an antigen-encoding region of the genome can result in a cascade of recombination events leading to the generation of multiple chimeric var genes, a process that can greatly accelerate the generation of diversity within this family. We also found that recombinations did not occur randomly, but rather high-probability, specific recombination products were observed repeatedly. These results provide a molecular basis for previously described structured rearrangements that drive diversification of this highly polymorphic gene family.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole-genome sequence of the bovine blood fluke Schistosoma bovis supports interspecific hybridization with S. haematobium.

Mesenteric infection by the parasitic blood fluke Schistosoma bovis is a common veterinary problem in Africa and the Middle East and occasionally in the Mediterranean Region. The species also has the ability to form interspecific hybrids with the human parasite S. haematobium with natural hybridisation observed in West Africa, presenting possible zoonotic transmission. Additionally, this exchange of alleles between species may dramatically influence disease dynamics and parasite evolution. We have generated a 374 Mb assembly of the S. bovis genome using Illumina and PacBio-based technologies. Despite infecting different hosts and organs, the genome sequences of S. bovis and S. haematobium appeared strikingly similar with 97% sequence identity. The two species share 98% of protein-coding genes, with an average sequence identity of 97.3% at the amino acid level. Genome comparison identified large continuous parts of the genome (up to several 100 kb) showing almost 100% sequence identity between S. bovis and S. haematobium. It is unlikely that this is a result of genome conservation and provides further evidence of natural interspecific hybridization between S. bovis and S. haematobium. Our results suggest that foreign DNA obtained by interspecific hybridization was maintained in the population through multiple meiosis cycles and that hybrids were sexually reproductive, producing viable offspring. The S. bovis genome assembly forms a highly valuable resource for studying schistosome evolution and exploring genetic regions that are associated with species-specific phenotypic traits.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequence of Trypanosoma equiperdum Strain IVM-t1.

Trypanosoma equiperdum primarily parasitizes the genital organs and causes dourine in equidae. We isolated a new T. equiperdum strain, T. equiperdum IVM-t1, from the urogenital tract of a horse definitively diagnosed as having dourine in Mongolia. Here, we report the whole-genome sequence, the predicted gene models, and their annotations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Leishmania tarentolae: Taxonomic classification and its application as a promising biotechnological expression host.

In this review, we summarize the current knowledge concerning the eukaryotic protozoan parasite Leishmania tarentolae, with a main focus on its potential for biotechnological applications. We will also discuss the genus, subgenus, and species-level classification of this parasite, its life cycle and geographical distribution, and similarities and differences to human-pathogenic species, as these aspects are relevant for the evaluation of biosafety aspects of L. tarentolae as host for recombinant DNA/protein applications. Studies indicate that strain LEM-125 but not strain TARII/UC of L. tarentolae might also be capable of infecting mammals, at least transiently. This could raise the question of whether the current biosafety level of this strain should be reevaluated. In addition, we will summarize the current state of biotechnological research involving L. tarentolae and explain why this eukaryotic parasite is an advantageous and promising human recombinant protein expression host. This summary includes overall biotechnological applications, insights into its protein expression machinery (especially on glycoprotein and antibody fragment expression), available expression vectors, cell culture conditions, and its potential as an immunotherapy agent for human leishmaniasis treatment. Furthermore, we will highlight useful online tools and, finally, discuss possible future applications such as the humanization of the glycosylation profile of L. tarentolae or the expression of mammalian recombinant proteins in amastigote-like cells of this species or in amastigotes of avirulent human-pathogenic Leishmania species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Application of long read sequencing to determine expressed antigen diversity in Trypanosoma brucei infections.

Antigenic variation is employed by many pathogens to evade the host immune response, and Trypanosoma brucei has evolved a complex system to achieve this phenotype, involving sequential use of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) genes encoded from a large repertoire of ~2,000 genes. T. brucei express multiple, sometimes closely related, VSGs in a population at any one time, and the ability to resolve and analyse this diversity has been limited. We applied long read sequencing (PacBio) to VSG amplicons generated from blood extracted from batches of mice sacrificed at time points (days 3, 6, 10 and 12) post-infection with T. brucei TREU927. The data showed that long read sequencing is reliable for resolving variant differences between VSGs, and demonstrated that there is significant expressed diversity (449 VSGs detected across 20 mice) and across the timeframe of study there was a clear semi-reproducible pattern of expressed diversity (median of 27 VSGs per sample at day 3 post infection (p.i.), 82 VSGs at day 6 p.i., 187 VSGs at day 10 p.i. and 132 VSGs by day 12 p.i.). There was also consistent detection of one VSG dominating expression across replicates at days 3 and 6, and emergence of a second dominant VSG across replicates by day 12. The innovative application of ecological diversity analysis to VSG reads enabled characterisation of hierarchical VSG expression in the dataset, and resulted in a novel method for analysing such patterns of variation. Additionally, the long read approach allowed detection of mosaic VSG expression from very few reads-the earliest in infection that such events have been detected. Therefore, our results indicate that long read analysis is a reliable tool for resolving diverse gene expression profiles, and provides novel insights into the complexity and nature of VSG expression in trypanosomes, revealing significantly higher diversity than previously shown and the ability to identify mosaic gene formation early during the infection process.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome and transcriptome analyses of Leishmania spp.: opening Pandora’s box.

In the last 30 years, significant advances in genetic manipulation tools along with complete genome and transcriptome sequencing have advanced our understanding of the biology of Leishmania parasites and their interplay with the sand fly and mammalian hosts. High-throughput sequencing in association with CRISPR/Cas9 have prepared the ground for significant advances. Given the richness of the progress made over the last decade, in this article, we focused on the most recent contributions of genome-wide and transcriptome analyses of Leishmania spp., which permit the comparison of life cycle stages, the evaluation of different strains and species in their natural niches and in the field and the simultaneously comparison of the gene expression profiles of parasites and hosts.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Nephromyces encodes a urate metabolism pathway and predicted peroxisomes, demonstrating that these are not ancient losses of apicomplexans.

The phylum Apicomplexa is a quintessentially parasitic lineage, whose members infect a broad range of animals. One exception to this may be the apicomplexan genus Nephromyces, which has been described as having a mutualistic relationship with its host. Here we analyze transcriptome data from Nephromyces and its parasitic sister taxon, Cardiosporidium, revealing an ancestral purine degradation pathway thought to have been lost early in apicomplexan evolution. The predicted localization of many of the purine degradation enzymes to peroxisomes, and the in silico identification of a full set of peroxisome proteins, indicates that loss of both features in other apicomplexans occurred multiple times. The degradation of purines is thought to play a key role in the unusual relationship between Nephromyces and its host. Transcriptome data confirm previous biochemical results of a functional pathway for the utilization of uric acid as a primary nitrogen source for this unusual apicomplexan.


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