September 22, 2019  |  

Long read reference genome-free reconstruction of a full-length transcriptome from Astragalus membranaceus reveals transcript variants involved in bioactive compound biosynthesis.

Astragalus membranaceus, also known as Huangqi in China, is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine formulations from Astragalus membranaceus have been used to treat a wide range of illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, nephritis and cancers. Pharmacological studies have shown that immunomodulating, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral activities exist in the extract of Astragalus membranaceus. Therefore, characterising the biosynthesis of bioactive compounds in Astragalus membranaceus, such as Astragalosides, Calycosin and Calycosin-7-O-ß-d-glucoside, is of particular importance for further genetic studies of Astragalus membranaceus. In this study, we reconstructed the Astragalus membranaceus full-length transcriptomes from leaf and root tissues using PacBio Iso-Seq long reads. We identified 27 975 and 22 343 full-length unique transcript models in each tissue respectively. Compared with previous studies that used short read sequencing, our reconstructed transcripts are longer, and are more likely to be full-length and include numerous transcript variants. Moreover, we also re-characterised and identified potential transcript variants of genes involved in Astragalosides, Calycosin and Calycosin-7-O-ß-d-glucoside biosynthesis. In conclusion, our study provides a practical pipeline to characterise the full-length transcriptome for species without a reference genome and a useful genomic resource for exploring the biosynthesis of active compounds in Astragalus membranaceus.

July 19, 2019  |  

Validation of ITD mutations in FLT3 as a therapeutic target in human acute myeloid leukaemia.

Effective targeted cancer therapeutic development depends upon distinguishing disease-associated ‘driver’ mutations, which have causative roles in malignancy pathogenesis, from ‘passenger’ mutations, which are dispensable for cancer initiation and maintenance. Translational studies of clinically active targeted therapeutics can definitively discriminate driver from passenger lesions and provide valuable insights into human cancer biology. Activating internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations in FLT3 (FLT3-ITD) are detected in approximately 20% of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients and are associated with a poor prognosis. Abundant scientific and clinical evidence, including the lack of convincing clinical activity of early FLT3 inhibitors, suggests that FLT3-ITD probably represents a passenger lesion. Here we report point mutations at three residues within the kinase domain of FLT3-ITD that confer substantial in vitro resistance to AC220 (quizartinib), an active investigational inhibitor of FLT3, KIT, PDGFRA, PDGFRB and RET; evolution of AC220-resistant substitutions at two of these amino acid positions was observed in eight of eight FLT3-ITD-positive AML patients with acquired resistance to AC220. Our findings demonstrate that FLT3-ITD can represent a driver lesion and valid therapeutic target in human AML. AC220-resistant FLT3 kinase domain mutants represent high-value targets for future FLT3 inhibitor development efforts.

July 19, 2019  |  

Biosynthesis of the novel macrolide antibiotic anthracimycin.

We report the identification of the biosynthetic gene cluster for the unusual antibiotic anthracimycin (atc) from the marine derived producer strain Streptomyces sp. T676 isolated off St. John’s Island, Singapore. The 53?253 bps atc locus includes a trans-acyltransferase (trans-AT) polyketide synthase (PKS), and heterologous expression in Streptomyces coelicolor resulted in anthracimycin production. Analysis of the atc cluster revealed that anthracimycin is likely generated by four PKS gene products AtcC-AtcF without involvement of post-PKS tailoring enzymes, and a biosynthetic pathway is proposed. The availability of the atc cluster provides a basis for investigating the biosynthesis of anthracimycin and its subsequent bioengineering to provide novel analogues with improved pharmacological properties.

July 19, 2019  |  

Long-read Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) full gene sequencing of cytochrome P450-2D6 (CYP2D6).

The CYP2D6 enzyme metabolizes ~25% of common medications, yet homologous pseudogenes and copy-number variants (CNVs) make interrogating the polymorphic CYP2D6 gene with short-read sequencing challenging. Therefore, we developed a novel long-read, full gene CYP2D6 single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing method using the Pacific Biosciences platform. Long-range PCR and CYP2D6 SMRT sequencing of 10 previously genotyped controls identified expected star (*) alleles, but also enabled suballele resolution, diplotype refinement, and discovery of novel alleles. Coupled with an optimized variant calling pipeline, CYP2D6 SMRT sequencing was highly reproducible as triplicate intra- and inter-run non-reference genotype results were completely concordant. Importantly, targeted SMRT sequencing of upstream and downstream CYP2D6 gene copies characterized the duplicated allele in 15 control samples with CYP2D6 CNVs. The utility of CYP2D6 SMRT sequencing was further underscored by identifying the diplotypes of 14 samples with discordant or unclear CYP2D6 configurations from previous targeted genotyping, which again included suballele resolution, duplicated allele characterization, and discovery of a novel allele and tandem arrangement (CYP2D6*36+*41). Taken together, long-read CYP2D6 SMRT sequencing is an innovative, reproducible, and validated method for full-gene characterization, duplication allele-specific analysis and novel allele discovery, which will likely improve CYP2D6 metabolizer phenotype prediction for both research and clinical testing applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

July 19, 2019  |  

Genome analysis of the fruiting body forming myxobacterium Chondromyces crocatus reveals high potential for natural product biosynthesis.

Here we report the first complete genome sequence of the type strain of the myxobacterial genus Chondromyces – Chondromyces crocatus Cm c5. It presents one of the largest prokaryotic genomes featuring a single circular chromosome and no plasmids. Analysis revealed an enlarged set of tRNA genes, along with reduced pressure on preferred codon usage compared to other bacterial genomes. The large coding capacity and the plethora of encoded secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters is in line with the capability of Cm c5 to produce an arsenal of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and cytotoxic compounds. Known pathways of the ajudazol, chondramide, chondrochloren, crocacin, crocapeptin and thuggacin compound families are complemented by many more natural compound biosynthetic gene clusters in the chromosome. Whole-genome comparison of the fruiting-body forming type-strain (Cm c5 = DSM 14714) to an accustomed laboratory strain which has lost this ability (Cm c5 fr-) revealed genetic changes in three loci. In addition to the low synteny found with the closest sequenced representative of the same family, Sorangium cellulosum, extensive genetic information duplication, and broad application of eukaryotic-type signal transduction systems are hallmarks of this 11.3 Mbp prokaryotic genome. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

July 7, 2019  |  

Genome mining of astaxanthin biosynthetic genes from Sphingomonas sp. ATCC 55669 for heterologous overproduction in Escherichia coli.

As a highly valued keto-carotenoid, astaxanthin is widely used in nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals. Therefore, the demand for biosynthetic astaxanthin and improved efficiency of astaxanthin biosynthesis has driven the investigation of metabolic engineering of native astaxanthin producers and heterologous hosts. However, microbial resources for astaxanthin are limited. In this study, we found that the a-Proteobacterium Sphingomonas sp. ATCC 55669 could produce astaxanthin naturally. We used whole-genome sequencing to identify the astaxanthin biosynthetic pathway using a combined PacBio-Illumina approach. The putative astaxanthin biosynthetic pathway in Sphingomonas sp. ATCC 55669 was predicted. For further confirmation, a high-efficiency targeted engineering carotenoid synthesis platform was constructed in E. coli for identifying the functional roles of candidate genes. All genes involved in astaxanthin biosynthesis showed discrete distributions on the chromosome. Moreover, the overexpression of exogenous E. coli idi in Sphingomonas sp. ATCC 55669 increased astaxanthin production by 5.4-fold. This study described a new astaxanthin producer and provided more biosynthesis components for bioengineering of astaxanthin in the future. © 2015 The Authors. Biotechnology Journal published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

July 7, 2019  |  

Understanding the genetics of APOE and TOMM40 and role of mitochondrial structure and function in clinical pharmacology of Alzheimer’s disease.

The methodology of Genome-Wide Association Screening (GWAS) has been applied for more than a decade. Translation to clinical utility has been limited, especially in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). It has become standard practice in the analyses of more than two dozen AD GWAS studies to exclude the apolipoprotein E (APOE) region because of its extraordinary statistical support, unique thus far in complex human diseases. New genes associated with AD are proposed frequently based on SNPs associated with odds ratio (OR) < 1.2. Most of these SNPs are not located within the associated gene exons or introns but are located variable distances away. Often pathologic hypotheses for these genes are presented, with little or no experimental support. By eliminating the analyses of the APOE-TOMM40 linkage disequilibrium region, the relationship and data of several genes that are co-located in that LD region have been largely ignored. Early negative interpretations limited the interest of understanding the genetic data derived from GWAS, particularly regarding the TOMM40 gene. This commentary describes the history and problem(s) in interpretation of the genetic interrogation of the "APOE" region and provides insight into a metabolic mitochondrial basis for the etiology of AD using both APOE and TOMM40 genetics. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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