June 1, 2021  |  

Long-read, single-molecule applications for protein engineering.

The long read lengths of PacBio’s SMRT Sequencing enable detection of linked mutations across multiple kilobases of sequence. This feature is particularly useful in the context of protein engineering, where large numbers of similar constructs are generated routinely to explore the effects of mutations on function and stability. We have developed a PCR-based barcoded sequencing method to generate high quality, full-length sequence data for batches of constructs generated in a common backbone. Individual barcodes are coupled to primers targeting a common region of the vector of interest. The amplified products are pooled into a single DNA library, and sequencing data are clustered by barcode to generate multi-molecule consensus sequences for each construct present in the pool. As a proof-of-concept dataset, we have generated a library of 384 randomly mutated variants of the Phi29 DNA polymerase, a 575 amino acid protein encoded by a 1.7 kb gene. These variants were amplified with a set of barcoded primers, and the resulting library was sequenced on a single SMRT Cell. The data produced sequences that were completely concordant with independent Sanger sequencing, for a 100% accurate reconstruction of the set of clones.


June 1, 2021  |  

Barcoding strategies for multiplexing of samples using a long-read sequencing technology.

We have developed barcoding reagents and workflows for multiplexing amplicons or fragmented native genomic (DNA) prior to Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. The long reads of PacBio’s SMRT Sequencing enable detection of linked mutations across multiple kilobases (kb) of sequence. This feature is particularly useful in the context of mutational analysis or SNP confirmation, where a large number of samples are generated routinely. To validate this workflow, a set of 384 1.7-kb amplicons, each derived from variants of the Phi29 DNA polymerase gene, were barcoded during amplification, pooled, and sequenced on a single SMRT Cell. To demonstrate the applicability of the method to longer inserts, a library of 96 5-kb clones derived from the E. coli genome was sequenced.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diverse Commensal Escherichia coli Clones and Plasmids Disseminate Antimicrobial Resistance Genes in Domestic Animals and Children in a Semirural Community in Ecuador.

The increased prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among Enterobacteriaceae has had major clinical and economic impacts on human medicine. Many of the multidrug-resistant (multiresistant) Enterobacteriaceae found in humans are community acquired, and some of them are possibly linked to food animals (i.e., livestock raised for meat and dairy products). In this study, we examined whether numerically dominant commensal Escherichia coli strains from humans (n?=?63 isolates) and domestic animals (n?=?174 isolates) in the same community and with matching phenotypic AMR patterns were clonally related or shared the same plasmids. We identified 25 multiresistant isolates (i.e., isolates resistant to more than one antimicrobial) that shared identical phenotypic resistance patterns. We then investigated the diversity of E. coli clones, AMR genes, and plasmids carrying the AMR genes using conjugation, replicon typing, and whole-genome sequencing. All of the multiresistant E. coli isolates (from children and domestic animals) analyzed had at least 90 or more whole-genome SNP differences between one another, suggesting that none of the strains was recently transferred. While the majority of isolates shared the same antimicrobial resistance genes and replicons, DNA sequencing indicated that these genes and replicons were found on different plasmid structures. We did not find evidence of the clonal spread of AMR in this community: instead, AMR genes were carried on diverse clones and plasmids. This presents a significant challenge for understanding the movement of AMR in a community.IMPORTANCE Even though Escherichia coli strains may share nearly identical phenotypic AMR profiles and AMR genes and overlap in space and time, the diversity of clones and plasmids challenges research that aims to identify sources of AMR. Horizontal gene transfer appears to play a more significant role than clonal expansion in the spread of AMR in this community.Copyright © 2019 Salinas et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

A coupled role for CsMYB75 and CsGSTF1 in anthocyanin hyperaccumulation in purple tea.

Cultivars of purple tea (Camellia sinensis) that accumulate anthocyanins in place of catechins are currently attracting global interest in their use as functional health beverages. RNA-seq of normal (LJ43) and purple Zijuan (ZJ) cultivars identified the transcription factor CsMYB75 and phi (F) class glutathione transferase CsGSTF1 as being associated with anthocyanin hyperaccumulation. Both genes mapped as a quantitative trait locus (QTL) to the purple bud leaf color (BLC) trait in F1 populations, with CsMYB75 promoting the expression of CsGSTF1 in transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). Although CsMYB75 elevates the biosynthesis of both catechins and anthocyanins, only anthocyanins accumulate in purple tea, indicating selective downstream regulation. As glutathione transferases in other plants are known to act as transporters (ligandins) of flavonoids, directing them for vacuolar deposition, the role of CsGSTF1 in selective anthocyanin accumulation was investigated. In tea, anthocyanins accumulate in multiple vesicles, with the expression of CsGSTF1 correlated with BLC, but not with catechin content, in diverse germplasm. Complementation of the Arabidopsis tt19-8 mutant, which is unable to express the orthologous ligandin AtGSTF12, restored anthocyanin accumulation, but did not rescue the transparent testa phenotype, confirming that CsGSTF1 did not function in catechin accumulation. Consistent with a ligandin function, transient expression of CsGSTF1 in Nicotiana occurred in the nucleus, cytoplasm and membrane. Furthermore, RNA-Seq of the complemented mutants exposed to 2% sucrose as a stress treatment showed unexpected roles for anthocyanin accumulation in affecting the expression of genes involved in redox responses, phosphate homeostasis and the biogenesis of photosynthetic components, as compared with non-complemented plants. © 2018 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Identification of Diverse Integron and Plasmid Structures Carrying a Novel Carbapenemase Among Pseudomonas Species.

A novel carbapenem-hydrolyzing beta-lactamase, called IMP-63, was identified in three clonally distinct strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and two strains of Pseudomonas putida isolated within a 4 year timeframe in three French hospitals. The blaIMP-63 gene that encodes this carbapenemase turned out to be located in the variable region of four integrons (In1297, In1574, In1573, and In1572) and to coexist with novel or rare gene cassettes (fosM, gcu170, gcuF1) and insertion elements (ISPsp7v, ISPa16v). All these integrons except one (In1574) were flanked by a copy of insertion sequence ISPa17 next to the orf6 putative gene, and were carried by non-conjugative plasmids (pNECK1, pROUSS1, pROUSS2, pROUE1). These plasmids exhibit unique modular structures and partial sequence homologies with plasmids previously identified in various non-fermenting environmental Gram-negative species. Lines of evidence suggest that ISPa17 promoted en bloc the transposition of IMP-63-encoding integrons on these different plasmids. As demonstrated by genotyping experiments, isolates of P. aeruginosa harboring the 28.9-kb plasmid pNECK1 and belonging to international “high-risk” clone ST308 were responsible for an outbreak in one hospital. Collectively, these data provide an insight into the complex and unpredictable routes of diffusion of some resistance determinants, here blaIMP-63, among Pseudomonas species.


April 21, 2020  |  

The bile salt glycocholate induces global changes in gene and protein expression and activates virulence in enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.

Pathogenic bacteria use specific host factors to modulate virulence and stress responses during infection. We found previously that the host factor bile and the bile component glyco-conjugated cholate (NaGCH, sodium glycocholate) upregulate the colonization factor CS5 in enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC). To further understand the global regulatory effects of bile and NaGCH, we performed Illumina RNA-Seq and found that crude bile and NaGCH altered the expression of 61 genes in CS5?+?CS6 ETEC isolates. The most striking finding was high induction of the CS5 operon (csfA-F), its putative transcription factor csvR, and the putative ETEC virulence factor cexE. iTRAQ-coupled LC-MS/MS proteomic analyses verified induction of the plasmid-borne virulence proteins CS5 and CexE and also showed that NaGCH affected the expression of bacterial membrane proteins. Furthermore, NaGCH induced bacteria to aggregate, increased their adherence to epithelial cells, and reduced their motility. Our results indicate that CS5?+?CS6 ETEC use NaGCH present in the small intestine as a signal to initiate colonization of the epithelium.


October 23, 2019  |  

Simultaneous non-contiguous deletions using large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases.

Toward achieving rapid and large scale genome modification directly in a target organism, we have developed a new genome engineering strategy that uses a combination of bioinformatics aided design, large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases. Using Cre recombinase we swapped a target 126-kb segment of the Escherichia coli genome with a 72-kb synthetic DNA cassette, thereby effectively eliminating over 54 kb of genomic DNA from three non-contiguous regions in a single recombination event. We observed complete replacement of the native sequence with the modified synthetic sequence through the action of the Cre recombinase and no competition from homologous recombination. Because of the versatility and high-efficiency of the Cre-lox system, this method can be used in any organism where this system is functional as well as adapted to use with other highly precise genome engineering systems. Compared to present-day iterative approaches in genome engineering, we anticipate this method will greatly speed up the creation of reduced, modularized and optimized genomes through the integration of deletion analyses data, transcriptomics, synthetic biology and site-specific recombination. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensively drug-resistant Escherichia coli sequence type 1642 carrying an IncX3 plasmid containing the blaKPC-2 gene associated with transposon Tn4401a.

Extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Enterobacteriaceae carrying the bla(KPC) gene have emerged as a major global therapeutic concern. The purpose of this study was to analyze the complete sequences of plasmids from KPC-2 carbapenemase-producing XDR Escherichia coli sequence type (ST) 1642 isolates.We performed antimicrobial susceptibility testing, PCR, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and whole-genome sequencing to characterize the plasmid-mediated KPC-2-producing E. coli clinical isolates.The isolates were resistant to most available antibiotics, including meropenem, ampicillin, ceftriaxone, gentamicin, and ciprofloxacin, but susceptible to tigecycline and colistin. The isolates were identified as the rare ST1642 by MLST. The isolates carried four plasmids: the first 69-kb conjugative IncX3 plasmid harbors bla(KPC-2) within a truncated Tn4401a transposon and bla(SHV-11) with duplicated conjugative elements. The second 142-kb plasmid with a multireplicon consisting of IncQ, IncFIA, and IncIB carries bla(TEM-1b) and two class 1 integrons. This plasmid also harbors a wide variety of additional antimicrobial resistance genes including aadA5, dfrA17, mph(A), sul1, tet(B), aac(3′)-IId, strA, strB, and sul2.The complete sequence analysis of plasmids from an XDR E. coli strain related to persistent infection showed the coexistence of a bla(KPC-2)-carrying IncX3-type plasmid and a class 1 integron-harboring multireplicon, suggesting its potential to cause outbreaks. Of additional clinical significance, the rare ST1642, identified in a cat, could constitute the source of human infection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional metagenomics reveals a novel carbapenem-hydrolyzing mobile beta-lactamase from Indian river sediments contaminated with antibiotic production waste.

Evolution has provided environmental bacteria with a plethora of genes that give resistance to antibiotic compounds. Under anthropogenic selection pressures, some of these genes are believed to be recruited over time into pathogens by horizontal gene transfer. River sediment polluted with fluoroquinolones and other drugs discharged from bulk drug production in India constitute an environment with unprecedented, long-term antibiotic selection pressures. It is therefore plausible that previously unknown resistance genes have evolved and/or are promoted here. In order to search for novel resistance genes, we therefore analyzed such river sediments by a functional metagenomics approach. DNA fragments providing resistance to different antibiotics in E. coli were sequenced using Sanger and PacBio RSII platforms. We recaptured the majority of known antibiotic resistance genes previously identified by open shot-gun metagenomics sequencing of the same samples. In addition, seven novel resistance gene candidates (six beta-lactamases and one amikacin resistance gene) were identified. Two class A beta-lactamases, blaRSA1 and blaRSA2, were phylogenetically close to clinically important ESBLs like blaGES, blaBEL and blaL2, and were further characterized for their substrate spectra. The blaRSA1 protein, encoded as an integron gene cassette, efficiently hydrolysed penicillins, first generation cephalosporins and cefotaxime, while blaRSA2 was an inducible class A beta-lactamase, capable of hydrolyzing carbapenems albeit with limited efficiency, similar to the L2 beta-lactamase from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. All detected novel genes were associated with plasmid mobilization proteins, integrons, and/or other resistance genes, suggesting a potential for mobility. This study provides insight into a resistome shaped by an exceptionally strong and long-term antibiotic selection pressure. An improved knowledge of mobilized resistance factors in the external environment may make us better prepared for the resistance challenges that we may face in clinics in the future. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

High genetic plasticity in multidrug-resistant sequence type 3-IncHI2 plasmids revealed by sequence comparison and phylogenetic analysis.

We report a novel fusion plasmid, pP2-3T, cointegrating sequence type 3 (ST3)-IncHI2 with an IncFII plasmid backbone mediating multidrug resistance (MDR) and virulence. Phylogenetic analysis and comparative genomics revealed that pP2-3T and other MDR ST3-IncHI2 plasmids clustered together, representing a unique IncHI2 lineage that exhibited high conservation in backbones of plasmids but possessed highly genetic plasticity in various regions by acquiring numerous antibiotic resistance genes and fusing with other plasmids. Surveillance studies should be performed to monitor multiresistance IncHI2 plasmids among Enterobacteriaceae. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

A combinatorial approach to synthetic transcription factor-promoter combinations for yeast strain engineering.

Despite the need for inducible promoters in strain development efforts, the majority of engineering in Saccharomyces cerevisiae continues to rely on a few constitutively active or inducible promoters. Building on advances that use the modular nature of both transcription factors and promoter regions, we have built a library of hybrid promoters that are regulated by a synthetic transcription factor. The hybrid promoters consist of native S. cerevisiae promoters, in which the operator regions have been replaced with sequences that are recognized by the bacterial LexA DNA binding protein. Correspondingly, the synthetic transcription factor (TF) consists of the DNA binding domain of the LexA protein, fused with the human estrogen binding domain and the viral activator domain, VP16. The resulting system with a bacterial DNA binding domain avoids the transcription of native S. cerevisiae genes, and the hybrid promoters can be induced using estradiol, a compound with no detectable impact on S. cerevisiae physiology. Using combinations of one, two or three operator sequence repeats and a set of native S. cerevisiae promoters, we obtained a series of hybrid promoters that can be induced to different levels, using the same synthetic TF and a given estradiol. This set of promoters, in combination with our synthetic TF, has the potential to regulate numerous genes or pathways simultaneously, to multiple desired levels, in a single strain.© 2017 The Authors. Yeast published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


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.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of the complete sequences and stability of plasmids carrying the genes aac(6′)-Ib-cr or qnrS in Shigella flexneri in the Hangzhou area of China.

The aim of this study was to explore the fluoroquinolone resistance mechanism of aac (6′)-Ib-cr and qnrS gene by comparing complete sequences and stability of the aac(6′)-Ib-cr- and qnrS-positive plasmids from Shigella isolates in the Hangzhou area of China. The complete sequences of four newly acquired plasmids carrying aac(6′)-Ib-cr or qnrS were compared with those of two plasmids obtained previously and two similar reference Escherichia coli plasmids. The results showed that the length, antibiotic resistance genes and genetic environment were different among the plasmids. Moreover, the plasmid stability of three wild-type isolates and five plasmid transformants carrying aac(6′)-Ib-cr and/or qnrS was measured in vitro, and all eight isolates were found to have lost their aac(6′)-Ib-cr- or qnrS-positive plasmids to a different extent at different stages. When the plasmids were electroporated into Shigella flexneri or they lost positive plasmids, the MICs of ciprofloxacin increased or decreased two- to eightfold for aac(6′)-Ib-cr-positive plasmids and 16- to 32-fold for qnrS-positive plasmids. To our knowledge, this is the first report comparing the complete sequences and describing stability for the aac(6′)-Ib-cr- and qnrS-positive plasmids from Shigella isolates.


September 22, 2019  |  

Clinical Staphylococcus argenteus develops to small colony variants to promote persistent infection.

Staphylococcus argenteus is a novel staphylococcal species (also considered as a part of Staphylococcus aureus complex) that is infrequently reported on, and clinical S. argenteus infections are largely unstudied. Here, we report a persistent and recurrent hip joint infection case in which a S. argenteus strain and its small colony variants (SCVs) strain were successively isolated. We present features of the two S. argenteus strains and case details of their pathogenicity, explore factors that induce S. argenteus SCVs formation in the course of anti-infection therapy, and reveal potential genetic mechanisms for S. argenteus SCVs formation. S. argenteus strains were identified using phenotypic and genotypic methods. The S. argenteus strain XNO62 and SCV strain XNO106 were characterized using different models. S. argenteus SCVs were induced by the administration of amikacin and by chronic infection course based on the clinical case details. The genomes of both strains were sequenced and aligned in a pair-wise fashion using Mauve. The case details gave us important insights on the characteristics and therapeutic strategies for infections caused by S. argenteus and its SCVs. We found that strain XNO62 and SCV strain XNO106 are genetically-related sequential clones, the SCV strain exhibits reduced virulence but enhanced intracellular persistence compared to strain XNO62, thus promoting persistent infection. The induction experiments for S. argenteus SCVs demonstrated that high concentrations of amikacin greatly induce S. argenteus XNO62 to form SCVs, while a chronic infection of S. argenteus XNO62 slightly induces SCVs formation. Potential genetic mechanisms for S. argenteus SCVs formation were revealed and discussed based on genomic alignments. In conclusion, we report the first case of infection caused by S. argenteus and its SCVs strain. More attention should be paid to infections caused by S. argenteus and its SCVs, as they constitute a challenge to current therapeutic strategies. The problem of S. argenteus SCVs should be noticed, in particular when amikacin is used or in the case of a chronic S. argenteus infection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Pol V-mediated translesion synthesis elicits localized untargeted mutagenesis during post-replicative gap repair.

In vivo, replication forks proceed beyond replication-blocking lesions by way of downstream repriming, generating daughter strand gaps that are subsequently processed by post-replicative repair pathways such as homologous recombination and translesion synthesis (TLS). The way these gaps are filled during TLS is presently unknown. The structure of gap repair synthesis was assessed by sequencing large collections of single DNA molecules that underwent specific TLS events in vivo. The higher error frequency of specialized relative to replicative polymerases allowed us to visualize gap-filling events at high resolution. Unexpectedly, the data reveal that a specialized polymerase, Pol V, synthesizes stretches of DNA both upstream and downstream of a site-specific DNA lesion. Pol V-mediated untargeted mutations are thus spread over several hundred nucleotides, strongly eliciting genetic instability on either side of a given lesion. Consequently, post-replicative gap repair may be a source of untargeted mutations critical for gene diversification in adaptation and evolution. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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