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November 1, 2014

Diversification of bacterial genome content through distinct mechanisms over different timescales.

Bacterial populations often consist of multiple co-circulating lineages. Determining how such population structures arise requires understanding what drives bacterial diversification. Using 616 systematically sampled genomes, we show that Streptococcus pneumoniae lineages are typically characterized by combinations of infrequently transferred stable genomic islands: those moving primarily through transformation, along with integrative and conjugative elements and phage-related chromosomal islands. The only lineage containing extensive unique sequence corresponds to a set of atypical unencapsulated isolates that may represent a distinct species. However, prophage content is highly variable even within lineages, suggesting frequent horizontal transmission that would necessitate rapidly diversifying anti-phage mechanisms to prevent…

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November 1, 2014

Expansion of the genetic toolkit for metabolic engineering of Clostridium pasteurianum: chromosomal gene disruption of the endogenous CpaAI restriction enzyme.

Clostridium pasteurianum is one of the most promising biofuel producers within the genus Clostridium owing to its unique metabolic ability to ferment glycerol into butanol. Although an efficient means is available for introducing foreign DNA to C. pasteurianum, major genetic tools, such as gene knockout, knockdown, or genome editing, are lacking, preventing metabolic engineering of C. pasteurianum.Here we present a methodology for performing chromosomal gene disruption in C. pasteurianum using the programmable lactococcus Ll.ltrB group II intron. Gene disruption was initially found to be impeded by inefficient electrotransformation of Escherichia coli-C. pasteurianum shuttle vectors, presumably due to host restriction. By…

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October 1, 2014

Methyltransferases acquired by lactococcal 936-type phage provide protection against restriction endonuclease activity

BACKGROUND:So-called 936-type phages are among the most frequently isolated phages in dairy facilities utilising Lactococcus lactis starter cultures. Despite extensive efforts to control phage proliferation and decades of research, these phages continue to negatively impact cheese production in terms of the final product quality and consequently, monetary return.RESULTS:Whole genome sequencing and in silico analysis of three 936-type phage genomes identified several putative (orphan) methyltransferase (MTase)-encoding genes located within the packaging and replication regions of the genome. Utilising SMRT sequencing, methylome analysis was performed on all three phages, allowing the identification of adenine modifications consistent with N-6 methyladenine sequence methylation, which…

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May 1, 2014

Exploring bacterial epigenomics in the next-generation sequencing era: a new approach for an emerging frontier.

Epigenetics has an important role for the success of foodborne pathogen persistence in diverse host niches. Substantial challenges exist in determining DNA methylation to situation-specific phenotypic traits. DNA modification, mediated by restriction-modification systems, functions as an immune response against antagonistic external DNA, and bacteriophage-acquired methyltransferases (MTase) and orphan MTases - those lacking the cognate restriction endonuclease - facilitate evolution of new phenotypes via gene expression modulation via DNA and RNA modifications, including methylation and phosphorothioation. Recent establishment of large-scale genome sequencing projects will result in a significant increase in genome availability that will lead to new demands for data analysis…

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April 17, 2014

Identification of restriction-modification systems of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494 by SMRT Sequencing and associated methylome analysis.

Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494 is a component of a commercialized fermented dairy product for which beneficial effects on health has been studied by clinical and preclinical trials. To date little is known about the molecular mechanisms that could explain the beneficial effects that bifidobacteria impart to the host. Restriction-modification (R-M) systems have been identified as key obstacles in the genetic accessibility of bifidobacteria, and circumventing these is a prerequisite to attaining a fundamental understanding of bifidobacterial attributes, including the genes that are responsible for health-promoting properties of this clinically and industrially important group of bacteria. The complete genome…

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December 1, 2013

Bacteriophage orphan DNA methyltransferases: insights from their bacterial origin, function, and occurrence.

Type II DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are enzymes found ubiquitously in the prokaryotic world, where they play important roles in several cellular processes, such as host protection and epigenetic regulation. Three classes of type II MTases have been identified thus far in bacteria which function in transferring a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) to a target nucleotide base, forming N-6-methyladenine (class I), N-4-methylcytosine (class II), or C-5-methylcytosine (class III). Often, these MTases are associated with a cognate restriction endonuclease (REase) to form a restriction-modification (R-M) system protecting bacterial cells from invasion by foreign DNA. When MTases exist alone, which are then…

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August 1, 2013

Comparing the genomes of Helicobacter pylori clinical strain UM032 and mice-adapted derivatives.

Helicobacter pylori is a Gram-negative bacterium that persistently infects the human stomach inducing chronic inflammation. The exact mechanisms of pathogenesis are still not completely understood. Although not a natural host for H. pylori, mouse infection models play an important role in establishing the immunology and pathogenicity of H. pylori. In this study, for the first time, the genome sequences of clinical H. pylori strain UM032 and mice-adapted derivatives, 298 and 299, were sequenced using the PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) technology.Here, we described the single contig which was achieved for UM032 (1,599,441 bp), 298 (1,604,216 bp) and 299 (1,601,149 bp). Preliminary analysis suggested…

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December 1, 2012

Genome-wide mapping of methylated adenine residues in pathogenic Escherichia coli using single-molecule real-time sequencing.

Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing allows the systematic detection of chemical modifications such as methylation but has not previously been applied on a genome-wide scale. We used this approach to detect 49,311 putative 6-methyladenine (m6A) residues and 1,407 putative 5-methylcytosine (m5C) residues in the genome of a pathogenic Escherichia coli strain. We obtained strand-specific information for methylation sites and a quantitative assessment of the frequency of methylation at each modified position. We deduced the sequence motifs recognized by the methyltransferase enzymes present in this strain without prior knowledge of their specificity. Furthermore, we found that deletion of a phage-encoded methyltransferase-endonuclease…

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October 1, 2012

The methylomes of six bacteria.

Six bacterial genomes, Geobacter metallireducens GS-15, Chromohalobacter salexigens, Vibrio breoganii 1C-10, Bacillus cereus ATCC 10987, Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni 81-176 and C. jejuni NCTC 11168, all of which had previously been sequenced using other platforms were re-sequenced using single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing specifically to analyze their methylomes. In every case a number of new N(6)-methyladenine ((m6)A) and N(4)-methylcytosine ((m4)C) methylation patterns were discovered and the DNA methyltransferases (MTases) responsible for those methylation patterns were assigned. In 15 cases, it was possible to match MTase genes with MTase recognition sequences without further sub-cloning. Two Type I restriction systems required sub-cloning to…

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June 1, 2012

Going beyond five bases in DNA sequencing.

DNA sequencing has provided a wealth of information about biological systems, but thus far has focused on the four canonical bases, and 5-methylcytosine through comparison of the genomic DNA sequence to a transformed four-base sequence obtained after treatment with bisulfite. However, numerous other chemical modifications to the nucleotides are known to control fundamental life functions, influence virulence of pathogens, and are associated with many diseases. These modifications cannot be accessed with traditional sequencing methods. In this opinion, we highlight several emerging single-molecule sequencing techniques that have the potential to directly detect many types of DNA modifications as an integral part…

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