April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome rearrangements shape the diversification of secondary metabolism in the cyclosporin producing fungus Tolypocladium inflatum.

Genes involved in production of secondary metabolites (SMs) in fungi are exceptionally diverse. Even strains of the same species may exhibit differences in metabolite production, a finding that has important implications for drug discovery. Unlike in other eukaryotes, genes producing SMs are often clustered and co-expressed in fungal genomes, but the genetic mechanisms involved in the creation and maintenance of these secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (SMBGCs) remains poorly understood.In order to address the role of genome architecture and chromosome scale structural variation in generating diversity of SMBGCs, we generated chromosome scale assemblies of six geographically diverse isolates of the insect pathogenic fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, producer of the multi-billion dollar lifesaving immunosuppressant drug cyclosporin, and utilized a Hi-C chromosome conformation capture approach to address the role of genome architecture and structural variation in generating intraspecific diversity in SMBGCs. Our results demonstrate that the exchange of DNA between heterologous chromosomes plays an important role in generating novelty in SMBGCs in fungi. In particular, we demonstrate movement of a polyketide synthase (PKS) and several adjacent genes by translocation to a new chromosome and genomic context, potentially generating a novel PKS cluster. We also provide evidence for inter-chromosomal recombination between nonribosomal peptide synthetases located within subtelomeres and uncover a polymorphic cluster present in only two strains that is closely related to the cluster responsible for biosynthesis of the mycotoxin aflatoxin (AF), a highly carcinogenic compound that is a major public health concern worldwide. In contrast, the cyclosporin cluster, located internally on chromosomes, was conserved across strains, suggesting selective maintenance of this important virulence factor for infection of insects.This research places the evolution of SMBGCs within the context of whole genome evolution and suggests a role for recombination between chromosomes in generating novel SMBGCs in the medicinal fungus Tolypocladium inflatum.

July 19, 2019  |  

Separate F-type plasmids have shaped the evolution of the H30 subclone of Escherichia coli sequence type 131.

The extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) H30 subclone of sequence type 131 (ST131-H30) has emerged abruptly as a dominant lineage of ExPEC responsible for human disease. The ST131-H30 lineage has been well described phylogenetically, yet its plasmid complement is not fully understood. Here, single-molecule, real-time sequencing was used to generate the complete plasmid sequences of ST131-H30 isolates and those belonging to other ST131 clades. Comparative analyses revealed separate F-type plasmids that have shaped the evolution of the main fluoroquinolone-resistant ST131-H30 clades. Specifically, an F1:A2:B20 plasmid is strongly associated with the H30R/C1 clade, whereas an F2:A1:B- plasmid is associated with the H30Rx/C2 clade. A series of plasmid gene losses, gains, and rearrangements involving IS26 likely led to the current plasmid complements within each ST131-H30 sublineage, which contain several overlapping gene clusters with putative functions in virulence and fitness, suggesting plasmid-mediated convergent evolution. Evidence suggests that the H30Rx/C2-associated F2:A1:B- plasmid type was present in strains ancestral to the acquisition of fluoroquinolone resistance and prior to the introduction of a multidrug resistance-encoding gene cassette harboring bla CTX-M-15. In vitro experiments indicated a host strain-independent low frequency of plasmid transfer, differential levels of plasmid stability even between closely related ST131-H30 strains, and possible epistasis for carriage of these plasmids within the H30R/Rx lineages. IMPORTANCE A clonal lineage of Escherichia coli known as ST131 has emerged as a dominating strain type causing extraintestinal infections in humans. The evolutionary history of ST131 E. coli is now well understood. However, the role of plasmids in ST131’s evolutionary history is poorly defined. This study utilized real-time, single-molecule sequencing to compare plasmids from various current and historical lineages of ST131. From this work, it was determined that a series of plasmid gains, losses, and recombinational events has led to the currently circulating plasmids of ST131 strains. These plasmids appear to have evolved to acquire similar gene clusters on multiple occasions, suggesting possible plasmid-mediated convergent evolution leading to evolutionary success. These plasmids also appear to be better suited to exist in specific strains of ST131 due to coadaptive mutations. Overall, a series of events has enabled the evolution of ST131 plasmids, possibly contributing to the lineage’s success.

July 7, 2019  |  

Clonal dissemination of Enterobacter cloacae harboring blaKPC-3 in the upper midwestern United States.

Carbapenemase-producing, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CP-CRE, are an emerging threat to human and animal health, because they are resistant to many of the last-line antimicrobials available for disease treatment. Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacter cloacae harboring blaKPC-3 recently was reported in the upper midwestern United States and implicated in a hospital outbreak in Fargo, North Dakota (L. M. Kiedrowski, D. M. Guerrero, F. Perez, R. A. Viau, L. J. Rojas, M. F. Mojica, S. D. Rudin, A. M. Hujer, S. H. Marshall, and R. A. Bonomo, Emerg Infect Dis 20:1583-1585, 2014, http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2009.140344). In early 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health began collecting and screening CP-CRE from patients throughout Minnesota. Here, we analyzed a retrospective group of CP-E. cloacae isolates (n = 34) collected between 2009 and 2013. Whole-genome sequencing and analysis revealed that 32 of the strains were clonal, belonging to the ST171 clonal complex and differing collectively by 211 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, and it revealed a dynamic clone under positive selection. The phylogeography of these strains suggests that this clone existed in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota prior to 2009 and subsequently was identified in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area. All strains harbored identical IncFIA-like plasmids conferring a CP-CRE phenotype and an additional IncX3 plasmid. In a single patient with multiple isolates submitted over several months, we found evidence that these plasmids had transferred from the E. cloacae clone to an Escherichia coli ST131 bacterium, rendering it as a CP-CRE. The spread of this clone throughout the upper midwestern United States is unprecedented for E. cloacae and highlights the importance of continued surveillance to identify such threats to human health. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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