September 22, 2019  |  

An environmental bacterial taxon with a large and distinct metabolic repertoire.

Cultivated bacteria such as actinomycetes are a highly useful source of biomedically important natural products. However, such ‘talented’ producers represent only a minute fraction of the entire, mostly uncultivated, prokaryotic diversity. The uncultured majority is generally perceived as a large, untapped resource of new drug candidates, but so far it is unknown whether taxa containing talented bacteria indeed exist. Here we report the single-cell- and metagenomics-based discovery of such producers. Two phylotypes of the candidate genus ‘Entotheonella’ with genomes of greater than 9 megabases and multiple, distinct biosynthetic gene clusters co-inhabit the chemically and microbially rich marine sponge Theonella swinhoei. Almost all bioactive polyketides and peptides known from this animal were attributed to a single phylotype. ‘Entotheonella’ spp. are widely distributed in sponges and belong to an environmental taxon proposed here as candidate phylum ‘Tectomicrobia’. The pronounced bioactivities and chemical uniqueness of ‘Entotheonella’ compounds provide significant opportunities for ecological studies and drug discovery.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptome profiling using single-molecule direct RNA sequencing approach for in-depth understanding of genes in secondary metabolism pathways of Camellia sinensis.

Characteristic secondary metabolites, including flavonoids, theanine and caffeine, are important components of Camellia sinensis, and their biosynthesis has attracted widespread interest. Previous studies on the biosynthesis of these major secondary metabolites using next-generation sequencing technologies limited the accurately prediction of full-length (FL) splice isoforms. Herein, we applied single-molecule sequencing to pooled tea plant tissues, to provide a more complete transcriptome of C. sinensis. Moreover, we identified 94 FL transcripts and four alternative splicing events for enzyme-coding genes involved in the biosynthesis of flavonoids, theanine and caffeine. According to the comparison between long-read isoforms and assemble transcripts, we improved the quality and accuracy of genes sequenced by short-read next-generation sequencing technology. The resulting FL transcripts, together with the improved assembled transcripts and identified alternative splicing events, enhance our understanding of genes involved in the biosynthesis of characteristic secondary metabolites in C. sinensis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Full-length transcriptome sequences and splice variants obtained by a combination of sequencing platforms applied to different root tissues of Salvia miltiorrhiza and tanshinone biosynthesis.

Danshen, Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, is one of the most widely used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, wherein its rhizome/roots are particularly valued. The corresponding bioactive components include the tanshinone diterpenoids, the biosynthesis of which is a subject of considerable interest. Previous investigations of the S. miltiorrhiza transcriptome have relied on short-read next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology, and the vast majority of the resulting isotigs do not represent full-length cDNA sequences. Moreover, these efforts have been targeted at either whole plants or hairy root cultures. Here, we demonstrate that the tanshinone pigments are produced and accumulate in the root periderm, and apply a combination of NGS and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to various root tissues, particularly including the periderm, to provide a more complete view of the S. miltiorrhiza transcriptome, with further insight into tanshinone biosynthesis as well. In addition, the use of SMRT long-read sequencing offered the ability to examine alternative splicing, which was found to occur in approximately 40% of the detected gene loci, including several involved in isoprenoid/terpenoid metabolism.© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Widespread polycistronic transcripts in fungi revealed by single-molecule mRNA sequencing.

Genes in prokaryotic genomes are often arranged into clusters and co-transcribed into polycistronic RNAs. Isolated examples of polycistronic RNAs were also reported in some higher eukaryotes but their presence was generally considered rare. Here we developed a long-read sequencing strategy to identify polycistronic transcripts in several mushroom forming fungal species including Plicaturopsis crispa, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Trametes versicolor, and Gloeophyllum trabeum. We found genome-wide prevalence of polycistronic transcription in these Agaricomycetes, involving up to 8% of the transcribed genes. Unlike polycistronic mRNAs in prokaryotes, these co-transcribed genes are also independently transcribed. We show that polycistronic transcription may interfere with expression of the downstream tandem gene. Further comparative genomic analysis indicates that polycistronic transcription is conserved among a wide range of mushroom forming fungi. In summary, our study revealed, for the first time, the genome prevalence of polycistronic transcription in a phylogenetic range of higher fungi. Furthermore, we systematically show that our long-read sequencing approach and combined bioinformatics pipeline is a generic powerful tool for precise characterization of complex transcriptomes that enables identification of mRNA isoforms not recovered via short-read assembly.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic and metabolic diversity of Marine Group I Thaumarchaeota in the mesopelagic of two subtropical gyres.

Marine Group I (MGI) Thaumarchaeota are one of the most abundant and cosmopolitan chemoautotrophs within the global dark ocean. To date, no representatives of this archaeal group retrieved from the dark ocean have been successfully cultured. We used single cell genomics to investigate the genomic and metabolic diversity of thaumarchaea within the mesopelagic of the subtropical North Pacific and South Atlantic Ocean. Phylogenetic and metagenomic recruitment analysis revealed that MGI single amplified genomes (SAGs) are genetically and biogeographically distinct from existing thaumarchaea cultures obtained from surface waters. Confirming prior studies, we found genes encoding proteins for aerobic ammonia oxidation and the hydrolysis of urea, which may be used for energy production, as well as genes involved in 3-hydroxypropionate/4-hydroxybutyrate and oxidative tricarboxylic acid pathways. A large proportion of protein sequences identified in MGI SAGs were absent in the marine cultures Cenarchaeum symbiosum and Nitrosopumilus maritimus, thus expanding the predicted protein space for this archaeal group. Identifiable genes located on genomic islands with low metagenome recruitment capacity were enriched in cellular defense functions, likely in response to viral infections or grazing. We show that MGI Thaumarchaeota in the dark ocean may have more flexibility in potential energy sources and adaptations to biotic interactions than the existing, surface-ocean cultures.


September 22, 2019  |  

Recent developments in using advanced sequencing technologies for the genomic studies of lignin and cellulose degrading microorganisms.

Lignin is a complex polyphenyl aromatic compound which exists in tight associations with cellulose and hemicellulose to form plant primary and secondary cell wall. Lignocellulose is an abundant renewable biomaterial present on the earth. It has gained much attention in the scientific community in recent years because of its potential applications in bio-based industries. Microbial degradation of lignocellulose polymers was well studied in wood decaying fungi. Based on the plant materials they degrade these fungi were classified as white rot, brown rot and soft rot. However, some groups of bacteria belonging to the actinomycetes, a-proteobacteria and ß-proteobacteria were also found to be efficient in degrading lignocellulosic biomass but not well understood unlike the fungi. In this review we focus on recent advancements deployed for finding and understanding the lignocellulose degradation by microorganisms. Conventional molecular methods like sequencing 16s rRNA and Inter Transcribed Spacer (ITS) regions were used for identification and classification of microbes. Recent progression in genomics mainly next generation sequencing technologies made the whole genome sequencing of microbes possible in a great ease. The whole genome sequence studies reveals high quality information about genes and canonical pathways involved in the lignin and other cell wall components degradation.


July 19, 2019  |  

Recently published Streptomyces genome sequences.

Many readers of this journal will need no introduction to the bacterial genus Streptomyces, which includes several hundred species, many of which produce biotechnologically useful secondary metabolites. The last 2 years have seen numerous publications describing Streptomyces genome sequences (Table?1), mostly as short genome announcements restricted to just 500 words and therefore allowing little description and analysis. Our aim in this current manuscript is to survey these recent publications and to dig a little deeper where appropriate. The genus Streptomyces is now one of the most highly sequenced, with 19 finished genomic sequences (Table?2) and a further 125 draft assemblies available in the GenBank database as of 3rd of May 2014; by the time this is published, no doubt there will be more. The reasons given for sequencing this latest crop of Streptomyces include production of industrially important enzymes, degradation of lignin, antibiotic production, rapid growth and halo-tolerance and an endophytic lifestyle (Table?1).


July 19, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Sporisorium scitamineum and biotrophic interaction transcriptome with sugarcane.

Sporisorium scitamineum is a biotrophic fungus responsible for the sugarcane smut, a worldwide spread disease. This study provides the complete sequence of individual chromosomes of S. scitamineum from telomere to telomere achieved by a combination of PacBio long reads and Illumina short reads sequence data, as well as a draft sequence of a second fungal strain. Comparative analysis to previous available sequences of another strain detected few polymorphisms among the three genomes. The novel complete sequence described herein allowed us to identify and annotate extended subtelomeric regions, repetitive elements and the mitochondrial DNA sequence. The genome comprises 19,979,571 bases, 6,677 genes encoding proteins, 111 tRNAs and 3 assembled copies of rDNA, out of our estimated number of copies as 130. Chromosomal reorganizations were detected when comparing to sequences of S. reilianum, the closest smut relative, potentially influenced by repeats of transposable elements. Repetitive elements may have also directed the linkage of the two mating-type loci. The fungal transcriptome profiling from in vitro and from interaction with sugarcane at two time points (early infection and whip emergence) revealed that 13.5% of the genes were differentially expressed in planta and particular to each developmental stage. Among them are plant cell wall degrading enzymes, proteases, lipases, chitin modification and lignin degradation enzymes, sugar transporters and transcriptional factors. The fungus also modulates transcription of genes related to surviving against reactive oxygen species and other toxic metabolites produced by the plant. Previously described effectors in smut/plant interactions were detected but some new candidates are proposed. Ten genomic islands harboring some of the candidate genes unique to S. scitamineum were expressed only in planta. RNAseq data was also used to reassure gene predictions.


July 19, 2019  |  

Combining mass spectrometric metabolic profiling with genomic analysis: a powerful approach for discovering natural products from cyanobacteria.

An innovative approach was developed for the discovery of new natural products by combining mass spectrometric metabolic profiling with genomic analysis and resulted in the discovery of the columbamides, a new class of di- and trichlorinated acyl amides with cannabinomimetic activity. Three species of cultured marine cyanobacteria, Moorea producens 3L, Moorea producens JHB, and Moorea bouillonii PNG, were subjected to genome sequencing and analysis for their recognizable biosynthetic pathways, and this information was then compared with their respective metabolomes as detected by MS profiling. By genome analysis, a presumed regulatory domain was identified upstream of several previously described biosynthetic gene clusters in two of these cyanobacteria, M. producens 3L and M. producens JHB. A similar regulatory domain was identified in the M. bouillonii PNG genome, and a corresponding downstream biosynthetic gene cluster was located and carefully analyzed. Subsequently, MS-based molecular networking identified a series of candidate products, and these were isolated and their structures rigorously established. On the basis of their distinctive acyl amide structure, the most prevalent metabolite was evaluated for cannabinomimetic properties and found to be moderate affinity ligands for CB1.


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  |  

Genome-directed lead discovery: biosynthesis, structure elucidation, and biological evaluation of two families of polyene macrolactams against Trypanosoma brucei.

Marine natural products are an important source of lead compounds against many pathogenic targets. Herein, we report the discovery of lobosamides A-C from a marine actinobacterium, Micromonospora sp., representing three new members of a small but growing family of bacterially produced polyene macrolactams. The lobosamides display growth inhibitory activity against the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei (lobosamide A IC50 = 0.8 µM), the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). The biosynthetic gene cluster of the lobosamides was sequenced and suggests a conserved cluster organization among the 26-membered macrolactams. While determination of the relative and absolute configurations of many members of this family is lacking, the absolute configurations of the lobosamides were deduced using a combination of chemical modification, detailed spectroscopic analysis, and bioinformatics. We implemented a “molecules-to-genes-to-molecules” approach to determine the prevalence of similar clusters in other bacteria, which led to the discovery of two additional macrolactams, mirilactams A and B from Actinosynnema mirum. These additional analogs have allowed us to identify specific structure-activity relationships that contribute to the antitrypanosomal activity of this class. This approach illustrates the power of combining chemical analysis and genomics in the discovery and characterization of natural products as new lead compounds for neglected disease targets.


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 19, 2019  |  

Condition-dependent co-regulation of genomic clusters of virulence factors in the grapevine trunk pathogen Neofusicoccum parvum.

The ascomycete Neofusicoccum parvum, one of the causal agents of Botryosphaeria dieback, is a destructive wood-infecting fungus and a serious threat to grape production worldwide. The capability to colonize woody tissue, combined with the secretion of phytotoxic compounds, is thought to underlie its pathogenicity and virulence. Here, we describe the repertoire of virulence factors and their transcriptional dynamics as the fungus feeds on different substrates and colonizes the woody stem. We assembled and annotated a highly contiguous genome using single-molecule real-time DNA sequencing. Transcriptome profiling by RNA sequencing determined the genome-wide patterns of expression of virulence factors both in vitro (potato dextrose agar or medium amended with grape wood as substrate) and in planta. Pairwise statistical testing of differential expression, followed by co-expression network analysis, revealed that physically clustered genes coding for putative virulence functions were induced depending on the substrate or stage of plant infection. Co-expressed gene clusters were significantly enriched not only in genes associated with secondary metabolism, but also in those associated with cell wall degradation, suggesting that dynamic co-regulation of transcriptional networks contributes to multiple aspects of N. parvum virulence. In most of the co-expressed clusters, all genes shared at least a common motif in their promoter region, indicative of co-regulation by the same transcription factor. Co-expression analysis also identified chromatin regulators with correlated expression with inducible clusters of virulence factors, suggesting a complex, multi-layered regulation of the virulence repertoire of N. parvum.© 2016 BSPP AND JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD.


July 19, 2019  |  

Exploiting members of the BAHD acyltransferase family to synthesize multiple hydroxycinnamate and benzoate conjugates in yeast.

BAHD acyltransferases, named after the first four biochemically characterized enzymes of the group, are plant-specific enzymes that catalyze the transfer of coenzyme A-activated donors onto various acceptor molecules. They are responsible for the synthesis in plants of a myriad of secondary metabolites, some of which are beneficial for humans either as therapeutics or as specialty chemicals such as flavors and fragrances. The production of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and commodity chemicals using engineered microbes is an alternative, green route to energy-intensive chemical syntheses that consume petroleum-based precursors. However, identification of appropriate enzymes and validation of their functional expression in heterologous hosts is a prerequisite for the design and implementation of metabolic pathways in microbes for the synthesis of such target chemicals.For the synthesis of valuable metabolites in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we selected BAHD acyltransferases based on their preferred donor and acceptor substrates. In particular, BAHDs that use hydroxycinnamoyl-CoAs and/or benzoyl-CoA as donors were targeted because a large number of molecules beneficial to humans belong to this family of hydroxycinnamate and benzoate conjugates. The selected BAHD coding sequences were synthesized and cloned individually on a vector containing the Arabidopsis gene At4CL5, which encodes a promiscuous 4-coumarate:CoA ligase active on hydroxycinnamates and benzoates. The various S. cerevisiae strains obtained for co-expression of At4CL5 with the different BAHDs effectively produced a wide array of valuable hydroxycinnamate and benzoate conjugates upon addition of adequate combinations of donors and acceptor molecules. In particular, we report here for the first time the production in yeast of rosmarinic acid and its derivatives, quinate hydroxycinnamate esters such as chlorogenic acid, and glycerol hydroxycinnamate esters. Similarly, we achieved for the first time the microbial production of polyamine hydroxycinnamate amides; monolignol, malate and fatty alcohol hydroxycinnamate esters; tropane alkaloids; and benzoate/caffeate alcohol esters. In some instances, the additional expression of Flavobacterium johnsoniae tyrosine ammonia-lyase (FjTAL) allowed the synthesis of p-coumarate conjugates and eliminated the need to supplement the culture media with 4-hydroxycinnamate.We demonstrate in this study the effectiveness of expressing members of the plant BAHD acyltransferase family in yeast for the synthesis of numerous valuable hydroxycinnamate and benzoate conjugates.


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