October 23, 2019  |  

SAPTA: a new design tool for improving TALE nuclease activity.

Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) have become a powerful tool for genome editing due to the simple code linking the amino acid sequences of their DNA-binding domains to TALEN nucleotide targets. While the initial TALEN-design guidelines are very useful, user-friendly tools defining optimal TALEN designs for robust genome editing need to be developed. Here we evaluated existing guidelines and developed new design guidelines for TALENs based on 205 TALENs tested, and established the scoring algorithm for predicting TALEN activity (SAPTA) as a new online design tool. For any input gene of interest, SAPTA gives a ranked list of potential TALEN target sites, facilitating the selection of optimal TALEN pairs based on predicted activity. SAPTA-based TALEN designs increased the average intracellular TALEN monomer activity by >3-fold, and resulted in an average endogenous gene-modification frequency of 39% for TALENs containing the repeat variable di-residue NK that favors specificity rather than activity. It is expected that SAPTA will become a useful and flexible tool for designing highly active TALENs for genome-editing applications. SAPTA can be accessed via the website at http://baolab.bme.gatech.edu/Research/BioinformaticTools/TAL_targeter.html.


October 23, 2019  |  

Gene targeting by the TAL effector PthXo2 reveals cryptic resistance gene for bacterial blight of rice.

Bacterial blight of rice is caused by the ?-proteobacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, which utilizes a group of type III TAL (transcription activator-like) effectors to induce host gene expression and condition host susceptibility. Five SWEET genes are functionally redundant to support bacterial disease, but only two were experimentally proven targets of natural TAL effectors. Here, we report the identification of the sucrose transporter gene OsSWEET13 as the disease-susceptibility gene for PthXo2 and the existence of cryptic recessive resistance to PthXo2-dependent X. oryzae pv. oryzae due to promoter variations of OsSWEET13 in japonica rice. PthXo2-containing strains induce OsSWEET13 in indica rice IR24 due to the presence of an unpredicted and undescribed effector binding site not present in the alleles in japonica rice Nipponbare and Kitaake. The specificity of effector-associated gene induction and disease susceptibility is attributable to a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which is also found in a polymorphic allele of OsSWEET13 known as the recessive resistance gene xa25 from the rice cultivar Minghui 63. The mutation of OsSWEET13 with CRISPR/Cas9 technology further corroborates the requirement of OsSWEET13 expression for the state of PthXo2-dependent disease susceptibility to X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Gene profiling of a collection of 104 strains revealed OsSWEET13 induction by 42 isolates of X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Heterologous expression of OsSWEET13 in Nicotiana benthamiana leaf cells elevates sucrose concentrations in the apoplasm. The results corroborate a model whereby X. oryzae pv. oryzae enhances the release of sucrose from host cells in order to exploit the host resources.© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


October 23, 2019  |  

Controlled delivery of ß-globin-targeting TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9 into mammalian cells for genome editing using microinjection.

Tal-effector nucleases (TALEN) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) with CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins are genome editing tools with unprecedented potential. However, the ability to deliver optimal amounts of these nucleases into mammalian cells with minimal toxicity poses a major challenge. Common delivery approaches are transfection- and viral-based methods; each associated with significant drawbacks. An alternative method for directly delivering genome-editing reagents into single living cells with high efficiency and controlled volume is microinjection. Here, we characterize a glass microcapillary-based injection system and demonstrate controlled co-injection of TALENs or CRISPR/Cas9 together with donor template into single K562 cells for targeting the human ß-globin gene. We quantified nuclease induced insertions and deletions (indels) and found that, with ß-globin-targeting TALENs, similar levels of on- and off-target activity in cells could be achieved by microinjection compared with nucleofection. Furthermore, we observed 11% and 2% homology directed repair in single K562 cells co-injected with a donor template along with CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENs respectively. These results demonstrate that a high level of targeted gene modification can be achieved in human cells using glass-needle microinjection of genome editing reagents.


October 23, 2019  |  

Nuclease-mediated gene editing by homologous recombination of the human globin locus.

Tal-effector nucleases (TALENs) are engineered proteins that can stimulate precise genome editing through specific DNA double-strand breaks. Sickle cell disease and ß-thalassemia are common genetic disorders caused by mutations in ß-globin, and we engineered a pair of highly active TALENs that induce modification of 54% of human ß-globin alleles near the site of the sickle mutation. These TALENS stimulate targeted integration of therapeutic, full-length beta-globin cDNA to the endogenous ß-globin locus in 19% of cells prior to selection as quantified by single molecule real-time sequencing. We also developed highly active TALENs to human ?-globin, a pharmacologic target in sickle cell disease therapy. Using the ß-globin and ?-globin TALENs, we generated cell lines that express GFP under the control of the endogenous ß-globin promoter and tdTomato under the control of the endogenous ?-globin promoter. With these fluorescent reporter cell lines, we screened a library of small molecule compounds for their differential effect on the transcriptional activity of the endogenous ß- and ?-globin genes and identified several that preferentially upregulate ?-globin expression.


October 23, 2019  |  

A knowledge-based molecular screen uncovers a broad-spectrum OsSWEET14 resistance allele to bacterial blight from wild rice.

Transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors are type III-delivered transcription factors that enhance the virulence of plant pathogenic Xanthomonas species through the activation of host susceptibility (S) genes. TAL effectors recognize their DNA target(s) via a partially degenerate code, whereby modular repeats in the TAL effector bind to nucleotide sequences in the host promoter. Although this knowledge has greatly facilitated our power to identify new S genes, it can also be easily used to screen plant genomes for variations in TAL effector target sequences and to predict for loss-of-function gene candidates in silico. In a proof-of-principle experiment, we screened a germplasm of 169 rice accessions for polymorphism in the promoter of the major bacterial blight susceptibility S gene OsSWEET14, which encodes a sugar transporter targeted by numerous strains of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. We identified a single allele with a deletion of 18 bp overlapping with the binding sites targeted by several TAL effectors known to activate the gene. We show that this allele, which we call xa41(t), confers resistance against half of the tested Xoo strains, representative of various geographic origins and genetic lineages, highlighting the selective pressure on the pathogen to accommodate OsSWEET14 polymorphism, and reciprocally the apparent limited possibilities for the host to create variability at this particular S gene. Analysis of xa41(t) conservation across the Oryza genus enabled us to hypothesize scenarios as to its evolutionary history, prior to and during domestication. Our findings demonstrate that resistance through TAL effector-dependent loss of S-gene expression can be greatly fostered upon knowledge-based molecular screening of a large collection of host plants.© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantifying genome-editing outcomes at endogenous loci with SMRT sequencing.

Targeted genome editing with engineered nucleases has transformed the ability to introduce precise sequence modifications at almost any site within the genome. A major obstacle to probing the efficiency and consequences of genome editing is that no existing method enables the frequency of different editing events to be simultaneously measured across a cell population at any endogenous genomic locus. We have developed a novel method for quantifying individual genome editing outcomes at any site of interest using single molecule real time (SMRT) DNA sequencing. We show that this approach can be applied at various loci, using multiple engineered nuclease platforms including TALENs, RNA guided endonucleases (CRISPR/Cas9), and ZFNs, and in different cell lines to identify conditions and strategies in which the desired engineering outcome has occurred. This approach facilitates the evaluation of new gene editing technologies and permits sensitive quantification of editing outcomes in almost every experimental system used.


July 19, 2019  |  

TAL effectors and activation of predicted host targets distinguish Asian from African strains of the rice pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola while strict conservation suggests universal importance of five TAL effectors.

Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola (Xoc) causes the increasingly important disease bacterial leaf streak of rice (BLS) in part by type III delivery of repeat-rich transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors to upregulate host susceptibility genes. By pathogen whole genome, single molecule, real-time sequencing and host RNA sequencing, we compared TAL effector content and rice transcriptional responses across 10 geographically diverse Xoc strains. TAL effector content is surprisingly conserved overall, yet distinguishes Asian from African isolates. Five TAL effectors are conserved across all strains. In a prior laboratory assay in rice cv. Nipponbare, only two contributed to virulence in strain BLS256 but the strict conservation indicates all five may be important, in different rice genotypes or in the field. Concatenated and aligned, TAL effector content across strains largely reflects relationships based on housekeeping genes, suggesting predominantly vertical transmission. Rice transcriptional responses did not reflect these relationships, and on average, only 28% of genes upregulated and 22% of genes downregulated by a strain are up- and down- regulated (respectively) by all strains. However, when only known TAL effector targets were considered, the relationships resembled those of the TAL effectors. Toward identifying new targets, we used the TAL effector-DNA recognition code to predict effector binding elements in promoters of genes upregulated by each strain, but found that for every strain, all upregulated genes had at least one. Filtering with a classifier we developed previously decreases the number of predicted binding elements across the genome, suggesting that it may reduce false positives among upregulated genes. Applying this filter and eliminating genes for which upregulation did not strictly correlate with presence of the corresponding TAL effector, we generated testable numbers of candidate targets for four of the five strictly conserved TAL effectors.


July 19, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time sequencing of Xanthomonas oryzae genomes reveals a dynamic structure and complex TAL (transcription activator-like) effector gene relationships.

Pathogen-injected, direct transcriptional activators of host genes, TAL (transcription activator-like) effectors play determinative roles in plant diseases caused by Xanthomonas spp. A large domain of nearly identical, 33-35 aa repeats in each protein mediates DNA recognition. This modularity makes TAL effectors customizable and thus important also in biotechnology. However, the repeats render TAL effector (tal) genes nearly impossible to assemble using next-generation, short reads. Here, we demonstrate that long-read, single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing solves this problem. Taking an ensemble approach to first generate local, tal gene contigs, we correctly assembled de novo the genomes of two strains of the rice pathogen X. oryzae completed previously using the Sanger method and even identified errors in those references. Sequencing two more strains revealed a dynamic genome structure and a striking plasticity in tal gene content. Our results pave the way for population-level studies to inform resistance breeding, improve biotechnology and probe TAL effector evolution.


July 19, 2019  |  

TAL effector driven induction of a SWEET gene confers susceptibility to bacterial blight of cotton.

Transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors from Xanthomonas citri subsp. malvacearum (Xcm) are essential for bacterial blight of cotton (BBC). Here, by combining transcriptome profiling with TAL effector-binding element (EBE) prediction, we show that GhSWEET10, encoding a functional sucrose transporter, is induced by Avrb6, a TAL effector determining Xcm pathogenicity. Activation of GhSWEET10 by designer TAL effectors (dTALEs) restores virulence of Xcm avrb6 deletion strains, whereas silencing of GhSWEET10 compromises cotton susceptibility to infections. A BBC-resistant line carrying an unknown recessive b6 gene bears the same EBE as the susceptible line, but Avrb6-mediated induction of GhSWEET10 is reduced, suggesting a unique mechanism underlying b6-mediated resistance. We show via an extensive survey of GhSWEET transcriptional responsiveness to different Xcm field isolates that additional GhSWEETs may also be involved in BBC. These findings advance our understanding of the disease and resistance in cotton and may facilitate the development cotton with improved resistance to BBC.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequencing and targeted mutagenesis reveal virulence contributions of Tal2 and Tal4b of Xanthomonas translucens pv. undulosa ICMP11055 in bacterial leaf streak of wheat

Bacterial leaf streak caused by Xanthomonas translucens pv. undulosa (Xtu) is an important disease of wheat (Triticum aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) worldwide. Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) play determinative roles in many of the plant diseases caused by the different species and pathovars of Xanthomonas, but their role in this disease has not been characterized. ICMP11055 is a highly virulent Xtu strain from Iran. The aim of this study was to better understand genetic diversity of Xtu and to assess the role of TALEs in bacterial leaf streak of wheat by comparing the genome of this strain to the recently completely sequenced genome of a U.S. Xtu strain, and to several other draft X. translucens genomes, and by carrying out mutational analyses of the TALE (tal) genes the Iranian strain might harbor. The ICMP11055 genome, including its repeat-rich tal genes, was completely sequenced using single molecule, real-time technology (Pacific Biosciences). It consists of a single circular chromosome of 4,561,583 bp, containing 3,953 genes. Whole genome alignment with the genome of the United States Xtu strain XT4699 showed two major re-arrangements, nine genomic regions unique to ICMP11055, and one region unique to XT4699. ICMP110055 harbors 26 non-TALE type III effector genes and seven tal genes, compared to 25 and eight for XT4699. The tal genes occur singly or in pairs across five scattered loci. Four are identical to tal genes in XT4699. In addition to common repeat-variable diresidues (RVDs), the tal genes of ICMP11055, like those of XT4699, encode several RVDs rarely observed in Xanthomonas, including KG, NF, Y*, YD, and YK. Insertion and deletion mutagenesis of ICMP11055 tal genes followed by genetic complementation analysis in wheat cv. Chinese Spring revealed that Tal2 and Tal4b of ICMP11055 each contribute individually to the extent of disease caused by this strain. A largely conserved ortholog of tal2 is present in XT4699, but for tal4b, only a gene with partial, fragmented RVD sequence similarity can be found. Our results lay the foundation for identification of important host genes activated by Xtu TALEs as targets for the development of disease resistant varieties.


July 7, 2019  |  

The genome of the cotton bacterial blight pathogen Xanthomonas citri pv. malvacearum strain MSCT1.

Xanthomonas citri pv. malvacearum is a major pathogen of cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L.. In this study we report the complete genome of the X. citri pv. malvacearum strain MSCT1 assembled from long read DNA sequencing technology. The MSCT1 genome is the first X. citri pv. malvacearum genome with complete coding regions for X. citri pv. malvacearum transcriptional activator-like effectors. In addition functional and structural annotations are presented in this study that will provide a foundation for future pathogenesis studies with MSCT1.


July 7, 2019  |  

Xanthomonas adaptation to common bean is associated with horizontal transfers of genes encoding TAL effectors.

Common bacterial blight is a devastating bacterial disease of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) caused by Xanthomonas citri pv. fuscans and Xanthomonas phaseoli pv. phaseoli. These phylogenetically distant strains are able to cause similar symptoms on common bean, suggesting that they have acquired common genetic determinants of adaptation to common bean. Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) effectors are bacterial type III effectors that are able to induce the expression of host genes to promote infection or resistance. Their capacity to bind to a specific host DNA sequence suggests that they are potential candidates for host adaption.To study the diversity of tal genes from Xanthomonas strains responsible for common bacterial blight of bean, whole genome sequences of 17 strains representing the diversity of X. citri pv. fuscans and X. phaseoli pv. phaseoli were obtained by single molecule real time sequencing. Analysis of these genomes revealed the existence of four tal genes named tal23A, tal20F, tal18G and tal18H, respectively. While tal20F and tal18G were chromosomic, tal23A and tal18H were carried on plasmids and shared between phylogenetically distant strains, therefore suggesting recent horizontal transfers of these genes between X. citri pv. fuscans and X. phaseoli pv. phaseoli strains. Strikingly, tal23A was present in all strains studied, suggesting that it played an important role in adaptation to common bean. In silico predictions of TAL effectors targets in the common bean genome suggested that TAL effectors shared by X. citri pv. fuscans and X. phaseoli pv. phaseoli strains target the promoters of genes of similar functions. This could be a trace of convergent evolution among TAL effectors from different phylogenetic groups, and comforts the hypothesis that TAL effectors have been implied in the adaptation to common bean.Altogether, our results favour a model where plasmidic TAL effectors are able to contribute to host adaptation by being horizontally transferred between distant lineages.


July 7, 2019  |  

Long read and single molecule DNA sequencing simplifies genome assembly and TAL effector gene analysis of Xanthomonas translucens.

The species Xanthomonas translucens encompasses a complex of bacterial strains that cause diseases and yield loss on grass species including important cereal crops. Three pathovars, X. translucens pv. undulosa, X. translucens pv. translucens and X. translucens pv.cerealis, have been described as pathogens of wheat, barley, and oats. However, no complete genome sequence for a strain of this complex is currently available.A complete genome sequence of X. translucens pv. undulosa strain XT4699 was obtained by using PacBio long read, single molecule, real time (SMRT) DNA sequences and Illumina sequences. Draft genome sequences of nineteen additional X. translucens strains, which were collected from wheat or barley in different regions and at different times, were generated by Illumina sequencing. Phylogenetic relationships among different Xanthomonas strains indicates that X. translucens are members of a distinct clade from so-called group 2 xanthomonads and three pathovars of this species, undulosa, translucens and cerealis, represent distinct subclades in the group 1 clade. Knockout mutation of type III secretion system of XT4699 eliminated the ability to cause water-soaking symptoms on wheat and barley and resulted in a reduction in populations on wheat in comparison to the wild type strain. Sequence comparison of X. translucens strains revealed the genetic variation on type III effector repertories among different pathovars or within one pathovar. The full genome sequence of XT4699 reveals the presence of eight members of the Transcription-Activator Like (TAL) effector genes, which are phylogenetically distant from previous known TAL effector genes of group 2 xanthomonads. Microarray and qRT-PCR analyses revealed TAL effector-specific wheat gene expression modulation.PacBio long read sequencing facilitates the assembly of Xanthomonas genomes and the multiple TAL effector genes, which are difficult to assemble from short read platforms. The complete genome sequence of X. translucens pv. undulosa strain XT4699 and draft genome sequences of nineteen additional X. translucens strains provides a resource for further genetic analyses of pathogenic diversity and host range of the X. translucens species complex. TAL effectors of XT4699 strain play roles in modulating wheat host gene expressions.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of the African strain AXO1947 of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae.

Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae is the etiological agent of bacterial rice blight. Three distinct clades of X. oryzae pv. oryzae are known. We present the complete annotated genome of the African clade strain AXO194 using long-read single-molecule PacBio sequencing technology. The genome comprises a single chromosome of 4,674,975 bp and encodes for nine transcriptional activator-like (TAL) effectors. The approach and data presented in this announcement provide information for complex bacterial genome organization and the discovery of new virulence effectors, and they facilitate target characterization of TAL effectors. Copyright © 2016 Huguet-Tapia et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Effector diversification contributes to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae phenotypic adaptation in a semi-isolated environment.

Understanding the processes that shaped contemporary pathogen populations in agricultural landscapes is quite important to define appropriate management strategies and to support crop improvement efforts. Here, we took advantage of an historical record to examine the adaptation pathway of the rice pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) in a semi-isolated environment represented in the Philippine archipelago. By comparing genomes of key Xoo groups we showed that modern populations derived from three Asian lineages. We also showed that diversification of virulence factors occurred within each lineage, most likely driven by host adaptation, and it was essential to shape contemporary pathogen races. This finding is particularly important because it expands our understanding of pathogen adaptation to modern agriculture.


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