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July 1, 2017

Genome stability in engineered strains of the extremely thermophilic lignocellulose-degrading bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii.

Caldicellulosiruptor bescii is the most thermophilic cellulose degrader known and is of great interest because of its ability to degrade nonpretreated plant biomass. For biotechnological applications, an efficient genetic system is required to engineer it to convert plant biomass into desired products. To date, two different genetically tractable lineages of C. bescii strains have been generated. The first (JWCB005) is based on a random deletion within the pyrimidine biosynthesis genes pyrFA, and the second (MACB1018) is based on the targeted deletion of pyrE, making use of a kanamycin resistance marker. Importantly, an active insertion element, ISCbe4, was discovered in C.…

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May 1, 2017

Assessment of insertion sequence mobilization as an adaptive response to oxidative stress in Acinetobacter baumannii using IS-Seq.

Insertion sequence (IS) elements are found throughout bacterial genomes and contribute to genome variation by interrupting genes or altering gene expression. Few of the more than thirty IS elements described in Acinetobacter baumannii have been characterized for transposition activity or expression effects. A targeted sequencing method, IS-seq, was developed to efficiently map the locations of new insertion events in A. baumannii genomes and was used to identify novel IS sites following growth in the presence of hydrogen peroxide, which causes oxidative stress. Serial subculture in the presence of sub-inhibitory concentrations of hydrogen peroxide led to rapid selection of cells carrying…

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December 6, 2016

Mechanisms of evolution in high-consequence drug resistance plasmids.

The dissemination of resistance among bacteria has been facilitated by the fact that resistance genes are usually located on a diverse and evolving set of transmissible plasmids. However, the mechanisms generating diversity and enabling adaptation within highly successful resistance plasmids have remained obscure, despite their profound clinical significance. To understand these mechanisms, we have performed a detailed analysis of the mobilome (the entire mobile genetic element content) of a set of previously sequenced carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. This analysis revealed that plasmid reorganizations occurring in the natural context of colonization of human hosts…

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March 1, 2016

Mobile genetic elements: in silico, in vitro, in vivo.

Mobile genetic elements (MGEs), also called transposable elements (TEs), represent universal components of most genomes and are intimately involved in nearly all aspects of genome organization, function and evolution. However, there is currently a gap between the fast pace of TE discovery in silico, driven by the exponential growth of comparative genomic studies, and a limited number of experimental models amenable to more traditional in vitro and in vivo studies of structural, mechanistic and regulatory properties of diverse MGEs. Experimental and computational scientists came together to bridge this gap at a recent conference, 'Mobile Genetic Elements: in silico, in vitro, in vivo', held at…

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December 1, 2015

Chromosomal rearrangements as barriers to genetic homogenization between archaic and modern humans.

Chromosomal rearrangements, which shuffle DNA throughout the genome, are an important source of divergence across taxa. Using a paired-end read approach with Illumina sequence data for archaic humans, I identify changes in genome structure that occurred recently in human evolution. Hundreds of rearrangements indicate genomic trafficking between the sex chromosomes and autosomes, raising the possibility of sex-specific changes. Additionally, genes adjacent to genome structure changes in Neanderthals are associated with testis-specific expression, consistent with evolutionary theory that new genes commonly form with expression in the testes. I identify one case of new-gene creation through transposition from the Y chromosome to…

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June 9, 2015

Insertion sequence IS26 reorganizes plasmids in clinically isolated multidrug-resistant bacteria by replicative transposition.

Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), which are resistant to most or all known antibiotics, constitute a global threat to public health. Transposable elements are often associated with antibiotic resistance determinants, suggesting a role in the emergence of resistance. One insertion sequence, IS26, is frequently associated with resistance determinants, but its role remains unclear. We have analyzed the genomic contexts of 70 IS26 copies in several clinical and surveillance CPE isolates from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. We used target site duplications and their patterns as guides and found that a large fraction of plasmid reorganizations result from IS26 replicative transpositions,…

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