July 19, 2019  |  

Amplification and thrifty single-molecule sequencing of recurrent somatic structural variations.

Deletion of tumor-suppressor genes as well as other genomic rearrangements pervade cancer genomes across numerous types of solid tumor and hematologic malignancies. However, even for a specific rearrangement, the breakpoints may vary between individuals, such as the recurrent CDKN2A deletion. Characterizing the exact breakpoints for structural variants (SVs) is useful for designating patient-specific tumor biomarkers. We propose AmBre (Amplification of Breakpoints), a method to target SV breakpoints occurring in samples composed of heterogeneous tumor and germline DNA. Additionally, AmBre validates SVs called by whole-exome/genome sequencing and hybridization arrays. AmBre involves a PCR-based approach to amplify the DNA segment containing an SV’s breakpoint and then confirms breakpoints using sequencing by Pacific Biosciences RS. To amplify breakpoints with PCR, primers tiling specified target regions are carefully selected with a simulated annealing algorithm to minimize off-target amplification and maximize efficiency at capturing all possible breakpoints within the target regions. To confirm correct amplification and obtain breakpoints, PCR amplicons are combined without barcoding and simultaneously long-read sequenced using a single SMRT cell. Our algorithm efficiently separates reads based on breakpoints. Each read group supporting the same breakpoint corresponds with an amplicon and a consensus amplicon sequence is called. AmBre was used to discover CDKN2A deletion breakpoints in cancer cell lines: A549, CEM, Detroit562, MOLT4, MCF7, and T98G. Also, we successfully assayed RUNX1-RUNX1T1 reciprocal translocations by finding both breakpoints in the Kasumi-1 cell line. AmBre successfully targets SVs where DNA harboring the breakpoints are present in 1:1000 mixtures.

July 7, 2019  |  

An amoebal grazer of cyanobacteria requires cobalamin produced by heterotrophic bacteria.

Amoebae are unicellular eukaryotes that consume microbial prey through phagocytosis, playing a role in shaping microbial foodwebs. Many amoebal species can be cultivated axenically in rich media or monoxenically with single bacterial prey species. Here we characterize heterolobosean amoeba LPG3, a recent natural isolate, which is unable to grow on unicellular cyanobacteria, its primary food source, in the absence of a heterotrophic bacterium, a Pseudomonas species coisolate. To investigate the molecular basis of this requirement for heterotrophic bacteria, we performed a screen using a defined non-redundant transposon library of Vibrio cholerae which implicated genes in corrinoid uptake and biosynthesis. Furthermore, cobalamin synthase deletion mutants in V. cholerae and the Pseudomonas species coisolate do not support growth of amoeba LPG3 on cyanobacteria. While cyanobacteria are robust producers of a corrinoid variant called pseudocobalamin, this variant does not support growth of amoeba LPG3. Instead, we show that it requires cobalamin which is produced by the Pseudomonas species coisolate. The diversity of eukaryotes utilizing corrinoids is poorly understood, and this amoebal corrinoid auxotroph serves as a model for examining predator-prey interactions and micronutrient transfer in bacterivores underpinning microbial foodwebs.Importance. Cyanobacteria are important primary producers in aquatic environments where they are grazed upon by a variety of phagotrophic protists, and hence have an impact on nutrient flux at the base of microbial foodwebs. Here we characterize amoebal isolate LPG3 which consumes cyanobacteria as its primary food source but that also requires heterotrophic bacteria as a source of corrinoid vitamins. Amoeba LPG3 specifically requires the corrinoid variant produced by the heterotrophic bacteria, and cannot grow on cyanobacteria alone, as they produce a different corrinoid variant. This same corrinoid specificity is also exhibited by other eukaryotes, including humans and algae. This amoebal model system allows us to dissect predator-prey interactions to uncover factors which may shape microbial foodwebs while also providing insight into corrinoid specificity in eukaryotes. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.

July 7, 2019  |  

Genomewide Dam methylation in Escherichia coli during long-term stationary phase.

DNA methylation in prokaryotes is widespread. The most common modification of the genome is the methylation of adenine at the N-6 position. In Escherichia coli K-12 and many gammaproteobacteria, this modification is catalyzed by DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) at the GATC consensus sequence and is known to modulate cellular processes including transcriptional regulation of gene expression, initiation of chromosomal replication, and DNA mismatch repair. While studies thus far have focused on the motifs associated with methylated adenine (meA), the frequency of meA across the genome, and temporal dynamics during early periods of incubation, here we conduct the first study on the temporal dynamics of adenine methylation in E. coli by Dam throughout all five phases of the bacterial life cycle in the laboratory. Using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we show that virtually all GATC sites are significantly methylated over time; nearly complete methylation of the chromosome was confirmed by mass spectroscopy analysis. However, we also detect 66 sites whose methylation patterns change significantly over time within a population, including three sites associated with sialic acid transport and catabolism, suggesting a potential role for Dam regulation of these genes; differential expression of this subset of genes was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. Further, we show significant growth defects of the dam mutant during long-term stationary phase (LTSP). Together these data suggest that the cell places a high premium on fully methylating the chromosome and that alterations in methylation patterns may have significant impact on patterns of transcription, maintenance of genetic fidelity, and cell survival. IMPORTANCE While it has been shown that methylation remains relatively constant into early stationary phase of E. coli, this study goes further through death phase and long-term stationary phase, a unique time in the bacterial life cycle due to nutrient limitation and strong selection for mutants with increased fitness. The absence of methylation at GATC sites can influence the mutation frequency within a population due to aberrant mismatch repair. Therefore, it is important to investigate the methylation status of GATC sites in an environment where cells may not prioritize methylation of the chromosome. This study demonstrates that chromosome methylation remains a priority even under conditions of nutrient limitation, indicating that continuous methylation at GATC sites could be under positive selection.

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