June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length env deep sequencing in a donor with broadly neutralizing V1/V2 antibodies.

Background: Understanding the co-evolution of HIV populations and broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) lineages may inform vaccine design. Novel long-read, next-generation sequencing methods allow, for the first time, full-length deep sequencing of HIV env populations. Methods: We longitudinally examined env populations (12 time points) in a subtype A infected individual from the IAVI primary infection cohort (Protocol C) who developed bNAbs (62% ID50>50 on a diverse panel of 105 viruses) targeting the V1/V2 region. We developed a Pacific Biosciences single molecule, real-time sequencing protocol to deeply sequence full-length env from HIV RNA. Bioinformatics tools were developed to align env sequences, infer phylogenies, and interrogate escape dynamics of key residues and glycosylation sites. PacBio env sequences were compared to env sequences generated through amplification and cloning. Env dynamics were interpreted in the context of the development of a V1/V2-targeting bNAb lineage isolated from the donor. Results: We collected a median of 6799 high quality full-length env sequences per timepoint (median per-base accuracy of 99.7%). A phylogeny inferred with PacBio and 100 cloned env sequences (10 time points) found cloned env sequences evenly distributed among PacBio sequences. Phylogenetic analyses also revealed a potential transient intra-clade superinfection visible as a minority variant (~5%) at 9 months post-infection (MPI), and peaking in prevalence at 12MPI (~64%), just preceding the development of heterologous neutralization. Viral escape from the bNAb lineage was evident at V2 positions 160, 166, 167, 169 and 181 (HxB2 numbering), exhibiting several distinct escape pathways by 40MPI. Conclusions: Our PacBio full-length env sequencing method allowed unprecedented characterization of env dynamics and revealed an intra-clade superinfection that was not detected through conventional methods. The importance of superinfection in the development of this donor’s V1/V2-directed bNAb lineage is under investigation. Longitudinal full-length env deep sequencing allows accurate phylogenetic inference, provides a detailed picture of escape dynamics in epitope regions, and can identify minority variants, all of which may prove useful for understanding how env evolution can drive the development of antibody breadth.

September 22, 2019  |  

Gene presence-absence polymorphism in castrating anther-smut fungi: Recent gene Gains and Phylogeographic Structure.

Gene presence-absence polymorphisms segregating within species are a significant source of genetic variation but have been little investigated to date in natural populations. In plant pathogens, the gain or loss of genes encoding proteins interacting directly with the host, such as secreted proteins, probably plays an important role in coevolution and local adaptation. We investigated gene presence-absence polymorphism in populations of two closely related species of castrating anther-smut fungi, Microbotryum lychnidis-dioicae (MvSl) and M. silenes-dioicae (MvSd), from across Europe, on the basis of Illumina genome sequencing data and high-quality genome references. We observed presence-absence polymorphism for 186 autosomal genes (2% of all genes) in MvSl, and only 51 autosomal genes in MvSd. Distinct genes displayed presence-absence polymorphism in the two species. Genes displaying presence-absence polymorphism were frequently located in subtelomeric and centromeric regions and close to repetitive elements, and comparison with outgroups indicated that most were present in a single species, being recently acquired through duplications in multiple-gene families. Gene presence-absence polymorphism in MvSl showed a phylogeographic structure corresponding to clusters detected based on SNPs. In addition, gene absence alleles were rare within species and skewed toward low-frequency variants. These findings are consistent with a deleterious or neutral effect for most gene presence-absence polymorphism. Some of the observed gene loss and gain events may however be adaptive, as suggested by the putative functions of the corresponding encoded proteins (e.g., secreted proteins) or their localization within previously identified selective sweeps. The adaptive roles in plant and anther-smut fungi interactions of candidate genes however need to be experimentally tested in future studies.

September 22, 2019  |  

Changes in the genetic requirements for microbial interactions with increasing community complexity.

Microbial community structure and function rely on complex interactions whose underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. To investigate these interactions in a simple microbiome, we introduced E. coli into an experimental community based on a cheese rind and identified the differences in E. coli’s genetic requirements for growth in interactive and non-interactive contexts using Random Barcode Transposon Sequencing (RB-TnSeq) and RNASeq. Genetic requirements varied among pairwise growth conditions and between pairwise and community conditions. Our analysis points to mechanisms by which growth conditions change as a result of increasing community complexity and suggests that growth within a community relies on a combination of pairwise and higher-order interactions. Our work provides a framework for using the model organism E. coli as a readout to investigate microbial interactions regardless of the genetic tractability of members of the studied ecosystem.© 2018, Morin et al.

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  |  

Antibody 10-1074 suppresses viremia in HIV-1-infected individuals.

Monoclonal antibody 10-1074 targets the V3 glycan supersite on the HIV-1 envelope (Env) protein. It is among the most potent anti-HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies isolated so far. Here we report on its safety and activity in 33 individuals who received a single intravenous infusion of the antibody. 10-1074 was well tolerated and had a half-life of 24.0 d in participants without HIV-1 infection and 12.8 d in individuals with HIV-1 infection. Thirteen individuals with viremia received the highest dose of 30 mg/kg 10-1074. Eleven of these participants were 10-1074-sensitive and showed a rapid decline in viremia by a mean of 1.52 log10 copies/ml. Virologic analysis revealed the emergence of multiple independent 10-1074-resistant viruses in the first weeks after infusion. Emerging escape variants were generally resistant to the related V3-specific antibody PGT121, but remained sensitive to antibodies targeting nonoverlapping epitopes, such as the anti-CD4-binding-site antibodies 3BNC117 and VRC01. The results demonstrate the safety and activity of 10-1074 in humans and support the idea that antibodies targeting the V3 glycan supersite might be useful for the treatment and prevention of HIV-1 infection.

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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