October 23, 2019  |  

Vector design Tour de Force: integrating combinatorial and rational approaches to derive novel adeno-associated virus variants.

Methodologies to improve existing adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for gene therapy include either rational approaches or directed evolution to derive capsid variants characterized by superior transduction efficiencies in targeted tissues. Here, we integrated both approaches in one unified design strategy of “virtual family shuffling” to derive a combinatorial capsid library whereby only variable regions on the surface of the capsid are modified. Individual sublibraries were first assembled in order to preselect compatible amino acid residues within restricted surface-exposed regions to minimize the generation of dead-end variants. Subsequently, the successful families were interbred to derive a combined library of ~8?×?10(5) complexity. Next-generation sequencing of the packaged viral DNA revealed capsid surface areas susceptible to directed evolution, thus providing guidance for future designs. We demonstrated the utility of the library by deriving an AAV2-based vector characterized by a 20-fold higher transduction efficiency in murine liver, now equivalent to that of AAV8.


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.


September 22, 2019  |  

The methylome of the gut microbiome: disparate Dam methylation patterns in intestinal Bacteroides dorei

Despite the large interest in the human microbiome in recent years, there are no reports of bacterial DNA methylation in the microbiome. Here metagenomic sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences platform allowed for rapid identification of bacterial GATC methylation status of a bacterial species in human stool samples. For this work, two stool samples were chosen that were dominated by a single species, Bacteroides dorei. Based on 16S rRNA analysis, this species represented over 45% of the bacteria present in these two samples. The B. dorei genome sequence from these samples was determined and the GATC methylation sites mapped. The Bacteroides dorei genome from one subject lacked any GATC methylation and lacked the DNA adenine methyltransferase genes. In contrast, B. dorei from another subject contained 20,551 methylated GATC sites. Of the 4970 open reading frames identified in the GATC methylated B. dorei genome, 3184 genes were methylated as well as 1735 GATC methylations in intergenic regions. These results suggest that DNA methylation patterns are important to consider in multi-omic analyses of microbiome samples seeking to discover the diversity of bacterial functions and may differ between disease states.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio sequencing of gene families – a case study with wheat gluten genes.

Amino acids in wheat (Triticum aestivum) seeds mainly accumulate in storage proteins called gliadins and glutenins. Gliadins contain a/ß-, ?- and ?-types whereas glutenins contain HMW- and LMW-types. Known gliadin and glutenin sequences were largely determined through cloning and sequencing by capillary electrophoresis. This time-consuming process prevents us to intensively study the variation of each orthologous gene copy among cultivars. The throughput and sequencing length of Pacific Bioscience RS (PacBio) single molecule sequencing platform make it feasible to construct contiguous and non-chimeric RNA sequences. We assembled 424 wheat storage protein transcripts from ten wheat cultivars by using just one single-molecule-real-time cell. The protein genes from wheat cultivar Chinese Spring are comparable to known sequences from NCBI. We demonstrated real-time sequencing of gene families with high-throughput and low-cost. This method can be applied to studies of gene amplification and copy number variation among species and cultivars. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

SQANTI: extensive characterization of long-read transcript sequences for quality control in full-length transcriptome identification and quantification.

High-throughput sequencing of full-length transcripts using long reads has paved the way for the discovery of thousands of novel transcripts, even in well-annotated mammalian species. The advances in sequencing technology have created a need for studies and tools that can characterize these novel variants. Here, we present SQANTI, an automated pipeline for the classification of long-read transcripts that can assess the quality of data and the preprocessing pipeline using 47 unique descriptors. We apply SQANTI to a neuronal mouse transcriptome using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) long reads and illustrate how the tool is effective in characterizing and describing the composition of the full-length transcriptome. We perform extensive evaluation of ToFU PacBio transcripts by PCR to reveal that an important number of the novel transcripts are technical artifacts of the sequencing approach and that SQANTI quality descriptors can be used to engineer a filtering strategy to remove them. Most novel transcripts in this curated transcriptome are novel combinations of existing splice sites, resulting more frequently in novel ORFs than novel UTRs, and are enriched in both general metabolic and neural-specific functions. We show that these new transcripts have a major impact in the correct quantification of transcript levels by state-of-the-art short-read-based quantification algorithms. By comparing our iso-transcriptome with public proteomics databases, we find that alternative isoforms are elusive to proteogenomics detection. SQANTI allows the user to maximize the analytical outcome of long-read technologies by providing the tools to deliver quality-evaluated and curated full-length transcriptomes.© 2018 Tardaguila et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Bacteroides dorei dominates gut microbiome prior to autoimmunity in Finnish children at high risk for type 1 diabetes.

The incidence of the autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes (T1D), has increased dramatically over the last half century in many developed countries and is particularly high in Finland and other Nordic countries. Along with genetic predisposition, environmental factors are thought to play a critical role in this increase. As with other autoimmune diseases, the gut microbiome is thought to play a potential role in controlling progression to T1D in children with high genetic risk, but we know little about how the gut microbiome develops in children with high genetic risk for T1D. In this study, the early development of the gut microbiomes of 76 children at high genetic risk for T1D was determined using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Stool samples from children born in the same hospital in Turku, Finland were collected at monthly intervals beginning at 4-6 months after birth until 2.2 years of age. Of those 76 children, 29 seroconverted to T1D-related autoimmunity (cases) including 22 who later developed T1D, the remaining 47 subjects remained healthy (controls). While several significant compositional differences in low abundant species prior to seroconversion were found, one highly abundant group composed of two closely related species, Bacteroides dorei and Bacteroides vulgatus, was significantly higher in cases compared to controls prior to seroconversion. Metagenomic sequencing of samples high in the abundance of the B. dorei/vulgatus group before seroconversion, as well as longer 16S rRNA sequencing identified this group as Bacteroides dorei. The abundance of B. dorei peaked at 7.6 months in cases, over 8 months prior to the appearance of the first islet autoantibody, suggesting that early changes in the microbiome may be useful for predicting T1D autoimmunity in genetically susceptible infants. The cause of increased B. dorei abundance in cases is not known but its timing appears to coincide with the introduction of solid food.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multi-platform assessment of transcriptome profiling using RNA-seq in the ABRF next-generation sequencing study.

High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) greatly expands the potential for genomics discoveries, but the wide variety of platforms, protocols and performance capabilitites has created the need for comprehensive reference data. Here we describe the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities next-generation sequencing (ABRF-NGS) study on RNA-seq. We carried out replicate experiments across 15 laboratory sites using reference RNA standards to test four protocols (poly-A-selected, ribo-depleted, size-selected and degraded) on five sequencing platforms (Illumina HiSeq, Life Technologies PGM and Proton, Pacific Biosciences RS and Roche 454). The results show high intraplatform (Spearman rank R > 0.86) and inter-platform (R > 0.83) concordance for expression measures across the deep-count platforms, but highly variable efficiency and cost for splice junction and variant detection between all platforms. For intact RNA, gene expression profiles from rRNA-depletion and poly-A enrichment are similar. In addition, rRNA depletion enables effective analysis of degraded RNA samples. This study provides a broad foundation for cross-platform standardization, evaluation and improvement of RNA-seq.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomic analysis of Sulfurospirillum cavolei MES reconstructed from the metagenome of an electrosynthetic microbiome.

Sulfurospirillum spp. play an important role in sulfur and nitrogen cycling, and contain metabolic versatility that enables reduction of a wide range of electron acceptors, including thiosulfate, tetrathionate, polysulfide, nitrate, and nitrite. Here we describe the assembly of a Sulfurospirillum genome obtained from the metagenome of an electrosynthetic microbiome. The ubiquity and persistence of this organism in microbial electrosynthesis systems suggest it plays an important role in reactor stability and performance. Understanding why this organism is present and elucidating its genetic repertoire provide a genomic and ecological foundation for future studies where Sulfurospirillum are found, especially in electrode-associated communities. Metabolic comparisons and in-depth analysis of unique genes revealed potential ecological niche-specific capabilities within the Sulfurospirillum genus. The functional similarities common to all genomes, i.e., core genome, and unique gene clusters found only in a single genome were identified. Based upon 16S rRNA gene phylogenetic analysis and average nucleotide identity, the Sulfurospirillum draft genome was found to be most closely related to Sulfurospirillum cavolei. Characterization of the draft genome described herein provides pathway-specific details of the metabolic significance of the newly described Sulfurospirillum cavolei MES and, importantly, yields insight to the ecology of the genus as a whole. Comparison of eleven sequenced Sulfurospirillum genomes revealed a total of 6246 gene clusters in the pan-genome. Of the total gene clusters, 18.5% were shared among all eleven genomes and 50% were unique to a single genome. While most Sulfurospirillum spp. reduce nitrate to ammonium, five of the eleven Sulfurospirillum strains encode for a nitrous oxide reductase (nos) cluster with an atypical nitrous-oxide reductase, suggesting a utility for this genus in reduction of the nitrous oxide, and as a potential sink for this potent greenhouse gas.


September 22, 2019  |  

Event analysis: Using transcript events to improve estimates of abundance in RNA-seq data.

Alternative splicing leverages genomic content by allowing the synthesis of multiple transcripts and, by implication, protein isoforms, from a single gene. However, estimating the abundance of transcripts produced in a given tissue from short sequencing reads is difficult and can result in both the construction of transcripts that do not exist, and the failure to identify true transcripts. An alternative approach is to catalog the events that make up isoforms (splice junctions and exons). We present here the Event Analysis (EA) approach, where we project transcripts onto the genome and identify overlapping/unique regions and junctions. In addition, all possible logical junctions are assembled into a catalog. Transcripts are filtered before quantitation based on simple measures: the proportion of the events detected, and the coverage. We find that mapping to a junction catalog is more efficient at detecting novel junctions than mapping in a splice aware manner. We identify 99.8% of true transcripts while iReckon identifies 82% of the true transcripts and creates more transcripts not included in the simulation than were initially used in the simulation. Using PacBio Iso-seq data from a mouse neural progenitor cell model, EA detects 60% of the novel junctions that are combinations of existing exons while only 43% are detected by STAR. EA further detects ~5,000 annotated junctions missed by STAR. Filtering transcripts based on the proportion of the transcript detected and the number of reads on average supporting that transcript captures 95% of the PacBio transcriptome. Filtering the reference transcriptome before quantitation, results in is a more stable estimate of isoform abundance, with improved correlation between replicates. This was particularly evident when EA is applied to an RNA-seq study of type 1 diabetes (T1D), where the coefficient of variation among subjects (n = 81) in the transcript abundance estimates was substantially reduced compared to the estimation using the full reference. EA focuses on individual transcriptional events. These events can be quantitate and analyzed directly or used to identify the probable set of expressed transcripts. Simple rules based on detected events and coverage used in filtering result in a dramatic improvement in isoform estimation without the use of ancillary data (e.g., ChIP, long reads) that may not be available for many studies. Copyright © 2018 Newman et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Aluminum tolerance in maize is associated with higher MATE1 gene copy number.

Genome structure variation, including copy number variation and presence/absence variation, comprises a large extent of maize genetic diversity; however, its effect on phenotypes remains largely unexplored. Here, we describe how copy number variation underlies a rare allele that contributes to maize aluminum (Al) tolerance. Al toxicity is the primary limitation for crop production on acid soils, which make up 50% of the world’s potentially arable lands. In a recombinant inbred line mapping population, copy number variation of the Al tolerance gene multidrug and toxic compound extrusion 1 (MATE1) is the basis for the quantitative trait locus of largest effect on phenotypic variation. This expansion in MATE1 copy number is associated with higher MATE1 expression, which in turn results in superior Al tolerance. The three MATE1 copies are identical and are part of a tandem triplication. Only three maize inbred lines carrying the three-copy allele were identified from maize and teosinte diversity panels, indicating that copy number variation for MATE1 is a rare, and quite likely recent, event. These maize lines with higher MATE1 copy number are also Al-tolerant, have high MATE1 expression, and originate from regions of highly acidic soils. Our findings show a role for copy number variation in the adaptation of maize to acidic soils in the tropics and suggest that genome structural changes may be a rapid evolutionary response to new environments.


July 19, 2019  |  

Integrating DNA methylation and gene expression data in the development of the soybean-Bradyrhizobium N2-fixing symbiosis.

Very little is known about the role of epigenetics in the differentiation of a bacterium from the free-living to the symbiotic state. Here genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation changes between these states is described using the model of symbiosis between soybean and its root nodule-forming, nitrogen-fixing symbiont, Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens. PacBio resequencing of the B. diazoefficiens genome from both states revealed 43,061 sites recognized by five motifs with the potential to be methylated genome-wide. Of those sites, 3276 changed methylation states in 2921 genes or 35.5% of all genes in the genome. Over 10% of the methylation changes occurred within the symbiosis island that comprises 7.4% of the genome. The CCTTGAG motif was methylated only during symbiosis with 1361 adenosines methylated among the 1700 possible sites. Another 89 genes within the symbiotic island and 768 genes throughout the genome were found to have methylation and significant expression changes during symbiotic development. Of those, nine known symbiosis genes involved in all phases of symbiotic development including early infection events, nodule development, and nitrogenase production. These associations between methylation and expression changes in many B. diazoefficiens genes suggest an important role of the epigenome in bacterial differentiation to the symbiotic state.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of ER2796, a DNA methyltransferase-deficient strain of Escherichia coli K-12.

We report the complete sequence of ER2796, a laboratory strain of Escherichia coli K-12 that is completely defective in DNA methylation. Because of its lack of any native methylation, it is extremely useful as a host into which heterologous DNA methyltransferase genes can be cloned and the recognition sequences of their products deduced by Pacific Biosciences Single-Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing. The genome was itself sequenced from a long-insert library using the SMRT platform, resulting in a single closed contig devoid of methylated bases. Comparison with K-12 MG1655, the first E. coli K-12 strain to be sequenced, shows an essentially co-linear relationship with no major rearrangements despite many generations of laboratory manipulation. The comparison revealed a total of 41 insertions and deletions, and 228 single base pair substitutions. In addition, the long-read approach facilitated the surprising discovery of four gene conversion events, three involving rRNA operons and one between two cryptic prophages. Such events thus contribute both to genomic homogenization and to bacteriophage diversification. As one of relatively few laboratory strains of E. coli to be sequenced, the genome also reveals the sequence changes underlying a number of classical mutant alleles including those affecting the various native DNA methylation systems.


July 7, 2019  |  

Compact genome of the Antarctic midge is likely an adaptation to an extreme environment.

The midge, Belgica antarctica, is the only insect endemic to Antarctica, and thus it offers a powerful model for probing responses to extreme temperatures, freeze tolerance, dehydration, osmotic stress, ultraviolet radiation and other forms of environmental stress. Here we present the first genome assembly of an extremophile, the first dipteran in the family Chironomidae, and the first Antarctic eukaryote to be sequenced. At 99 megabases, B. antarctica has the smallest insect genome sequenced thus far. Although it has a similar number of genes as other Diptera, the midge genome has very low repeat density and a reduction in intron length. Environmental extremes appear to constrain genome architecture, not gene content. The few transposable elements present are mainly ancient, inactive retroelements. An abundance of genes associated with development, regulation of metabolism and responses to external stimuli may reflect adaptations for surviving in this harsh environment.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete sequences of organelle genomes from the medicinal plant Rhazya stricta (Apocynaceae) and contrasting patterns of mitochondrial genome evolution across asterids.

Rhazya stricta is native to arid regions in South Asia and the Middle East and is used extensively in folk medicine to treat a wide range of diseases. In addition to generating genomic resources for this medicinally important plant, analyses of the complete plastid and mitochondrial genomes and a nuclear transcriptome from Rhazya provide insights into inter-compartmental transfers between genomes and the patterns of evolution among eight asterid mitochondrial genomes.The 154,841 bp plastid genome is highly conserved with gene content and order identical to the ancestral organization of angiosperms. The 548,608 bp mitochondrial genome exhibits a number of phenomena including the presence of recombinogenic repeats that generate a multipartite organization, transferred DNA from the plastid and nuclear genomes, and bidirectional DNA transfers between the mitochondrion and the nucleus. The mitochondrial genes sdh3 and rps14 have been transferred to the nucleus and have acquired targeting presequences. In the case of rps14, two copies are present in the nucleus; only one has a mitochondrial targeting presequence and may be functional. Phylogenetic analyses of both nuclear and mitochondrial copies of rps14 across angiosperms suggests Rhazya has experienced a single transfer of this gene to the nucleus, followed by a duplication event. Furthermore, the phylogenetic distribution of gene losses and the high level of sequence divergence in targeting presequences suggest multiple, independent transfers of both sdh3 and rps14 across asterids. Comparative analyses of mitochondrial genomes of eight sequenced asterids indicates a complicated evolutionary history in this large angiosperm clade with considerable diversity in genome organization and size, repeat, gene and intron content, and amount of foreign DNA from the plastid and nuclear genomes.Organelle genomes of Rhazya stricta provide valuable information for improving the understanding of mitochondrial genome evolution among angiosperms. The genomic data have enabled a rigorous examination of the gene transfer events. Rhazya is unique among the eight sequenced asterids in the types of events that have shaped the evolution of its mitochondrial genome. Furthermore, the organelle genomes of R. stricta provide valuable genomic resources for utilizing this important medicinal plant in biotechnology applications.


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