July 7, 2019  |  

Large scale and significant expression from pseudogenes in Sodalis glossinidius – a facultative bacterial endosymbiont

The majority of bacterial genomes have high coding efficiencies, but there are some genomes of intracellular bacteria that have low gene density. The genome of the endosymbiont Sodalis glossinidius contains almost 50% pseudogenes containing mutations that putatively silence them at the genomic level. We have applied multiple omic strategies, combining: Illumina and Pacific Biosciences Single-Molecule Real Time DNA-sequencing and annotation; stranded RNA-sequencing; and proteome analysis to better understand the transcriptional and translational landscape of Sodalis pseudogenes, and potential mechanisms for their control. Between 53% and 74% of the Sodalis transcriptome remains active in cell-free culture. Mean sense transcription from Coding Domain Sequences (CDS) is four-times greater than that from pseudogenes. Comparative genomic analysis of six Illumina-sequenced Sodalis isolates from different host Glossina species shows pseudogenes make up ~40% of the 2,729 genes in the core genome, suggesting are stable and/or Sodalis is a recent introduction across the Glossina genus as a facultative symbiont. These data further shed light on the importance of transcriptional and translational control in deciphering host-microbe interactions, and demonstrate that pseudogenes are more complex than a simple degrading DNA sequence. The combination of genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics give a multidimensional perspective for studying prokaryotic genomes with a view to elucidating evolutionary adaptation to novel environmental niches.

July 7, 2019  |  

Public health surveillance in the UK revolutionises our understanding of the invasive Salmonella Typhimurium epidemic in Africa.

The ST313 sequence type of Salmonella Typhimurium causes invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis and was thought to be confined to sub-Saharan Africa. Two distinct phylogenetic lineages of African ST313 have been identified.We analysed the whole genome sequences of S. Typhimurium isolates from UK patients that were generated following the introduction of routine whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of Salmonella enterica by Public Health England in 2014.We found that 2.7% (84/3147) of S. Typhimurium from patients in England and Wales were ST313 and were associated with gastrointestinal infection. Phylogenetic analysis revealed novel diversity of ST313 that distinguished UK-linked gastrointestinal isolates from African-associated extra-intestinal isolates. The majority of genome degradation of African ST313 lineage 2 was conserved in the UK-ST313, but the African lineages carried a characteristic prophage and antibiotic resistance gene repertoire. These findings suggest that a strong selection pressure exists for certain horizontally acquired genetic elements in the African setting. One UK-isolated lineage 2 strain that probably originated in Kenya carried a chromosomally located bla CTX-M-15, demonstrating the continual evolution of this sequence type in Africa in response to widespread antibiotic usage.The discovery of ST313 isolates responsible for gastroenteritis in the UK reveals new diversity in this important sequence type. This study highlights the power of routine WGS by public health agencies to make epidemiologically significant deductions that would be missed by conventional microbiological methods. We speculate that the niche specialisation of sub-Saharan African ST313 lineages is driven in part by the acquisition of accessory genome elements.

July 7, 2019  |  

Use of single molecule sequencing for comparative genomics of an environmental and a clinical isolate of Clostridium difficile ribotype 078.

How the pathogen Clostridium difficile might survive, evolve and be transferred between reservoirs within the natural environment is poorly understood. Some ribotypes are found both in clinical and environmental settings. Whether these strains are distinct from each another and evolve in the specific environments is not established. The possession of a highly mobile genome has contributed to the genetic diversity and ongoing evolution of C. difficile. Interpretations of genetic diversity have been limited by fragmented assemblies resulting from short-read length sequencing approaches and by a limited understanding of epigenetic regulation of diversity. To address this, single molecule real time (SMRT) sequencing was used in this study as it produces high quality genome sequences, with resolution of repeat regions (including those found in mobile elements) and can generate data to determine methylation modifications across the sequence (the methylome).Chromosomal rearrangements and ribosomal operon duplications were observed in both genomes. The rearrangements occurred at insertion sites within two mobile genetic elements (MGEs), Tn6164 and Tn6293, present only in the M120 and CD105HS27 genomes, respectively. The gene content of these two transposons differ considerably which could impact upon horizontal gene transfer; differences include CDSs encoding methylases and a conjugative prophage only in Tn6164. To investigate mechanisms which could affect MGE transfer, the methylome, restriction modification (RM)  and the CRISPR/Cas systems were characterised for each strain. Notably, the environmental isolate, CD105HS27, does not share a consensus motif for (m4)C methylation, but has one additional spacer  when compared to the clinical isolate M120.These findings show key differences between the two strains in terms of their genetic capacity for MGE transfer. The carriage of horizontally transferred genes appear to have genome wide effects based on two different methylation patterns. The CRISPR/Cas system appears active although perhaps slow to evolve. Data suggests that both mechanisms are functional and impact upon horizontal gene transfer and genome evolution within C. difficile.

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