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November 1, 2018

A forward genetic screen reveals a primary role for Plasmodium falciparum Reticulocyte Binding Protein Homologue 2a and 2b in determining alternative erythrocyte invasion pathways.

Invasion of human erythrocytes is essential for Plasmodium falciparum parasite survival and pathogenesis, and is also a complex phenotype. While some later steps in invasion appear to be invariant and essential, the earlier steps of recognition are controlled by a series of redundant, and only partially understood, receptor-ligand interactions. Reverse genetic analysis of laboratory adapted strains has identified multiple genes that when deleted can alter invasion, but how the relative contributions of each gene translate to the phenotypes of clinical isolates is far from clear. We used a forward genetic approach to identify genes responsible for variable erythrocyte invasion by…

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August 1, 2018

PausePred and Rfeet: webtools for inferring ribosome pauses and visualizing footprint density from ribosome profiling data.

The process of translation is characterized by irregularities in the local decoding rates of specific mRNA codons. This includes the occurrences of long pauses that can take place when ribosomes decode certain peptide sequences, encounter strong RNA secondary structures, or decode "hungry" codons. Examples are known where such pausing or stalling is used for regulating protein synthesis. This can be achieved at the level of translation via direct alteration of ribosome progression through mRNA or by altering mRNA stability via NoGo decay. Ribosome pausing has also been implicated in the cotranslational folding of proteins. Ribosome profiling data often are used…

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July 1, 2018

An outbreak of a rare Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli serotype (O117:H7) among men who have sex with men.

Sexually transmissible enteric infections (STEIs) are commonly associated with transmission among men who have sex with men (MSM). In the past decade, the UK has experienced multiple parallel STEI emergences in MSM caused by a range of bacterial species of the genus Shigella, and an outbreak of an uncommon serotype (O117?:?H7) of Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Here, we used microbial genomics on 6 outbreak and 30 sporadic STEC O117?:?H7 isolates to explore the origins and pathogenic drivers of the STEC O117?:?H7 emergence in MSM. Using genomic epidemiology, we found that the STEC O117?:?H7 outbreak lineage was potentially imported from Latin…

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May 1, 2018

Genomes of all known members of a Plasmodium subgenus reveal paths to virulent human malaria.

Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent agent of human malaria, shares a recent common ancestor with the gorilla parasite Plasmodium praefalciparum. Little is known about the other gorilla- and chimpanzee-infecting species in the same (Laverania) subgenus as P. falciparum, but none of them are capable of establishing repeated infection and transmission in humans. To elucidate underlying mechanisms and the evolutionary history of this subgenus, we have generated multiple genomes from all known Laverania species. The completeness of our dataset allows us to conclude that interspecific gene transfers, as well as convergent evolution, were important in the evolution of these species. Striking…

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April 23, 2018

Long read assemblies of geographically dispersed Plasmodium falciparum isolates reveal highly structured subtelomeres.

Background: Although thousands of clinical isolates of Plasmodium falciparum are being sequenced and analysed by short read technology, the data do not resolve the highly variable subtelomeric regions of the genomes that contain polymorphic gene families involved in immune evasion and pathogenesis. There is also no current standard definition of the boundaries of these variable subtelomeric regions. Methods: Using long-read sequence data (Pacific Biosciences SMRT technology), we assembled and annotated the genomes of 15 P. falciparum isolates, ten of which are newly cultured clinical isolates. We performed comparative analysis of the entire genome with particular emphasis on the subtelomeric regions…

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February 12, 2018

Multiple laboratory mouse reference genomes define strain specific haplotypes and novel functional loci

The most commonly employed mammalian model organism is the laboratory mouse. A wide variety of genetically diverse inbred mouse strains, representing distinct physiological states, disease susceptibilities, and biological mechanisms have been developed over the last century. We report full length draft de novo genome assemblies for 16 of the most widely used inbred strains and reveal for the first time extensive strain-specific haplotype variation. We identify and characterise 2,567 regions on the current Genome Reference Consortium mouse reference genome exhibiting the greatest sequence diversity between strains. These regions are enriched for genes involved in defence and immunity, and exhibit enrichment…

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December 15, 2017

Sequence variation aware genome references and read mapping with the variation graph toolkit

Reference genomes guide our interpretation of DNA sequence data. However, conventional linear references are fundamentally limited in that they represent only one version of each locus, whereas the population may contain multiple variants. When the reference represents an individualtextquoterights genome poorly, it can impact read mapping and introduce bias. Variation graphs are bidirected DNA sequence graphs that compactly represent genetic variation, including large scale structural variation such as inversions and duplications. Equivalent structures are produced by de novo genome assemblers. Here we present vg, a toolkit of computational methods for creating, manipulating, and utilizing these structures as references at the…

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December 12, 2017

Probing genomic aspects of the multi-host pathogen Clostridium perfringens reveals significant pangenome diversity, and a diverse array of virulence factors.

Clostridium perfringens is an important cause of animal and human infections, however information about the genetic makeup of this pathogenic bacterium is currently limited. In this study, we sought to understand and characterise the genomic variation, pangenomic diversity, and key virulence traits of 56 C. perfringens strains which included 51 public, and 5 newly sequenced and annotated genomes using Whole Genome Sequencing. Our investigation revealed that C. perfringens has an "open" pangenome comprising 11667 genes and 12.6% of core genes, identified as the most divergent single-species Gram-positive bacterial pangenome currently reported. Our computational analyses also defined C. perfringens phylogeny (16S…

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July 17, 2017

Proteomic analysis of extracellular vesicles from a Plasmodium falciparum Kenyan clinical isolate defines a core parasite secretome.

Many pathogens secrete effector molecules to subvert host immune responses, to acquire nutrients, and/or to prepare host cells for invasion. One of the ways that effector molecules are secreted is through extracellular vesicles (EVs) such as exosomes. Recently, the malaria parasite P. falciparum has been shown to produce EVs that can mediate transfer of genetic material between parasites and induce sexual commitment. Characterizing the content of these vesicles may improve our understanding of P. falciparum pathogenesis and virulence.Previous studies of P. falciparum EVs have been limited to long-term adapted laboratory isolates. In this study, we isolated EVs from a Kenyan…

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May 30, 2017

Accurate characterization of the IFITM locus using MiSeq and PacBio sequencing shows genetic variation in Galliformes.

Interferon inducible transmembrane (IFITM) proteins are effectors of the immune system widely characterized for their role in restricting infection by diverse enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. The chicken IFITM (chIFITM) genes are clustered on chromosome 5 and to date four genes have been annotated, namely chIFITM1, chIFITM3, chIFITM5 and chIFITM10. However, due to poor assembly of this locus in the Gallus Gallus v4 genome, accurate characterization has so far proven problematic. Recently, a new chicken reference genome assembly Gallus Gallus v5 was generated using Sanger, 454, Illumina and PacBio sequencing technologies identifying considerable differences in the chIFITM locus over the previous genome…

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April 17, 2017

Contrasting evolutionary genome dynamics between domesticated and wild yeasts.

Structural rearrangements have long been recognized as an important source of genetic variation, with implications in phenotypic diversity and disease, yet their detailed evolutionary dynamics remain elusive. Here we use long-read sequencing to generate end-to-end genome assemblies for 12 strains representing major subpopulations of the partially domesticated yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its wild relative Saccharomyces paradoxus. These population-level high-quality genomes with comprehensive annotation enable precise definition of chromosomal boundaries between cores and subtelomeres and a high-resolution view of evolutionary genome dynamics. In chromosomal cores, S. paradoxus shows faster accumulation of balanced rearrangements (inversions, reciprocal translocations and transpositions), whereas S. cerevisiae…

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February 2, 2017

Plasmodium malariae and P. ovale genomes provide insights into malaria parasite evolution.

Elucidation of the evolutionary history and interrelatedness of Plasmodium species that infect humans has been hampered by a lack of genetic information for three human-infective species: P. malariae and two P. ovale species (P. o. curtisi and P. o. wallikeri). These species are prevalent across most regions in which malaria is endemic and are often undetectable by light microscopy, rendering their study in human populations difficult. The exact evolutionary relationship of these species to the other human-infective species has been contested. Using a new reference genome for P. malariae and a manually curated draft P. o. curtisi genome, we are…

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December 9, 2016

Expansion of lysine-rich repeats in Plasmodium proteins generates novel localisation sequences that target the periphery of the host erythrocyte.

Repetitive low-complexity sequences, mostly assumed to have no function, are common in proteins that are exported by the malaria parasite into its host erythrocyte. We identify a group of exported proteins containing short lysine-rich tandemly repeated sequences that are sufficient to localise to the erythrocyte periphery where key virulence-related modifications to the plasma membrane and the underlying cytoskeleton are known to occur. Efficiency of targeting is dependent on repeat number, indicating that novel targeting modules could evolve by expansion of short lysine-rich sequences. Indeed, expression GARP fragments from different species shows that two novel targeting sequences have arisen via the…

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November 3, 2016

Complete whole-genome sequence of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Java NCTC5706.

Salmonellae are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Here, we report the first complete genome sequence for Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Java strain NCTC5706. This strain is of historical significance, having been isolated in the pre-antibiotic era and was deposited into the National Collection of Type Cultures in 1939.© Crown copyright 2016.

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October 27, 2016

Recombination suppression is unlikely to contribute to speciation in sympatric Heliconius butterflies

Mechanisms that suppress recombination are known to help maintain species barriers by preventing the breakup of co-adapted gene combinations. The sympatric butterfly species H. melpomene and H. cydno are separated by many strong barriers, but the species still hybridise infrequently in the wild, with around 40% of the genome influenced by introgression. We tested the hypothesis that genetic barriers between the species are reinforced by inversions or other mechanisms to reduce between-species recombination rate. We constructed fine-scale recombination maps for Panamanian populations of both species and hybrids to directly measure recombination rate between these species, and generated long sequence reads…

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