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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Investigation of the role of typhoid toxin in acute typhoid fever in a human challenge model.

Salmonella Typhi is a human host-restricted pathogen that is responsible for typhoid fever in approximately 10.9 million people annually1. The typhoid toxin is postulated to have a central role in disease pathogenesis, the establishment of chronic infection and human host restriction2-6. However, its precise role in typhoid disease in humans is not fully defined. We studied the role of typhoid toxin in acute infection using a randomized, double-blind S. Typhi human challenge model7. Forty healthy volunteers were randomized (1:1) to oral challenge with 104 colony-forming units of wild-type or an isogenic typhoid toxin deletion mutant (TN) of S. Typhi. We…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The history, genome and biology of NCTC 30: a non-pandemic Vibrio cholerae isolate from World War One.

The sixth global cholera pandemic lasted from 1899 to 1923. However, despite widespread fear of the disease and of its negative effects on troop morale, very few soldiers in the British Expeditionary Forces contracted cholera between 1914 and 1918. Here, we have revived and sequenced the genome of NCTC 30, a 102-year-old Vibrio cholerae isolate, which we believe is the oldest publicly available live V. cholerae strain in existence. NCTC 30 was isolated in 1916 from a British soldier convalescent in Egypt. We found that this strain does not encode cholera toxin, thought to be necessary to cause cholera, and…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Progression of the canonical reference malaria parasite genome from 2002-2019.

Here we describe the ways in which the sequence and annotation of the Plasmodium falciparum reference genome has changed since its publication in 2002. As the malaria species responsible for the most deaths worldwide, the richness of annotation and accuracy of the sequence are important resources for the P. falciparum research community as well as the basis for interpreting the genomes of subsequently sequenced species. At the time of publication in 2002 over 60% of predicted genes had unknown functions. As of March 2019, this number has been significantly decreased to 33%. The reduction is due to the inclusion of…

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Customer Experience: PacBio at Sanger Institute – de novo assembly, methylation analysis, and detection of rare variants

Harold Swerdlow, who formerly ran the R&D department at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, discusses the Sanger team’s use of the PacBio RS sequencer. He says the system is uniquely suited for de novo sequencing and genome assembly, methylation pattern identification, and low-level variant detection because of its long reads and high-accuracy, single-molecule sequencing. At Sanger, that makes a real difference for the large-scale projects they have in cancer biology, pathogen sequencing, and human genetics.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Long reads: their purpose and place.

In recent years long-read technologies have moved from being a niche and specialist field to a point of relative maturity likely to feature frequently in the genomic landscape. Analogous to next generation sequencing, the cost of sequencing using long-read technologies has materially dropped whilst the instrument throughput continues to increase. Together these changes present the prospect of sequencing large numbers of individuals with the aim of fully characterizing genomes at high resolution. In this article, we will endeavour to present an introduction to long-read technologies showing: what long reads are; how they are distinct from short reads; why long reads…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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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Friday, July 19, 2019

Major improvements to the Heliconius melpomene genome assembly used to confirm 10 chromosome fusion events in 6 million years of butterfly evolution.

The Heliconius butterflies are a widely studied adaptive radiation of 46 species spread across Central and South America, several of which are known to hybridize in the wild. Here, we present a substantially improved assembly of the Heliconius melpomene genome, developed using novel methods that should be applicable to improving other genome assemblies produced using short read sequencing. First, we whole-genome-sequenced a pedigree to produce a linkage map incorporating 99% of the genome. Second, we incorporated haplotype scaffolds extensively to produce a more complete haploid version of the draft genome. Third, we incorporated ~20x coverage of Pacific Biosciences sequencing, and…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Phase variation of a Type IIG restriction-modification enzyme alters site-specific methylation patterns and gene expression in Campylobacter jejuni strain NCTC11168.

Phase-variable restriction-modification systems are a feature of a diverse range of bacterial species. Stochastic, reversible switches in expression of the methyltransferase produces variation in methylation of specific sequences. Phase-variable methylation by both Type I and Type III methyltransferases is associated with altered gene expression and phenotypic variation. One phase-variable gene of Campylobacter jejuni encodes a homologue of an unusual Type IIG restriction-modification system in which the endonuclease and methyltransferase are encoded by a single gene. Using both inhibition of restriction and PacBio-derived methylome analyses of mutants and phase-variants, the cj0031c allele in C. jejuni strain NCTC11168 was demonstrated to specifically…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

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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Friday, July 19, 2019

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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Friday, July 19, 2019

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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Sunday, July 7, 2019

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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Sunday, July 7, 2019

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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