June 1, 2021  |  

T-cell receptor profiling using PacBio sequencing of SMARTer libraries

T-cells play a central part in the immune response in humans and related species. T-cell receptors (TCRs), heterodimers located on the T-cell surface, specifically bind foreign antigens displayed on the MHC complex of antigen-presenting cells. The wide spectrum of potential antigens is addressed by the diversity of TCRs created by V(D)J recombination. Profiling this repertoire of TCRs could be useful from, but not limited to, diagnosis, monitoring response to treatments, and examining T-cell development and diversification.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Outcomes and characterization of chromosomal self-targeting by native CRISPR-Cas systems in Streptococcus thermophilus.

CRISPR-Cas systems provide adaptive immunity against phages in prokaryotes via DNA-encoded, RNA-mediated, nuclease-dependent targeting and cleavage. Due to inefficient and relatively limited DNA repair pathways in bacteria, CRISPR-Cas systems can be repurposed for lethal DNA targeting that selects for sequence variants. In this study, the relative killing efficiencies of endogenous Type I and Type II CRISPR-Cas systems in the model organism Streptococcus thermophilus DGCC7710 were assessed. Additionally, the genetic and phenotypic outcomes of chromosomal targeting by plasmid-programmed Type I-E or Type II-A systems were analyzed. Efficient killing was observed using both systems, in a dose-dependent manner when delivering 0.4-400 ng of plasmid DNA. Targeted PCR screening and genome sequencing were used to determine the genetic basis enabling survival, showing that evasion of Type I-E self-targeting was primarily the result of low-frequency defective plasmids that excised the targeting spacer. The most notable genotype recovered from Type II-A targeting of genomic locus, lacZ, was a 34 kb-deletion derived from homologous recombination (HR) between identical conserved sequences in two separate galE coding regions, resulting in 2% loss of the genome. Collectively, these results suggest that HR contributes to the plasticity and remodeling of bacterial genomes, leading to evasion of genome targeting by CRISPR-Cas systems. © FEMS 2019.


April 21, 2020  |  

Consensus and variations in cell line specificity among human metapneumovirus strains.

Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) has been a notable etiological agent of acute respiratory infection in humans, but it was not discovered until 2001, because HMPV replicates only in a limited number of cell lines and the cytopathic effect (CPE) is often mild. To promote the study of HMPV, several groups have generated green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing recombinant HMPV strains (HMPVGFP). However, the growing evidence has complicated the understanding of cell line specificity of HMPV, because it seems to vary notably among HMPV strains. In addition, unique A2b clade HMPV strains with a 180-nucleotide duplication in the G gene (HMPV A2b180nt-dup strains) have recently been detected. In this study, we re-evaluated and compared the cell line specificity of clinical isolates of HMPV strains, including the novel HMPV A2b180nt-dup strains, and six recombinant HMPVGFP strains, including the newly generated recombinant HMPV A2b180nt-dup strain, MG0256-EGFP. Our data demonstrate that VeroE6 and LLC-MK2 cells generally showed the highest infectivity with any clinical isolates and recombinant HMPVGFP strains. Other human-derived cell lines (BEAS-2B, A549, HEK293, MNT-1, and HeLa cells) showed certain levels of infectivity with HMPV, but these were significantly lower than those of VeroE6 and LLC-MK2 cells. Also, the infectivity in these suboptimal cell lines varied greatly among HMPV strains. The variations were not directly related to HMPV genotypes, cell lines used for isolation and propagation, specific genome mutations, or nucleotide duplications in the G gene. Thus, these variations in suboptimal cell lines are likely intrinsic to particular HMPV strains.


April 21, 2020  |  

Do the toll-like receptors and complement systems play equally important roles in freshwater adapted Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma)?

Unlike the normal anadromous lifestyle, Chinese native Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma) is locked in land and lives in fresh water lifetime. To explore the effect of freshwater adaption on its immune system, we constructed a pooled cDNA library of hepatopancreas and spleen of Chinese freshwater Dolly Varden char (S. malma). A total of 27,829 unigenes were generated from 31,233 high-quality transcripts and 17,670 complete open reading frames (ORF) were identified. Totally 25,809 unigenes were successfully annotated and it classified more native than adaptive immunity-associated genes, and more genes involved in toll-like receptor signal pathway than those in complement and coagulation cascades (51 vs 3), implying the relative more important role of toll-like receptors than the complement system under bacterial injection for the freshwater Dolly Varden char. These huge different numbers of TLR and complement system identified in freshwater Dolly Varden char probably caused by distinct evolution pressure patterns between fish TLR and complement system, representative by TLR3 and TLR5 as well as C4 and C6, respectively, which were under purifying and positively selecting pressure, respectively. Further seawater adaptation experiment and the comparison study with our library will no doubt be helpful to elucidate the effect of freshwater adaption of Chinese native Dolly Varden char on its immune system.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potential of TLR-gene diversity in Czech indigenous cattle for resistance breeding as revealed by hybrid sequencing

A production herd of Czech Simmental cattle (Czech Red Pied, CRP), the conserved subpopulation of this breed, and the ancient local breed Czech Red cattle (CR) were screened for diversity in the antibacterial toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are members of the innate immune system. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons of TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR5, and TLR6 from pooled DNA samples were sequenced with PacBio technology, with 3–5×?coverage per gene per animal. To increase the reliability of variant detection, the gDNA pools were sequenced in parallel with the Illumina X-ten platform at low coverage (60× per gene). The diversity in conserved CRP and CR was similar to the diversity in conserved and modern CRP, representing 76.4?% and 70.9?% of its variants, respectively. Sixty-eight (54.4?%) polymorphisms in the five TLR genes were shared by the two breeds, whereas 38 (30.4?%) were specific to the production herd of CRP; 4 (3.2?%) were specific to the broad CRP population; 7 (5.6?%) were present in both conserved populations; 5 (4.0?%) were present solely for the conserved CRP; and 3 (2.4?%) were restricted to CR. Consequently, gene pool erosion related to intensive breeding did not occur in Czech Simmental cattle. Similarly, no considerable consequences were found from known bottlenecks in the history of Czech Red cattle. On the other hand, the distinctness of the conserved populations and their potential for resistance breeding were only moderate. This relationship might be transferable to other non-abundant historical cattle breeds that are conserved as genetic resources. The estimates of polymorphism impact using Variant Effect Predictor and SIFT software tools allowed for the identification of candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association studies related to infection resistance and targeted breeding. Knowledge of TLR-gene diversity present in Czech Simmental populations may aid in the potential transfer of variant characteristics from other breeds.


April 21, 2020  |  

Phylogenetic barriers to horizontal transfer of antimicrobial peptide resistance genes in the human gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota has adapted to the presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are ancient components of immune defence. Despite its medical importance, it has remained unclear whether AMP resistance genes in the gut microbiome are available for genetic exchange between bacterial species. Here, we show that AMP resistance and antibiotic resistance genes differ in their mobilization patterns and functional compatibilities with new bacterial hosts. First, whereas AMP resistance genes are widespread in the gut microbiome, their rate of horizontal transfer is lower than that of antibiotic resistance genes. Second, gut microbiota culturing and functional metagenomics have revealed that AMP resistance genes originating from phylogenetically distant bacteria have only a limited potential to confer resistance in Escherichia coli, an intrinsically susceptible species. Taken together, functional compatibility with the new bacterial host emerges as a key factor limiting the genetic exchange of AMP resistance genes. Finally, our results suggest that AMPs induce highly specific changes in the composition of the human microbiota, with implications for disease risks.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length transcriptome analysis of Litopenaeus vannamei reveals transcript variants involved in the innate immune system.

To better understand the immune system of shrimp, this study combined PacBio isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) and Illumina paired-end short reads sequencing methods to discover full-length immune-related molecules of the Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. A total of 72,648 nonredundant full-length transcripts (unigenes) were generated with an average length of 2545 bp from five main tissues, including the hepatopancreas, cardiac stomach, heart, muscle, and pyloric stomach. These unigenes exhibited a high annotation rate (62,164, 85.57%) when compared against NR, NT, Swiss-Prot, Pfam, GO, KEGG and COG databases. A total of 7544 putative long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) were detected and 1164 nonredundant full-length transcripts (449 UniTransModels) participated in the alternative splicing (AS) events. Importantly, a total of 5279 nonredundant full-length unigenes were successfully identified, which were involved in the innate immune system, including 9 immune-related processes, 19 immune-related pathways and 10 other immune-related systems. We also found wide transcript variants, which increased the number and function complexity of immune molecules; for example, toll-like receptors (TLRs) and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs). The 480 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were significantly higher or tissue-specific expression patterns in the hepatopancreas compared with that in other four tested tissues (FDR <0.05). Furthermore, the expression levels of six selected immune-related DEGs and putative IRFs were validated using real-time PCR technology, substantiating the reliability of the PacBio Iso-seq results. In conclusion, our results provide new genetic resources of long-read full-length transcripts data and information for identifying immune-related genes, which are an invaluable transcriptomic resource as genomic reference, especially for further exploration of the innate immune and defense mechanisms of shrimp. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards.

Monitor lizards are unique among ectothermic reptiles in that they have high aerobic capacity and distinctive cardiovascular physiology resembling that of endothermic mammals. Here, we sequence the genome of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, the largest extant monitor lizard, and generate a high-resolution de novo chromosome-assigned genome assembly for V. komodoensis using a hybrid approach of long-range sequencing and single-molecule optical mapping. Comparing the genome of V. komodoensis with those of related species, we find evidence of positive selection in pathways related to energy metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, and haemostasis. We also show species-specific expansions of a chemoreceptor gene family related to pheromone and kairomone sensing in V. komodoensis and other lizard lineages. Together, these evolutionary signatures of adaptation reveal the genetic underpinnings of the unique Komodo dragon sensory and cardiovascular systems, and suggest that selective pressure altered haemostasis genes to help Komodo dragons evade the anticoagulant effects of their own saliva. The Komodo dragon genome is an important resource for understanding the biology of monitor lizards and reptiles worldwide.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


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