April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation.

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~?1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25-30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Agrobacterium fabrum Strain 1D159.

This work reports the draft genome sequence of Agrobacterium fabrum strain 1D159 (also known as ATCC strain 27912). The assembled genome is composed of a 2,861,352-bp circular chromosome, a 2,058,040-bp linear chromosome, a 519,735-bp AT plasmid, and the 223,394-bp Ti virulence plasmid. The wild nondisarmed strain produces small gall-like structures in citrus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Spreading Patterns of NDM-Producing Enterobacteriaceae in Clinical and Environmental Settings in Yangon, Myanmar.

The spread of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), contributing to widespread carbapenem resistance, has become a global concern. However, the specific dissemination patterns of carbapenemase genes have not been intensively investigated in developing countries, including Myanmar, where NDM-type carbapenemases are spreading in clinical settings. In the present study, we phenotypically and genetically characterized 91 CPE isolates obtained from clinical (n = 77) and environmental (n = 14) samples in Yangon, Myanmar. We determined the dissemination of plasmids harboring genes encoding NDM-1 and its variants using whole-genome sequencing and plasmid analysis. IncFII plasmids harboring blaNDM-5 and IncX3 plasmids harboring blaNDM-4 or blaNDM-7 were the most prevalent plasmid types identified among the isolates. The IncFII plasmids were predominantly carried by clinical isolates of Escherichia coli, and their clonal expansion was observed within the same ward of a hospital. In contrast, the IncX3 plasmids were found in phylogenetically divergent isolates from clinical and environmental samples classified into nine species, suggesting widespread dissemination of plasmids via horizontal transfer. Half of the environmental isolates were found to possess IncX3 plasmids, and this type of plasmid was confirmed to transfer more effectively to recipient organisms at a relatively low temperature (25°C) compared to the IncFII plasmid. Moreover, various other plasmid types were identified harboring blaNDM-1, including IncFIB, IncFII, IncL/M, and IncA/C2, among clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae or Enterobacter cloacae complex. Overall, our results highlight three distinct patterns of the dissemination of blaNDM-harboring plasmids among CPE isolates in Myanmar, contributing to a better understanding of their molecular epidemiology and dissemination in a setting of endemicity.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic characterization of Kerstersia gyiorum SWMUKG01, an isolate from a patient with respiratory infection in China.

The Gram-negative bacterium Kerstersia gyiorum, a potential etiological agent of clinical infections, was isolated from several human patients presenting clinical symptoms. Its significance as a possible pathogen has been previously overlooked as no disease has thus far been definitively associated with this bacterium. To better understand how the organism contributes to the infectious disease, we determined the complete genomic sequence of K. gyiorum SWMUKG01, the first clinical isolate from southwest China.The genomic data obtained displayed a single circular chromosome of 3, 945, 801 base pairs in length, which contains 3, 441 protein-coding genes, 55 tRNA genes and 9 rRNA genes. Analysis on the full spectrum of protein coding genes for cellular structures, two-component regulatory systems and iron uptake pathways that may be important for the success of the bacterial survival, colonization and establishment in the host conferred new insights into the virulence characteristics of K. gyiorum. Phylogenomic comparisons with Alcaligenaceae species indicated that K. gyiorum SWMUKG01 had a close evolutionary relationships with Alcaligenes aquatilis and Alcaligenes faecalis.The comprehensive analysis presented in this work determinates for the first time a complete genome sequence of K. gyiorum, which is expected to provide useful information for subsequent studies on pathogenesis of this species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of the Wolbachia wAlbB Endosymbiont of Aedes albopictus.

Wolbachia, an alpha-proteobacterium closely related to Rickettsia, is a maternally transmitted, intracellular symbiont of arthropods and nematodes. Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are naturally infected with Wolbachia strains wAlbA and wAlbB. Cell line Aa23 established from Ae. albopictus embryos retains only wAlbB and is a key model to study host-endosymbiont interactions. We have assembled the complete circular genome of wAlbB from the Aa23 cell line using long-read PacBio sequencing at 500× median coverage. The assembled circular chromosome is 1.48 megabases in size, an increase of more than 300 kb over the published draft wAlbB genome. The annotation of the genome identified 1,205 protein coding genes, 34 tRNA, 3 rRNA, 1 tmRNA, and 3 other ncRNA loci. The long reads enabled sequencing over complex repeat regions which are difficult to resolve with short-read sequencing. Thirteen percent of the genome comprised insertion sequence elements distributed throughout the genome, some of which cause pseudogenization. Prophage WO genes encoding some essential components of phage particle assembly are missing, while the remainder are found in five prophage regions/WO-like islands or scattered around the genome. Orthology analysis identified a core proteome of 535 orthogroups across all completed Wolbachia genomes. The majority of proteins could be annotated using Pfam and eggNOG analyses, including ankyrins and components of the Type IV secretion system. KEGG analysis revealed the absence of five genes in wAlbB which are present in other Wolbachia. The availability of a complete circular chromosome from wAlbB will enable further biochemical, molecular, and genetic analyses on this strain and related Wolbachia. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

a-Difluoromethylornithine reduces gastric carcinogenesis by causing mutations in Helicobacter pylori cagY.

Infection by Helicobacter pylori is the primary cause of gastric adenocarcinoma. The most potent H. pylori virulence factor is cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA), which is translocated by a type 4 secretion system (T4SS) into gastric epithelial cells and activates oncogenic signaling pathways. The gene cagY encodes for a key component of the T4SS and can undergo gene rearrangements. We have shown that the cancer chemopreventive agent a-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), known to inhibit the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, reduces H. pylori-mediated gastric cancer incidence in Mongolian gerbils. In the present study, we questioned whether DFMO might directly affect H. pylori pathogenicity. We show that H. pylori output strains isolated from gerbils treated with DFMO exhibit reduced ability to translocate CagA in gastric epithelial cells. Further, we frequently detected genomic modifications in the middle repeat region of the cagY gene of output strains from DFMO-treated animals, which were associated with alterations in the CagY protein. Gerbils did not develop carcinoma when infected with a DFMO output strain containing rearranged cagY or the parental strain in which the wild-type cagY was replaced by cagY with DFMO-induced rearrangements. Lastly, we demonstrate that in vitro treatment of H. pylori by DFMO induces oxidative DNA damage, expression of the DNA repair enzyme MutS2, and mutations in cagY, demonstrating that DFMO directly affects genomic stability. Deletion of mutS2 abrogated the ability of DFMO to induce cagY rearrangements directly. In conclusion, DFMO-induced oxidative stress in H. pylori leads to genomic alterations and attenuates virulence.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence and genetic transformation of a widely distributed and cultivated poplar.

Populus alba is widely distributed and cultivated in Europe and Asia. This species has been used for diverse studies. In this study, we assembled a de novo genome sequence of P. alba var. pyramidalis (= P. bolleana) and confirmed its high transformation efficiency and short transformation time by experiments. Through a process of hybrid genome assembly, a total of 464 M of the genome was assembled. Annotation analyses predicted 37 901 protein-coding genes. This genome is highly collinear to that of P. trichocarpa, with most genes having orthologs in the two species. We found a marked expansion of gene families related to histone and the hormone auxin but loss of disease resistance genes in P. alba if compared with the closely related P. trichocarpa. The genome sequence presented here represents a valuable resource for further molecular functional analyses of this species as a new tree model, poplar breeding practices and comparative genomic analyses across different poplars. © 2018 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Bioinformatic analysis of the complete genome sequence of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense BZA12 and candidate effector screening

AbstractPectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense (Pcb) is a gram-negative, plant pathogenic bacterium of the soft rot Enterobacteriaceae (SRE) family. We present the complete genome sequence of Pcb strain BZA12, which reveals that Pcb strain BZA12 carries a single 4,924,809 bp chromosome with 51.97% GC content and comprises 4508 predicted protein-coding genes.Geneannotationofthese genes utilizedGO, KEGG,and COG databases.Incomparison withthree closely related soft-rot pathogens, strain BZA12 has 3797 gene families, among which 3107 gene families are identified as orthologous with those of both P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum PCC21 and P. carotovorum subsp. odoriferum BCS7, as well as 36 putative Unique Gene Families. We selected five putative effectors from the BZA12 genome and transiently expressed them in Nicotiana benthamiana. Candidate effector A12GL002483 was localized in the cell nucleus and induced cell death. This study provides a foundation for a better understanding of the genomic structure and function of Pcb, particularly in the discovery of potential pathogenic factors and for the development of more effective strategies against this pathogen.


April 21, 2020  |  

Nodule bacteria from the cultured legume Phaseolus dumosus (belonging to the Phaseolus vulgaris cross-inoculation group) with common tropici phenotypic characteristics and symbiovar but distinctive phylogenomic position and chromid.

Phaseolus dumosus is an endemic species from mountain tops in Mexico that was found in traditional agriculture areas in Veracruz, Mexico. P. dumosus plants were identified by ITS sequences and their nodules were collected from agricultural fields or from trap plant experiments in the laboratory. Bacteria from P. dumosus nodules were identified as belonging to the phaseoli-etli-leguminosarum (PEL) or to the tropici group by 16S rRNA gene sequences. We obtained complete closed genomes from two P. dumosus isolates CCGE531 and CCGE532 that were phylogenetically placed within the tropici group but with a distinctive phylogenomic position and low average nucleotide identity (ANI). CCGE531 and CCGE532 had common phenotypic characteristics with tropici type B rhizobial symbionts. Genome synteny analysis and ANI showed that P. dumosus isolates had different chromids and our analysis suggests that chromids have independently evolved in different lineages of the Rhizobium genus. Finally, we considered that P. dumosus and Phaseolus vulgaris plants belong to the same cross-inoculation group since they have conserved symbiotic affinites for rhizobia.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-Scale Sequence Disruption Following Biolistic Transformation in Rice and Maize.

Biolistic transformation delivers nucleic acids into plant cells by bombarding the cells with microprojectiles, which are micron-scale, typically gold particles. Despite the wide use of this technique, little is known about its effect on the cell’s genome. We biolistically transformed linear 48-kb phage lambda and two different circular plasmids into rice (Oryza sativa) and maize (Zea mays) and analyzed the results by whole genome sequencing and optical mapping. Although some transgenic events showed simple insertions, others showed extreme genome damage in the form of chromosome truncations, large deletions, partial trisomy, and evidence of chromothripsis and breakage-fusion bridge cycling. Several transgenic events contained megabase-scale arrays of introduced DNA mixed with genomic fragments assembled by nonhomologous or microhomology-mediated joining. Damaged regions of the genome, assayed by the presence of small fragments displaced elsewhere, were often repaired without a trace, presumably by homology-dependent repair (HDR). The results suggest a model whereby successful biolistic transformation relies on a combination of end joining to insert foreign DNA and HDR to repair collateral damage caused by the microprojectiles. The differing levels of genome damage observed among transgenic events may reflect the stage of the cell cycle and the availability of templates for HDR. © 2019 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of an early flowering Mini-Citrus (Fortunella hindsii).

Hongkong kumquat (Fortunella hindsii) is a wild citrus species characterized by dwarf plant height and early flowering. Here, we identified the monoembryonic F. hindsii (designated as ‘Mini-Citrus’) for the first time and constructed its selfing lines. This germplasm constitutes an ideal model for the genetic and functional genomics studies of citrus, which have been severely hindered by the long juvenility and inherent apomixes of citrus. F. hindsii showed a very short juvenile period (~8 months) and stable monoembryonic phenotype under cultivation. We report the first de novo assembled 373.6 Mb genome sequences (Contig-N50 2.2 Mb and Scaffold-N50 5.2 Mb) for F. hindsii. In total, 32 257 protein-coding genes were annotated, 96.9% of which had homologues in other eight Citrinae species. The phylogenomic analysis revealed a close relationship of F. hindsii with cultivated citrus varieties, especially with mandarin. Furthermore, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was demonstrated to be an efficient strategy to generate target mutagenesis on F. hindsii. The modifications of target genes in the CRISPR-modified F. hindsii were predominantly 1-bp insertions or small deletions. This genetic transformation system based on F. hindsii could shorten the whole process from explant to T1 mutant to about 15 months. Overall, due to its short juvenility, monoembryony, close genetic background to cultivated citrus and applicability of CRISPR, F. hindsii shows unprecedented potentials to be used as a model species for citrus research. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mutation of a bHLH transcription factor allowed almond domestication.

Wild almond species accumulate the bitter and toxic cyanogenic diglucoside amygdalin. Almond domestication was enabled by the selection of genotypes harboring sweet kernels. We report the completion of the almond reference genome. Map-based cloning using an F1 population segregating for kernel taste led to the identification of a 46-kilobase gene cluster encoding five basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, bHLH1 to bHLH5. Functional characterization demonstrated that bHLH2 controls transcription of the P450 monooxygenase-encoding genes PdCYP79D16 and PdCYP71AN24, which are involved in the amygdalin biosynthetic pathway. A nonsynonymous point mutation (Leu to Phe) in the dimerization domain of bHLH2 prevents transcription of the two cytochrome P450 genes, resulting in the sweet kernel trait. Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome assembly of a tropical maize inbred line provides insights into structural variation and crop improvement.

Maize is one of the most important crops globally, and it shows remarkable genetic diversity. Knowledge of this diversity could help in crop improvement; however, gold-standard genomes have been elucidated only for modern temperate varieties. Here, we present a high-quality reference genome (contig N50 of 15.78?megabases) of the maize small-kernel inbred line, which is derived from a tropical landrace. Using haplotype maps derived from B73, Mo17 and SK, we identified 80,614 polymorphic structural variants across 521 diverse lines. Approximately 22% of these variants could not be detected by traditional single-nucleotide-polymorphism-based approaches, and some of them could affect gene expression and trait performance. To illustrate the utility of the diverse SK line, we used it to perform map-based cloning of a major effect quantitative trait locus controlling kernel weight-a key trait selected during maize improvement. The underlying candidate gene ZmBARELY ANY MERISTEM1d provides a target for increasing crop yields.


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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