September 22, 2019  |  

A manually annotated Actinidia chinensis var. chinensis (kiwifruit) genome highlights the challenges associated with draft genomes and gene prediction in plants.

Most published genome sequences are drafts, and most are dominated by computational gene prediction. Draft genomes typically incorporate considerable sequence data that are not assigned to chromosomes, and predicted genes without quality confidence measures. The current Actinidia chinensis (kiwifruit) ‘Hongyang’ draft genome has 164 Mb of sequences unassigned to pseudo-chromosomes, and omissions have been identified in the gene models.A second genome of an A. chinensis (genotype Red5) was fully sequenced. This new sequence resulted in a 554.0 Mb assembly with all but 6 Mb assigned to pseudo-chromosomes. Pseudo-chromosomal comparisons showed a considerable number of translocation events have occurred following a whole genome duplication (WGD) event some consistent with centromeric Robertsonian-like translocations. RNA sequencing data from 12 tissues and ab initio analysis informed a genome-wide manual annotation, using the WebApollo tool. In total, 33,044 gene loci represented by 33,123 isoforms were identified, named and tagged for quality of evidential support. Of these 3114 (9.4%) were identical to a protein within ‘Hongyang’ The Kiwifruit Information Resource (KIR v2). Some proportion of the differences will be varietal polymorphisms. However, as most computationally predicted Red5 models required manual re-annotation this proportion is expected to be small. The quality of the new gene models was tested by fully sequencing 550 cloned ‘Hort16A’ cDNAs and comparing with the predicted protein models for Red5 and both the original ‘Hongyang’ assembly and the revised annotation from KIR v2. Only 48.9% and 63.5% of the cDNAs had a match with 90% identity or better to the original and revised ‘Hongyang’ annotation, respectively, compared with 90.9% to the Red5 models.Our study highlights the need to take a cautious approach to draft genomes and computationally predicted genes. Our use of the manual annotation tool WebApollo facilitated manual checking and correction of gene models enabling improvement of computational prediction. This utility was especially relevant for certain types of gene families such as the EXPANSIN like genes. Finally, this high quality gene set will supply the kiwifruit and general plant community with a new tool for genomics and other comparative analysis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of the wheat fungal pathogen Pyrenophora tritici-repentis reveals chromosomal variations and genome plasticity.

Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (Ptr) is a necrotrophic fungal pathogen that causes the major wheat disease, tan spot. We set out to provide essential genomics-based resources in order to better understand the pathogenicity mechanisms of this important pathogen.Here, we present eight new Ptr isolate genomes, assembled and annotated; representing races 1, 2 and 5, and a new race. We report a high quality Ptr reference genome, sequenced by PacBio technology with Illumina paired-end data support and optical mapping. An estimated 98% of the genome coverage was mapped to 10 chromosomal groups, using a two-enzyme hybrid approach. The final reference genome was 40.9 Mb and contained a total of 13,797 annotated genes, supported by transcriptomic and proteogenomics data sets.Whole genome comparative analysis revealed major chromosomal segmental rearrangements and fusions, highlighting intraspecific genome plasticity in this species. Furthermore, the Ptr race classification was not supported at the whole genome level, as phylogenetic analysis did not cluster the ToxA producing isolates. This expansion of available Ptr genomics resources will directly facilitate research aimed at controlling tan spot disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

A survey of Type III restriction-modification systems reveals numerous, novel epigenetic regulators controlling phase-variable regulons; phasevarions.

Many bacteria utilize simple DNA sequence repeats as a mechanism to randomly switch genes on and off. This process is called phase variation. Several phase-variable N6-adenine DNA-methyltransferases from Type III restriction-modification systems have been reported in bacterial pathogens. Random switching of DNA methyltransferases changes the global DNA methylation pattern, leading to changes in gene expression. These epigenetic regulatory systems are called phasevarions – phase-variable regulons. The extent of these phase-variable genes in the bacterial kingdom is unknown. Here, we interrogated a database of restriction-modification systems, REBASE, by searching for all simple DNA sequence repeats in mod genes that encode Type III N6-adenine DNA-methyltransferases. We report that 17.4% of Type III mod genes (662/3805) contain simple sequence repeats. Of these, only one-fifth have been previously identified. The newly discovered examples are widely distributed and include many examples in opportunistic pathogens as well as in environmental species. In many cases, multiple phasevarions exist in one genome, with examples of up to 4 independent phasevarions in some species. We found several new types of phase-variable mod genes, including the first example of a phase-variable methyltransferase in pathogenic Escherichia coli. Phasevarions are a common epigenetic regulation contingency strategy used by both pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria.


September 22, 2019  |  

Streptococcus suis contains multiple phase-variable methyltransferases that show a discrete lineage distribution.

Streptococcus suis is a major pathogen of swine, responsible for a number of chronic and acute infections, and is also emerging as a major zoonotic pathogen, particularly in South-East Asia. Our study of a diverse population of S. suis shows that this organism contains both Type I and Type III phase-variable methyltransferases. In all previous examples, phase-variation of methyltransferases results in genome wide methylation differences, and results in differential regulation of multiple genes, a system known as the phasevarion (phase-variable regulon). We hypothesized that each variant in the Type I and Type III systems encoded a methyltransferase with a unique specificity, and could therefore control a distinct phasevarion, either by recombination-driven shuffling between different specificities (Type I) or by biphasic on-off switching via simple sequence repeats (Type III). Here, we present the identification of the target specificities for each Type III allelic variant from S. suis using single-molecule, real-time methylome analysis. We demonstrate phase-variation is occurring in both Type I and Type III methyltransferases, and show a distinct association between methyltransferase type and presence, and population clades. In addition, we show that the phase-variable Type I methyltransferase was likely acquired at the origin of a highly virulent zoonotic sub-population.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic and genetic insights into a cosmopolitan fungus, Paecilomyces variotii (Eurotiales).

Species in the genus Paecilomyces, a member of the fungal order Eurotiales, are ubiquitous in nature and impact a variety of human endeavors. Here, the biology of one common species, Paecilomyces variotii, was explored using genomics and functional genetics. Sequencing the genome of two isolates revealed key genome and gene features in this species. A striking feature of the genome was the two-part nature, featuring large stretches of DNA with normal GC content separated by AT-rich regions, a hallmark of many plant-pathogenic fungal genomes. These AT-rich regions appeared to have been mutated by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutations. We developed methods for genetic transformation of P. variotii, including forward and reverse genetics as well as crossing techniques. Using transformation and crossing, RIP activity was identified, demonstrating for the first time that RIP is an active process within the order Eurotiales. A consequence of RIP is likely reflected by a reduction in numbers of genes within gene families, such as in cell wall degradation, and reflected by growth limitations on P. variotii on diverse carbon sources. Furthermore, using these transformation tools we characterized a conserved protein containing a domain of unknown function (DUF1212) and discovered it is involved in pigmentation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Chemical Synergy between Ionophore PBT2 and Zinc Reverses Antibiotic Resistance.

The World Health Organization reports that antibiotic-resistant pathogens represent an imminent global health disaster for the 21st century. Gram-positive superbugs threaten to breach last-line antibiotic treatment, and the pharmaceutical industry antibiotic development pipeline is waning. Here we report the synergy between ionophore-induced physiological stress in Gram-positive bacteria and antibiotic treatment. PBT2 is a safe-for-human-use zinc ionophore that has progressed to phase 2 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease treatment. In combination with zinc, PBT2 exhibits antibacterial activity and disrupts cellular homeostasis in erythromycin-resistant group A Streptococcus (GAS), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). We were unable to select for mutants resistant to PBT2-zinc treatment. While ineffective alone against resistant bacteria, several clinically relevant antibiotics act synergistically with PBT2-zinc to enhance killing of these Gram-positive pathogens. These data represent a new paradigm whereby disruption of bacterial metal homeostasis reverses antibiotic-resistant phenotypes in a number of priority human bacterial pathogens.IMPORTANCE The rise of bacterial antibiotic resistance coupled with a reduction in new antibiotic development has placed significant burdens on global health care. Resistant bacterial pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus are leading causes of community- and hospital-acquired infection and present a significant clinical challenge. These pathogens have acquired resistance to broad classes of antimicrobials. Furthermore, Streptococcus pyogenes, a significant disease agent among Indigenous Australians, has now acquired resistance to several antibiotic classes. With a rise in antibiotic resistance and reduction in new antibiotic discovery, it is imperative to investigate alternative therapeutic regimens that complement the use of current antibiotic treatment strategies. As stated by the WHO Director-General, “On current trends, common diseases may become untreatable. Doctors facing patients will have to say, Sorry, there is nothing I can do for you.” Copyright © 2018 Bohlmann et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Mutators as drivers of adaptation in Streptococcus and a risk factor for host jumps and vaccine escape

Heritable hypermutable strains deficient in DNA repair genes (mutators) facilitate microbial adaptation as they may rapidly generate beneficial mutations. Mutators deficient in mismatch (MMR) and oxidised guanine (OG) repair are abundant in clinical samples and show increased adaptive potential in experimental infection models but their role in pathoadaptation is poorly understood. Here we investigate the role of mutators in epidemiology and evolution of the broad host pathogen, Streptococcus iniae, employing 80 strains isolated globally over 40 years. We determine phylogenetic relationship among S. iniae using 10,267 non-recombinant core genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), estimate their mutation rate by fluctuation analysis, and detect variation in major MMR (mutS, mutL, dnaN, recD2, rnhC) and OG (mutY, mutM, mutX) genes. S. iniae mutation rate phenotype and genotype are strongly associated with phylogenetic diversification and variation in major streptococcal virulence determinants (capsular polysaccharide, hemolysin, cell chain length, resistance to oxidation, and biofilm formation). Furthermore, profound changes in virulence determinants observed in mammalian isolates (atypical host) and vaccine-escape isolates found in bone (atypical tissue) of vaccinated barramundi are linked to multiple MMR and OG variants and unique mutation rates. This implies that adaptation to new host taxa, new host tissue, and to immunity of a vaccinated host is promoted by mutator strains. Our findings support the importance of mutation rate dynamics in evolution of pathogenic bacteria, in particular adaptation to a drastically different immunological setting that occurs during host jump and vaccine escape events.Importance Host immune response is a powerful selective pressure that drives diversification of pathogenic microorganisms and, ultimately, evolution of new strains. Major adaptive events in pathogen evolution, such as transmission to a new host species or infection of vaccinated hosts, require adaptation to a drastically different immune landscape. Such adaptation may be favoured by hypermutable strains (or mutators) that are defective in normal DNA repair and consequently capable of generating multiple potentially beneficial and compensatory mutations. This permits rapid adjustment of virulence and antigenicity in a new immunological setting. Here we show that mutators, through mutations in DNA repair genes and corresponding shifts in mutation rate, are associated with major diversification events and virulence evolution in the broad host-range pathogen Streptococcus iniae. We show that mutators underpin infection of vaccinated hosts, transmission to new host species and the evolution of new strains.


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