June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens.

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single-nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non- pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA Sequencing with short reads (SMRT CCS (circular consensus) or second-generation reads), wherein the short reads are used to error-correct the long reads which are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which SMRT sequencing reads from a single long insert library are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run, and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) for numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT Sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. With relatively short sequencing run times and automated analysis pipelines, it is possible to go from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome in about a day.


June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non-pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA sequencing with short, high-accuracy reads (SMRT (circular consensus sequencing) CCS or second-generation reads) to generate long, highly accurate reads that are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which long SMRT sequencing reads (average readlengths >5,000 bases) are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) to numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. The process has been automated and requires less than 1 day from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

The use of Online Tools for Antimicrobial Resistance Prediction by Whole Genome Sequencing in MRSA and VRE.

The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis represents a serious threat to public health and has resulted in concentrated efforts to accelerate development of rapid molecular diagnostics for AMR. In combination with publicly-available web-based AMR databases, whole genome sequencing (WGS) offers the capacity for rapid detection of antibiotic resistance genes. Here we studied the concordance between WGS-based resistance prediction and phenotypic susceptibility testing results for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE) clinical isolates using publicly-available tools and databases.Clinical isolates prospectively collected at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center between December 2016 and December 2017 underwent WGS. Antibiotic resistance gene content was assessed from assembled genomes by BLASTn search of online databases. Concordance between WGS-predicted resistance profile and phenotypic susceptibility as well as sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (NPV, PPV) were calculated for each antibiotic/organism combination, using the phenotypic results as the gold standard.Phenotypic susceptibility testing and WGS results were available for 1242 isolate/antibiotic combinations. Overall concordance was 99.3% with a sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV of 98.7% (95% CI, 97.2-99.5%), 99.6% (95 % CI, 98.8-99.9%), 99.3% (95% CI, 98.0-99.8%), 99.2% (95% CI, 98.3-99.7%), respectively. Additional identification of point mutations in housekeeping genes increased the concordance to 99.4% and the sensitivity to 99.3% (95% CI, 98.2-99.8%) and NPV to 99.4% (95% CI, 98.4-99.8%).WGS can be used as a reliable predicator of phenotypic resistance for both MRSA and VRE using readily-available online tools.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing and gene expression profiling reveal broad involvement of natural antisense transcript gene pairs in pepper development and response to stresses.

Pepper is an important vegetable with great economic value and unique biological features. In the past few years, significant development has been made towards understanding the huge complex pepper genome; however, pepper functional genomics has not been well studied. To better understand the pepper gene structure and pepper gene regulation, we conducted full-length mRNA sequencing by PacBio sequencing and obtained 57862 high-quality full-length mRNA sequences derived from 18362 previously annotated and 5769 newly detected genes. New gene models were built that combined the full-length mRNA sequences and corrected approximately 500 fragmented gene models from previous annotations. Based on the full-length mRNA, we identified 4114 and 5880 pepper genes forming natural antisense transcript (NAT) genes in-cis and in-trans, respectively. Most of these genes accumulate small RNAs in their overlapping regions. By analyzing these NAT gene expression patterns in our transcriptome data, we identified many NAT pairs responsive to a variety of biological processes in pepper. Pepper formate dehydrogenase 1 (FDH1), which is required for R-gene-mediated disease resistance, may be regulated by nat-siRNAs and participate in a positive feedback loop in salicylic acid biosynthesis during resistance responses. Several cis-NAT pairs and subgroups of trans-NAT genes were responsive to pepper pericarp and placenta development, which may play roles in capsanthin and capsaicin biosynthesis. Using a comparative genomics approach, the evolutionary mechanisms of cis-NATs were investigated, and we found that an increase in intergenic sequences accounted for the loss of most cis-NATs, while transposon insertion contributed to the formation of most new cis-NATs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

The ADEP Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010 Reveals an Accessory clpP Gene as a Novel Antibiotic Resistance Factor.

The increasing threat posed by multiresistant bacterial pathogens necessitates the discovery of novel antibacterials with unprecedented modes of action. ADEP1, a natural compound produced by Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010, is the prototype for a new class of acyldepsipeptide (ADEP) antibiotics. ADEP antibiotics deregulate the proteolytic core ClpP of the bacterial caseinolytic protease, thereby exhibiting potent antibacterial activity against Gram-positive bacteria, including multiresistant pathogens. ADEP1 and derivatives, here collectively called ADEP, have been previously investigated for their antibiotic potency against different species, structure-activity relationship, and mechanism of action; however, knowledge on the biosynthesis of the natural compound and producer self-resistance have remained elusive. In this study, we identified and analyzed the ADEP biosynthetic gene cluster in S. hawaiiensis NRRL 15010, which comprises two NRPSs, genes necessary for the biosynthesis of (4S,2R)-4-methylproline, and a type II polyketide synthase (PKS) for the assembly of highly reduced polyenes. While no resistance factor could be identified within the gene cluster itself, we discovered an additional clpP homologous gene (named clpPADEP) located further downstream of the biosynthetic genes, separated from the biosynthetic gene cluster by several transposable elements. Heterologous expression of ClpPADEP in three ADEP-sensitive Streptomyces species proved its role in conferring ADEP resistance, thereby revealing a novel type of antibiotic resistance determinant.IMPORTANCE Antibiotic acyldepsipeptides (ADEPs) represent a promising new class of potent antibiotics and, at the same time, are valuable tools to study the molecular functioning of their target, ClpP, the proteolytic core of the bacterial caseinolytic protease. Here, we present a straightforward purification procedure for ADEP1 that yields substantial amounts of the pure compound in a time- and cost-efficient manner, which is a prerequisite to conveniently study the antimicrobial effects of ADEP and the operating mode of bacterial ClpP machineries in diverse bacteria. Identification and characterization of the ADEP biosynthetic gene cluster in Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010 enables future bioinformatics screenings for similar gene clusters and/or subclusters to find novel natural compounds with specific substructures. Most strikingly, we identified a cluster-associated clpP homolog (named clpPADEP) as an ADEP resistance gene. ClpPADEP constitutes a novel bacterial resistance factor that alone is necessary and sufficient to confer high-level ADEP resistance to Streptomyces across species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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  |  

Genome-Wide Screening for Enteric Colonization Factors in Carbapenem-Resistant ST258 Klebsiella pneumoniae.

A diverse, antibiotic-naive microbiota prevents highly antibiotic-resistant microbes, including carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CR-Kp), from achieving dense colonization of the intestinal lumen. Antibiotic-mediated destruction of the microbiota leads to expansion of CR-Kp in the gut, markedly increasing the risk of bacteremia in vulnerable patients. While preventing dense colonization represents a rational approach to reduce intra- and interpatient dissemination of CR-Kp, little is known about pathogen-associated factors that enable dense growth and persistence in the intestinal lumen. To identify genetic factors essential for dense colonization of the gut by CR-Kp, we constructed a highly saturated transposon mutant library with >150,000 unique mutations in an ST258 strain of CR-Kp and screened for in vitro growth and in vivo intestinal colonization in antibiotic-treated mice. Stochastic and partially reversible fluctuations in the representation of different mutations during dense colonization revealed the dynamic nature of intestinal microbial populations. We identified genes that are crucial for early and late stages of dense gut colonization and confirmed their role by testing isogenic mutants in in vivo competition assays with wild-type CR-Kp Screening of the transposon library also identified mutations that enhanced in vivo CR-Kp growth. These newly identified colonization factors may provide novel therapeutic opportunities to reduce intestinal colonization by CR-KpIMPORTANCEKlebsiella pneumoniae is a common cause of bloodstream infections in immunocompromised and hospitalized patients, and over the last 2 decades, some strains have acquired resistance to nearly all available antibiotics, including broad-spectrum carbapenems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae (CR-Kp) as an urgent public health threat. Dense colonization of the intestine by CR-Kp and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria is associated with an increased risk of bacteremia. Reducing the density of gut colonization by CR-Kp is likely to reduce their transmission from patient to patient in health care facilities as well as systemic infections. How CR-Kp expands and persists in the gut lumen, however, is poorly understood. Herein, we generated a highly saturated mutant library in a multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae strain and identified genetic factors that are associated with dense gut colonization by K. pneumoniae This study sheds light on host colonization by K. pneumoniae and identifies potential colonization factors that contribute to high-density persistence of K. pneumoniae in the intestine. Copyright © 2019 Jung et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reconstruction of the genomes of drug-resistant pathogens for outbreak investigation through metagenomic sequencing

Culture-independent methods that target genome fragments have shown promise in identifying certain pathogens, but the holy grail of comprehensive pathogen genome detection from microbiologically complex samples for subsequent forensic analyses remains a challenge. In the context of an investigation of a nosocomial outbreak, we used shotgun metagenomic sequencing of a human fecal sample and a neural network algorithm based on tetranucleotide frequency profiling to reconstruct microbial genomes and tested the same approach using rectal swabs from a second patient. The approach rapidly and readily detected the genome of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae in the patient fecal specimen and in the rectal swab sample, achieving a level of strain resolution that was sufficient for confident transmission inference during a highly clonal outbreak. The analysis also detected previously unrecognized colonization of the patient by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, another multidrug-resistant bacterium.IMPORTANCE The study results reported here perfectly demonstrate the power and promise of clinical metagenomics to recover genome sequences of important drug-resistant bacteria and to rapidly provide rich data that inform outbreak investigations and treatment decisions, independently of the need to culture the organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Emergence of a ST2570 Klebsiella pneumoniae isolate carrying mcr-1 and blaCTX-M-14 recovered from a bloodstream infection in China.

The worldwide emergence of the plasmid-borne colistin resistance mediated by mcr-1 gene not only extended our knowledge on colistin resistance, but also poses a serious threat to clinical and public health [1, 2]. Since its first discovery, mcr-1-carrying Enterobacteriaceae from human, animal, food, and environmental origins have been widely identified, but few mcr-1-positive clinical strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae have been reported so far, especially when associated with community-acquired infections [3, 4]. Here, we report the emergence of a colistin-resistant K. pneumoniae isolate, which belonged to a rare sporadic clone, co-carrying mcr-1 and blaCTX-M-14 genes simultaneous recovered from a community-acquired bloodstream infection in China. Whole-genome sequencing and microbiological analysis were performed to elucidate its antimicrobial resistance mechanisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic Survey of Bordetella pertussis Diversity, United States, 2000-2013.

We characterized 170 complete genome assemblies from clinical Bordetella pertussis isolates representing geographic and temporal diversity in the United States. These data capture genotypic shifts, including increased pertactin deficiency, occurring amid the current pertussis disease resurgence and provide a foundation for needed research to direct future public health control strategies.


April 21, 2020  |  

De novo assembly of white poplar genome and genetic diversity of white poplar population in Irtysh River basin in China.

The white poplar (Populus alba) is widely distributed in Central Asia and Europe. There are natural populations of white poplar in Irtysh River basin in China. It also can be cultivated and grown well in northern China. In this study, we sequenced the genome of P. alba by single-molecule real-time technology. De novo assembly of P. alba had a genome size of 415.99 Mb with a contig N50 of 1.18 Mb. A total of 32,963 protein-coding genes were identified. 45.16% of the genome was annotated as repetitive elements. Genome evolution analysis revealed that divergence between P. alba and Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood) occurred ~5.0 Mya (3.0, 7.1). Fourfold synonymous third-codon transversion (4DTV) and synonymous substitution rate (ks) distributions supported the occurrence of the salicoid WGD event (~ 65 Mya). Twelve natural populations of P. alba in the Irtysh River basin in China were sequenced to explore the genetic diversity. Average pooled heterozygosity value of P. alba populations was 0.170±0.014, which was lower than that in Italy (0.271±0.051) and Hungary (0.264±0.054). Tajima’s D values showed a negative distribution, which might signify an excess of low frequency polymorphisms and a bottleneck with later expansion of P. alba populations examined.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potential KPC-2 carbapenemase reservoir of environmental Aeromonas hydrophila and Aeromonas caviae isolates from the effluent of an urban wastewater treatment plant in Japan.

Aeromonas hydrophila and Aeromonas caviae adapt to saline water environments and are the most predominant Aeromonas species isolated from estuaries. Here, we isolated antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) Aeromonas strains (A. hydrophila GSH8-2 and A. caviae GSH8M-1) carrying the carabapenemase blaKPC-2 gene from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent in Tokyo Bay (Japan) and determined their complete genome sequences. GSH8-2 and GSH8M-1 were classified as newly assigned sequence types ST558 and ST13, suggesting no supportive evidence of clonal dissemination. The strains appear to have acquired blaKPC-2 -positive IncP-6-relative plasmids (pGSH8-2 and pGSH8M-1-2) that share a common backbone with plasmids in Aeromonas sp. ASNIH3 isolated from hospital wastewater in the United States, A. hydrophila WCHAH045096 isolated from sewage in China, other clinical isolates (Klebsiella, Enterobacter and Escherichia coli), and wastewater isolates (Citrobacter, Pseudomonas and other Aeromonas spp.). In addition to blaKPC-2 , pGSH8M-1-2 carries an IS26-mediated composite transposon including a macrolide resistance gene, mph(A). Although Aeromonas species are opportunistic pathogens, they could serve as potential environmental reservoir bacteria for carbapenemase and AMR genes. AMR monitoring from WWTP effluents will contribute to the detection of ongoing AMR dissemination in the environment and might provide an early warning of potential dissemination in clinical settings and communities. © 2019 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology Reports published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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.


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