July 19, 2019  |  

A random six-phase switch regulates pneumococcal virulence via global epigenetic changes.

Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the world’s foremost bacterial pathogen in both morbidity and mortality. Switching between phenotypic forms (or ‘phases’) that favour asymptomatic carriage or invasive disease was first reported in 1933. Here, we show that the underlying mechanism for such phase variation consists of genetic rearrangements in a Type I restriction-modification system (SpnD39III). The rearrangements generate six alternative specificities with distinct methylation patterns, as defined by single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) methylomics. The SpnD39III variants have distinct gene expression profiles. We demonstrate distinct virulence in experimental infection and in vivo selection for switching between SpnD39III variants. SpnD39III is ubiquitous in pneumococci, indicating an essential role in its biology. Future studies must recognize the potential for switching between these heretofore undetectable, differentiated pneumococcal subpopulations in vitro and in vivo. Similar systems exist in other bacterial genera, indicating the potential for broad exploitation of epigenetic gene regulation.


July 19, 2019  |  

Conformation dependent epitopes recognized by prion protein antibodies probed using mutational scanning and deep sequencing.

Prion diseases are caused by a structural rearrangement of the cellular prion protein, PrP(C), into a disease-associated conformation, PrP(Sc), which may be distinguished from one another using conformation specific antibodies. We used mutational scanning by cell-surface display to screen 1,341 PrP single point mutants for attenuated interaction with four anti-PrP antibodies, including several with conformational specificity. Single molecule real time gene sequencing was used to quantify enrichment of mutants, returning on average 26,000 high quality full-length reads for each screened population. Relative enrichment of mutants correlated to the magnitude of the change in binding affinity. Mutations that diminished binding of the antibody ICSM18 represented the core of contact residues in the published crystal structure of its complex. A similarly located binding site was identified for D18, comprising discontinuous residues in helix 1 of PrP, brought into close proximity to one another only when the alpha helix is intact. The specificity of these antibodies for the normal form of PrP likely arises from loss of this conformational feature after conversion to the disease-associated form. Intriguingly, 6H4 binding was found to depend on interaction with the same residues, among others, suggesting that its ability to recognize both forms of PrP depends on a structural rearrangement of the antigen. The application of mutational scanning and deep sequencing provides residue-level resolution of positions in the protein-protein interaction interface that are critical for binding, as well as a quantitative measure of the impact of mutations on binding affinity. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


July 19, 2019  |  

One chromosome, one contig: complete microbial genomes from long-read sequencing and assembly.

Like a jigsaw puzzle with large pieces, a genome sequenced with long reads is easier to assemble. However, recent sequencing technologies have favored lowering per-base cost at the expense of read length. This has dramatically reduced sequencing cost, but resulted in fragmented assemblies, which negatively affect downstream analyses and hinder the creation of finished (gapless, high-quality) genomes. In contrast, emerging long-read sequencing technologies can now produce reads tens of kilobases in length, enabling the automated finishing of microbial genomes for under $1000. This promises to improve the quality of reference databases and facilitate new studies of chromosomal structure and variation. We present an overview of these new technologies and the methods used to assemble long reads into complete genomes. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

qDNAmod: a statistical model-based tool to reveal intercellular heterogeneity of DNA modification from SMRT sequencing data.

In an isogenic cell population, phenotypic heterogeneity among individual cells is common and critical for survival of the population under different environment conditions. DNA modification is an important epigenetic factor that can regulate phenotypic heterogeneity. The single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology provides a unique platform for detecting a wide range of DNA modifications, including N6-methyladenine (6-mA), N4-methylcytosine (4-mC) and 5-methylcytosine (5-mC). Here we present qDNAmod, a novel bioinformatic tool for genome-wide quantitative profiling of intercellular heterogeneity of DNA modification from SMRT sequencing data. It is capable of estimating proportion of isogenic haploid cells, in which the same loci of the genome are differentially modified. We tested the reliability of qDNAmod with the SMRT sequencing data of Streptococcus pneumoniae strain ST556. qDNAmod detected extensive intercellular heterogeneity of DNA methylation (6-mA) in a clonal population of ST556. Subsequent biochemical analyses revealed that the recognition sequences of two type I restriction–modification (R-M) systems are responsible for the intercellular heterogeneity of DNA methylation initially identified by qDNAmod. qDNAmod thus represents a valuable tool for studying intercellular phenotypic heterogeneity from genome-wide DNA modification.


July 19, 2019  |  

ModM DNA methyltransferase methylome analysis reveals a potential role for Moraxella catarrhalis phasevarions in otitis media.

Moraxella catarrhalis is a significant cause of otitis media and exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Here, we characterize a phase-variable DNA methyltransferase (ModM), which contains 5′-CAAC-3′ repeats in its open reading frame that mediate high-frequency mutation resulting in reversible on/off switching of ModM expression. Three modM alleles have been identified (modM1-3), with modM2 being the most commonly found allele. Using single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) genome sequencing and methylome analysis, we have determined that the ModM2 methylation target is 5′-GAR(m6)AC-3′, and 100% of these sites are methylated in the genome of the M. catarrhalis 25239 ModM2 on strain. Proteomic analysis of ModM2 on and off variants revealed that ModM2 regulates expression of multiple genes that have potential roles in colonization, infection, and protection against host defenses. Investigation of the distribution of modM alleles in a panel of M. catarrhalis strains, isolated from the nasopharynx of healthy children or middle ear effusions from patients with otitis media, revealed a statistically significant association of modM3 with otitis media isolates. The modulation of gene expression via the ModM phase-variable regulon (phasevarion), and the significant association of the modM3 allele with otitis media, suggests a key role for ModM phasevarions in the pathogenesis of this organism.-Blakeway, L. V., Power, P. M., Jen, F. E.-C., Worboys, S. R., Boitano, M., Clark, T. A., Korlach, J., Bakaletz, L. O., Jennings, M. P., Peak, I. R., Seib, K. L. ModM DNA methyltransferase methylome analysis reveals a potential role for Moraxella catarrhalis phasevarions in otitis media. © FASEB.


July 19, 2019  |  

Going beyond five bases in DNA sequencing.

DNA sequencing has provided a wealth of information about biological systems, but thus far has focused on the four canonical bases, and 5-methylcytosine through comparison of the genomic DNA sequence to a transformed four-base sequence obtained after treatment with bisulfite. However, numerous other chemical modifications to the nucleotides are known to control fundamental life functions, influence virulence of pathogens, and are associated with many diseases. These modifications cannot be accessed with traditional sequencing methods. In this opinion, we highlight several emerging single-molecule sequencing techniques that have the potential to directly detect many types of DNA modifications as an integral part of the sequencing protocol. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

A comparative analysis of methylome profiles of Campylobacter jejuni sheep abortion isolate and gastroenteric strains using PacBio data.

Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of human gastrointestinal disease and small ruminant abortions in the United States. The recent emergence of a highly virulent, tetracycline-resistant C. jejuni subsp. jejuni sheep abortion clone (clone SA) in the United States, and that strain’s association with human disease, has resulted in a heightened awareness of the zoonotic potential of this organism. Pacific Biosciences’ Single Molecule, Real-Time sequencing technology was used to explore the variation in the genome-wide methylation patterns of the abortifacient clone SA (IA3902) and phenotypically distinct gastrointestinal-specific C. jejuni strains (NCTC 11168 and 81-176). Several notable differences were discovered that distinguished the methylome of IA3902 from that of 11168 and 81-176: identification of motifs novel to IA3902, genome-specific hypo- and hypermethylated regions, strain level variability in genes methylated, and differences in the types of methylation motifs present in each strain. These observations suggest a possible role of methylation in the contrasting disease presentations of these three C. jejuni strains. In addition, the methylation profiles between IA3902 and a luxS mutant were explored to determine if variations in methylation patterns could be identified that might explain the role of LuxS-dependent methyl recycling in IA3902 abortifacient potential.


July 19, 2019  |  

Analysis of the Campylobacter jejuni genome by SMRT DNA Sequencing identifies restriction-modification motifs.

Campylobacter jejuni is a leading bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis. The goal of this study was to analyze the C. jejuni F38011 strain, recovered from an individual with severe enteritis, at a genomic and proteomic level to gain insight into microbial processes. The C. jejuni F38011 genome is comprised of 1,691,939 bp, with a mol.% (G+C) content of 30.5%. PacBio sequencing coupled with REBASE analysis was used to predict C. jejuni F38011 genomic sites and enzymes that may be involved in DNA restriction-modification. A total of five putative methylation motifs were identified as well as the C. jejuni enzymes that could be responsible for the modifications. Peptides corresponding to the deduced amino acid sequence of the C. jejuni enzymes were identified using proteomics. This work sets the stage for studies to dissect the precise functions of the C. jejuni putative restriction-modification enzymes. Taken together, the data generated in this study contributes to our knowledge of the genomic content, methylation profile, and encoding capacity of C. jejuni.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of Haloferax volcanii H26 and identification of DNA methyltransferase related PD-(D/E)XK nuclease family protein HVO_A0006.

Restriction-modification (RM) systems have evolved to protect the cell from invading DNAs and are composed of two enzymes: a DNA methyltransferase and a restriction endonuclease. Although RM systems are present in both archaeal and bacterial genomes, DNA methylation in archaea has not been well defined. In order to characterize the function of RM systems in archaeal species, we have made use of the model haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii. A genomic DNA methylation analysis of H. volcanii strain H26 was performed using PacBio single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. This analysis was also performed on a strain of H. volcanii in which an annotated DNA methyltransferase gene HVO_A0006 was deleted from the genome. Sequence analysis of H26 revealed two motifs which are modified in the genome: C(m4)TAG and GCA(m6)BN6VTGC. Analysis of the ?HVO_A0006 strain indicated that it exhibited reduced adenine methylation compared to the parental strain and altered the detected adenine motif. However, protein domain architecture analysis and amino acid alignments revealed that HVO_A0006 is homologous only to the N-terminal endonuclease region of Type IIG RM proteins and contains a PD-(D/E)XK nuclease motif, suggesting that HVO_A0006 is a PD-(D/E)XK nuclease family protein. Further bioinformatic analysis of the HVO_A0006 gene demonstrated that the gene is rare among the Halobacteria. It is surrounded by two transposition genes suggesting that HVO_A0006 is a fragment of a Type IIG RM gene, which has likely been acquired through gene transfer, and affects restriction-modification activity by interacting with another RM system component(s). Here, we present the first genome-wide characterization of DNA methylation in an archaeal species and examine the function of a DNA methyltransferase related gene HVO_A0006.


July 19, 2019  |  

Sequence data for Clostridium autoethanogenum using three generations of sequencing technologies.

During the past decade, DNA sequencing output has been mostly dominated by the second generation sequencing platforms which are characterized by low cost, high throughput and shorter read lengths for example, Illumina. The emergence and development of so called third generation sequencing platforms such as PacBio has permitted exceptionally long reads (over 20?kb) to be generated. Due to read length increases, algorithm improvements and hybrid assembly approaches, the concept of one chromosome, one contig and automated finishing of microbial genomes is now a realistic and achievable task for many microbial laboratories. In this paper, we describe high quality sequence datasets which span three generations of sequencing technologies, containing six types of data from four NGS platforms and originating from a single microorganism, Clostridium autoethanogenum. The dataset reported here will be useful for the scientific community to evaluate upcoming NGS platforms, enabling comparison of existing and novel bioinformatics approaches and will encourage interest in the development of innovative experimental and computational methods for NGS data.


July 19, 2019  |  

Specificity of the ModA11, ModA12 and ModD1 epigenetic regulator N6-adenine DNA methyltransferases of Neisseria meningitidis.

Phase variation (random ON/OFF switching) of gene expression is a common feature of host-adapted pathogenic bacteria. Phase variably expressed N(6)-adenine DNA methyltransferases (Mod) alter global methylation patterns resulting in changes in gene expression. These systems constitute phase variable regulons called phasevarions. Neisseria meningitidis phasevarions regulate genes including virulence factors and vaccine candidates, and alter phenotypes including antibiotic resistance. The target site recognized by these Type III N(6)-adenine DNA methyltransferases is not known. Single molecule, real-time (SMRT) methylome analysis was used to identify the recognition site for three key N. meningitidis methyltransferases: ModA11 (exemplified by M.NmeMC58I) (5′-CGY M6A: G-3′), ModA12 (exemplified by M.Nme77I, M.Nme18I and M.Nme579II) (5′-AC M6A: CC-3′) and ModD1 (exemplified by M.Nme579I) (5′-CC M6A: GC-3′). Restriction inhibition assays and mutagenesis confirmed the SMRT methylome analysis. The ModA11 site is complex and atypical and is dependent on the type of pyrimidine at the central position, in combination with the bases flanking the core recognition sequence 5′-CGY M6A: G-3′. The observed efficiency of methylation in the modA11 strain (MC58) genome ranged from 4.6% at 5′-GCGC M6A: GG-3′ sites, to 100% at 5′-ACGT M6A: GG-3′ sites. Analysis of the distribution of modified sites in the respective genomes shows many cases of association with intergenic regions of genes with altered expression due to phasevarion switching. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 19, 2019  |  

DNA methylation on N6-adenine in C. elegans.

In mammalian cells, DNA methylation on the fifth position of cytosine (5mC) plays an important role as an epigenetic mark. However, DNA methylation was considered to be absent in C. elegans because of the lack of detectable 5mC, as well as homologs of the cytosine DNA methyltransferases. Here, using multiple approaches, we demonstrate the presence of adenine N(6)-methylation (6mA) in C. elegans DNA. We further demonstrate that this modification increases trans-generationally in a paradigm of epigenetic inheritance. Importantly, we identify a DNA demethylase, NMAD-1, and a potential DNA methyltransferase, DAMT-1, which regulate 6mA levels and crosstalk between methylations of histone H3K4 and adenines and control the epigenetic inheritance of phenotypes associated with the loss of the H3K4me2 demethylase spr-5. Together, these data identify a DNA modification in C. elegans and raise the exciting possibility that 6mA may be a carrier of heritable epigenetic information in eukaryotes. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantitative and multiplexed DNA methylation analysis using long-read single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing (SMRT-BS).

DNA methylation has essential roles in transcriptional regulation, imprinting, X chromosome inactivation and other cellular processes, and aberrant CpG methylation is directly involved in the pathogenesis of human imprinting disorders and many cancers. To address the need for a quantitative and highly multiplexed bisulfite sequencing method with long read lengths for targeted CpG methylation analysis, we developed single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing (SMRT-BS).Optimized bisulfite conversion and PCR conditions enabled the amplification of DNA fragments up to ~1.5 kb, and subjecting overlapping 625-1491 bp amplicons to SMRT-BS indicated high reproducibility across all amplicon lengths (r?=?0.972) and low standard deviations (=0.10) between individual CpG sites sequenced in triplicate. Higher variability in CpG methylation quantitation was correlated with reduced sequencing depth, particularly for intermediately methylated regions. SMRT-BS was validated by orthogonal bisulfite-based microarray (r?=?0.906; 42 CpG sites) and second generation sequencing (r?=?0.933; 174 CpG sites); however, longer SMRT-BS amplicons (>1.0 kb) had reduced, but very acceptable, correlation with both orthogonal methods (r?=?0.836-0.897 and r?=?0.892-0.927, respectively) compared to amplicons less than ~1.0 kb (r?=?0.940-0.951 and r?=?0.948-0.963, respectively). Multiplexing utility was assessed by simultaneously subjecting four distinct CpG island amplicons (702-866 bp; 325 CpGs) and 30 hematological malignancy cell lines to SMRT-BS (average depth of 110X), which identified a spectrum of highly quantitative methylation levels across all interrogated CpG sites and cell lines.SMRT-BS is a novel, accurate and cost-effective targeted CpG methylation method that is amenable to a high degree of multiplexing with minimal clonal PCR artifacts. Increased sequencing depth is necessary when interrogating longer amplicons (>1.0 kb) and the previously reported bisulfite sequencing PCR bias towards unmethylated DNA should be considered when measuring intermediately methylated regions. Coupled with an optimized bisulfite PCR protocol, SMRT-BS is capable of interrogating ~1.5 kb amplicons, which theoretically can cover ~91% of CpG islands in the human genome.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome modification in Enterococcus faecalis OG1RF assessed by bisulfite sequencing and Single-Molecule Real-Time Sequencing.

Enterococcus faecalis is a Gram-positive bacterium that natively colonizes the human gastrointestinal tract and opportunistically causes life-threatening infections. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) E. faecalis strains have emerged, reducing treatment options for these infections. MDR E. faecalis strains have large genomes containing mobile genetic elements (MGEs) that harbor genes for antibiotic resistance and virulence determinants. Bacteria commonly possess genome defense mechanisms to block MGE acquisition, and we hypothesize that these mechanisms have been compromised in MDR E. faecalis. In restriction-modification (R-M) defense, the bacterial genome is methylated at cytosine (C) or adenine (A) residues by a methyltransferase (MTase), such that nonself DNA can be distinguished from self DNA. A cognate restriction endonuclease digests improperly modified nonself DNA. Little is known about R-M in E. faecalis. Here, we use genome resequencing to identify DNA modifications occurring in the oral isolate OG1RF. OG1RF has one of the smallest E. faecalis genomes sequenced to date and possesses few MGEs. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) and bisulfite sequencing revealed that OG1RF has global 5-methylcytosine (m5C) methylation at 5′-GCWGC-3′ motifs. A type II R-M system confers the m5C modification, and disruption of this system impacts OG1RF electrotransformability and conjugative transfer of an antibiotic resistance plasmid. A second DNA MTase was poorly expressed under laboratory conditions but conferred global N(4)-methylcytosine (m4C) methylation at 5′-CCGG-3′ motifs when expressed in Escherichia coli. Based on our results, we conclude that R-M can act as a barrier to MGE acquisition and likely influences antibiotic resistance gene dissemination in the E. faecalis species.The horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes among bacteria is a critical public health concern. Enterococcus faecalis is an opportunistic pathogen that causes life-threatening infections in humans. Multidrug resistance acquired by horizontal gene transfer limits treatment options for these infections. In this study, we used innovative DNA sequencing methodologies to investigate how a model strain of E. faecalis discriminates its own DNA from foreign DNA, i.e., self versus nonself discrimination. We also assess the role of an E. faecalis genome modification system in modulating conjugative transfer of an antibiotic resistance plasmid. These results are significant because they demonstrate that differential genome modification impacts horizontal gene transfer frequencies in E. faecalis. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

HLA typing for the next generation.

Allele-level resolution data at primary HLA typing is the ideal for most histocompatibility testing laboratories. Many high-throughput molecular HLA typing approaches are unable to determine the phase of observed DNA sequence polymorphisms, leading to ambiguous results. The use of higher resolution methods is often restricted due to cost and time limitations. Here we report on the feasibility of using Pacific Biosciences’ Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing technology for high-resolution and high-throughput HLA typing. Seven DNA samples were typed for HLA-A, -B and -C. The results showed that SMRT DNA sequencing technology was able to generate sequences that spanned entire HLA Class I genes that allowed for accurate allele calling. Eight novel genomic HLA class I sequences were identified, four were novel alleles, three were confirmed as genomic sequence extensions and one corrected an existing genomic reference sequence. This method has the potential to revolutionize the field of HLA typing. The clinical impact of achieving this level of resolution HLA typing data is likely to considerable, particularly in applications such as organ and blood stem cell transplantation where matching donors and recipients for their HLA is of utmost importance.


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