October 23, 2019  |  

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and replication. We generated 3 zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) that target sequences within the HBV polymerase, core and X genes. Upon the formation of ZFN-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSB), imprecise repair by non-homologous end joining leads to mutations that inactivate HBV genes. We delivered HBV-specific ZFNs using self-complementary adeno-associated virus (scAAV) vectors and tested their anti-HBV activity in HepAD38 cells. HBV-ZFNs efficiently disrupted HBV target sites by inducing site-specific mutations. Cytotoxicity was seen with one of the ZFNs. scAAV-mediated delivery of a ZFN targeting HBV polymerase resulted in complete inhibition of HBV DNA replication and production of infectious HBV virions in HepAD38 cells. This effect was sustained for at least 2 weeks following only a single treatment. Furthermore, high specificity was observed for all ZFNs, as negligible off-target cleavage was seen via high-throughput sequencing of 7 closely matched potential off-target sites. These results show that HBV-targeted ZFNs can efficiently inhibit active HBV replication and suppress the cellular template for HBV persistence, making them promising candidates for eradication therapy.


October 23, 2019  |  

Vector design Tour de Force: integrating combinatorial and rational approaches to derive novel adeno-associated virus variants.

Methodologies to improve existing adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for gene therapy include either rational approaches or directed evolution to derive capsid variants characterized by superior transduction efficiencies in targeted tissues. Here, we integrated both approaches in one unified design strategy of “virtual family shuffling” to derive a combinatorial capsid library whereby only variable regions on the surface of the capsid are modified. Individual sublibraries were first assembled in order to preselect compatible amino acid residues within restricted surface-exposed regions to minimize the generation of dead-end variants. Subsequently, the successful families were interbred to derive a combined library of ~8?×?10(5) complexity. Next-generation sequencing of the packaged viral DNA revealed capsid surface areas susceptible to directed evolution, thus providing guidance for future designs. We demonstrated the utility of the library by deriving an AAV2-based vector characterized by a 20-fold higher transduction efficiency in murine liver, now equivalent to that of AAV8.


October 23, 2019  |  

Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing of trinucleotide repeat expansion in myotonic dystrophy patient-derived iPS and myogenic cells.

CRISPR/Cas9 is an attractive platform to potentially correct dominant genetic diseases by gene editing with unprecedented precision. In the current proof-of-principle study, we explored the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene-editing in myotonic dystrophy type-1 (DM1), an autosomal-dominant muscle disorder, by excising the CTG-repeat expansion in the 3′-untranslated-region (UTR) of the human myotonic dystrophy protein kinase (DMPK) gene in DM1 patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (DM1-iPSC), DM1-iPSC-derived myogenic cells and DM1 patient-specific myoblasts. To eliminate the pathogenic gain-of-function mutant DMPK transcript, we designed a dual guide RNA based strategy that excises the CTG-repeat expansion with high efficiency, as confirmed by Southern blot and single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. Correction efficiencies up to 90% could be attained in DM1-iPSC as confirmed at the clonal level, following ribonucleoprotein (RNP) transfection of CRISPR/Cas9 components without the need for selective enrichment. Expanded CTG repeat excision resulted in the disappearance of ribonuclear foci, a quintessential cellular phenotype of DM1, in the corrected DM1-iPSC, DM1-iPSC-derived myogenic cells and DM1 myoblasts. Consequently, the normal intracellular localization of the muscleblind-like splicing regulator 1 (MBNL1) was restored, resulting in the normalization of splicing pattern of SERCA1. This study validates the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene editing of repeat expansions.


October 23, 2019  |  

Function-based identification of mammalian enhancers using site-specific integration.

The accurate and comprehensive identification of functional regulatory sequences in mammalian genomes remains a major challenge. Here we describe site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing (SIF-seq), an unbiased, medium-throughput functional assay for the discovery of distant-acting enhancers. Targeted single-copy genomic integration into pluripotent cells, reporter assays and flow cytometry are coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing to enable parallel screening of large numbers of DNA sequences. By functionally interrogating >500 kilobases (kb) of mouse and human sequence in mouse embryonic stem cells for enhancer activity we identified enhancers at pluripotency loci including NANOG. In in vitro-differentiated cardiomyocytes and neural progenitor cells, we identified cardiac enhancers and neuronal enhancers, respectively. SIF-seq is a powerful and flexible method for de novo functional identification of mammalian enhancers in a potentially wide variety of cell types.


September 22, 2019  |  

The state of long non-coding RNA biology.

Transcriptomic studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of the genomes of mammals and other complex organisms is expressed in highly dynamic and cell-specific patterns to produce large numbers of intergenic, antisense and intronic long non-protein-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Despite well characterized examples, their scaling with developmental complexity, and many demonstrations of their association with cellular processes, development and diseases, lncRNAs are still to be widely accepted as major players in gene regulation. This may reflect an underappreciation of the extent and precision of the epigenetic control of differentiation and development, where lncRNAs appear to have a central role, likely as organizational and guide molecules: most lncRNAs are nuclear-localized and chromatin-associated, with some involved in the formation of specialized subcellular domains. I suggest that a reassessment of the conceptual framework of genetic information and gene expression in the 4-dimensional ontogeny of spatially organized multicellular organisms is required. Together with this and further studies on their biology, the key challenges now are to determine the structure?function relationships of lncRNAs, which may be aided by emerging evidence of their modular structure, the role of RNA editing and modification in enabling epigenetic plasticity, and the role of RNA signaling in transgenerational inheritance of experience.


September 22, 2019  |  

Exploring the genome and transcriptome of the cave nectar bat Eonycteris spelaea with PacBio long-read sequencing.

In the past two decades, bats have emerged as an important model system to study host-pathogen interactions. More recently, it has been shown that bats may also serve as a new and excellent model to study aging, inflammation, and cancer, among other important biological processes. The cave nectar bat or lesser dawn bat (Eonycteris spelaea) is known to be a reservoir for several viruses and intracellular bacteria. It is widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics from India to Southeast Asia and pollinates several plant species, including the culturally and economically important durian in the region. Here, we report the whole-genome and transcriptome sequencing, followed by subsequent de novo assembly, of the E. spelaea genome solely using the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) long-read sequencing platform.The newly assembled E. spelaea genome is 1.97 Gb in length and consists of 4,470 sequences with a contig N50 of 8.0 Mb. Identified repeat elements covered 34.65% of the genome, and 20,640 unique protein-coding genes with 39,526 transcripts were annotated.We demonstrated that the PacBio long-read sequencing platform alone is sufficient to generate a comprehensive de novo assembled genome and transcriptome of an important bat species. These results will provide useful insights and act as a resource to expand our understanding of bat evolution, ecology, physiology, immunology, viral infection, and transmission dynamics.


September 22, 2019  |  

Researches on transcriptome sequencing in the study of traditional Chinese medicine

Due to its incomparable advantages, the application of transcriptome sequencing in the study of traditional Chinese medicine attracts more and more attention of researchers, which greatly promote the development of traditional Chinese medicine. In this paper, the applications of transcriptome sequencing in traditional Chinese medicine were summarized by reviewing recent related papers.


September 22, 2019  |  

Alternative polyadenylation: methods, findings, and impacts.

Alternative polyadenylation (APA), a phenomenon that RNA molecules with different 3′ ends originate from distinct polyadenylation sites of a single gene, is emerging as a mechanism widely used to regulate gene expression. In the present review, we first summarized various methods prevalently adopted in APA study, mainly focused on the next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based techniques specially designed for APA identification, the related bioinformatics methods, and the strategies for APA study in single cells. Then we summarized the main findings and advances so far based on these methods, including the preferences of alternative polyA (pA) site, the biological processes involved, and the corresponding consequences. We especially categorized the APA changes discovered so far and discussed their potential functions under given conditions, along with the possible underlying molecular mechanisms. With more in-depth studies on extensive samples, more signatures and functions of APA will be revealed, and its diverse roles will gradually heave in sight. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-molecule long-read transcriptome profiling of Platysternon megacephalum mitochondrial genome with gene rearrangement and control region duplication.

Platysternon megacephalum is the sole living representative of the poorly studied turtle lineage Platysternidae. Their mitochondrial genome has been subject to gene rearrangement and control region duplication, resulting in a unique mitochondrial gene order in vertebrates. In this study, we sequenced the first full-length turtle (P. megacephalum) liver transcriptome using single-molecule real-time sequencing to study the transcriptional mechanisms of its mitochondrial genome. ND5 and ND6 anti-sense (ND6AS) forms a single transcript with the same expression in the human mitochondrial genome, but here we demonstrated differential expression of the rearranged ND5 and ND6AS genes in P. megacephalum. And some polycistronic transcripts were also reported in this study. Notably, we detected some novel long non-coding RNAs with alternative polyadenylation from the duplicated control region, and a novel ND6AS transcript composed of a long non-coding sequence, ND6AS, and tRNA-GluAS. These results provide the first description of a mtDNA transcriptome with gene rearrangement and control region duplication. These findings further our understanding of the fundamental concepts of mitochondrial gene transcription and RNA processing, and provide a new insight into the mechanism of transcription regulation of the mitochondrial genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Lipoprotein lipase reaches the capillary lumen in chickens despite an apparent absence of GPIHBP1.

In mammals, GPIHBP1 is absolutely essential for transporting lipoprotein lipase (LPL) to the lumen of capillaries, where it hydrolyzes the triglycerides in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. In all lower vertebrate species (e.g., birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish), a gene for LPL can be found easily, but a gene for GPIHBP1 has never been found. The obvious question is whether the LPL in lower vertebrates is able to reach the capillary lumen. Using purified antibodies against chicken LPL, we showed that LPL is present on capillary endothelial cells of chicken heart and adipose tissue, colocalizing with von Willebrand factor. When the antibodies against chicken LPL were injected intravenously into chickens, they bound to LPL on the luminal surface of capillaries in heart and adipose tissue. LPL was released rapidly from chicken hearts with an infusion of heparin, consistent with LPL being located inside blood vessels. Remarkably, chicken LPL bound in a specific fashion to mammalian GPIHBP1. However, we could not identify a gene for GPIHBP1 in the chicken genome, nor could we identify a transcript for GPIHBP1 in a large chicken RNA-seq data set. We conclude that LPL reaches the capillary lumen in chickens – as it does in mammals – despite an apparent absence of GPIHBP1.


September 22, 2019  |  

Composition and pathogenic potential of a microbial bioremediation product used for crude oil degradation.

A microbial bioremediation product (MBP) used for large-scale oil degradation was investigated for microbial constituents and possible pathogenicity. Aerobic growth on various media yielded >108 colonies mL-1. Full-length 16S rDNA sequencing and fatty acid profiling from morphologically distinct colonies revealed =13 distinct genera. Full-length 16S rDNA library sequencing, by either Sanger or long-read PacBio technology, suggested that up to 21% of the MBP was composed of Arcobacter. Other high abundance microbial constituents (>6%) included the genera Proteus, Enterococcus, Dysgonomonas and several genera in the order Bacteroidales. The MBP was most susceptible to ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, gentamicin, and meropenam. MBP exposure of human HT29 and A549 cells caused significant cytotoxicity, and bacterial growth and adherence. An acellular MBP filtrate was also cytotoxic to HT29, but not A549. Both MBP and filtrate exposures elevated the neutrophil chemoattractant IL-8. In endotracheal murine exposures, bacterial pulmonary clearance was complete after one-week. Elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1ß, IL-6, and TNF-a, and chemokines KC and MCP-1 occurred between 2h and 48h post-exposure, followed by restoration to baseline levels at 96h. Cytokine/chemokine signalling was accompanied by elevated blood neutrophils and monocytes at 4h and 48h, respectively. Peripheral acute phase response markers were maximal at 24h. All indicators examined returned to baseline values by 168h. In contrast to HT29, but similar to A549 observations, MBP filtrate did not induce significant murine effects with the indicators examined. The results demonstrated the potentially complex nature of MBPs and transient immunological effects during exposure. Products containing microbes should be scrutinized for pathogenic components and subjected to characterisation and quality validation prior to commercial release.


September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic mosaicism of an intragenic FANCB duplication in both fibroblast and peripheral blood cells observed in a Fanconi anemia patient leads to milder phenotype.

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare disorder characterized by congenital malformations, progressive bone marrow failure, and predisposition to cancer. Patients harboring X-linked FANCB pathogenic variants usually present with severe congenital malformations resembling VACTERL syndrome with hydrocephalus.We employed the diepoxybutane (DEB) test for FA diagnosis, arrayCGH for detection of duplication, targeted capture and next-gen sequencing for defining the duplication breakpoint, PacBio sequencing of full-length FANCB aberrant transcript, FANCD2 ubiquitination and foci formation assays for the evaluation of FANCB protein function by viral transduction of FANCB-null cells with lentiviral FANCB WT and mutant expression constructs, and droplet digital PCR for quantitation of the duplication in the genomic DNA and cDNA.We describe here an FA-B patient with a mild phenotype. The DEB diagnostic test for FA revealed somatic mosaicism. We identified a 9154 bp intragenic duplication in FANCB, covering the first coding exon 3 and the flanking regions. A four bp homology (GTAG) present at both ends of the breakpoint is consistent with microhomology-mediated duplication mechanism. The duplicated allele gives rise to an aberrant transcript containing exon 3 duplication, predicted to introduce a stop codon in FANCB protein (p.A319*). Duplication levels in the peripheral blood DNA declined from 93% to 7.9% in the span of eleven years. Moreover, the patient fibroblasts have shown 8% of wild-type (WT) allele and his carrier mother showed higher than expected levels of WT allele (79% vs. 50%) in peripheral blood, suggesting that the duplication was highly unstable.Unlike sequence point variants, intragenic duplications are difficult to precisely define, accurately quantify, and may be very unstable, challenging the proper diagnosis. The reversion of genomic duplication to the WT allele results in somatic mosaicism and may explain the relatively milder phenotype displayed by the FA-B patient described here.© 2017 The Authors. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Avian transcriptomics: opportunities and challenges

Recent developments in next-generation sequencing technologies have greatly facilitated the study of whole transcriptomes in model and non-model species. Studying the transcriptome and how it changes across a variety of biological conditions has had major implications for our understanding of how the genome is regulated in different contexts, and how to interpret adaptations and the phenotype of an organism. The aim of this review is to highlight the potential of these new technologies for the study of avian transcriptomics, and to summarise how transcriptomics has been applied in ornithology. A total of 81 peer-reviewed scientific articles that used transcriptomics to answer questions within a broad range of study areas in birds are used as examples throughout the review. We further provide a quick guide to highlight the most important points which need to be take into account when planning a transcriptomic study in birds, and discuss how researchers with little background in molecular biology can avoid potential pitfalls. Suggestions for further reading are supplied throughout. We also discuss possible future developments in the technology platforms used for ribonucleic acid sequencing. By summarising how these novel technologies can be used to answer questions that have long been asked by ornithologists, we hope to bridge the gap between traditional ornithology and genomics, and to stimulate more interdisciplinary research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Meeting report: 31st International Mammalian Genome Conference, Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: From Molecular Mechanisms to Translational Applications.

High on the Heidelberg hills, inside the Advanced Training Centre of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) campus with its unique double-helix staircase, scientists gathered for the EMBL conference “Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: From Molecular Mechanisms to Translational Applications,” organized in cooperation with the International Mammalian Genome Society (IMGS) and the Mouse Molecular Genetics (MMG) group. The conference attracted 205 participants from 30 countries, representing 6 of the 7 continents-all except Antarctica. It was a richly diverse group of geneticists, clinicians, and bioinformaticians, with presentations by established and junior investigators, including many trainees. From the 24th-27th of October 2017, they shared exciting advances in mammalian genetics and genomics research, from the introduction of cutting-edge technologies to descriptions of translational studies involving highly relevant models of human disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

The human microbiome and understanding the 16S rRNA gene in translational nursing science.

As more is understood regarding the human microbiome, it is increasingly important for nurse scientists and healthcare practitioners to analyze these microbial communities and their role in health and disease. 16S rRNA sequencing is a key methodology in identifying these bacterial populations that has recently transitioned from use primarily in research to having increased utility in clinical settings.The objectives of this review are to (a) describe 16S rRNA sequencing and its role in answering research questions important to nursing science; (b) provide an overview of the oral, lung, and gut microbiomes and relevant research; and (c) identify future implications for microbiome research and 16S sequencing in translational nursing science.Sequencing using the 16S rRNA gene has revolutionized research and allowed scientists to easily and reliably characterize complex bacterial communities. This type of research has recently entered the clinical setting, one of the best examples involving the use of 16S sequencing to identify resistant pathogens, thereby improving the accuracy of bacterial identification in infection control. Clinical microbiota research and related requisite methods are of particular relevance to nurse scientists-individuals uniquely positioned to utilize these techniques in future studies in clinical settings.


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