September 22, 2019  |  

Role of clinicogenomics in infectious disease diagnostics and public health microbiology.

Clinicogenomics is the exploitation of genome sequence data for diagnostic, therapeutic, and public health purposes. Central to this field is the high-throughput DNA sequencing of genomes and metagenomes. The role of clinicogenomics in infectious disease diagnostics and public health microbiology was the topic of discussion during a recent symposium (session 161) presented at the 115th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that was held in New Orleans, LA. What follows is a collection of the most salient and promising aspects from each presentation at the symposium. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution characterization of the human microbiome.

The human microbiome plays an important and increasingly recognized role in human health. Studies of the microbiome typically use targeted sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, whole metagenome shotgun sequencing, or other meta-omic technologies to characterize the microbiome’s composition, activity, and dynamics. Processing, analyzing, and interpreting these data involve numerous computational tools that aim to filter, cluster, annotate, and quantify the obtained data and ultimately provide an accurate and interpretable profile of the microbiome’s taxonomy, functional capacity, and behavior. These tools, however, are often limited in resolution and accuracy and may fail to capture many biologically and clinically relevant microbiome features, such as strain-level variation or nuanced functional response to perturbation. Over the past few years, extensive efforts have been invested toward addressing these challenges and developing novel computational methods for accurate and high-resolution characterization of microbiome data. These methods aim to quantify strain-level composition and variation, detect and characterize rare microbiome species, link specific genes to individual taxa, and more accurately characterize the functional capacity and dynamics of the microbiome. These methods and the ability to produce detailed and precise microbiome information are clearly essential for informing microbiome-based personalized therapies. In this review, we survey these methods, highlighting the challenges each method sets out to address and briefly describing methodological approaches. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Alternative isoform analysis of Ttc8 expression in the rat pineal gland using a multi-platform sequencing approach reveals neural regulation.

Alternative isoform regulation (AIR) vastly increases transcriptome diversity and plays an important role in numerous biological processes and pathologies. However, the detection and analysis of isoform-level differential regulation is difficult, particularly in the face of complex and incompletely-annotated transcriptomes. Here we have used Illumina short-read/high-throughput RNA-Seq to identify 55 genes that exhibit neurally-regulated AIR in the pineal gland, and then used two other complementary experimental platforms to further study and characterize the Ttc8 gene, which is involved in Bardet-Biedl syndrome and non-syndromic retinitis pigmentosa. Use of the JunctionSeq analysis tool led to the detection of several novel exons and splice junctions in this gene, including two novel alternative transcription start sites which were found to display disproportionately strong neurally-regulated differential expression in several independent experiments. These high-throughput sequencing results were validated and augmented via targeted qPCR and long-read Pacific Biosciences SMRT sequencing. We confirmed the existence of numerous novel splice junctions and the selective upregulation of the two novel start sites. In addition, we identified more than 20 novel isoforms of the Ttc8 gene that are co-expressed in this tissue. By using information from multiple independent platforms we not only greatly reduce the risk of errors, biases, and artifacts influencing our results, we also are able to characterize the regulation and splicing of the Ttc8 gene more deeply and more precisely than would be possible via any single platform. The hybrid method outlined here represents a powerful strategy in the study of the transcriptome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Global identification of the full-length transcripts and alternative splicing related to phenolic acid biosynthetic genes in Salvia miltiorrhiza.

Salvianolic acids are among the main bioactive components in Salvia miltiorrhiza, and their biosynthesis has attracted widespread interest. However, previous studies on the biosynthesis of phenolic acids using next-generation sequencing platforms are limited with regard to the assembly of full-length transcripts. Based on hybrid-seq (next-generation and single molecular real-time sequencing) of the S. miltiorrhiza root transcriptome, we experimentally identified 15 full-length transcripts and four alternative splicing events of enzyme-coding genes involved in the biosynthesis of rosmarinic acid. Moreover, we herein demonstrate that lithospermic acid B accumulates in the phloem and xylem of roots, in agreement with the expression patterns of the identified key genes related to rosmarinic acid biosynthesis. According to co-expression patterns, we predicted that six candidate cytochrome P450s and five candidate laccases participate in the salvianolic acid pathway. Our results provide a valuable resource for further investigation into the synthetic biology of phenolic acids in S. miltiorrhiza.


September 22, 2019  |  

The small peptide world in long noncoding RNAs.

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a group of transcripts that are longer than 200 nucleotides (nt) without coding potential. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of novel lncRNAs have been annotated in animal and plant genomes because of advanced high-throughput RNA sequencing technologies and with the aid of coding transcript classifiers. Further, a considerable number of reports have revealed the existence of stable, functional small peptides (also known as micropeptides), translated from lncRNAs. In this review, we discuss the methods of lncRNA classification, the investigations regarding their coding potential and the functional significance of the peptides they encode.


September 22, 2019  |  

Divergent brain gene expression profiles between alternative behavioural helper types in a cooperative breeder.

Juveniles of the cooperatively breeding cichlid fish Neolamprologus pulcher either consistently provide help in form of alloparental egg care (“cleaners”) or consistently abstain from helping (“noncleaners”). These phenotypes are not based on heritable genetic differences. Instead, they arise during ontogeny, which should lead to differences in brain structure or physiology, a currently untested prediction. We compared brain gene expression profiles of cleaners and noncleaners in two experimental conditions, a helping opportunity and a control condition. We aimed to identify (a) expression differences between cleaners and noncleaners in the control, (b) changes in gene expression induced by the opportunity and (c) differences in plasticity of gene expression between cleaners and noncleaners. Control cleaners and noncleaners differed in the expression of a single gene, irx2, which regulates neural differentiation. During the opportunity, cleaners and noncleaners had three upregulated genes in common, which were implicated in neuroplasticity, hormonal signalling and cell proliferation. Thus, the stimulus in the opportunity was sufficiently salient. Cleaners also showed higher expression of seven additional genes that were unique to the opportunity. One of these cleaner-specific genes is implicated in neuropeptide metabolism, indicating that this process is associated with cleaning performance. This suggests that the two types employed different pathways to integrate social information, preparing them for accelerated reaction to future opportunities. Interestingly, three developmental genes were downregulated between the control and the opportunity in cleaners only. Our results indicate that the two behavioural types responded differently to the helping opportunity and that only cleaners responded by downregulating developmental genes.© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-throughput annotation of full-length long noncoding RNAs with capture long-read sequencing.

Accurate annotation of genes and their transcripts is a foundation of genomics, but currently no annotation technique combines throughput and accuracy. As a result, reference gene collections remain incomplete-many gene models are fragmentary, and thousands more remain uncataloged, particularly for long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). To accelerate lncRNA annotation, the GENCODE consortium has developed RNA Capture Long Seq (CLS), which combines targeted RNA capture with third-generation long-read sequencing. Here we present an experimental reannotation of the GENCODE intergenic lncRNA populations in matched human and mouse tissues that resulted in novel transcript models for 3,574 and 561 gene loci, respectively. CLS approximately doubled the annotated complexity of targeted loci, outperforming existing short-read techniques. Full-length transcript models produced by CLS enabled us to definitively characterize the genomic features of lncRNAs, including promoter and gene structure, and protein-coding potential. Thus, CLS removes a long-standing bottleneck in transcriptome annotation and generates manual-quality full-length transcript models at high-throughput scales.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long read reference genome-free reconstruction of a full-length transcriptome from Astragalus membranaceus reveals transcript variants involved in bioactive compound biosynthesis.

Astragalus membranaceus, also known as Huangqi in China, is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine formulations from Astragalus membranaceus have been used to treat a wide range of illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, nephritis and cancers. Pharmacological studies have shown that immunomodulating, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral activities exist in the extract of Astragalus membranaceus. Therefore, characterising the biosynthesis of bioactive compounds in Astragalus membranaceus, such as Astragalosides, Calycosin and Calycosin-7-O-ß-d-glucoside, is of particular importance for further genetic studies of Astragalus membranaceus. In this study, we reconstructed the Astragalus membranaceus full-length transcriptomes from leaf and root tissues using PacBio Iso-Seq long reads. We identified 27 975 and 22 343 full-length unique transcript models in each tissue respectively. Compared with previous studies that used short read sequencing, our reconstructed transcripts are longer, and are more likely to be full-length and include numerous transcript variants. Moreover, we also re-characterised and identified potential transcript variants of genes involved in Astragalosides, Calycosin and Calycosin-7-O-ß-d-glucoside biosynthesis. In conclusion, our study provides a practical pipeline to characterise the full-length transcriptome for species without a reference genome and a useful genomic resource for exploring the biosynthesis of active compounds in Astragalus membranaceus.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional mitochondria in health and disease.

The ability to rapidly adapt cellular bioenergetic capabilities to meet rapidly changing environmental conditions is mandatory for normal cellular function and for cancer progression. Any loss of this adaptive response has the potential to compromise cellular function and render the cell more susceptible to external stressors such as oxidative stress, radiation, chemotherapeutic drugs, and hypoxia. Mitochondria play a vital role in bioenergetic and biosynthetic pathways and can rapidly adjust to meet the metabolic needs of the cell. Increased demand is met by mitochondrial biogenesis and fusion of individual mitochondria into dynamic networks, whereas a decrease in demand results in the removal of superfluous mitochondria through fission and mitophagy. Effective communication between nucleus and mitochondria (mito-nuclear cross talk), involving the generation of different mitochondrial stress signals as well as the nuclear stress response pathways to deal with these stressors, maintains bioenergetic homeostasis under most conditions. However, when mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations accumulate and mito-nuclear cross talk falters, mitochondria fail to deliver critical functional outputs. Mutations in mtDNA have been implicated in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative mitochondriopathies and complex diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, skin disorders, aging, and cancer. In some cases, drastic measures such as acquisition of new mitochondria from donor cells occurs to ensure cell survival. This review starts with a brief discussion of the evolutionary origin of mitochondria and summarizes how mutations in mtDNA lead to mitochondriopathies and other degenerative diseases. Mito-nuclear cross talk, including various stress signals generated by mitochondria and corresponding stress response pathways activated by the nucleus are summarized. We also introduce and discuss a small family of recently discovered hormone-like mitopeptides that modulate body metabolism. Under conditions of severe mitochondrial stress, mitochondria have been shown to traffic between cells, replacing mitochondria in cells with damaged and malfunctional mtDNA. Understanding the processes involved in cellular bioenergetics and metabolic adaptation has the potential to generate new knowledge that will lead to improved treatment of many of the metabolic, degenerative, and age-related inflammatory diseases that characterize modern societies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Whole-genome-sequencing characterization of bloodstream infection-causing hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae of capsular serotype K2 and ST374.

Hypervirulent K. pneumoniae variants (hvKP) have been increasingly reported worldwide, causing metastasis of severe infections such as liver abscesses and bacteremia. The capsular serotype K2 hvKP strains show diverse multi-locus sequence types (MLSTs), but with limited genetics and virulence information. In this study, we report a hypermucoviscous K. pneumoniae strain, RJF293, isolated from a human bloodstream sample in a Chinese hospital. It caused a metastatic infection and fatal septic shock in a critical patient. The microbiological features and genetic background were investigated with multiple approaches. The Strain RJF293 was determined to be multilocis sequence type (ST) 374 and serotype K2, displayed a median lethal dose (LD50) of 1.5 × 102 CFU in BALB/c mice and was as virulent as the ST23 K1 serotype hvKP strain NTUH-K2044 in a mouse lethality assay. Whole genome sequencing revealed that the RJF293 genome codes for 32 putative virulence factors and exhibits a unique presence/absence pattern in comparison to the other 105 completely sequenced K. pneumoniae genomes. Whole genome SNP-based phylogenetic analysis revealed that strain RJF293 formed a single clade, distant from those containing either ST66 or ST86 hvKP. Compared to the other sequenced hvKP chromosomes, RJF293 contains several strain-variable regions, including one prophage, one ICEKp1 family integrative and conjugative element and six large genomic islands. The sequencing of the first complete genome of an ST374 K2 hvKP clinical strain should reinforce our understanding of the epidemiology and virulence mechanisms of this bloodstream infection-causing hvKP with clinical significance.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multi-omics Reveals the Lifestyle of the Acidophilic, Mineral-Oxidizing Model Species Leptospirillum ferriphilumT.

Leptospirillum ferriphilum plays a major role in acidic, metal-rich environments, where it represents one of the most prevalent iron oxidizers. These milieus include acid rock and mine drainage as well as biomining operations. Despite its perceived importance, no complete genome sequence of the type strain of this model species is available, limiting the possibilities to investigate the strategies and adaptations that Leptospirillum ferriphilum DSM 14647T (here referred to as Leptospirillum ferriphilumT) applies to survive and compete in its niche. This study presents a complete, circular genome of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT obtained by PacBio single-molecule real-time (SMRT) long-read sequencing for use as a high-quality reference. Analysis of the functionally annotated genome, mRNA transcripts, and protein concentrations revealed a previously undiscovered nitrogenase cluster for atmospheric nitrogen fixation and elucidated metabolic systems taking part in energy conservation, carbon fixation, pH homeostasis, heavy metal tolerance, the oxidative stress response, chemotaxis and motility, quorum sensing, and biofilm formation. Additionally, mRNA transcript counts and protein concentrations were compared between cells grown in continuous culture using ferrous iron as the substrate and those grown in bioleaching cultures containing chalcopyrite (CuFeS2). Adaptations of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT to growth on chalcopyrite included the possibly enhanced production of reducing power, reduced carbon dioxide fixation, as well as elevated levels of RNA transcripts and proteins involved in heavy metal resistance, with special emphasis on copper efflux systems. Finally, the expression and translation of genes responsible for chemotaxis and motility were enhanced.IMPORTANCELeptospirillum ferriphilum is one of the most important iron oxidizers in the context of acidic and metal-rich environments during moderately thermophilic biomining. A high-quality circular genome of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT coupled with functional omics data provides new insights into its metabolic properties, such as the novel identification of genes for atmospheric nitrogen fixation, and represents an essential step for further accurate proteomic and transcriptomic investigation of this acidophile model species in the future. Additionally, light is shed on adaptation strategies of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT for growth on the copper mineral chalcopyrite. These data can be applied to deepen our understanding and optimization of bioleaching and biooxidation, techniques that present sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to many traditional methods for metal extraction. Copyright © 2018 Christel et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative heterochromatin profiling reveals conserved and unique epigenome signatures linked to adaptation and development of malaria parasites.

Heterochromatin-dependent gene silencing is central to the adaptation and survival of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites, allowing clonally variant gene expression during blood infection in humans. By assessing genome-wide heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) occupancy, we present a comprehensive analysis of heterochromatin landscapes across different Plasmodium species, strains, and life cycle stages. Common targets of epigenetic silencing include fast-evolving multi-gene families encoding surface antigens and a small set of conserved HP1-associated genes with regulatory potential. Many P. falciparum heterochromatic genes are marked in a strain-specific manner, increasing the parasite’s adaptive capacity. Whereas heterochromatin is strictly maintained during mitotic proliferation of asexual blood stage parasites, substantial heterochromatin reorganization occurs in differentiating gametocytes and appears crucial for the activation of key gametocyte-specific genes and adaptation of erythrocyte remodeling machinery. Collectively, these findings provide a catalog of heterochromatic genes and reveal conserved and specialized features of epigenetic control across the genus Plasmodium. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of the marine medaka Oryzias melastigma.

Marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma) is considered to be a useful fish model for marine and estuarine ecotoxicology studies and has good potential for field-based population genomics because of its geographical distribution in Asian estuarine and coastal areas. In this study, we present the first whole-genome draft of O. melastigma. The genome assembly consists of 8,602 scaffolds (N50 = 23.737 Mb) and a total genome length of 779.4 Mb. A total of 23,528 genes were predicted, and 12,670 gene families shared with three teleost species (Japanese medaka, mangrove killifish and zebrafish) were identified. Genome analyses revealed that the O. melastigma genome is highly heterozygous and contains a large number of repeat sequences. This assembly represents a useful genomic resource for fish scientists.© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Early life stages of Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) are sensitive to fish feed containing the anti-parasitic drug diflubenzuron.

Increasing use of fish feed containing the chitin synthesis inhibiting anti-parasitic drug diflubenzuron (DFB) in salmon aquaculture has raised concerns over its impact on coastal ecosystems. Larvae of Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) were exposed to DFB medicated feed under Control conditions (7.0?°C, pH 8.0) and under Ocean Acidification and Warming conditions (OAW, 9.5?°C and pH 7.6). Two weeks’ exposure to DFB medicated feed caused significantly increased mortality. The effect of OAW and DFB on mortality of shrimp larvae was additive; 10% mortality in Control, 35% in OAW, 66% in DFB and 92% in OAW?+?DFB. In OAW?+?DFB feeding and swimming activity were reduced for stage II larvae and none of the surviving larvae developed to stage IV. Two genes involved in feeding (GAPDH and PRLP) and one gene involved in moulting (DD9B) were significantly downregulated in larvae exposed to OAW?+?DFB relative to the Control. Due to a shorter intermoult period under OAW conditions, the OAW?+?DFB larvae were exposed throughout two instead of one critical pre-moult period. This may explain the more serious sub-lethal effects for OAW?+?DFB than DFB larvae. A single day exposure at 4?days after hatching did not affect DFB larvae, but high mortality was observed for OAW?+?DFB larvae, possibly because they were exposed closer to moulting. High mortality of shrimp larvae exposed to DFB medicated feed, indicates that the use of DFB in salmon aquaculture is a threat to crustacean zooplankton. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

A rapid method for directed gene knockout for screening in G0 zebrafish.

Zebrafish is a powerful model for forward genetics. Reverse genetic approaches are limited by the time required to generate stable mutant lines. We describe a system for gene knockout that consistently produces null phenotypes in G0 zebrafish. Yolk injection of sets of four CRISPR/Cas9 ribonucleoprotein complexes redundantly targeting a single gene recapitulated germline-transmitted knockout phenotypes in >90% of G0 embryos for each of 8 test genes. Early embryonic (6 hpf) and stable adult phenotypes were produced. Simultaneous multi-gene knockout was feasible but associated with toxicity in some cases. To facilitate use, we generated a lookup table of four-guide sets for 21,386 zebrafish genes and validated several. Using this resource, we targeted 50 cardiomyocyte transcriptional regulators and uncovered a role of zbtb16a in cardiac development. This system provides a platform for rapid screening of genes of interest in development, physiology, and disease models in zebrafish. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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