October 23, 2019  |  

Molecular barcoding of viral vectors enables mapping and optimization of mRNA trans-splicing.

Genome editing has proven to be highly potent in the generation of functional gene knockouts in dividing cells. In the CNS however, efficient technologies to repair sequences are yet to materialize. Reprogramming on the mRNA level is an attractive alternative as it provides means to perform in situ editing of coding sequences without nuclease dependency. Furthermore, de novo sequences can be inserted without the requirement of homologous recombination. Such reprogramming would enable efficient editing in quiescent cells (e.g., neurons) with an attractive safety profile for translational therapies. In this study, we applied a novel molecular-barcoded screening assay to investigate RNA trans-splicing in mammalian neurons. Through three alternative screening systems in cell culture and in vivo, we demonstrate that factors determining trans-splicing are reproducible regardless of the screening system. With this screening, we have located the most permissive trans-splicing sequences targeting an intron in the Synapsin I gene. Using viral vectors, we were able to splice full-length fluorophores into the mRNA while retaining very low off-target expression. Furthermore, this approach also showed evidence of functionality in the mouse striatum. However, in its current form, the trans-splicing events are stochastic and the overall activity lower than would be required for therapies targeting loss-of-function mutations. Nevertheless, the herein described barcode-based screening assay provides a unique possibility to screen and map large libraries in single animals or cell assays with very high precision.© 2018 Davidsson et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the RNA Society.


October 23, 2019  |  

Identification and expression analysis of chemosensory genes in the citrus fruit fly Bactrocera (Tetradacus) minax

The citrus fruit fly Bactrocera (Tetradacus) minax is a major and devastating agricultural pest in Asian subtropical countries. Previous studies have shown that B. minax interacts with hosts via an efficient chemosensory system. However, knowledge regarding the molecular components of the B. minax chemosensory system has not yet been well established. Herein, based on our newly generated whole-genome dataset for B. minax and by comparison with the characterized genomes of 6 other fruit fly species, we identified, for the first time, a total of 25 putative odorant-binding receptors (OBPs), 4 single-copy chemosensory proteins (CSPs) and 53 candidate odorant receptors (ORs). To further survey the expression of these candidate genes, the transcriptomes from three developmental stages (larvae, pupae and adults) of B. minax and Bactrocera dorsalis were analyzed. We found that 1) at the adult developmental stage, there were 14 highly expressed OBPs (FPKM>100) in B. dorsalis and 7 highly expressed OBPs in B. minax; 2) the expression of CSP3 and CSP4 in adult B. dorsalis was higher than that in B. minax; and 3) most of the OR genes exhibited low expression at the three developmental stages in both species. This study on the identification of the chemosensory system of B. minax not only enriches the existing research on insect olfactory receptors but also provides new targets for preventative control and ecological regulation of B. minax in the future.


October 23, 2019  |  

Improved production of propionic acid using genome shuffling.

Traditionally derived from fossil fuels, biological production of propionic acid has recently gained interest. Propionibacterium species produce propionic acid as their main fermentation product. Production of other organic acids reduces propionic acid yield and productivity, pointing to by-products gene-knockout strategies as a logical solution to increase yield. However, removing by-product formation has seen limited success due to our inability to genetically engineer the best producing strains (i.e. Propionibacterium acidipropionici). To overcome this limitation, random mutagenesis continues to be the best path towards improving strains for biological propionic acid production. Recent advances in next generation sequencing opened new avenues to understand improved strains. In this work, we use genome shuffling on two wild type strains to generate a better propionic acid producing strain. Using next generation sequencing, we mapped the genomic changes leading to the improved phenotype. The best strain produced 25% more propionic acid than the wild type strain. Sequencing of the strains showed that genomic changes were restricted to single point mutations and gene duplications in well-conserved regions in the genomes. Such results confirm the involvement of gene conversion in genome shuffling as opposed to long genomic insertions. © 2016 The Authors. Biotechnology Journal published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of an underwater architect, the caddisfly Stenopsyche tienmushanensis Hwang (Insecta: Trichoptera).

Caddisflies (Insecta: Trichoptera) are a highly adapted freshwater group of insects split from a common ancestor with Lepidoptera. They are the most diverse (>16,000 species) of the strictly aquatic insect orders and are widely employed as bio-indicators in water quality assessment and monitoring. Among the numerous adaptations to aquatic habitats, caddisfly larvae use silk and materials from the environment (e.g., stones, sticks, leaf matter) to build composite structures such as fixed retreats and portable cases. Understanding how caddisflies have adapted to aquatic habitats will help explain the evolution and subsequent diversification of the group.We sequenced a retreat-builder caddisfly Stenopsyche tienmushanensis Hwang and assembled a high-quality genome from both Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing. In total, 601.2 M Illumina reads (90.2 Gb) and 16.9 M PacBio subreads (89.0 Gb) were generated. The 451.5 Mb assembled genome has a contig N50 of 1.29 M, has a longest contig of 4.76 Mb, and covers 97.65% of the 1,658 insect single-copy genes as assessed by Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs. The genome comprises 36.76% repetitive elements. A total of 14,672 predicted protein-coding genes were identified. The genome revealed gene expansions in specific groups of the cytochrome P450 family and olfactory binding proteins, suggesting potential genomic features associated with pollutant tolerance and mate finding. In addition, the complete gene complex of the highly repetitive H-fibroin, the major protein component of caddisfly larval silk, was assembled.We report the draft genome of Stenopsyche tienmushanensis, the highest-quality caddisfly genome so far. The genome information will be an important resource for the study of caddisflies and may shed light on the evolution of aquatic insects.


September 22, 2019  |  

An improved assembly and annotation of the allohexaploid wheat genome identifies complete families of agronomic genes and provides genomic evidence for chromosomal translocations.

Advances in genome sequencing and assembly technologies are generating many high-quality genome sequences, but assemblies of large, repeat-rich polyploid genomes, such as that of bread wheat, remain fragmented and incomplete. We have generated a new wheat whole-genome shotgun sequence assembly using a combination of optimized data types and an assembly algorithm designed to deal with large and complex genomes. The new assembly represents >78% of the genome with a scaffold N50 of 88.8 kb that has a high fidelity to the input data. Our new annotation combines strand-specific Illumina RNA-seq and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) full-length cDNAs to identify 104,091 high-confidence protein-coding genes and 10,156 noncoding RNA genes. We confirmed three known and identified one novel genome rearrangements. Our approach enables the rapid and scalable assembly of wheat genomes, the identification of structural variants, and the definition of complete gene models, all powerful resources for trait analysis and breeding of this key global crop. © 2017 Clavijo et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

L_RNA_scaffolder: scaffolding genomes with transcripts.

Generation of large mate-pair libraries is necessary for de novo genome assembly but the procedure is complex and time-consuming. Furthermore, in some complex genomes, it is hard to increase the N50 length even with large mate-pair libraries, which leads to low transcript coverage. Thus, it is necessary to develop other simple scaffolding approaches, to at least solve the elongation of transcribed fragments.We describe L_RNA_scaffolder, a novel genome scaffolding method that uses long transcriptome reads to order, orient and combine genomic fragments into larger sequences. To demonstrate the accuracy of the method, the zebrafish genome was scaffolded. With expanded human transcriptome data, the N50 of human genome was doubled and L_RNA_scaffolder out-performed most scaffolding results by existing scaffolders which employ mate-pair libraries. In these two examples, the transcript coverage was almost complete, especially for long transcripts. We applied L_RNA_scaffolder to the highly polymorphic pearl oyster draft genome and the gene model length significantly increased.The simplicity and high-throughput of RNA-seq data makes this approach suitable for genome scaffolding. L_RNA_scaffolder is available at http://www.fishbrowser.org/software/L_RNA_scaffolder.


September 22, 2019  |  

Computational identification of novel genes: current and future perspectives.

While it has long been thought that all genomic novelties are derived from the existing material, many genes lacking homology to known genes were found in recent genome projects. Some of these novel genes were proposed to have evolved de novo, ie, out of noncoding sequences, whereas some have been shown to follow a duplication and divergence process. Their discovery called for an extension of the historical hypotheses about gene origination. Besides the theoretical breakthrough, increasing evidence accumulated that novel genes play important roles in evolutionary processes, including adaptation and speciation events. Different techniques are available to identify genes and classify them as novel. Their classification as novel is usually based on their similarity to known genes, or lack thereof, detected by comparative genomics or against databases. Computational approaches are further prime methods that can be based on existing models or leveraging biological evidences from experiments. Identification of novel genes remains however a challenging task. With the constant software and technologies updates, no gold standard, and no available benchmark, evaluation and characterization of genomic novelty is a vibrant field. In this review, the classical and state-of-the-art tools for gene prediction are introduced. The current methods for novel gene detection are presented; the methodological strategies and their limits are discussed along with perspective approaches for further studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-confidence coding and noncoding transcriptome maps.

The advent of high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has led to the discovery of unprecedentedly immense transcriptomes encoded by eukaryotic genomes. However, the transcriptome maps are still incomplete partly because they were mostly reconstructed based on RNA-seq reads that lack their orientations (known as unstranded reads) and certain boundary information. Methods to expand the usability of unstranded RNA-seq data by predetermining the orientation of the reads and precisely determining the boundaries of assembled transcripts could significantly benefit the quality of the resulting transcriptome maps. Here, we present a high-performing transcriptome assembly pipeline, called CAFE, that significantly improves the original assemblies, respectively assembled with stranded and/or unstranded RNA-seq data, by orienting unstranded reads using the maximum likelihood estimation and by integrating information about transcription start sites and cleavage and polyadenylation sites. Applying large-scale transcriptomic data comprising 230 billion RNA-seq reads from the ENCODE, Human BodyMap 2.0, The Cancer Genome Atlas, and GTEx projects, CAFE enabled us to predict the directions of about 220 billion unstranded reads, which led to the construction of more accurate transcriptome maps, comparable to the manually curated map, and a comprehensive lncRNA catalog that includes thousands of novel lncRNAs. Our pipeline should not only help to build comprehensive, precise transcriptome maps from complex genomes but also to expand the universe of noncoding genomes.© 2017 You et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Chromosome-level reference genome and alternative splicing atlas of moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis).

Bamboo is one of the most important nontimber forestry products worldwide. However, a chromosome-level reference genome is lacking, and an evolutionary view of alternative splicing (AS) in bamboo remains unclear despite emerging omics data and improved technologies.Here, we provide a chromosome-level de novo genome assembly of moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) using additional abundance sequencing data and a Hi-C scaffolding strategy. The significantly improved genome is a scaffold N50 of 79.90 Mb, approximately 243 times longer than the previous version. A total of 51,074 high-quality protein-coding loci with intact structures were identified using single-molecule real-time sequencing and manual verification. Moreover, we provide a comprehensive AS profile based on the identification of 266,711 unique AS events in 25,225 AS genes by large-scale transcriptomic sequencing of 26 representative bamboo tissues using both the Illumina and Pacific Biosciences sequencing platforms. Through comparisons with orthologous genes in related plant species, we observed that the AS genes are concentrated among more conserved genes that tend to accumulate higher transcript levels and share less tissue specificity. Furthermore, gene family expansion, abundant AS, and positive selection were identified in crucial genes involved in the lignin biosynthetic pathway of moso bamboo.These fundamental studies provide useful information for future in-depth analyses of comparative genome and AS features. Additionally, our results highlight a global perspective of AS during evolution and diversification in bamboo.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-wide identification and analysis of the ALTERNATIVE OXIDASE gene family in diploid and hexaploid wheat.

A comprehensive understanding of wheat responses to environmental stress will contribute to the long-term goal of feeding the planet. ALERNATIVE OXIDASE (AOX) genes encode proteins involved in a bypass of the electron transport chain and are also known to be involved in stress tolerance in multiple species. Here, we report the identification and characterization of the AOX gene family in diploid and hexaploid wheat. Four genes each were found in the diploid ancestors Triticum urartu, and Aegilops tauschii, and three in Aegilops speltoides. In hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum), 20 genes were identified, some with multiple splice variants, corresponding to a total of 24 proteins for those with observed transcription and translation. These proteins were classified as AOX1a, AOX1c, AOX1e or AOX1d via phylogenetic analysis. Proteins lacking most or all signature AOX motifs were assigned to putative regulatory roles. Analysis of protein-targeting sequences suggests mixed localization to the mitochondria and other organelles. In comparison to the most studied AOX from Trypanosoma brucei, there were amino acid substitutions at critical functional domains indicating possible role divergence in wheat or grasses in general. In hexaploid wheat, AOX genes were expressed at specific developmental stages as well as in response to both biotic and abiotic stresses such as fungal pathogens, heat and drought. These AOX expression patterns suggest a highly regulated and diverse transcription and expression system. The insights gained provide a framework for the continued and expanded study of AOX genes in wheat for stress tolerance through breeding new varieties, as well as resistance to AOX-targeted herbicides, all of which can ultimately be used synergistically to improve crop yield.


September 22, 2019  |  

P_RNA_scaffolder: a fast and accurate genome scaffolder using paired-end RNA-sequencing reads.

Obtaining complete gene structures is one major goal of genome assembly. Some gene regions are fragmented in low quality and high-quality assemblies. Therefore, new approaches are needed to recover gene regions. Genomes are widely transcribed, generating messenger and non-coding RNAs. These widespread transcripts can be used to scaffold genomes and complete transcribed regions.We present P_RNA_scaffolder, a fast and accurate tool using paired-end RNA-sequencing reads to scaffold genomes. This tool aims to improve the completeness of both protein-coding and non-coding genes. After this tool was applied to scaffolding human contigs, the structures of both protein-coding genes and circular RNAs were almost completely recovered and equivalent to those in a complete genome, especially for long proteins and long circular RNAs. Tested in various species, P_RNA_scaffolder exhibited higher speed and efficiency than the existing state-of-the-art scaffolders. This tool also improved the contiguity of genome assemblies generated by current mate-pair scaffolding and third-generation single-molecule sequencing assembly.The P_RNA_scaffolder can improve the contiguity of genome assembly and benefit gene prediction. This tool is available at http://www.fishbrowser.org/software/P_RNA_scaffolder .


September 22, 2019  |  

Single Molecule Sequencing: new outlooks for solving genome assembly and transcripts identification challenges

In this review, we introduce a novel sequencing technology, named Single Molecule Real Time sequencing. Also called Single Molecule Sequencing, as it do not requires any amplification, this new technology is able to pro- duce much longer reads than previous NGS technologies such as Illumina. This read size improvements, which can reach 150 fold, will solve many challenges caused by the actual NGS technologies. Short NGS reads, reach- ing a maximum size of 300 bp, make it hard to reconstitute a whole genome and are always leading to fragmented genome assembly. It is also difficult to correctly infer transcript quantification and identification when there is a high isoforms diversity. Despite their higher error rate, long reads have shown very promising result concerning these actual issues. We show that longer reads can produce less fragmented assembly, with a better quality, but also sequence from start to end mRNA, making it much more easier to infer correct transcript quantification, and even allow new intron structure and so new isoforms discovery.


September 22, 2019  |  

Revealing missing human protein isoforms based on Ab initio prediction, RNA-seq and proteomics.

Biological and biomedical research relies on comprehensive understanding of protein-coding transcripts. However, the total number of human proteins is still unknown due to the prevalence of alternative splicing. In this paper, we detected 31,566 novel transcripts with coding potential by filtering our ab initio predictions with 50 RNA-seq datasets from diverse tissues/cell lines. PCR followed by MiSeq sequencing showed that at least 84.1% of these predicted novel splice sites could be validated. In contrast to known transcripts, the expression of these novel transcripts were highly tissue-specific. Based on these novel transcripts, at least 36 novel proteins were detected from shotgun proteomics data of 41 breast samples. We also showed L1 retrotransposons have a more significant impact on the origin of new transcripts/genes than previously thought. Furthermore, we found that alternative splicing is extraordinarily widespread for genes involved in specific biological functions like protein binding, nucleoside binding, neuron projection, membrane organization and cell adhesion. In the end, the total number of human transcripts with protein-coding potential was estimated to be at least 204,950.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single cell genomic study of Dehalococcoidetes species from deep-sea sediments of the Peruvian Margin.

The phylum Chloroflexi is one of the most frequently detected phyla in the subseafloor of the Pacific Ocean margins. Dehalogenating Chloroflexi (Dehalococcoidetes) was originally discovered as the key microorganisms mediating reductive dehalogenation via their key enzymes reductive dehalogenases (Rdh) as sole mode of energy conservation in terrestrial environments. The frequent detection of Dehalococcoidetes-related 16S rRNA and rdh genes in the marine subsurface implies a role for dissimilatory dehalorespiration in this environment; however, the two genes have never been linked to each other. To provide fundamental insights into the metabolism, genomic population structure and evolution of marine subsurface Dehalococcoidetes sp., we analyzed a non-contaminated deep-sea sediment core sample from the Peruvian Margin Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) site 1230, collected 7.3?m below the seafloor by a single cell genomic approach. We present for the first time single cell genomic data on three deep-sea Chloroflexi (Dsc) single cells from a marine subsurface environment. Two of the single cells were considered to be part of a local Dehalococcoidetes population and assembled together into a 1.38-Mb genome, which appears to be at least 85% complete. Despite a high degree of sequence-level similarity between the shared proteins in the Dsc and terrestrial Dehalococcoidetes, no evidence for catabolic reductive dehalogenation was found in Dsc. The genome content is however consistent with a strictly anaerobic organotrophic or lithotrophic lifestyle.


September 22, 2019  |  

Metataxonomics reveal vultures as a reservoir for Clostridium perfringens.

The Old World vulture may carry and spread pathogens for emerging infections since they feed on the carcasses of dead animals and participate in the sky burials of humans, some of whom have died from communicable diseases. Therefore, we studied the precise fecal microbiome of the Old World vulture with metataxonomics, integrating the high-throughput sequencing of almost full-length small subunit ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) gene amplicons in tandem with the operational phylogenetic unit (OPU) analysis strategy. Nine vultures of three species were sampled using rectal swabs on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China. Using the Pacific Biosciences sequencing platform, we obtained 54 135 high-quality reads of 16S rRNA amplicons with an average of 1442±6.9?bp in length and 6015±1058 reads per vulture. Those sequences were classified into 314 OPUs, including 102 known species, 50 yet to be described species and 161 unknown new lineages of uncultured representatives. Forty-five species have been reported to be responsible for human outbreaks or infections, and 23 yet to be described species belong to genera that include pathogenic species. Only six species were common to all vultures. Clostridium perfringens was the most abundant and present in all vultures, accounting for 30.8% of the total reads. Therefore, using the new technology, we found that vultures are an important reservoir for C. perfringens as evidenced by the isolation of 107 strains encoding for virulence genes, representing 45 sequence types. Our study suggests that the soil-related C. perfringens and other pathogens could have a reservoir in vultures and other animals.


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