June 1, 2021  |  

Using whole exome sequencing and bacterial pathogen sequencing to investigate the genetic basis of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections.

Pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial (PNTM) infections occur in patients with chronic lung disease, but also in a distinct group of elderly women without lung defects who share a common body morphology: tall and lean with scoliosis, pectus excavatum, and mitral valve prolapse. In order to characterize the human host susceptibility to PNTM, we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) of 44 individuals in extended families of patients with active PNTM as well as 55 additional unrelated individuals with PNTM. This unique collection of familial cohorts in PNTM represents an important opportunity for a high yield search for genes that regulate mucosal immunity. An average of 58 million 100bp paired-end Illumina reads per exome were generated and mapped to the hg19 reference genome. Following variant detection and classification, we identified 58,422 potentially high-impact SNPs, 97.3% of which were missense mutations. Segregating variants using the family pedigrees as well as comparisons to the unrelated individuals identified multiple potential variants associated with PNTM. Validations of these candidate variants in a larger PNTM cohort are underway. In addition to WES, we sequenced the genomes of 52 mycobacterial isolates, including 9 from these PNTM patients, to integrate host PNTM susceptibility with mycobacterial genotypes and gain insights into the key factors involved in this devastating disease. These genomes were sequenced using a combination of 454, Illumina, and PacBio platforms and assembled using multiple genome assemblers. The resulting genome sequences were used to identify mycobacterial genotypes associated with virulence, invasion, and drug resistance.


June 1, 2021  |  

TLA & long-read sequencing: Efficient targeted sequencing and phasing of the CFTR gene

Background: The sequencing and haplotype phasing of entire gene sequences improves the understanding of the genetic basis of disease and drug response. One example is cystic fibrosis (CF). Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator therapies have revolutionized CF treatment, but only in a minority of CF subjects. Observed heterogeneity in CFTR modulator efficacy is related to the range of CFTR mutations; revertant mutations can modify the response to CFTR modulators, and other intronic variations in the ~200 kb CFTR gene have been linked to disease severity. Heterogeneity in the CFTR gene may also be linked to differential responses to CFTR modulators. The Targeted Locus Amplification (TLA) technology from Cergentis can be used to selectively amplify, sequence and phase the entire CFTR gene. With PacBio long-read SMRT Sequencing, TLA amplicons are sequenced intact and long-range phasing information of all fragments in entire amplicons is retrieved. Experimental Design and Methods: The TLA process produces amplicons consisting of 5-10 proximity ligated DNA fragments. TLA was performed on cell line and genomic DNA from Coriell GM12878, which has few heterozygous SNVs in CFTR, and the IB3 cell line, with known haplotypes but heterozygous for the delta508 mutation. All sample types were prepared with high and low density TLA primer sets, targeting coverage of >100 kb of the CFTR gene. Conclusion: We have demonstrated the power and utility of TLA with long-read SMRT Sequencing as a valuable research tool in sequencing and phasing across very long regions of the human genome. This process can be done in an efficient manner, multiplexing multiple genes and samples per SMRT Cell in a process amenable to high-throughput sequencing.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potent LpxC Inhibitors with In Vitro Activity Against Multi-Drug Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

New drugs with novel mechanisms of resistance are desperately needed to address both community and nosocomial infections due to Gram-negative bacteria. One such potential target is LpxC, an essential enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step of Lipid A biosynthesis. Achaogen conducted an extensive research campaign to discover novel LpxC inhibitors with activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa We report here the in vitro antibacterial activity and pharmacodynamics of ACHN-975, the only molecule from these efforts and the first ever LpxC inhibitor to be evaluated in Phase 1 clinical trials. In addition, we describe the profile of three additional LpxC inhibitors that were identified as potential lead molecules. These efforts did not produce an additional development candidate with a sufficiently large therapeutic window and the program was subsequently terminated.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome of Pseudomonas sp. DMSP-1 isolated from the Arctic seawater of Kongsfjorden, Svalbard

The genus Pseudomonas is highly metabolically diverse and has colonized a wide range of ecological niches. The strain Pseudomonas sp. DMSP-1 was isolated from Arctic seawater (Kongsfjorden, Svalbard) using dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) as the sole carbon source. To better understand its role in the Arctic coastal ecosystem, the genome of Pseudomonas sp. strain DMSP-1 was completely sequenced. The genome contained a circular chromosome of 6,282,445?bp with an average GC content of 60.01?mol%. A total of 5510 protein coding genes, 70 tRNA genes and 19 rRNA genes were obtained. However, no genes encoding known enzymes associated with DMSP catabolism were identified in the genome, suggesting that novel DMSP degradation genes might exist in Pseudomonas sp. strain DMSP-1.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and transcriptomic characterization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa small colony variants derived from a chronic infection model.

Phenotypic change is a hallmark of bacterial adaptation during chronic infection. In the case of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection in patients with cystic fibrosis, well-characterized phenotypic variants include mucoid and small colony variants (SCVs). It has previously been shown that SCVs can be reproducibly isolated from the murine lung following the establishment of chronic infection with mucoid P. aeruginosa strain NH57388A. Using a combination of single-molecule real-time (PacBio) and Illumina sequencing we identify a large genomic inversion in the SCV through recombination between homologous regions of two rRNA operons and an associated truncation of one of the 16S rRNA genes and suggest this may be the genetic switch for conversion to the SCV phenotype. This phenotypic conversion is associated with large-scale transcriptional changes distributed throughout the genome. This global rewiring of the cellular transcriptomic output results in changes to normally differentially regulated genes that modulate resistance to oxidative stress, central metabolism and virulence. These changes are of clinical relevance because the appearance of SCVs during chronic infection is associated with declining lung function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Finding the needle in a haystack: Mapping antifungal drug resistance in fungal pathogen by genomic approaches.

Fungi are ubiquitous on earth and are essential for the maintenance of the global ecological equilibrium. Despite providing benefits to living organisms, they can also target specific hosts and inflict damage. These fungal pathogens are known to affect, for example, plants and mam- mals and thus reduce crop production necessary to sustain food supply and cause mortality in humans and animals. Designing defenses against these fungi is essential for the control of food resources and human health. As far as fungal pathogens are concerned, the principal option has been the use of antifungal agents, also called fungicides when they are used in the environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

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

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


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome mining identifies cepacin as a plant-protective metabolite of the biopesticidal bacterium Burkholderia ambifaria.

Beneficial microorganisms are widely used in agriculture for control of plant pathogens, but a lack of efficacy and safety information has limited the exploitation of multiple promising biopesticides. We applied phylogeny-led genome mining, metabolite analyses and biological control assays to define the efficacy of Burkholderia ambifaria, a naturally beneficial bacterium with proven biocontrol properties but potential pathogenic risk. A panel of 64 B.?ambifaria strains demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against priority plant pathogens. Genome sequencing, specialized metabolite biosynthetic gene cluster mining and metabolite analysis revealed an armoury of known and unknown pathways within B.?ambifaria. The biosynthetic gene cluster responsible for the production of the metabolite cepacin was identified and directly shown to mediate protection of germinating crops against Pythium damping-off disease. B.?ambifaria maintained biopesticidal protection and overall fitness in the soil after deletion of its third replicon, a non-essential plasmid associated with virulence in Burkholderia?cepacia complex bacteria. Removal of the third replicon reduced B.?ambifaria persistence in a murine respiratory infection model. Here, we show that by using interdisciplinary phylogenomic, metabolomic and functional approaches, the mode of action of natural biological control agents related to pathogens can be systematically established to facilitate their future exploitation.


April 21, 2020  |  

The CF Canada-Sick Kids Program in individual CF therapy: A resource for the advancement of personalized medicine in CF.

Therapies targeting certain CFTR mutants have been approved, yet variations in clinical response highlight the need for in-vitro and genetic tools that predict patient-specific clinical outcomes. Toward this goal, the CF Canada-Sick Kids Program in Individual CF Therapy (CFIT) is generating a “first of its kind”, comprehensive resource containing patient-specific cell cultures and data from 100 CF individuals that will enable modeling of therapeutic responses.The CFIT program is generating: 1) nasal cells from drug naïve patients suitable for culture and the study of drug responses in vitro, 2) matched gene expression data obtained by sequencing the RNA from the primary nasal tissue, 3) whole genome sequencing of blood derived DNA from each of the 100 participants, 4) induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from each participant’s blood sample, 5) CRISPR-edited isogenic control iPSC lines and 6) prospective clinical data from patients treated with CF modulators.To date, we have recruited 57 of 100 individuals to CFIT, most of whom are homozygous for F508del (to assess in-vitro: in-vivo correlations with respect to ORKAMBI response) or heterozygous for F508del and a minimal function mutation. In addition, several donors are homozygous for rare nonsense and missense mutations. Nasal epithelial cell cultures and matched iPSC lines are available for many of these donors.This accessible resource will enable development of tools that predict individual outcomes to current and emerging modulators targeting F508del-CFTR and facilitate therapy discovery for rare CF causing mutations.Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Phage-Like Plasmid Carrying blaKPC-2 Gene in Carbapenem-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Background: Lateral gene transfer plays a central role in the dissemination of carbapenem resistance in bacterial pathogens associated with nosocomial infections, mainly Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Despite their clinical significance, there is little information regarding the mobile genetic elements and mechanism of acquisition and propagation of lateral genes in P. aeruginosa, and they remain largely unknown. Objectives: The present study characterized the genetic context of blaKPC-2 in carbapenem-resistant P. aeruginosa strain BH9. Methods:Pseudomonas aeruginosa BH9 sequencing was performed using the long-read PacBio SMRT platform and the Ion Proton System. De novo assembly was carried out using the SMRT pipeline and Canu, and gene prediction and annotation were performed using Prokka and RAST. Results:Pseudomonas aeruginosa BH9 exhibited a 7.1 Mb circular chromosome. However, the blaKPC-2 gene is located in an additional contig composed by a small plasmid pBH6 from P. aeruginosa strain BH6 and several phage-related genes. Further analysis revealed that the beginning and end of the contig contain identical sequences, supporting a circular plasmid structure. This structure spans 41,087 bp, exhibiting all the Mu-like phage landmarks. In addition, 5-bp direct repeats (GGATG) flanking the pBH6 ends were found, strongly indicating integration of the Mu-like phage into the pBH6 plasmid. Mu phages are commonly found in P. aeruginosa. However, for the first time showing a potential impact in shaping the vehicles of the dissemination of antimicrobial (e.g., plasmid pBH6) resistance genes in the Pseudomonas genus. Conclusion: pBH6 captured the Mu-like Phage BH9, creating a co-integrate pBH6::Phage BH9, and this phage-plasmid complex may represent novel case of a phage-like plasmid.


April 21, 2020  |  

Systematic analysis of dark and camouflaged genes reveals disease-relevant genes hiding in plain sight.

The human genome contains “dark” gene regions that cannot be adequately assembled or aligned using standard short-read sequencing technologies, preventing researchers from identifying mutations within these gene regions that may be relevant to human disease. Here, we identify regions with few mappable reads that we call dark by depth, and others that have ambiguous alignment, called camouflaged. We assess how well long-read or linked-read technologies resolve these regions.Based on standard whole-genome Illumina sequencing data, we identify 36,794 dark regions in 6054 gene bodies from pathways important to human health, development, and reproduction. Of these gene bodies, 8.7% are completely dark and 35.2% are =?5% dark. We identify dark regions that are present in protein-coding exons across 748 genes. Linked-read or long-read sequencing technologies from 10x Genomics, PacBio, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies reduce dark protein-coding regions to approximately 50.5%, 35.6%, and 9.6%, respectively. We present an algorithm to resolve most camouflaged regions and apply it to the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project. We rescue a rare ten-nucleotide frameshift deletion in CR1, a top Alzheimer’s disease gene, found in disease cases but not in controls.While we could not formally assess the association of the CR1 frameshift mutation with Alzheimer’s disease due to insufficient sample-size, we believe it merits investigating in a larger cohort. There remain thousands of potentially important genomic regions overlooked by short-read sequencing that are largely resolved by long-read technologies.


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