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Wednesday, 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).…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

An online bioinformatics tool predicts zinc finger and TALE nuclease off-target cleavage.

Although engineered nucleases can efficiently cleave intracellular DNA at desired target sites, major concerns remain on potential ‘off-target’ cleavage that may occur throughout the genome. We developed an online tool: predicted report of genome-wide nuclease off-target sites (PROGNOS) that effectively identifies off-target sites. The initial bioinformatics algorithms in PROGNOS were validated by predicting 44 of 65 previously confirmed off-target sites, and by uncovering a new off-target site for the extensively studied zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) targeting C-C chemokine receptor type 5. Using PROGNOS, we rapidly interrogated 128 potential off-target sites for newly designed transcription activator-like effector nucleases containing either Asn-Asn…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Leveraging multiple transcriptome assembly methods for improved gene structure annotation.

The performance of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) aligners and assemblers varies greatly across different organisms and experiments, and often the optimal approach is not known beforehand.Here, we show that the accuracy of transcript reconstruction can be boosted by combining multiple methods, and we present a novel algorithm to integrate multiple RNA-seq assemblies into a coherent transcript annotation. Our algorithm can remove redundancies and select the best transcript models according to user-specified metrics, while solving common artifacts such as erroneous transcript chimerisms.We have implemented this method in an open-source Python3 and Cython program, Mikado, available on GitHub.

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Sunday, 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…

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Sunday, 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…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

wtf genes are prolific dual poison-antidote meiotic drivers.

Meiotic drivers are selfish genes that bias their transmission into gametes, defying Mendelian inheritance. Despite the significant impact of these genomic parasites on evolution and infertility, few meiotic drive loci have been identified or mechanistically characterized. Here, we demonstrate a complex landscape of meiotic drive genes on chromosome 3 of the fission yeasts Schizosaccharomyces kambucha and S. pombe. We identify S. kambucha wtf4 as one of these genes that acts to kill gametes (known as spores in yeast) that do not inherit the gene from heterozygotes. wtf4 utilizes dual, overlapping transcripts to encode both a gamete-killing poison and an antidote…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

CRISPR/Cas9 deletions in a conserved exon of Distal-less generates gains and losses in a recently acquired morphological novelty in flies.

Distal-less has been repeatedly co-opted for the development of many novel traits. Here, we document its curious role in the development of a novel abdominal appendage (“sternite brushes”) in sepsid flies. CRISPR/Cas9 deletions in the homeodomain result in losses of sternite brushes, demonstrating that Distal-less is necessary for their development. However, deletions in the upstream coding exon (Exon 2) produce losses or gains of brushes. A dissection of Exon 2 reveals that the likely mechanism for gains involves a deletion in an exon-splicing enhancer site that leads to exon skipping. Such contradictory phenotypes are also observed in butterflies, suggesting that…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Introduction to isoform sequencing using Pacific Biosciences technology (Iso-Seq)

Alternative RNA splicing is a known phenomenon, but we still do not have a complete catalog of isoforms that explain variability in the human transcriptome. We have made significant progress in developing methods to study variability of the transcriptome, but we are far away of having a complete picture of the transcriptome. The initial methods to study gene expression were based on cloning of cDNAs and Sanger sequencing. The strategy was labor-intensive and expensive. With the development of microarrays, different methods based on exon arrays and tiling arrays provided valuable information about RNA expression. However, the microarray presented significant limitations.…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The industrial melanism mutation in British peppered moths is a transposable element.

Discovering the mutational events that fuel adaptation to environmental change remains an important challenge for evolutionary biology. The classroom example of a visible evolutionary response is industrial melanism in the peppered moth (Biston betularia): the replacement, during the Industrial Revolution, of the common pale typica form by a previously unknown black (carbonaria) form, driven by the interaction between bird predation and coal pollution. The carbonaria locus has been coarsely localized to a 200-kilobase region, but the specific identity and nature of the sequence difference controlling the carbonaria-typica polymorphism, and the gene it influences, are unknown. Here we show that the…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Long-read based assembly and annotation of a Drosophila simulans genome

Long-read sequencing technologies enable high-quality, contiguous genome assemblies. Here we used SMRT sequencing to assemble the genome of a Drosophila simulans strain originating from Madagascar, the ancestral range of the species. We generated 8 Gb of raw data (~50x coverage) with a mean read length of 6,410 bp, a NR50 of 9,125 bp and the longest subread at 49 kb. We benchmarked six different assemblers and merged the best two assemblies from Canu and Falcon. Our final assembly was 127.41 Mb with a N50 of 5.38 Mb and 305 contigs. We anchored more than 4 Mb of novel sequence to…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Evaluation of tools for long read RNA-seq splice-aware alignment.

High-throughput sequencing has transformed the study of gene expression levels through RNA-seq, a technique that is now routinely used by various fields, such as genetic research or diagnostics. The advent of third generation sequencing technologies providing significantly longer reads opens up new possibilities. However, the high error rates common to these technologies set new bioinformatics challenges for the gapped alignment of reads to their genomic origin. In this study, we have explored how currently available RNA-seq splice-aware alignment tools cope with increased read lengths and error rates. All tested tools were initially developed for short NGS reads, but some have…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Comprehensive transcriptome analysis of Sarcophaga peregrina, a forensically important fly species.

Sarcophaga peregrina (flesh fly) is a frequently found fly species in Palaearctic, Oriental, and Australasian regions that can be used to estimate minimal postmortem intervals important for forensic investigations. Despite its forensic importance, the genome information of S. peregrina has not been fully described. Therefore, we generated a comprehensive gene expression dataset using RNA sequencing and carried out de novo assembly to characterize the S. peregrina transcriptome. We obtained precise sequence information for RNA transcripts using two different methods. Based on primary sequence information, we identified sets of assembled unigenes and predicted coding sequences. Functional annotation of the aligned unigenes…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The state of play in higher eukaryote gene annotation.

A genome sequence is worthless if it cannot be deciphered; therefore, efforts to describe – or ‘annotate’ – genes began as soon as DNA sequences became available. Whereas early work focused on individual protein-coding genes, the modern genomic ocean is a complex maelstrom of alternative splicing, non-coding transcription and pseudogenes. Scientists – from clinicians to evolutionary biologists – need to navigate these waters, and this has led to the design of high-throughput, computationally driven annotation projects. The catalogues that are being produced are key resources for genome exploration, especially as they become integrated with expression, epigenomic and variation data sets.…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Quantitative profiling of Drosophila melanogaster Dscam1 isoforms reveals no changes in splicing after bacterial exposure.

The hypervariable Dscam1 (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule 1) gene can produce thousands of different ectodomain isoforms via mutually exclusive alternative splicing. Dscam1 appears to be involved in the immune response of some insects and crustaceans. It has been proposed that the diverse isoforms may be involved in the recognition of, or the defence against, diverse parasite epitopes, although evidence to support this is sparse. A prediction that can be generated from this hypothesis is that the gene expression of specific exons and/or isoforms is influenced by exposure to an immune elicitor. To test this hypothesis, we for the first…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

PacBio sequencing and its applications.

Single-molecule, real-time sequencing developed by Pacific BioSciences offers longer read lengths than the second-generation sequencing (SGS) technologies, making it well-suited for unsolved problems in genome, transcriptome, and epigenetics research. The highly-contiguous de novo assemblies using PacBio sequencing can close gaps in current reference assemblies and characterize structural variation (SV) in personal genomes. With longer reads, we can sequence through extended repetitive regions and detect mutations, many of which are associated with diseases. Moreover, PacBio transcriptome sequencing is advantageous for the identification of gene isoforms and facilitates reliable discoveries of novel genes and novel isoforms of annotated genes, due to its…

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