September 22, 2019  |  

Hypervirulent group A Streptococcus emergence in an acaspular background is associated with marked remodeling of the bacterial cell surface

Inactivating mutations in the control of virulence two-component regulatory system (covRS) often account for the hypervirulent phenotype in severe, invasive group A streptococcal (GAS) infections. As CovR represses production of the anti-phagocytic hyaluronic acid capsule, high level capsule production is generally considered critical to the hypervirulent phenotype induced by CovRS inactivation. There have recently been large outbreaks of GAS strains lacking capsule, but there are currently no data on the virulence of covRS-mutated, acapsular strains in vivo. We investigated the impact of CovRS inactivation in acapsular serotype M4 strains using a wild-type (M4-SC-1) and a naturally-occurring CovS-inactivated strain (M4-LC-1) that contains an 11bp covS insertion. M4-LC-1 was significantly more virulent in a mouse bacteremia model but caused smaller lesions in a subcutaneous mouse model. Over 10% of the genome showed significantly different transcript levels in M4-LC-1 vs. M4-SC-1 strain. Notably, the Mga regulon and multiple cell surface protein-encoding genes were strongly upregulated–a finding not observed for CovS-inactivated, encapsulated M1 or M3 GAS strains. Consistent with the transcriptomic data, transmission electron microscopy revealed markedly altered cell surface morphology of M4-LC-1 compared to M4-SC-1. Insertional inactivation of covS in M4-SC-1 recapitulated the transcriptome and cell surface morphology. Analysis of the cell surface following CovS-inactivation revealed that the upregulated proteins were part of the Mga regulon. Inactivation of mga in M4-LC-1 reduced transcript levels of multiple cell surface proteins and reversed the cell surface alterations consistent with the effect of CovS inactivation on cell surface composition being mediated by Mga. CovRS-inactivating mutations were detected in 20% of current invasive serotype M4 strains in the United States. Thus, we discovered that hypervirulent M4 GAS strains with covRS mutations can arise in an acapsular background and that such hypervirulence is associated with profound alteration of the cell surface.

September 22, 2019  |  

MadID, a versatile approach to map protein-DNA interactions, highlights telomere-nuclear envelope contact sites in human cells.

Mapping the binding sites of DNA- or chromatin-interacting proteins is essential to understanding biological processes. DNA adenine methyltransferase identification (DamID) has emerged as a comprehensive method to map genome-wide occupancy of proteins of interest. A caveat of DamID is the specificity of Dam methyltransferase for GATC motifs that are not homogenously distributed in the genome. Here, we developed an optimized method named MadID, using proximity labeling of DNA by the methyltransferase M.EcoGII. M.EcoGII mediates N6-adenosine methylation in any DNA sequence context, resulting in deeper and unbiased coverage of the genome. We demonstrate, using m6A-specific immunoprecipitation and deep sequencing, that MadID is a robust method to identify protein-DNA interactions at the whole-genome level. Using MadID, we revealed contact sites between human telomeres, repetitive sequences devoid of GATC sites, and the nuclear envelope. Overall, MadID opens the way to identification of binding sites in genomic regions that were largely inaccessible. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

September 21, 2019  |  

Characterization of multi-drug resistant Enterococcus faecalis isolated from cephalic recording chambers in research macaques (Macaca spp.).

Nonhuman primates are commonly used for cognitive neuroscience research and often surgically implanted with cephalic recording chambers for electrophysiological recording. Aerobic bacterial cultures from 25 macaques identified 72 bacterial isolates, including 15 Enterococcus faecalis isolates. The E. faecalis isolates displayed multi-drug resistant phenotypes, with resistance to ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, bacitracin, and erythromycin, as well as high-level aminoglycoside resistance. Multi-locus sequence typing showed that most belonged to two E. faecalis sequence types (ST): ST 4 and ST 55. The genomes of three representative isolates were sequenced to identify genes encoding antimicrobial resistances and other traits. Antimicrobial resistance genes identified included aac(6′)-aph(2″), aph(3′)-III, str, ant(6)-Ia, tetM, tetS, tetL, ermB, bcrABR, cat, and dfrG, and polymorphisms in parC (S80I) and gyrA (S83I) were observed. These isolates also harbored virulence factors including the cytolysin toxin genes in ST 4 isolates, as well as multiple biofilm-associated genes (esp, agg, ace, SrtA, gelE, ebpABC), hyaluronidases (hylA, hylB), and other survival genes (ElrA, tpx). Crystal violet biofilm assays confirmed that ST 4 isolates produced more biofilm than ST 55 isolates. The abundance of antimicrobial resistance and virulence factor genes in the ST 4 isolates likely relates to the loss of CRISPR-cas. This macaque colony represents a unique model for studying E. faecalis infection associated with indwelling devices, and provides an opportunity to understand the basis of persistence of this pathogen in a healthcare setting.

September 21, 2019  |  

Whole genome sequence of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines.

Aphids are emerging as model organisms for both basic and applied research. Of the 5,000 estimated species, only three aphids have published whole genome sequences: the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, the Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia, and the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae. We present the whole genome sequence of a fourth aphid, the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), which is an extreme specialist and an important invasive pest of soybean (Glycine max). The availability of genomic resources is important to establish effective and sustainable pest control, as well as to expand our understanding of aphid evolution. We generated a 302.9 Mbp draft genome assembly for Ap. glycines using a hybrid sequencing approach. This assembly shows high completeness with 19,182 predicted genes, 92% of known Ap. glycines transcripts mapping to contigs, and substantial continuity with a scaffold N50 of 174,505 bp. The assembly represents 95.5% of the predicted genome size of 317.1 Mbp based on flow cytometry. Ap. glycines contains the smallest known aphid genome to date, based on updated genome sizes for 19 aphid species. The repetitive DNA content of the Ap. glycines genome assembly (81.6 Mbp or 26.94% of the 302.9 Mbp assembly) shows a reduction in the number of classified transposable elements compared to Ac. pisum, and likely contributes to the small estimated genome size. We include comparative analyses of gene families related to host-specificity (cytochrome P450’s and effectors), which may be important in Ap. glycines evolution. This Ap. glycines draft genome sequence will provide a resource for the study of aphid genome evolution, their interaction with host plants, and candidate genes for novel insect control methods. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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