June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing of DNA and RNA samples extracted from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues

Recent advances in next-generation sequencing have led to the increased use of formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues for medical samples in disease and scientific research. Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing offers a unique advantage in that it allows direct analysis of FFPE samples without amplification. However, obtaining ample long-read information from FFPE samples has been a challenge due to the quality and quantity of the extracted DNA. DNA samples extracted from FFPE often contain damaged sites, including breaks in the backbone and missing or altered nucleotide bases, which directly impact sequencing and amplification. Additionally, the quality and quantity of the recovered DNA also vary depending on the extraction methods used. We have evaluated the Adaptive Focused Acoustics (AFA™) system by Covaris as a method for obtaining high molecular weight DNA suitable for SMRTbell template preparation and subsequent single molecule sequencing. Using this method, genomic DNA was extracted from normal kidney FFPE scrolls acquired from Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN), University of Pennsylvania. Damaged sites present in the extracted DNA were repaired using a DNA Damage Repair step, and the treated DNA was constructed into SMRTbell libraries suitable for sequencing on the PacBio RS II System. Using the same repaired DNA, we also tested PCR efficiency of target gene regions of up to 5 kb. The resulting amplicons were constructed into SMRTbell templates for full-length sequencing on the PacBio RS II System. We found the Adaptive Focused Acoustics (AFA) system combined with truXTRAC™ by Covaris to be effective and efficient. This system is easy and simple to use, and the resulting DNA is compatible with SMRTbell library preparation for targeted and whole genome SMRT Sequencing. The data presented here demonstrates single molecule sequencing of DNA samples extracted from tissues embedded in FFPE.


June 1, 2021  |  

A high-quality genome assembly of SMRT sequences reveals long range haplotype structure in the diploid mosquito Aedes aegypti

Aedes aegypti is a tropical and subtropical mosquito vector for Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever, and chikungunya. We describe the first diploid assembly of an insect genome, using SMRT Sequencing and the open-source assembler FALCON-Unzip. This assembly has high contiguity (contig N50 1.3 Mb), is more complete than previous assemblies (Length 1.45 Gb with 87% BUSCO genes complete), and is high quality (mean base >QV30 after polishing). Long-range haplotype structure, in some cases encompassing more than 4 Mb of extremely divergent homologous sequence with dramatic differences in coding sequence content, is resolved using a combination of the FALCON-Unzip assembler, genome annotation, coverage depth, and pairwise nucleotide alignments.


April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparison of mitochondrial DNA variants detection using short- and long-read sequencing.

The recent advent of long-read sequencing technologies is expected to provide reasonable answers to genetic challenges unresolvable by short-read sequencing, primarily the inability to accurately study structural variations, copy number variations, and homologous repeats in complex parts of the genome. However, long-read sequencing comes along with higher rates of random short deletions and insertions, and single nucleotide errors. The relatively higher sequencing accuracy of short-read sequencing has kept it as the first choice of screening for single nucleotide variants and short deletions and insertions. Albeit, short-read sequencing still suffers from systematic errors that tend to occur at specific positions where a high depth of reads is not always capable to correct for these errors. In this study, we compared the genotyping of mitochondrial DNA variants in three samples using PacBio’s Sequel (Pacific Biosciences Inc., Menlo Park, CA, USA) long-read sequencing and illumina’s HiSeqX10 (illumine Inc., San Diego, CA, USA) short-read sequencing data. We concluded that, despite the differences in the type and frequency of errors in the long-reads sequencing, its accuracy is still comparable to that of short-reads for genotyping short nuclear variants; due to the randomness of errors in long reads, a lower coverage, around 37 reads, can be sufficient to correct for these random errors.


April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

High satellite repeat turnover in great apes studied with short- and long-read technologies.

Satellite repeats are a structural component of centromeres and telomeres, and in some instances their divergence is known to drive speciation. Due to their highly repetitive nature, satellite sequences have been understudied and underrepresented in genome assemblies. To investigate their turnover in great apes, we studied satellite repeats of unit sizes up to 50?bp in human, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, using unassembled short and long sequencing reads. The density of satellite repeats, as identified from accurate short reads (Illumina), varied greatly among great ape genomes. These were dominated by a handful of abundant repeated motifs, frequently shared among species, which formed two groups: (1) the (AATGG)n repeat (critical for heat shock response) and its derivatives; and (2) subtelomeric 32-mers involved in telomeric metabolism. Using the densities of abundant repeats, individuals could be classified into species. However clustering did not reproduce the accepted species phylogeny, suggesting rapid repeat evolution. Several abundant repeats were enriched in males vs. females; using Y chromosome assemblies or FIuorescent In Situ Hybridization, we validated their location on the Y. Finally, applying a novel computational tool, we identified many satellite repeats completely embedded within long Oxford Nanopore and Pacific Biosciences reads. Such repeats were up to 59?kb in length and consisted of perfect repeats interspersed with other similar sequences. Our results based on sequencing reads generated with three different technologies provide the first detailed characterization of great ape satellite repeats, and open new avenues for exploring their functions. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Advantage of the F2:A1:B- IncF Pandemic Plasmid over IncC Plasmids in In Vitro Acquisition and Evolution of blaCTX-M Gene-Bearing Plasmids in Escherichia coli.

Despite a fitness cost imposed on bacterial hosts, large conjugative plasmids play a key role in the diffusion of resistance determinants, such as CTX-M extended-spectrum ß-lactamases. Among the large conjugative plasmids, IncF plasmids are the most predominant group, and an F2:A1:B- IncF-type plasmid encoding a CTX-M-15 variant was recently described as being strongly associated with the emerging worldwide Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131)-O25b:H4 H30Rx/C2 sublineage. In this context, we investigated the fitness cost of narrow-range F-type plasmids, including the F2:A1:B- IncF-type CTX-M-15 plasmid, and of broad-range C-type plasmids in the K-12-like J53-2 E. coli strain. Although all plasmids imposed a significant fitness cost to the bacterial host immediately after conjugation, we show, using an experimental-evolution approach, that a negative impact on the fitness of the host strain was maintained throughout 1,120 generations with the IncC-IncR plasmid, regardless of the presence or absence of cefotaxime, in contrast to the F2:A1:B- IncF plasmid, whose cost was alleviated. Many chromosomal and plasmid rearrangements were detected after conjugation in transconjugants carrying the IncC plasmids but not in transconjugants carrying the F2:A1:B- IncF plasmid, except for insertion sequence (IS) mobilization from the fliM gene leading to the restoration of motility of the recipient strains. Only a few mutations occurred on the chromosome of each transconjugant throughout the experimental-evolution assay. Our findings indicate that the F2:A1:B- IncF CTX-M-15 plasmid is well adapted to the E. coli strain studied, contrary to the IncC-IncR CTX-M-15 plasmid, and that such plasmid-host adaptation could participate in the evolutionary success of the CTX-M-15-producing pandemic E. coli ST131-O25b:H4 lineage.Copyright © 2019 Mahérault et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Outcomes and characterization of chromosomal self-targeting by native CRISPR-Cas systems in Streptococcus thermophilus.

CRISPR-Cas systems provide adaptive immunity against phages in prokaryotes via DNA-encoded, RNA-mediated, nuclease-dependent targeting and cleavage. Due to inefficient and relatively limited DNA repair pathways in bacteria, CRISPR-Cas systems can be repurposed for lethal DNA targeting that selects for sequence variants. In this study, the relative killing efficiencies of endogenous Type I and Type II CRISPR-Cas systems in the model organism Streptococcus thermophilus DGCC7710 were assessed. Additionally, the genetic and phenotypic outcomes of chromosomal targeting by plasmid-programmed Type I-E or Type II-A systems were analyzed. Efficient killing was observed using both systems, in a dose-dependent manner when delivering 0.4-400 ng of plasmid DNA. Targeted PCR screening and genome sequencing were used to determine the genetic basis enabling survival, showing that evasion of Type I-E self-targeting was primarily the result of low-frequency defective plasmids that excised the targeting spacer. The most notable genotype recovered from Type II-A targeting of genomic locus, lacZ, was a 34 kb-deletion derived from homologous recombination (HR) between identical conserved sequences in two separate galE coding regions, resulting in 2% loss of the genome. Collectively, these results suggest that HR contributes to the plasticity and remodeling of bacterial genomes, leading to evasion of genome targeting by CRISPR-Cas systems. © FEMS 2019.


April 21, 2020  |  

Clostridium scindens ATCC 35704: Integration of Nutritional Requirements, the Complete Genome Sequence, and Global Transcriptional Responses to Bile Acids.

In the human gut, Clostridium scindens ATCC 35704 is a predominant bacterium and one of the major bile acid 7a-dehydroxylating anaerobes. While this organism is well-studied relative to bile acid metabolism, little is known about the basic nutrition and physiology of C. scindens ATCC 35704. To determine the amino acid and vitamin requirements of C. scindens, the leave-one-out (one amino acid group or vitamin) technique was used to eliminate the nonessential amino acids and vitamins. With this approach, the amino acid tryptophan and three vitamins (riboflavin, pantothenate, and pyridoxal) were found to be required for the growth of C. scindens In the newly developed defined medium, C. scindens fermented glucose mainly to ethanol, acetate, formate, and H2. The genome of C. scindens ATCC 35704 was completed through PacBio sequencing. Pathway analysis of the genome sequence coupled with transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) under defined culture conditions revealed consistency with the growth requirements and end products of glucose metabolism. Induction with bile acids revealed complex and differential responses to cholic acid and deoxycholic acid, including the expression of potentially novel bile acid-inducible genes involved in cholic acid metabolism. Responses to toxic deoxycholic acid included expression of genes predicted to be involved in DNA repair, oxidative stress, cell wall maintenance/metabolism, chaperone synthesis, and downregulation of one-third of the genome. These analyses provide valuable insight into the overall biology of C. scindens which may be important in treatment of disease associated with increased colonic secondary bile acids.IMPORTANCEC. scindens is one of a few identified gut bacterial species capable of converting host cholic acid into disease-associated secondary bile acids such as deoxycholic acid. The current work represents an important advance in understanding the nutritional requirements and response to bile acids of the medically important human gut bacterium, C. scindens ATCC 35704. A defined medium has been developed which will further the understanding of bile acid metabolism in the context of growth substrates, cofactors, and other metabolites in the vertebrate gut. Analysis of the complete genome supports the nutritional requirements reported here. Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of gene expression in the presence of cholic acid and deoxycholic acid provides a unique insight into the complex response of C. scindens ATCC 35704 to primary and secondary bile acids. Also revealed are genes with the potential to function in bile acid transport and metabolism.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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.


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