February 5, 2021  |  

Video: Overview of SMRT technology

PacBio’s SMRT technology harnesses the natural process of DNA replication, which is a highly efficient and accurate process. Our SMRT technology enables the observation of DNA synthesis as it occurs…

April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a 72-kb cointegrant, conjugative multiresistance plasmid from early community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Horizontal transfer of plasmids encoding antimicrobial-resistance and virulence determinants has been instrumental in Staphylococcus aureus evolution, including the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). In the early 1990s the first CA-MRSA isolated in Western Australia (WA), WA-5, encoded cadmium, tetracycline and penicillin-resistance genes on plasmid pWBG753 (~30 kb). WA-5 and pWBG753 appeared only briefly in WA, however, fusidic-acid-resistance plasmids related to pWBG753 were also present in the first European CA-MRSA at the time. Here we characterized a 72-kb conjugative plasmid pWBG731 present in multiresistant WA-5-like clones from the same period. pWBG731 was a cointegrant formed from pWBG753 and a pWBG749-family conjugative plasmid. pWBG731 carried mupirocin, trimethoprim, cadmium and penicillin-resistance genes. The stepwise evolution of pWBG731 likely occurred through the combined actions of IS257, IS257-dependent miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) and the BinL resolution system of the ß-lactamase transposon Tn552 An evolutionary intermediate ~42-kb non-conjugative plasmid pWBG715, possessed the same resistance genes as pWBG731 but retained an integrated copy of the small tetracycline-resistance plasmid pT181. IS257 likely facilitated replacement of pT181 with conjugation genes on pWBG731, thus enabling autonomous transfer. Like conjugative plasmid pWBG749, pWBG731 also mobilized non-conjugative plasmids carrying oriT mimics. It seems likely that pWBG731 represents the product of multiple recombination events between the WA-5 pWBG753 plasmid and other mobile genetic elements present in indigenous CA-MSSA. The molecular evolution of pWBG731 saliently illustrates how diverse mobile genetic elements can together facilitate rapid accrual and horizontal dissemination of multiresistance in S. aureus CA-MRSA.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.

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  |  

Intercellular communication is required for trap formation in the nematode-trapping fungus Duddingtonia flagrans.

Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a large and diverse group of fungi, which may switch from a saprotrophic to a predatory lifestyle if nematodes are present. Different fungi have developed different trapping devices, ranging from adhesive cells to constricting rings. After trapping, fungal hyphae penetrate the worm, secrete lytic enzymes and form a hyphal network inside the body. We sequenced the genome of Duddingtonia flagrans, a biotechnologically important NTF used to control nematode populations in fields. The 36.64 Mb genome encodes 9,927 putative proteins, among which are more than 638 predicted secreted proteins. Most secreted proteins are lytic enzymes, but more than 200 were classified as small secreted proteins (< 300 amino acids). 117 putative effector proteins were predicted, suggesting interkingdom communication during the colonization. As a first step to analyze the function of such proteins or other phenomena at the molecular level, we developed a transformation system, established the fluorescent proteins GFP and mCherry, adapted an assay to monitor protein secretion, and established gene-deletion protocols using homologous recombination or CRISPR/Cas9. One putative virulence effector protein, PefB, was transcriptionally induced during the interaction. We show that the mature protein is able to be imported into nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans cells. In addition, we studied trap formation and show that cell-to-cell communication is required for ring closure. The availability of the genome sequence and the establishment of many molecular tools will open new avenues to studying this biotechnologically relevant nematode-trapping fungus.

April 21, 2020  |  

Information about variations in multiple copies of bacterial 16S rRNA genes may aid in species identification.

Variable region analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences is the most common tool in bacterial taxonomic studies. Although used for distinguishing bacterial species, its use remains limited due to the presence of variable copy numbers with sequence variation in the genomes. In this study, 16S rRNA gene sequences, obtained from completely assembled whole genome and Sanger electrophoresis sequencing of cloned PCR products from Serratia fonticola GS2, were compared. Sanger sequencing produced a combination of sequences from multiple copies of 16S rRNA genes. To determine whether the variant copies of 16S rRNA genes affected Sanger sequencing, two ratios (5:5 and 8:2) with different concentrations of cloned 16S rRNA genes were used; it was observed that the greater the number of copies with similar sequences the higher its chance of amplification. Effect of multiple copies for taxonomic classification of 16S rRNA gene sequences was investigated using the strain GS2 as a model. 16S rRNA copies with the maximum variation had 99.42% minimum pairwise similarity and this did not have an effect on species identification. Thus, PCR products from genomes containing variable 16S rRNA gene copies can provide sufficient information for species identification except from species which have high similarity of sequences in their 16S rRNA gene copies like the case of Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus cereus. In silico analysis of 1,616 bacterial genomes from long-read sequencing was also done. The average minimum pairwise similarity for each phylum was reported with their average genome size and average “unique copies” of 16S rRNA genes and we found that the phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes showed the highest amount of variation in their copies of their 16S rRNA genes. Overall, our results shed light on how the variations in the multiple copies of the 16S rRNA genes of bacteria can aid in appropriate species identification.

April 21, 2020  |  

RADAR-seq: A RAre DAmage and Repair sequencing method for detecting DNA damage on a genome-wide scale.

RAre DAmage and Repair sequencing (RADAR-seq) is a highly adaptable sequencing method that enables the identification and detection of rare DNA damage events for a wide variety of DNA lesions at single-molecule resolution on a genome-wide scale. In RADAR-seq, DNA lesions are replaced with a patch of modified bases that can be directly detected by Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing. RADAR-seq enables dynamic detection over a wide range of DNA damage frequencies, including low physiological levels. Furthermore, without the need for DNA amplification and enrichment steps, RADAR-seq provides sequencing coverage of damaged and undamaged DNA across an entire genome. Here, we use RADAR-seq to measure the frequency and map the location of ribonucleotides in wild-type and RNaseH2-deficient E. coli and Thermococcus kodakarensis strains. Additionally, by tracking ribonucleotides incorporated during in vivo lagging strand DNA synthesis, we determined the replication initiation point in E. coli, and its relation to the origin of replication (oriC). RADAR-seq was also used to map cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) in Escherichia coli (E. coli) genomic DNA exposed to UV-radiation. On a broader scale, RADAR-seq can be applied to understand formation and repair of DNA damage, the correlation between DNA damage and disease initiation and progression, and complex biological pathways, including DNA replication.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Current advances in HIV vaccine preclinical studies using Macaque models.

The macaque simian or simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) challenge model has been widely used to inform and guide human vaccine trials. Substantial advances have been made recently in the application of repeated-low-dose challenge (RLD) approach to assess SIV/SHIV vaccine efficacies (VE). Some candidate HIV vaccines have shown protective effects in preclinical studies using the macaque SIV/SHIV model but the model’s true predictive value for screening potential HIV vaccine candidates needs to be evaluated further. Here, we review key parameters used in the RLD approach and discuss their relevance for evaluating VE to improve preclinical studies of candidate HIV vaccines.Crown Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Human Migration and the Spread of the Nematode Parasite Wuchereria bancrofti.

The human disease lymphatic filariasis causes the debilitating effects of elephantiasis and hydrocele. Lymphatic filariasis currently affects the lives of 90 million people in 52 countries. There are three nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori, and Wuchereria bancrofti, but 90% of all cases of lymphatic filariasis are caused solely by W. bancrofti (Wb). Here we use population genomics to reconstruct the probable route and timing of migration of Wb strains that currently infect Africa, Haiti, and Papua New Guinea (PNG). We used selective whole genome amplification to sequence 42 whole genomes of single Wb worms from populations in Haiti, Mali, Kenya, and PNG. Our results are consistent with a hypothesis of an Island Southeast Asia or East Asian origin of Wb. Our demographic models support divergence times that correlate with the migration of human populations. We hypothesize that PNG was infected at two separate times, first by the Melanesians and later by the migrating Austronesians. The migrating Austronesians also likely introduced Wb to Madagascar where later migrations spread it to continental Africa. From Africa, Wb spread to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. Genome scans identified 17 genes that were highly differentiated among Wb populations. Among these are genes associated with human immune suppression, insecticide sensitivity, and proposed drug targets. Identifying the distribution of genetic diversity in Wb populations and selection forces acting on the genome will build a foundation to test future hypotheses and help predict response to current eradication efforts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic profiles between P. bursaria with and without endosymbiotic Chlorella showed differential expression of a wide range of metabolic genes. We selected 32 most differentially expressed genes to perform RNA interference experiment in P. bursaria, and found that P. bursaria can regulate the abundance of their symbionts through glutamine supply. This study provides novel insights into Paramecium evolution and will extend our knowledge of the molecular mechanism for the induction of endosymbiosis between P. bursaria and green algae.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide systematic identification of methyltransferase recognition and modification patterns.

Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation patterns using single molecule real-time DNA sequencing has boosted the number of publicly available methylomes. However, there is a lack of tools coupling methylation patterns and the corresponding methyltransferase genes. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput method for coupling methyltransferases with their respective motifs, using automated cloning and analysing the methyltransferases in vectors carrying a strain-specific cassette containing all potential target sites. To validate the method, we analyse the genomes of the thermophile Moorella thermoacetica and the mesophile Acetobacterium woodii, two acetogenic bacteria having substantially modified genomes with 12 methylation motifs and a total of 23 methyltransferase genes. Using our method, we characterize the 23 methyltransferases, assign motifs to the respective enzymes and verify activity for 11 of the 12 motifs.

April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence of the Sulfodiicoccus acidiphilus strain HS-1T, the first crenarchaeon that lacks polB3, isolated from an acidic hot spring in Ohwaku-dani, Hakone, Japan.

Sulfodiicoccus acidiphilus HS-1T is the type species of the genus Sulfodiicoccus, a thermoacidophilic archaeon belonging to the order Sulfolobales (class Thermoprotei; phylum Crenarchaeota). While S. acidiphilus HS-1T shares many common physiological and phenotypic features with other Sulfolobales species, the similarities in their 16S rRNA gene sequences are less than 89%. In order to know the genomic features of S. acidiphilus HS-1T in the order Sulfolobales, we determined and characterized the genome of this strain.The circular genome of S. acidiphilus HS-1T is comprised of 2353,189 bp with a G+C content of 51.15 mol%. A total of 2459 genes were predicted, including 2411 protein coding and 48 RNA genes. The notable genomic features of S. acidiphilus HS-1T in Sulfolobales species are the absence of genes for polB3 and the autotrophic carbon fixation pathway, and the distribution pattern of essential genes and sequences related to genomic replication initiation. These insights contribute to an understanding of archaeal genomic diversity and evolution.

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