June 1, 2021  |  

Complex alternative splicing patterns in hematopoietic cell subpopulations revealed by third-generation long reads.

Background: Alternative splicing expands the repertoire of gene functions and is a signature for different cell populations. Here we characterize the transcriptome of human bone marrow subpopulations including progenitor cells to understand their contribution to homeostasis and pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis and tumor metastasis. To obtain full-length transcript structures, we utilized long reads in addition to RNA-seq for estimating isoform diversity and abundance. Method: Freshly harvested, viable human bone marrow tissues were extracted from discarded harvesting equipment and separated into total bone marrow (total), lineage-negative (lin-) progenitor cells and differentiated cells (lin+) by magnetic bead sorting with antibodies to surface markers of hematopoietic cell lineages. Sequencing was done with SOLiD, Illumina HiSeq (100bp paired-end reads), and PacBio RS II (full-length cDNA library protocol for 1 – 6 kb libraries). Short reads were assembled using both Trinity for de novo assembly and Cufflinks for genome-guided assembly. Full-length transcript consensus sequences were obtained for the PacBio data using the RS_IsoSeq protocol from PacBios SMRTAnalysis software. Quantitation for each sample was done independently for each sequencing platform using Sailfish to obtain the TPM (transcripts per million) using k-mer matching. Results: PacBios long read sequencing technology is capable of sequencing full-length transcripts up to 10 kb and reveals heretofore-unseen isoform diversity and complexity within the hematopoietic cell populations. A comparison of sequencing depth and de novo transcript assembly with short read, second-generation sequencing reveals that, while short reads provide precision in determining portions of isoform structure and supporting larger 5 and 3 UTR regions, it fails in providing a complete structure especially when multiple isoforms are present at the same locus. Increased breadth of isoform complexity is revealed by long reads that permits further elaboration of full isoform diversity and specific isoform abundance within each separate cell population. Sorting the distribution of major and minor isoforms reveals a cell population-specific balance focused on distinct genome loci and shows how tissue specificity and diversity are modulated by alternative splicing.

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  |  

Schizophrenia risk variants influence multiple classes of transcripts of sorting nexin 19 (SNX19).

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many genomic loci associated with risk for schizophrenia, but unambiguous identification of the relationship between disease-associated variants and specific genes, and in particular their effect on risk conferring transcripts, has proven difficult. To better understand the specific molecular mechanism(s) at the schizophrenia locus in 11q25, we undertook cis expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL) mapping for this 2 megabase genomic region using postmortem human brain samples. To comprehensively assess the effects of genetic risk upon local expression, we evaluated multiple transcript features: genes, exons, and exon-exon junctions in multiple brain regions-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), hippocampus, and caudate. Genetic risk variants strongly associated with expression of SNX19 transcript features that tag multiple rare classes of SNX19 transcripts, whereas they only weakly affected expression of an exon-exon junction that tags the majority of abundant transcripts. The most prominent class of SNX19 risk-associated transcripts is predicted to be overexpressed, defined by an exon-exon splice junction between exons 8 and 10 (junc8.10) and that is predicted to encode proteins that lack the characteristic nexin C terminal domain. Risk alleles were also associated with either increased or decreased expression of multiple additional classes of transcripts. With RACE, molecular cloning, and long read sequencing, we found a number of novel SNX19 transcripts that further define the set of potential etiological transcripts. We explored epigenetic regulation of SNX19 expression and found that DNA methylation at CpG sites near the primary transcription start site and within exon 2 partially mediate the effects of risk variants on risk-associated expression. ATAC sequencing revealed that some of the most strongly risk-associated SNPs are located within a region of open chromatin, suggesting a nearby regulatory element is involved. These findings indicate a potentially complex molecular etiology, in which risk alleles for schizophrenia generate epigenetic alterations and dysregulation of multiple classes of SNX19 transcripts.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of Rhodococcus erythropolis Type Strain JCM 3201.

Rhodococcus erythropolis JCM 3201 can express several recombinant proteins that are difficult to express in Escherichia coli It is used as one of the hosts for protein expression and bioconversion. Here, we report the draft genome sequence of R. erythropolis JCM 3201. Copyright © 2019 Yoshida et al.

April 21, 2020  |  

Harnessing long-read amplicon sequencing to uncover NRPS and Type I PKS gene sequence diversity in polar desert soils.

The severity of environmental conditions at Earth’s frigid zones present attractive opportunities for microbial biomining due to their heightened potential as reservoirs for novel secondary metabolites. Arid soil microbiomes within the Antarctic and Arctic circles are remarkably rich in Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, bacterial phyla known to be prolific producers of natural products. Yet the diversity of secondary metabolite genes within these cold, extreme environments remain largely unknown. Here, we employed amplicon sequencing using PacBio RS II, a third generation long-read platform, to survey over 200 soils spanning twelve east Antarctic and high Arctic sites for natural product-encoding genes, specifically targeting non-ribosomal peptides (NRPS) and Type I polyketides (PKS). NRPS-encoding genes were more widespread across the Antarctic, whereas PKS genes were only recoverable from a handful of sites. Many recovered sequences were deemed novel due to their low amino acid sequence similarity to known protein sequences, particularly throughout the east Antarctic sites. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a high proportion were most similar to antifungal and biosurfactant-type clusters. Multivariate analysis showed that soil fertility factors of carbon, nitrogen and moisture displayed significant negative relationships with natural product gene richness. Our combined results suggest that secondary metabolite production is likely to play an important physiological component of survival for microorganisms inhabiting arid, nutrient-starved soils. © FEMS 2019.

April 21, 2020  |  

FadR1, a pathway-specific activator of fidaxomicin biosynthesis in Actinoplanes deccanensis Yp-1.

Fidaxomicin, an 18-membered macrolide antibiotic, is highly active against Clostridium difficile, the most common cause of diarrhea in hospitalized patients. Though the biosynthetic mechanism of fidaxomicin has been well studied, little is known about its regulatory mechanism. Here, we reported that FadR1, a LAL family transcriptional regulator in the fidaxomicin cluster of Actinoplanes deccanensis Yp-1, acts as an activator for fidaxomicin biosynthesis. The disruption of fadR1 abolished the ability to synthesize fidaxomicin, and production could be restored by reintegrating a single copy of fadR1. Overexpression of fadR1 resulted in an approximately 400 % improvement in fidaxomicin production. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays indicated that fidaxomicin biosynthesis is under the control of FadR1 through its binding to the promoter regions of fadM, fadA1-fadP2, fadS2-fadC, and fadE-fadF, respectively. And the conserved binding sites of FadR1 within the four promoter regions were determined by footprinting experiment. All results indicated that fadR1 encodes a pathway-specific positive regulator of fidaxomicin biosynthesis and upregulates the transcription levels of most of genes by binding to the four above intergenic regions. In summary, we not only clearly elucidate the regulatory mechanism of FadR1 but also provide strategies for the construction of industrial high-yield strain of fidaxomicin.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of Crucihimalaya himalaica, a close relative of Arabidopsis, shows ecological adaptation to high altitude.

Crucihimalaya himalaica, a close relative of Arabidopsis and Capsella, grows on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) about 4,000 m above sea level and represents an attractive model system for studying speciation and ecological adaptation in extreme environments. We assembled a draft genome sequence of 234.72 Mb encoding 27,019 genes and investigated its origin and adaptive evolutionary mechanisms. Phylogenomic analyses based on 4,586 single-copy genes revealed that C. himalaica is most closely related to Capsella (estimated divergence 8.8 to 12.2 Mya), whereas both species form a sister clade to Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis lyrata, from which they diverged between 12.7 and 17.2 Mya. LTR retrotransposons in C. himalaica proliferated shortly after the dramatic uplift and climatic change of the Himalayas from the Late Pliocene to Pleistocene. Compared with closely related species, C. himalaica showed significant contraction and pseudogenization in gene families associated with disease resistance and also significant expansion in gene families associated with ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and DNA repair. We identified hundreds of genes involved in DNA repair, ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, and reproductive processes with signs of positive selection. Gene families showing dramatic changes in size and genes showing signs of positive selection are likely candidates for C. himalaica’s adaptation to intense radiation, low temperature, and pathogen-depauperate environments in the QTP. Loss of function at the S-locus, the reason for the transition to self-fertilization of C. himalaica, might have enabled its QTP occupation. Overall, the genome sequence of C. himalaica provides insights into the mechanisms of plant adaptation to extreme environments.Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of the Wolbachia wAlbB Endosymbiont of Aedes albopictus.

Wolbachia, an alpha-proteobacterium closely related to Rickettsia, is a maternally transmitted, intracellular symbiont of arthropods and nematodes. Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are naturally infected with Wolbachia strains wAlbA and wAlbB. Cell line Aa23 established from Ae. albopictus embryos retains only wAlbB and is a key model to study host-endosymbiont interactions. We have assembled the complete circular genome of wAlbB from the Aa23 cell line using long-read PacBio sequencing at 500× median coverage. The assembled circular chromosome is 1.48 megabases in size, an increase of more than 300 kb over the published draft wAlbB genome. The annotation of the genome identified 1,205 protein coding genes, 34 tRNA, 3 rRNA, 1 tmRNA, and 3 other ncRNA loci. The long reads enabled sequencing over complex repeat regions which are difficult to resolve with short-read sequencing. Thirteen percent of the genome comprised insertion sequence elements distributed throughout the genome, some of which cause pseudogenization. Prophage WO genes encoding some essential components of phage particle assembly are missing, while the remainder are found in five prophage regions/WO-like islands or scattered around the genome. Orthology analysis identified a core proteome of 535 orthogroups across all completed Wolbachia genomes. The majority of proteins could be annotated using Pfam and eggNOG analyses, including ankyrins and components of the Type IV secretion system. KEGG analysis revealed the absence of five genes in wAlbB which are present in other Wolbachia. The availability of a complete circular chromosome from wAlbB will enable further biochemical, molecular, and genetic analyses on this strain and related Wolbachia. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative Splicing of the Delta-Opioid Receptor Gene Suggests Existence of New Functional Isoforms.

The delta-opioid receptor (DOPr) participates in mediating the effects of opioid analgesics. However, no selective agonists have entered clinical care despite potential to ameliorate many neurological and psychiatric disorders. In an effort to address the drug development challenges, the functional contribution of receptor isoforms created by alternative splicing of the three-exonic coding gene, OPRD1, has been overlooked. We report that the gene is transcriptionally more diverse than previously demonstrated, producing novel protein isoforms in humans and mice. We provide support for the functional relevance of splice variants through context-dependent expression profiling (tissues, disease model) and conservation of the transcriptional landscape in closely related vertebrates. The conserved alternative transcriptional events have two distinct patterns. First, cassette exon inclusions between exons 1 and 2 interrupt the reading frame, producing truncated receptor fragments comprising only the first transmembrane (TM) domain, despite the lack of exact exon orthologues between distant species. Second, a novel promoter and transcriptional start site upstream of exon 2 produces a transcript of an N-terminally truncated 6TM isoform. However, a fundamental difference in the exonic landscaping as well as translation and translation products poses limits for modelling the human DOPr receptor system in mice.

April 21, 2020  |  

Natural product drug discovery in the genomic era: realities, conjectures, misconceptions, and opportunities.

Natural product discovery from microorganisms provided important sources for antibiotics, anti-cancer agents, immune-modulators, anthelminthic agents, and insecticides during a span of 50 years starting in the 1940s, then became less productive because of rediscovery issues, low throughput, and lack of relevant new technologies to unveil less abundant or not easily detected drug-like natural products. In the early 2000s, it was observed from genome sequencing that Streptomyces species encode about ten times as many secondary metabolites as predicted from known secondary metabolomes. This gave rise to a new discovery approach-microbial genome mining. As the cost of genome sequencing dropped, the numbers of sequenced bacteria, fungi and archaea expanded dramatically, and bioinformatic methods were developed to rapidly scan whole genomes for the numbers, types, and novelty of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters. This methodology enabled the identification of microbial taxa gifted for the biosynthesis of drug-like secondary metabolites. As genome sequencing technology progressed, the realities relevant to drug discovery have emerged, the conjectures and misconceptions have been clarified, and opportunities to reinvigorate microbial drug discovery have crystallized. This perspective addresses these critical issues for drug discovery.

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  |  

CRISPR/CAS9 targeted CAPTURE of mammalian genomic regions for characterization by NGS.

The robust detection of structural variants in mammalian genomes remains a challenge. It is particularly difficult in the case of genetically unstable Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines with only draft genome assemblies available. We explore the potential of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for the targeted capture of genomic loci containing integrated vectors in CHO-K1-based cell lines followed by next generation sequencing (NGS), and compare it to popular target-enrichment sequencing methods and to whole genome sequencing (WGS). Three different CRISPR/Cas9-based techniques were evaluated; all of them allow for amplification-free enrichment of target genomic regions in the range from 5 to 60 fold, and for recovery of ~15 kb-long sequences with no sequencing artifacts introduced. The utility of these protocols has been proven by the identification of transgene integration sites and flanking sequences in three CHO cell lines. The long enriched fragments helped to identify Escherichia coli genome sequences co-integrated with vectors, and were further characterized by Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). Other advantages of CRISPR/Cas9-based methods are the ease of bioinformatics analysis, potential for multiplexing, and the production of long target templates for real-time sequencing.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genomics-driven discovery of a biosynthetic gene cluster required for the synthesis of BII-Rafflesfungin from the fungus Phoma sp. F3723.

Phomafungin is a recently reported broad spectrum antifungal compound but its biosynthetic pathway is unknown. We combed publicly available Phoma genomes but failed to find any putative biosynthetic gene cluster that could account for its biosynthesis.Therefore, we sequenced the genome of one of our Phoma strains (F3723) previously identified as having antifungal activity in a high-throughput screen. We found a biosynthetic gene cluster that was predicted to synthesize a cyclic lipodepsipeptide that differs in the amino acid composition compared to Phomafungin. Antifungal activity guided isolation yielded a new compound, BII-Rafflesfungin, the structure of which was determined.We describe the NRPS-t1PKS cluster ‘BIIRfg’ compatible with the synthesis of the cyclic lipodepsipeptide BII-Rafflesfungin [HMHDA-L-Ala-L-Glu-L-Asn-L-Ser-L-Ser-D-Ser-D-allo-Thr-Gly]. We report new Stachelhaus codes for Ala, Glu, Asn, Ser, Thr, and Gly. We propose a mechanism for BII-Rafflesfungin biosynthesis, which involves the formation of the lipid part by BIIRfg_PKS followed by activation and transfer of the lipid chain by a predicted AMP-ligase on to the first PCP domain of the BIIRfg_NRPS gene.

April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome rearrangements shape the diversification of secondary metabolism in the cyclosporin producing fungus Tolypocladium inflatum.

Genes involved in production of secondary metabolites (SMs) in fungi are exceptionally diverse. Even strains of the same species may exhibit differences in metabolite production, a finding that has important implications for drug discovery. Unlike in other eukaryotes, genes producing SMs are often clustered and co-expressed in fungal genomes, but the genetic mechanisms involved in the creation and maintenance of these secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (SMBGCs) remains poorly understood.In order to address the role of genome architecture and chromosome scale structural variation in generating diversity of SMBGCs, we generated chromosome scale assemblies of six geographically diverse isolates of the insect pathogenic fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, producer of the multi-billion dollar lifesaving immunosuppressant drug cyclosporin, and utilized a Hi-C chromosome conformation capture approach to address the role of genome architecture and structural variation in generating intraspecific diversity in SMBGCs. Our results demonstrate that the exchange of DNA between heterologous chromosomes plays an important role in generating novelty in SMBGCs in fungi. In particular, we demonstrate movement of a polyketide synthase (PKS) and several adjacent genes by translocation to a new chromosome and genomic context, potentially generating a novel PKS cluster. We also provide evidence for inter-chromosomal recombination between nonribosomal peptide synthetases located within subtelomeres and uncover a polymorphic cluster present in only two strains that is closely related to the cluster responsible for biosynthesis of the mycotoxin aflatoxin (AF), a highly carcinogenic compound that is a major public health concern worldwide. In contrast, the cyclosporin cluster, located internally on chromosomes, was conserved across strains, suggesting selective maintenance of this important virulence factor for infection of insects.This research places the evolution of SMBGCs within the context of whole genome evolution and suggests a role for recombination between chromosomes in generating novel SMBGCs in the medicinal fungus Tolypocladium inflatum.

September 22, 2019  |  

An environmental bacterial taxon with a large and distinct metabolic repertoire.

Cultivated bacteria such as actinomycetes are a highly useful source of biomedically important natural products. However, such ‘talented’ producers represent only a minute fraction of the entire, mostly uncultivated, prokaryotic diversity. The uncultured majority is generally perceived as a large, untapped resource of new drug candidates, but so far it is unknown whether taxa containing talented bacteria indeed exist. Here we report the single-cell- and metagenomics-based discovery of such producers. Two phylotypes of the candidate genus ‘Entotheonella’ with genomes of greater than 9 megabases and multiple, distinct biosynthetic gene clusters co-inhabit the chemically and microbially rich marine sponge Theonella swinhoei. Almost all bioactive polyketides and peptides known from this animal were attributed to a single phylotype. ‘Entotheonella’ spp. are widely distributed in sponges and belong to an environmental taxon proposed here as candidate phylum ‘Tectomicrobia’. The pronounced bioactivities and chemical uniqueness of ‘Entotheonella’ compounds provide significant opportunities for ecological studies and drug discovery.

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