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.


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  |  

Consensus and variations in cell line specificity among human metapneumovirus strains.

Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) has been a notable etiological agent of acute respiratory infection in humans, but it was not discovered until 2001, because HMPV replicates only in a limited number of cell lines and the cytopathic effect (CPE) is often mild. To promote the study of HMPV, several groups have generated green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing recombinant HMPV strains (HMPVGFP). However, the growing evidence has complicated the understanding of cell line specificity of HMPV, because it seems to vary notably among HMPV strains. In addition, unique A2b clade HMPV strains with a 180-nucleotide duplication in the G gene (HMPV A2b180nt-dup strains) have recently been detected. In this study, we re-evaluated and compared the cell line specificity of clinical isolates of HMPV strains, including the novel HMPV A2b180nt-dup strains, and six recombinant HMPVGFP strains, including the newly generated recombinant HMPV A2b180nt-dup strain, MG0256-EGFP. Our data demonstrate that VeroE6 and LLC-MK2 cells generally showed the highest infectivity with any clinical isolates and recombinant HMPVGFP strains. Other human-derived cell lines (BEAS-2B, A549, HEK293, MNT-1, and HeLa cells) showed certain levels of infectivity with HMPV, but these were significantly lower than those of VeroE6 and LLC-MK2 cells. Also, the infectivity in these suboptimal cell lines varied greatly among HMPV strains. The variations were not directly related to HMPV genotypes, cell lines used for isolation and propagation, specific genome mutations, or nucleotide duplications in the G gene. Thus, these variations in suboptimal cell lines are likely intrinsic to particular HMPV strains.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic characterization of Kerstersia gyiorum SWMUKG01, an isolate from a patient with respiratory infection in China.

The Gram-negative bacterium Kerstersia gyiorum, a potential etiological agent of clinical infections, was isolated from several human patients presenting clinical symptoms. Its significance as a possible pathogen has been previously overlooked as no disease has thus far been definitively associated with this bacterium. To better understand how the organism contributes to the infectious disease, we determined the complete genomic sequence of K. gyiorum SWMUKG01, the first clinical isolate from southwest China.The genomic data obtained displayed a single circular chromosome of 3, 945, 801 base pairs in length, which contains 3, 441 protein-coding genes, 55 tRNA genes and 9 rRNA genes. Analysis on the full spectrum of protein coding genes for cellular structures, two-component regulatory systems and iron uptake pathways that may be important for the success of the bacterial survival, colonization and establishment in the host conferred new insights into the virulence characteristics of K. gyiorum. Phylogenomic comparisons with Alcaligenaceae species indicated that K. gyiorum SWMUKG01 had a close evolutionary relationships with Alcaligenes aquatilis and Alcaligenes faecalis.The comprehensive analysis presented in this work determinates for the first time a complete genome sequence of K. gyiorum, which is expected to provide useful information for subsequent studies on pathogenesis of this species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence and genetic transformation of a widely distributed and cultivated poplar.

Populus alba is widely distributed and cultivated in Europe and Asia. This species has been used for diverse studies. In this study, we assembled a de novo genome sequence of P. alba var. pyramidalis (= P. bolleana) and confirmed its high transformation efficiency and short transformation time by experiments. Through a process of hybrid genome assembly, a total of 464 M of the genome was assembled. Annotation analyses predicted 37 901 protein-coding genes. This genome is highly collinear to that of P. trichocarpa, with most genes having orthologs in the two species. We found a marked expansion of gene families related to histone and the hormone auxin but loss of disease resistance genes in P. alba if compared with the closely related P. trichocarpa. The genome sequence presented here represents a valuable resource for further molecular functional analyses of this species as a new tree model, poplar breeding practices and comparative genomic analyses across different poplars. © 2018 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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  |  

Structural and functional characterization of an intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase from the polyphagous spider mite herbivore Tetranychus urticae Koch.

Genome analyses of the polyphagous spider mite herbivore Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite) revealed the presence of a set of 17 genes that code for secreted proteins belonging to the “intradiol dioxygenase-like” subgroup. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that this novel enzyme family has been acquired by horizontal gene transfer. In order to better understand the role of these proteins in T. urticae, we have structurally and functionally characterized one paralog (tetur07g02040). It was demonstrated that this protein is indeed an intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase, as the enzyme is able to cleave catechol between two hydroxyl-groups using atmospheric dioxygen. The enzyme was characterized functionally and structurally. The active site of the T. urticae enzyme contains an Fe3+ cofactor that is coordinated by two histidine and two tyrosine residues, an arrangement that is similar to those observed in bacterial homologs. However, the active site is significantly more solvent exposed than in bacterial proteins. Moreover, the mite enzyme is monomeric, while almost all structurally characterized bacterial homologs form oligomeric assemblies. Tetur07g02040 is not only the first spider mite dioxygenase that has been characterized at the molecular level, but is also the first structurally characterized intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase originating from a eukaryote.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Competition between mobile genetic elements drives optimization of a phage-encoded CRISPR-Cas system: insights from a natural arms race.

CRISPR-Cas systems function as adaptive immune systems by acquiring nucleotide sequences called spacers that mediate sequence-specific defence against competitors. Uniquely, the phage ICP1 encodes a Type I-F CRISPR-Cas system that is deployed to target and overcome PLE, a mobile genetic element with anti-phage activity in Vibrio cholerae. Here, we exploit the arms race between ICP1 and PLE to examine spacer acquisition and interference under laboratory conditions to reconcile findings from wild populations. Natural ICP1 isolates encode multiple spacers directed against PLE, but we find that single spacers do not interfere equally with PLE mobilization. High-throughput sequencing to assay spacer acquisition reveals that ICP1 can also acquire spacers that target the V. cholerae chromosome. We find that targeting the V. cholerae chromosome proximal to PLE is sufficient to block PLE and is dependent on Cas2-3 helicase activity. We propose a model in which indirect chromosomal spacers are able to circumvent PLE by Cas2-3-mediated processive degradation of the V. cholerae chromosome before PLE mobilization. Generally, laboratory-acquired spacers are much more diverse than the subset of spacers maintained by ICP1 in nature, showing how evolutionary pressures can constrain CRISPR-Cas targeting in ways that are often not appreciated through in vitro analyses. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘The ecology and evolution of prokaryotic CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems’.


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  |  

Genetic basis of functional variability in adhesion G protein-coupled receptors.

The enormous sizes of adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCRs) go along with complex genomic exon-intron architectures giving rise to multiple mRNA variants. There is a need for a comprehensive catalog of aGPCR variants for proper evaluation of the complex functions of aGPCRs found in structural, in vitro and animal model studies. We used an established bioinformatics pipeline to extract, quantify and visualize mRNA variants of aGPCRs from deeply sequenced transcriptomes. Data analysis showed that aGPCRs have multiple transcription start sites even within introns and that tissue-specific splicing is frequent. On average, 19 significantly expressed transcript variants are derived from a given aGPCR gene. The domain architecture of the N terminus encoded by transcript variants often differs and N termini without or with an incomplete seven-helix transmembrane anchor as well as separate seven-helix transmembrane domains are frequently derived from aGPCR genes. Experimental analyses of selected aGPCR transcript variants revealed marked functional differences. Our analysis has an impact on a rational design of aGPCR constructs for structural analyses and gene-deficient mouse lines and provides new support for independent functions of both, the large N terminus and the transmembrane domain of aGPCRs.


April 21, 2020  |  

Arcobacter cryaerophilus Isolated From New Zealand Mussels Harbor a Putative Virulence Plasmid.

A wide range of Arcobacter species have been described from shellfish in various countries but their presence has not been investigated in Australasia, in which shellfish are a popular delicacy. Since several arcobacters are considered to be emerging pathogens, we undertook a small study to evaluate their presence in several different shellfish, including greenshell mussels, oysters, and abalone (paua) in New Zealand. Arcobacter cryaerophilus, a species associated with human gastroenteritis, was the only species isolated, from greenshell mussels. Whole-genome sequencing revealed a range of genomic traits in these strains that were known or associated virulence factors. Furthermore, we describe the first putative virulence plasmid in Arcobacter, containing lytic, immunoavoidance, adhesion, antibiotic resistance, and gene transfer traits, among others. Complete genome sequence determination using a combination of long- and short-read genome sequencing strategies, was needed to identify the plasmid, clearly identifying its benefits. The potential for plasmids to disseminate virulence traits among Arcobacter and other species warrants further consideration by researchers interested in the risks to public health from these organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

RNA-seq of HaHV-1-infected abalones reveals a common transcriptional signature of Malacoherpesviruses.

Haliotid herpesvirus-1 (HaHV-1) is the viral agent causative of abalone viral ganglioneuritis, a disease that has severely affected gastropod aquaculture. Although limited, the sequence similarity between HaHV-1 and Ostreid herpesvirus-1 supported the assignment of both viruses to Malacoherpesviridae, a Herpesvirales family distantly related with other viruses. In this study, we reported the first transcriptional data of HaHV-1, obtained from an experimental infection of Haliotis diversicolor supertexta. We also sequenced the genome draft of the Chinese HaHV-1 variant isolated in 2003 (HaHV-1-CN2003) by PacBio technology. Analysis of 13 million reads obtained from 3 RNA samples at 60?hours post injection (hpi) allowed the prediction of 51 new ORFs for a total of 117 viral genes and the identification of 207 variations from the reference genome, consisting in 135 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and 72 Insertions or Deletions (InDels). The pairing of genomic and transcriptomic data supported the identification of 60 additional SNPs, representing viral transcriptional variability and preferentially grouped in hotspots. The expression analysis of HaHV-1 ORFs revealed one putative secreted protein, two putative capsid proteins and a possible viral capsid protease as the most expressed genes and demonstrated highly synchronized viral expression patterns of the 3 infected animals at 60?hpi. Quantitative reverse transcription data of 37 viral genes supported the burst of viral transcription at 30 and 60?hpi during the 72?hours of the infection experiment, and allowed the distinction between early and late viral genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence analysis of the thermoacidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph “Candidatus Methylacidiphilum kamchatkense” strain Kam1 and comparison with its closest relatives.

The candidate genus “Methylacidiphilum” comprises thermoacidophilic aerobic methane oxidizers belonging to the Verrucomicrobia phylum. These are the first described non-proteobacterial aerobic methane oxidizers. The genes pmoCAB, encoding the particulate methane monooxygenase do not originate from horizontal gene transfer from proteobacteria. Instead, the “Ca. Methylacidiphilum” and the sister genus “Ca. Methylacidimicrobium” represent a novel and hitherto understudied evolutionary lineage of aerobic methane oxidizers. Obtaining and comparing the full genome sequences is an important step towards understanding the evolution and physiology of this novel group of organisms.Here we present the closed genome of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum kamchatkense” strain Kam1 and a comparison with the genomes of its two closest relatives “Ca. Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum” strain SolV and “Ca. Methylacidiphilum infernorum” strain V4. The genome consists of a single 2,2 Mbp chromosome with 2119 predicted protein coding sequences. Genome analysis showed that the majority of the genes connected with metabolic traits described for one member of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum” is conserved between all three genomes. All three strains encode class I CRISPR-cas systems. The average nucleotide identity between “Ca. M. kamchatkense” strain Kam1 and strains SolV and V4 is =95% showing that they should be regarded as separate species. Whole genome comparison revealed a high degree of synteny between the genomes of strains Kam1 and SolV. In contrast, comparison of the genomes of strains Kam1 and V4 revealed a number of rearrangements. There are large differences in the numbers of transposable elements found in the genomes of the three strains with 12, 37 and 80 transposable elements in the genomes of strains Kam1, V4 and SolV respectively. Genomic rearrangements and the activity of transposable elements explain much of the genomic differences between strains. For example, a type 1h uptake hydrogenase is conserved between strains Kam1 and SolV but seems to have been lost from strain V4 due to genomic rearrangements.Comparing three closed genomes of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum” spp. has given new insights into the evolution of these organisms and revealed large differences in numbers of transposable elements between strains, the activity of these explains much of the genomic differences between strains.


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