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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Understanding explosive diversification through cichlid fish genomics.

Owing to their taxonomic, phenotypic, ecological and behavioural diversity and propensity for explosive diversification, the assemblages of cichlid fish in the East African Great Lakes Victoria, Malawi and Tanganyika are important role models in evolutionary biology. With the release of five reference genomes and many additional genomic resources, as well as the establishment of functional genomic tools, the cichlid system has fully entered the genomic era. The in-depth genomic exploration of the East African cichlid fauna – in combination with the examination of their ecology, morphology and behaviour – permits novel insights into the way organisms diversify.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A complete Leishmania donovani reference genome identifies novel genetic variations associated with virulence.

Leishmania donovani is responsible for visceral leishmaniasis, a neglected and lethal parasitic disease with limited treatment options and no vaccine. The study of L. donovani has been hindered by the lack of a high-quality reference genome and this can impact experimental outcomes including the identification of virulence genes, drug targets and vaccine development. We therefore generated a complete genome assembly by deep sequencing using a combination of second generation (Illumina) and third generation (PacBio) sequencing technologies. Compared to the current L. donovani assembly, the genome assembly reported within resulted in the closure over 2,000 gaps, the extension of several chromosomes…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Mosaicism diminishes the value of pre-implantation embryo biopsies for detecting CRISPR/Cas9 induced mutations in sheep.

The production of knock-out (KO) livestock models is both expensive and time consuming due to their long gestational interval and low number of offspring. One alternative to increase efficiency is performing a genetic screening to select pre-implantation embryos that have incorporated the desired mutation. Here we report the use of sheep embryo biopsies for detecting CRISPR/Cas9-induced mutations targeting the gene PDX1 prior to embryo transfer. PDX1 is a critical gene for pancreas development and the target gene required for the creation of pancreatogenesis-disabled sheep. We evaluated the viability of biopsied embryos in vitro and in vivo, and we determined the…

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

The axolotl genome and the evolution of key tissue formation regulators.

Salamanders serve as important tetrapod models for developmental, regeneration and evolutionary studies. An extensive molecular toolkit makes the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) a key representative salamander for molecular investigations. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the 32-gigabase-pair axolotl genome using an approach that combined long-read sequencing, optical mapping and development of a new genome assembler (MARVEL). We observed a size expansion of introns and intergenic regions, largely attributable to multiplication of long terminal repeat retroelements. We provide evidence that intron size in developmental genes is under constraint and that species-restricted genes may contribute to limb regeneration. The axolotl…

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Repair of double-strand breaks induced by CRISPR-Cas9 leads to large deletions and complex rearrangements.

CRISPR-Cas9 is poised to become the gene editing tool of choice in clinical contexts. Thus far, exploration of Cas9-induced genetic alterations has been limited to the immediate vicinity of the target site and distal off-target sequences, leading to the conclusion that CRISPR-Cas9 was reasonably specific. Here we report significant on-target mutagenesis, such as large deletions and more complex genomic rearrangements at the targeted sites in mouse embryonic stem cells, mouse hematopoietic progenitors and a human differentiated cell line. Using long-read sequencing and long-range PCR genotyping, we show that DNA breaks introduced by single-guide RNA/Cas9 frequently resolved into deletions extending over…

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