September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular genetic diversity and characterization of conjugation genes in the fish parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is the etiologic agent of “white spot”, a commercially important disease of freshwater fish. As a parasitic ciliate, I. multifiliis infects numerous host species across a broad geographic range. Although Ichthyophthirius outbreaks are difficult to control, recent sequencing of the I. multifiliis genome has revealed a number of potential metabolic pathways for therapeutic intervention, along with likely vaccine targets for disease prevention. Nonetheless, major gaps exist in our understanding of both the life cycle and population structure of I. multifiliis in the wild. For example, conjugation has never been described in this species, and it is unclear whether I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction, despite the presence of a germline micronucleus. In addition, no good methods exist to distinguish strains, leaving phylogenetic relationships between geographic isolates completely unresolved. Here, we compared nucleotide sequences of SSUrDNA, mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit I and cox-1 genes, and 14 somatic SNP sites from nine I. multifiliis isolates obtained from four different states in the US since 1995. The mitochondrial sequences effectively distinguished the isolates from one another and divided them into at least two genetically distinct groups. Furthermore, none of the nine isolates shared the same composition of the 14 somatic SNP sites, suggesting that I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction at some point in its life cycle. Finally, compared to the well-studied free-living ciliates Tetrahymena thermophila and Paramecium tetraurelia, I. multifiliis has lost 38% and 29%, respectively, of 16 experimentally confirmed conjugation-related genes, indicating that mechanistic differences in sexual reproduction are likely to exist between I. multifiliis and other ciliate species. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic APP gene recombination in Alzheimer’s disease and normal neurons.

The diversity and complexity of the human brain are widely assumed to be encoded within a constant genome. Somatic gene recombination, which changes germline DNA sequences to increase molecular diversity, could theoretically alter this code but has not been documented in the brain, to our knowledge. Here we describe recombination of the Alzheimer’s disease-related gene APP, which encodes amyloid precursor protein, in human neurons, occurring mosaically as thousands of variant ‘genomic cDNAs’ (gencDNAs). gencDNAs lacked introns and ranged from full-length cDNA copies of expressed, brain-specific RNA splice variants to myriad smaller forms that contained intra-exonic junctions, insertions, deletions, and/or single nucleotide variations. DNA in situ hybridization identified gencDNAs within single neurons that were distinct from wild-type loci and absent from non-neuronal cells. Mechanistic studies supported neuronal ‘retro-insertion’ of RNA to produce gencDNAs; this process involved transcription, DNA breaks, reverse transcriptase activity, and age. Neurons from individuals with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease showed increased gencDNA diversity, including eleven mutations known to be associated with familial Alzheimer’s disease that were absent from healthy neurons. Neuronal gene recombination may allow ‘recording’ of neural activity for selective ‘playback’ of preferred gene variants whose expression bypasses splicing; this has implications for cellular diversity, learning and memory, plasticity, and diseases of the human brain.


September 22, 2019  |  

A quantitative SMRT cell sequencing method for ribosomal amplicons.

Advances in sequencing technologies continue to provide unprecedented opportunities to characterize microbial communities. For example, the Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) platform has emerged as a unique approach harnessing DNA polymerase activity to sequence template molecules, enabling long reads at low costs. With the aim to simultaneously classify and enumerate in situ microbial populations, we developed a quantitative SMRT (qSMRT) approach that involves the addition of exogenous standards to quantify ribosomal amplicons derived from environmental samples. The V7-9 regions of 18S SSU rDNA were targeted and quantified from protistan community samples collected in the Ross Sea during the Austral summer of 2011. We used three standards of different length and optimized conditions to obtain accurate quantitative retrieval across the range of expected amplicon sizes, a necessary criterion for analyzing taxonomically diverse 18S rDNA molecules from natural environments. The ability to concurrently identify and quantify microorganisms in their natural environment makes qSMRT a powerful, rapid and cost-effective approach for defining ecosystem diversity and function. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Discovery of enzymes for toluene synthesis from anoxic microbial communities.

Microbial toluene biosynthesis was reported in anoxic lake sediments more than three decades ago, but the enzyme catalyzing this biochemically challenging reaction has never been identified. Here we report the toluene-producing enzyme PhdB, a glycyl radical enzyme of bacterial origin that catalyzes phenylacetate decarboxylation, and its cognate activating enzyme PhdA, a radical S-adenosylmethionine enzyme, discovered in two distinct anoxic microbial communities that produce toluene. The unconventional process of enzyme discovery from a complex microbial community (>300,000 genes), rather than from a microbial isolate, involved metagenomics- and metaproteomics-enabled biochemistry, as well as in vitro confirmation of activity with recombinant enzymes. This work expands the known catalytic range of glycyl radical enzymes (only seven reaction types had been characterized previously) and aromatic-hydrocarbon-producing enzymes, and will enable first-time biochemical synthesis of an aromatic fuel hydrocarbon from renewable resources, such as lignocellulosic biomass, rather than from petroleum.


September 22, 2019  |  

Prey range and genome evolution of Halobacteriovorax marinus predatory bacteria from an estuary

Halobacteriovorax strains are saltwater-adapted predatory bacteria that attack Gram-negative bacteria and may play an important role in shaping microbial communities. To understand how Halobacteriovorax strains impact ecosystems and develop them as biocontrol agents, it is important to characterize variation in predation phenotypes and investigate Halobacteriovorax genome evolution. We isolated Halobacteriovorax marinus BE01 from an estuary in Rhode Island using Vibrio from the same site as prey. Small, fast-moving, attack-phase BE01 cells attach to and invade prey cells, consistent with the intraperiplasmic predation strategy of the H. marinus type strain, SJ. BE01 is a prey generalist, forming plaques on Vibrio strains from the estuary, Pseudomonas from soil, and Escherichia coli. Genome analysis revealed extremely high conservation of gene order and amino acid sequences between BE01 and SJ, suggesting strong selective pressure to maintain the genome in this H. marinus lineage. Despite this, we identified two regions of gene content difference that likely resulted from horizontal gene transfer. Analysis of modal codon usage frequencies supports the hypothesis that these regions were acquired from bacteria with different codon usage biases than H. marinus. In one of these regions, BE01 and SJ carry different genes associated with mobile genetic elements. Acquired functions in BE01 include the dnd operon, which encodes a pathway for DNA modification, and a suite of genes involved in membrane synthesis and regulation of gene expression that was likely acquired from another Halobacteriovorax lineage. This analysis provides further evidence that horizontal gene transfer plays an important role in genome evolution in predatory bacteria. IMPORTANCE Predatory bacteria attack and digest other bacteria and therefore may play a role in shaping microbial communities. To investigate phenotypic and genotypic variation in saltwater-adapted predatory bacteria, we isolated Halobacteriovorax marinus BE01 from an estuary in Rhode Island, assayed whether it could attack different prey bacteria, and sequenced and analyzed its genome. We found that BE01 is a prey generalist, attacking bacteria from different phylogenetic groups and environments. Gene order and amino acid sequences are highly conserved between BE01 and the H. marinus type strain, SJ. By comparative genomics, we detected two regions of gene content difference that likely occurred via horizontal gene transfer events. Acquired genes encode functions such as modification of DNA, membrane synthesis and regulation of gene expression. Understanding genome evolution and variation in predation phenotypes among predatory bacteria will inform their development as biocontrol agents and clarify how they impact microbial communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of the Hi5 germ cell line from Trichoplusia ni, an agricultural pest and novel model for small RNA biology.

We report a draft assembly of the genome of Hi5 cells from the lepidopteran insect pest,Trichoplusia ni, assigning 90.6% of bases to one of 28 chromosomes and predicting 14,037 protein-coding genes. Chemoreception and detoxification gene families revealT. ni-specific gene expansions that may explain its widespread distribution and rapid adaptation to insecticides. Transcriptome and small RNA data from thorax, ovary, testis, and the germline-derived Hi5 cell line show distinct expression profiles for 295 microRNA- and >393 piRNA-producing loci, as well as 39 genes encoding small RNA pathway proteins. Nearly all of the W chromosome is devoted to piRNA production, andT. nisiRNAs are not 2´-O-methylated. To enable use of Hi5 cells as a model system, we have established genome editing and single-cell cloning protocols. TheT. nigenome provides insights into pest control and allows Hi5 cells to become a new tool for studying small RNAs ex vivo.© 2018, Fu et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Complete genome analysis of Gluconacetobacter xylinus CGMCC 2955 for elucidating bacterial cellulose biosynthesis and metabolic regulation.

Complete genome sequence of Gluconacetobacter xylinus CGMCC 2955 for fine control of bacterial cellulose (BC) synthesis is presented here. The genome, at 3,563,314?bp, was found to contain 3,193 predicted genes without gaps. There are four BC synthase operons (bcs), among which only bcsI is structurally complete, comprising bcsA, bcsB, bcsC, and bcsD. Genes encoding key enzymes in glycolytic, pentose phosphate, and BC biosynthetic pathways and in the tricarboxylic acid cycle were identified. G. xylinus CGMCC 2955 has a complete glycolytic pathway because sequence data analysis revealed that this strain possesses a phosphofructokinase (pfk)-encoding gene, which is absent in most BC-producing strains. Furthermore, combined with our previous results, the data on metabolism of various carbon sources (monosaccharide, ethanol, and acetate) and their regulatory mechanism of action on BC production were explained. Regulation of BC synthase (Bcs) is another effective method for precise control of BC biosynthesis, and cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) is the key activator of BcsA-BcsB subunit of Bcs. The quorum sensing (QS) system was found to positively regulate phosphodiesterase, which decomposed c-di-GMP. Thus, in this study, we demonstrated the presence of QS in G. xylinus CGMCC 2955 and proposed a possible regulatory mechanism of QS action on BC production.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains with diverse spatial isolation.

Cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains are currently one of the few known cocci-shaped spore-forming bacteria, yet we know very little about the genomics. The goal of this study is to utilize comparative genomics to investigate the diversity of cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains that differ in their geographical isolation and show different nutritional requirements.For this study, we sequenced 28 genomes of cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains isolated from 13 different locations around the world. We generated the first six complete genomes and methylomes utilizing PacBio sequencing, and an additional 22 draft genomes using Illumina sequencing. Genomic analysis revealed that cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains contained an average genome of 3.3 Mb comprised of 3222 CDS, 54 tRNAs and 6 rRNAs, while only two strains contained plasmids. The cocci-shaped Sporosarcina genome on average contained 2.3 prophages and 15.6 IS elements, while methylome analysis supported the diversity of these strains as only one of 31 methylation motifs were shared under identical growth conditions. Analysis with a 90% identity cut-off revealed 221 core genes or ~?7% of the genome, while a 30% identity cut-off generated a pan-genome of 8610 genes. The phylogenetic relationship of the cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains based on either core genes, accessory genes or spore-related genes consistently resulted in the 29 strains being divided into eight clades.This study begins to unravel the phylogenetic relationship of cocci-shaped Sporosarcina strains, and the comparative genomics of these strains supports identification of several new species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Precise control of SCRaMbLE in synthetic haploid and diploid yeast.

Compatibility between host cells and heterologous pathways is a challenge for constructing organisms with high productivity or gain of function. Designer yeast cells incorporating the Synthetic Chromosome Rearrangement and Modification by LoxP-mediated Evolution (SCRaMbLE) system provide a platform for generating genotype diversity. Here we construct a genetic AND gate to enable precise control of the SCRaMbLE method to generate synthetic haploid and diploid yeast with desired phenotypes. The yield of carotenoids is increased to 1.5-fold by SCRaMbLEing haploid strains and we determine that the deletion of YEL013W is responsible for the increase. Based on the SCRaMbLEing in diploid strains, we develop a strategy called Multiplex SCRaMbLE Iterative Cycling (MuSIC) to increase the production of carotenoids up to 38.8-fold through 5 iterative cycles of SCRaMbLE. This strategy is potentially a powerful tool for increasing the production of bio-based chemicals and for mining deep knowledge.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genetic diversity of Cryptosporidium hominis in a Bangladeshi community as revealed by whole genome sequencing.

We studied the genetic diversity of Cryptosporidium hominis infections in slum-dwelling infants from Dhaka over a 2-year period. Cryptosporidium hominis infections were common during the monsoon, and were genetically diverse as measured by gp60 genotyping and whole-genome resequencing. Recombination in the parasite was evidenced by the decay of linkage disequilibrium in the genome over <300 bp. Regions of the genome with high levels of polymorphism were also identified. Yet to be determined is if genomic diversity is responsible in part for the high rate of reinfection, seasonality, and varied clinical presentations of cryptosporidiosis in this population.


September 22, 2019  |  

Mosaic structure as the main feature of Mycobacterium bovis BCG genomes

Background: The genome stability of attenuated live BCG vaccine preventing the acute forms of childhood tuberculosis is an important aspect of vaccine production. The pur- pose of our study was a whole genome comparative analysis of BCG sub-strains and identification of potential triggers of sub-strains’ transition. Results: Genomes of three BCG Russia seed lots (1963, 1982, 2006 years) have been sequenced, and the stability of vaccine sub-strain genomes has been confirmed. A com- parative genome analysis of nine Mycobacterium bovis BCG and three M. bovis strains revealed their specific genome features associated with prophage profiles. A number of prophage-coded homologs to Caudovirales ORFs were common to all BCG genomes. Prophage profiles of BCG Tice and BCG Montreal genomes were unique and coded homologs to herpes viruses ORFs. The data of phylogenetic analysis of BCG sub-strain groups based on whole genome sequences and genome restriction maps were in con- gruence with prophage profiles. The only fragmentary similarity of specific prophage sequences of BCG Tice, BCG Montreal, and BCG Russia 368 in pair-wise alignments was observed, suggesting the impact of prophages on mosaic structure of genomes. Conclusions: The whole genome sequencing approach is essential for genomes with mosaic structure, harboring numerous prophage sequences. Tools for prophage search are effective instruments in this analysis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Isolation, development, and genomic analysis of Bacillus megaterium SR7 for growth and metabolite production under supercritical carbon dioxide

Supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) is an attractive substitute for conventional organic solvents due to its unique transport and thermodynamic properties, its renewability and labile nature, and its high solubility for compounds such as alcohols, ketones, and aldehydes. However, biological systems that use scCO2 are mainly limited to in vitro processes due to its strong inhibition of cell viability and growth. To solve this problem, we used a bioprospecting approach to isolate a microbial strain with the natural ability to grow while exposed to scCO2. Enrichment culture and serial passaging of deep subsurface fluids from the McElmo Dome scCO2 reservoir in aqueous media under scCO2 headspace enabled the isolation of spore-forming strain Bacillus megaterium SR7. Sequencing and analysis of the complete 5.51 Mbp genome and physiological characterization revealed the capacity for facultative anaerobic metabolism, including fermentative growth on a diverse range of organic substrates. Supplementation of growth medium with L-alanine for chemical induction of spore germination significantly improved growth frequencies and biomass accumulation under scCO2 headspace. Detection of endogenous fermentative compounds in cultures grown under scCO2 represents the first observation of bioproduct generation and accumulation under this condition. Culturing development and metabolic characterization of B. megaterium SR7 represent initial advancements in the effort toward enabling exploitation of scCO2 as a sustainable solvent for in vivo bioprocessing.


September 22, 2019  |  

Ring synthetic chromosome V SCRaMbLE.

Structural variations (SVs) exert important functional impacts on biological phenotypic diversity. Here we show a ring synthetic yeast chromosome V (ring_synV) can be used to continuously generate complex genomic variations and improve the production of prodeoxyviolacein (PDV) by applying Synthetic Chromosome Recombination and Modification by LoxP-mediated Evolution (SCRaMbLE) in haploid yeast cells. The SCRaMbLE of ring_synV generates aneuploid yeast strains with increased PDV productivity, and we identify aneuploid chromosome I, III, VI, XII, XIII, and ring_synV. The neochromosome of SCRaMbLEd ring_synV generated more unbalanced forms of variations, including duplication, insertions, and balanced forms of translocations and inversions than its linear form. Furthermore, of the 29 novel SVs detected, 11 prompted the PDV biosynthesis; and the deletion of uncharacterized gene YER182W is related to the improvement of the PDV. Overall, the SCRaMbLEing ring_synV embraces the evolution of the genome by modifying the chromosome number, structure, and organization, identifying targets for phenotypic comprehension.


September 22, 2019  |  

Discovery of the actinoplanic acid pathway in Streptomyces rapamycinicus reveals a genetically conserved synergism with rapamycin.

Actinobacteria possess a great wealth of pathways for production of bioactive compounds. Following advances in genome mining, dozens of natural product (NP) gene clusters are routinely found in each actinobacterial genome; however, the modus operandi of this large arsenal is poorly understood. During investigations of the secondary metabolome of Streptomyces rapamycinicus, the producer of rapamycin, we observed accumulation of two compounds never before reported from this organism. Structural elucidation revealed actinoplanic acid A and its demethyl analogue. Actinoplanic acids (APLs) are potent inhibitors of Ras farnesyltransferase and therefore represent bioactive compounds of medicinal interest. Supported with the unique structure of these polyketides and using genome mining, we identified a gene cluster responsible for their biosynthesis in S. rapamycinicus Based on experimental evidence and genetic organization of the cluster, we propose a stepwise biosynthesis of APL, the first bacterial example of a pathway incorporating the rare tricarballylic moiety into an NP. Although phylogenetically distant, the pathway shares some of the biosynthetic principles with the mycotoxins fumonisins. Namely, the core polyketide is acylated with the tricarballylate by an atypical nonribosomal peptide synthetase-catalyzed ester formation. Finally, motivated by the conserved colocalization of the rapamycin and APL pathway clusters in S. rapamycinicus and all other rapamycin-producing actinobacteria, we confirmed a strong synergism of these compounds in antifungal assays. Mining for such evolutionarily conserved coharboring of pathways would likely reveal further examples of NP sets, attacking multiple targets on the same foe. These could then serve as a guide for development of new combination therapies.© 2018 Mrak et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

A novel probiotic, Lactobacillus johnsonii 456, resists acid and can persist in the human gut beyond the initial ingestion period.

Probiotics are considered to have multiple beneficial effects on the human gastrointestinal tract, including immunomodulation, pathogen inhibition, and improved host nutrient metabolism. However, extensive characterization of these properties is needed to define suitable clinical applications for probiotic candidates. Lactobacillus johnsonii 456 (LBJ 456) was previously demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory and anti-genotoxic effects in a mouse model. Here, we characterize its resistance to gastric and bile acids as well as its ability to inhibit gut pathogens and adhere to host mucosa. While bile resistance and in vitro host attachment properties of LBJ 456 were comparable to other tested probiotics, LBJ 456 maintained higher viability at lower pH conditions compared to other tested strains. LBJ 456 also altered pathogen adhesion to LS 174T monolayers and demonstrated contact-dependent and independent inhibition of pathogen growth. Genome analyses further revealed possible genetic elements involved in host attachment and pathogen inhibition. Importantly, we show that ingestion of Lactobacillus johnsonii 456 over a one week yogurt course leads to persistent viable bacteria detectable even beyond the period of initial ingestion, unlike many other previously described probiotic species of lactic acid bacteria.


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