June 1, 2021  |  

Draft genome of horseweed illuminates expansion of gene families that might endow herbicide resistance.

Conyza canadensis (horseweed), a member of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family, was the first broadleaf weed to evolve resistance to glyphosate. Horseweed, one of the most problematic weeds in the world, is a true diploid (2n=2X=18) with the smallest genome of any known agricultural weed (335 Mb). Thus, it is an appropriate candidate to help us understand the genetic and genomic basis of weediness. We undertook a draft de novo genome assembly of horseweed by combining data from multiple sequencing platforms (454 GS-FLX, Illumina HiSeq 2000 and PacBio RS) using various libraries with different insertion sizes (~350 bp, ~600 bp, ~3 kb and ~10 kb) of a Tennessee-accessed, glyphosate-resistant horseweed biotype. From 116.3 Gb (~350× coverage) of data, the genome was assembled into 13,966 scaffolds with N50 =33,561 bp. The assembly covered 92.3% of the genome, including the complete chloroplast genome (~153 kb) and a nearly-complete mitochondrial genome (~450 kb in 120 scaffolds). The nuclear genome is comprised of 44,592 protein-coding genes. Genome re-sequencing of seven additional horseweed biotypes was performed. These sequence data were assembled and used to analyze genome variation. Simple sequence repeat and single nucleotide polymorphisms were surveyed. Genomic patterns were detected that associated with glyphosate-resistant or –susceptible biotypes. The draft genome will be useful to better understand weediness, the evolution of herbicide resistance, and to devise new management strategies. The genome will also be useful as another reference genome in the Compositae. To our knowledge, this paper represents the first published draft genome of an agricultural weed.


April 21, 2020  |  

Precise temporal regulation of Dux is important for embryo development.

Zygotic genome activation (ZGA) following fertilization is accomplished through a process termed the maternal-to-zygotic transition, during which the maternal RNAs and proteins are degraded and zygotic genome is transcriptionally activated.1 In mice, minor ZGA occurs from S phase of the zygote to G1 phase of the two-cell (2C) embryo, while major ZGA takes place during the middle-to-late 2C stage with a burst of transcription of totipotent cleavage stage-specific genes and retrotransposons.2Dux has been recently identified and considered as a master inducer that regulates the ZGA process.3–5Dux can directly bind and robustly activate 2C stage-specific ZGA transcripts and convert mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to a 2C-like state with unique features that resembles the 2C embryos.4Intriguingly, ~20% embryos with zygotic depletion of Dux unexpectedly reached morula or blastocyst stage even though defective ZGA program was detected.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chlorella vulgaris genome assembly and annotation reveals the molecular basis for metabolic acclimation to high light conditions.

Chlorella vulgaris is a fast-growing fresh-water microalga cultivated at the industrial scale for applications ranging from food to biofuel production. To advance our understanding of its biology and to establish genetics tools for biotechnological manipulation, we sequenced the nuclear and organelle genomes of Chlorella vulgaris 211/11P by combining next generation sequencing and optical mapping of isolated DNA molecules. This hybrid approach allowed to assemble the nuclear genome in 14 pseudo-molecules with an N50 of 2.8 Mb and 98.9% of scaffolded genome. The integration of RNA-seq data obtained at two different irradiances of growth (high light-HL versus low light -LL) enabled to identify 10,724 nuclear genes, coding for 11,082 transcripts. Moreover 121 and 48 genes were respectively found in the chloroplast and mitochondrial genome. Functional annotation and expression analysis of nuclear, chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences revealed peculiar features of Chlorella vulgaris. Evidence of horizontal gene transfers from chloroplast to mitochondrial genome was observed. Furthermore, comparative transcriptomic analyses of LL vs HL provide insights into the molecular basis for metabolic rearrangement in HL vs. LL conditions leading to enhanced de novo fatty acid biosynthesis and triacylglycerol accumulation. The occurrence of a cytosolic fatty acid biosynthetic pathway can be predicted and its upregulation upon HL exposure is observed, consistent with increased lipid amount under HL. These data provide a rich genetic resource for future genome editing studies, and potential targets for biotechnological manipulation of Chlorella vulgaris or other microalgae species to improve biomass and lipid productivity.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Large Fragment Deletions Induced by Cas9 Cleavage While Not in BEs System in Rabbit

CRISPR-Cas9 and BEs system are poised to become the gene editing tool of choice in clinical contexts, however large fragment deletion was found in Cas9-mediated mutation cells without animal level validation. By analyzing 16 gene-edited rabbit lines (including 112 rabbits) generated using SpCas9, BEs, xCas9 and xCas9-BEs with long-range PCR genotyping and long-read sequencing by PacBio platform, we show that extending thousands of bases fragment deletions in single-guide RNA/Cas9 and xCas9 system mutation rabbit, but few large deletions were found in BEs-induced mutation rabbits. We firstly validated that no large fragment deletion induced by BEs system at animal level, suggesting that BE systems can be beneficial tools for the further development of highly accurate and secure gene therapy for the clinical treatment of human genetic disorders


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation.

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~?1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25-30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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