April 21, 2020  |  

Improved assembly and variant detection of a haploid human genome using single-molecule, high-fidelity long reads.

The sequence and assembly of human genomes using long-read sequencing technologies has revolutionized our understanding of structural variation and genome organization. We compared the accuracy, continuity, and gene annotation of genome assemblies generated from either high-fidelity (HiFi) or continuous long-read (CLR) datasets from the same complete hydatidiform mole human genome. We find that the HiFi sequence data assemble an additional 10% of duplicated regions and more accurately represent the structure of tandem repeats, as validated with orthogonal analyses. As a result, an additional 5 Mbp of pericentromeric sequences are recovered in the HiFi assembly, resulting in a 2.5-fold increase in the NG50 within 1 Mbp of the centromere (HiFi 480.6 kbp, CLR 191.5 kbp). Additionally, the HiFi genome assembly was generated in significantly less time with fewer computational resources than the CLR assembly. Although the HiFi assembly has significantly improved continuity and accuracy in many complex regions of the genome, it still falls short of the assembly of centromeric DNA and the largest regions of segmental duplication using existing assemblers. Despite these shortcomings, our results suggest that HiFi may be the most effective standalone technology for de novo assembly of human genomes. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/University College London.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Chinese chestnut genome: a reference for species restoration

Forest tree species are increasingly subject to severe mortalities from exotic pests, diseases, and invasive organisms, accelerated by climate change. Forest health issues are threatening multiple species and ecosystem sustainability globally. While sources of resistance may be available in related species, or among surviving trees, introgression of resistance genes into threatened tree species in reasonable time frames requires genome-wide breeding tools. Asian species of chestnut (Castanea spp.) are being employed as donors of disease resistance genes to restore native chestnut species in North America and Europe. To aid in the restoration of threatened chestnut species, we present the assembly of a reference genome with chromosome-scale sequences for Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), the disease-resistance donor for American chestnut restoration. We also demonstrate the value of the genome as a platform for research and species restoration, including new insights into the evolution of blight resistance in Asian chestnut species, the locations in the genome of ecologically important signatures of selection differentiating American chestnut from Chinese chestnut, the identification of candidate genes for disease resistance, and preliminary comparisons of genome organization with related species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Microbial diversity in the tick Argas japonicus (Acari: Argasidae) with a focus on Rickettsia pathogens.

The soft tick Argas japonicus mainly infests birds and can cause human dermatitis; however, no pathogen has been identified from this tick species in China. In the present study, the microbiota in A. japonicus collected from an epidemic community was explored, and some putative Rickettsia pathogens were further characterized. The results obtained indicated that bacteria in A. japonicus were mainly ascribed to the phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. At the genus level, the male A. japonicus harboured more diverse bacteria than the females and nymphs. The bacteria Alcaligenes, Pseudomonas, Rickettsia and Staphylococcus were common in nymphs and adults. The abundance of bacteria belonging to the Rickettsia genus in females and males was 7.27% and 10.42%, respectively. Furthermore, the 16S rRNA gene of Rickettsia was amplified and sequenced, and phylogenetic analysis revealed that 13 sequences were clustered with the spotted fever group rickettsiae (Rickettsia heilongjiangensis and Rickettsia japonica) and three were clustered with Rickettsia limoniae, which suggested that the characterized Rickettsia in A. japonicus were novel putative pathogens and also that the residents were at considerable risk for infection by tick-borne pathogens. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

High satellite repeat turnover in great apes studied with short- and long-read technologies.

Satellite repeats are a structural component of centromeres and telomeres, and in some instances their divergence is known to drive speciation. Due to their highly repetitive nature, satellite sequences have been understudied and underrepresented in genome assemblies. To investigate their turnover in great apes, we studied satellite repeats of unit sizes up to 50?bp in human, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, using unassembled short and long sequencing reads. The density of satellite repeats, as identified from accurate short reads (Illumina), varied greatly among great ape genomes. These were dominated by a handful of abundant repeated motifs, frequently shared among species, which formed two groups: (1) the (AATGG)n repeat (critical for heat shock response) and its derivatives; and (2) subtelomeric 32-mers involved in telomeric metabolism. Using the densities of abundant repeats, individuals could be classified into species. However clustering did not reproduce the accepted species phylogeny, suggesting rapid repeat evolution. Several abundant repeats were enriched in males vs. females; using Y chromosome assemblies or FIuorescent In Situ Hybridization, we validated their location on the Y. Finally, applying a novel computational tool, we identified many satellite repeats completely embedded within long Oxford Nanopore and Pacific Biosciences reads. Such repeats were up to 59?kb in length and consisted of perfect repeats interspersed with other similar sequences. Our results based on sequencing reads generated with three different technologies provide the first detailed characterization of great ape satellite repeats, and open new avenues for exploring their functions. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

The landscape of SNCA transcripts across synucleinopathies: New insights from long reads sequencing analysis

Dysregulation of alpha-synuclein expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, in particular Parkinsontextquoterights Disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Previous studies have shown that the alternatively spliced isoforms of the SNCA gene are differentially expressed in different parts of the brain for PD and DLB patients. Similarly, SNCA isoforms with skipped exons can have a functional impact on the protein domains. The large intronic region of the SNCA gene was also shown to harbor structural variants that affect transcriptional levels. Here we apply the first study of using long read sequencing with targeted capture of both the gDNA and cDNA of the SNCA gene in brain tissues of PD, DLB, and control samples using the PacBio Sequel system. The targeted full-length cDNA (Iso-Seq) data confirmed complex usage of known alternative start sites and variable 3textquoteright UTR lengths, as well as novel 5textquoteright starts and 3textquoteright ends not previously described. The targeted gDNA data allowed phasing of up to 81% of the ~114kb SNCA region, with the longest phased block excedding 54 kb. We demonstrate that long gDNA and cDNA reads have the potential to reveal long-range information not previously accessible using traditional sequencing methods. This approach has a potential impact in studying disease risk genes such as SNCA, providing new insights into the genetic etiologies, including perturbations to the landscape the gene transcripts, of human complex diseases such as synucleinopathies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Early Sex-chromosome Evolution in the Diploid Dioecious Plant Mercurialis annua.

Suppressed recombination allows divergence between homologous sex chromosomes and the functionality of their genes. Here, we reveal patterns of the earliest stages of sex-chromosome evolution in the diploid dioecious herb Mercurialis annua on the basis of cytological analysis, de novo genome assembly and annotation, genetic mapping, exome resequencing of natural populations, and transcriptome analysis. The genome assembly contained 34,105 expressed genes, of which 10,076 were assigned to linkage groups. Genetic mapping and exome resequencing of individuals across the species range both identified the largest linkage group, LG1, as the sex chromosome. Although the sex chromosomes of M. annua are karyotypically homomorphic, we estimate that about a third of the Y chromosome has ceased recombining, containing 568 transcripts and spanning 22.3 cM in the corresponding female map. Nevertheless, we found limited evidence for Y-chromosome degeneration in terms of gene loss and pseudogenization, and most X- and Y-linked genes appear to have diverged in the period subsequent to speciation between M. annua and its sister species M. huetii which shares the same sex-determining region. Taken together, our results suggest that the M. annua Y chromosome has at least two evolutionary strata: a small old stratum shared with M. huetii, and a more recent larger stratum that is probably unique to M. annua and that stopped recombining about one million years ago. Patterns of gene expression within the non-recombining region are consistent with the idea that sexually antagonistic selection may have played a role in favoring suppressed recombination.Copyright © 2019, Genetics.


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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Salmonella Genomic Island 3 Is an Integrative and Conjugative Element and Contributes to Copper and Arsenic Tolerance of Salmonella enterica.

Salmonella genomic island 3 (SGI3) was first described as a chromosomal island in Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:-, a monophasic variant of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium. The SGI3 DNA sequence detected from Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:- isolated in Japan was identical to that of a previously reported one across entire length of 81?kb. SGI3 consists of 86 open reading frames, including a copper homeostasis and silver resistance island (CHASRI) and an arsenic tolerance operon, in addition to genes related to conjugative transfer and DNA replication or partitioning, suggesting that the island is a mobile genetic element. We successfully selected transconjugants that acquired SGI3 after filter-mating experiments using the S. enterica serovars Typhimurium, Heidelberg, Hadar, Newport, Cerro, and Thompson as recipients. Southern blot analysis using I-CeuI-digested genomic DNA demonstrated that SGI3 was integrated into a chromosomal fragment of the transconjugants. PCR and sequencing analysis demonstrated that SGI3 was inserted into the 3′ end of the tRNA genes pheV or pheR The length of the target site was 52 or 55?bp, and a 55-bp attI sequence indicating generation of the circular form of SGI3 was also detected. The transconjugants had a higher MIC against CuSO4 compared to the recipient strains under anaerobic conditions. Tolerance was defined by the cus gene cluster in the CHASRI. The transconjugants also had distinctly higher MICs against Na2HAsO4 compared to recipient strains under aerobic conditions. These findings clearly demonstrate that SGI3 is an integrative and conjugative element and contributes to the copper and arsenic tolerance of S. enterica.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Remedial Treatment of Corroded Iron Objects by Environmental Aeromonas Isolates.

Using bacteria to transform reactive corrosion products into stable compounds represents an alternative to traditional methods employed in iron conservation. Two environmental Aeromonas strains (CA23 and CU5) were used to transform ferric iron corrosion products (goethite and lepidocrocite) into stable ferrous iron-bearing minerals (vivianite and siderite). A genomic and transcriptomic approach was used to analyze the metabolic traits of these strains and to evaluate their pathogenic potential. Although genes involved in solid-phase iron reduction were identified, key genes present in other environmental iron-reducing species are missing from the genome of CU5. Several pathogenicity factors were identified in the genomes of both strains, but none of these was expressed under iron reduction conditions. Additional in vivo tests showed hemolytic and cytotoxic activities for strain CA23 but not for strain CU5. Both strains were easily inactivated using ethanol and heat. Nonetheless, given a lesser potential for a pathogenic lifestyle, CU5 is the most promising candidate for the development of a bio-based iron conservation method stabilizing iron corrosion. Based on all the results, a prototype treatment was established using archaeological items. On those, the conversion of reactive corrosion products and the formation of a homogenous layer of biogenic iron minerals were achieved. This study shows how naturally occurring microorganisms and their metabolic capabilities can be used to develop bio-inspired solutions to the problem of metal corrosion.IMPORTANCE Microbiology can greatly help in the quest for a sustainable solution to the problem of iron corrosion, which causes important economic losses in a wide range of fields, including the protection of cultural heritage and building materials. Using bacteria to transform reactive and unstable corrosion products into more-stable compounds represents a promising approach. The overall aim of this study was to develop a method for the conservation and restoration of corroded iron items, starting from the isolation of iron-reducing bacteria from natural environments. This resulted in the identification of a suitable candidate (Aeromonas sp. strain CU5) that mediates the formation of desirable minerals at the surfaces of the objects. This led to the proof of concept of an application method on real objects.Copyright © 2019 Kooli et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic inversions and GOLGA core duplicons underlie disease instability at the 15q25 locus.

Human chromosome 15q25 is involved in several disease-associated structural rearrangements, including microdeletions and chromosomal markers with inverted duplications. Using comparative fluorescence in situ hybridization, strand-sequencing, single-molecule, real-time sequencing and Bionano optical mapping analyses, we investigated the organization of the 15q25 region in human and nonhuman primates. We found that two independent inversions occurred in this region after the fission event that gave rise to phylogenetic chromosomes XIV and XV in humans and great apes. One of these inversions is still polymorphic in the human population today and may confer differential susceptibility to 15q25 microdeletions and inverted duplications. The inversion breakpoints map within segmental duplications containing core duplicons of the GOLGA gene family and correspond to the site of an ancestral centromere, which became inactivated about 25 million years ago. The inactivation of this centromere likely released segmental duplications from recombination repression typical of centromeric regions. We hypothesize that this increased the frequency of ectopic recombination creating a hotspot of hominid inversions where dispersed GOLGA core elements now predispose this region to recurrent genomic rearrangements associated with disease.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromulinavorax destructans, a pathogen of microzooplankton that provides a window into the enigmatic candidate phylum Dependentiae.

Members of the major candidate phylum Dependentiae (a.k.a. TM6) are widespread across diverse environments from showerheads to peat bogs; yet, with the exception of two isolates infecting amoebae, they are only known from metagenomic data. The limited knowledge of their biology indicates that they have a long evolutionary history of parasitism. Here, we present Chromulinavorax destructans (Strain SeV1) the first isolate of this phylum to infect a representative from a widespread and ecologically significant group of heterotrophic flagellates, the microzooplankter Spumella elongata (Strain CCAP 955/1). Chromulinavorax destructans has a reduced 1.2 Mb genome that is so specialized for infection that it shows no evidence of complete metabolic pathways, but encodes an extensive transporter system for importing nutrients and energy in the form of ATP from the host. Its replication causes extensive reorganization and expansion of the mitochondrion, effectively surrounding the pathogen, consistent with its dependency on the host for energy. Nearly half (44%) of the inferred proteins contain signal sequences for secretion, including many without recognizable similarity to proteins of known function, as well as 98 copies of proteins with an ankyrin-repeat domain; ankyrin-repeats are known effectors of host modulation, suggesting the presence of an extensive host-manipulation apparatus. These observations help to cement members of this phylum as widespread and diverse parasites infecting a broad range of eukaryotic microbes.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Reference Genome Sequence of Scutellaria baicalensis Provides Insights into the Evolution of Wogonin Biosynthesis.

Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi is important in Chinese traditional medicine where preparations of dried roots, “Huang Qin,” are used for liver and lung complaints and as complementary cancer treatments. We report a high-quality reference genome sequence for S. baicalensis where 93% of the 408.14-Mb genome has been assembled into nine pseudochromosomes with a super-N50 of 33.2 Mb. Comparison of this sequence with those of closely related species in the order Lamiales, Sesamum indicum and Salvia splendens, revealed that a specialized metabolic pathway for the synthesis of 4′-deoxyflavone bioactives evolved in the genus Scutellaria. We found that the gene encoding a specific cinnamate coenzyme A ligase likely obtained its new function following recent mutations, and that four genes encoding enzymes in the 4′-deoxyflavone pathway are present as tandem repeats in the genome of S. baicalensis. Further analyses revealed that gene duplications, segmental duplication, gene amplification, and point mutations coupled to gene neo- and subfunctionalizations were involved in the evolution of 4′-deoxyflavone synthesis in the genus Scutellaria. Our study not only provides significant insight into the evolution of specific flavone biosynthetic pathways in the mint family, Lamiaceae, but also will facilitate the development of tools for enhancing bioactive productivity by metabolic engineering in microbes or by molecular breeding in plants. The reference genome of S. baicalensis is also useful for improving the genome assemblies for other members of the mint family and offers an important foundation for decoding the synthetic pathways of bioactive compounds in medicinal plants.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Transmission of ciprofloxacin resistance in Salmonella mediated by a novel type of conjugative helper plasmids.

Ciprofloxacin resistance in Salmonella has been increasingly reported due to the emergence and dissemination of multiple Plasmid-Mediated Quinolone Resistance (PMQR) determinants, which are mainly located in non-conjugative plasmids or chromosome. In this study, we aimed to depict the molecular mechanisms underlying the rare phenomenon of horizontal transfer of ciprofloxacin resistance phenotype in Salmonella by conjugation experiments, S1-PFGE and complete plasmid sequencing. Two types of non-conjugative plasmids, namely an IncX1 type carrying a qnrS1 gene, and an IncH1 plasmid carrying the oqxAB-qnrS gene, both ciprofloxacin resistance determinants in Salmonella, were recovered from two Salmonella strains. Importantly, these non-conjugative plasmids could be fused with a novel Incl1 type conjugative helper plasmid, which could target insertion sequence (IS) elements located in the non-conjugative, ciprofloxacin-resistance-encoding plasmid through replicative transcription, eventually forming a hybrid conjugative plasmid transmissible among members of Enterobacteriaceae. Since our data showed that such conjugative helper plasmids are commonly detectable among clinical Salmonella strains, particularly S. Typhimurium, fusion events leading to generation and enhanced dissemination of conjugative ciprofloxacin resistance-encoding plasmids in Salmonella are expected to result in a sharp increase in the incidence of resistance to fluoroquinolone, the key choice for treating life-threatening Salmonella infections, thereby posing a serious public health threat.


April 21, 2020  |  

Interspecies association mapping links reduced CG to TG substitution rates to the loss of gene-body methylation.

Comparative genomics can unravel the genetic basis of species differences; however, successful reports on quantitative traits are still scarce. Here we present genome assemblies of 31 so-far unassembled Brassicaceae plant species and combine them with 16 previously published assemblies to establish the Brassicaceae Diversity Panel. Using a new interspecies association strategy for quantitative traits, we found a so-far unknown association between the unexpectedly high variation in CG to TG substitution rates in genes and the absence of CHROMOMETHYLASE3 (CMT3) orthologues. Low substitution rates were associated with the loss of CMT3, while species with conserved CMT3 orthologues showed high substitution rates. Species without CMT3 also lacked gene-body methylation (gbM), suggesting an evolutionary trade-off between the unknown function of gbM and low substitution rates in Brassicaceae, possibly due to low mutability of non-methylated cytosines.


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