June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative Studies of Mammalian Sex Chromosomes: From Cytogenetics to NGS

It is a common knowledge that sex chromosome mutations are better tolerated and more viable compared to changes in autosomes. This is explained by relatively low gene density in both the X and the Y chromosome and by random X chromosome inactivation in mammalian females buffering the effect of X-aneuploidies. However, it is not well understood why apparently similar sex chromosome abnormalities, such as X-monosomy or certain Y chromosome rearrangements, result in different phenotypic effects in different species. It is thought that this is due to species differences in the organization of the Y chromosome, differences in the set of genes escaping X-inactivation, and the presence of species/lineage specific sex-linked genes with functions in development and reproduction. Current knowledge about the species differences in sex chromosome organization and function is limited, this despite the availability of reference genome assemblies for most domestic species. It appears that sequence assembly of the X chromosome in most species is rather patchy containing multiple gaps and possible misassemblies, being the poorest in the pseudoautosomal region and in regions containing putative lineage-specific sequences. The Y chromosome, on the other hand, is typically not included in the reference genome and is studied separately, whereas complete sequence assembly of the male-specific portion of the Y is not yet available for any domestic species. In this talk I will discuss comparative organization and function of animal sex chromosomes and related phenotypes proceeding from our research in horses.


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  |  

Transmission of ESBL-producing Escherichia coli between broilers and humans on broiler farms.

ESBL and AmpC ß-lactamases are an increasing concern for public health. Studies suggest that ESBL/pAmpC-producing Escherichia coli and their plasmids carrying antibiotic resistance genes can spread from broilers to humans working or living on broiler farms. These studies used traditional typing methods, which may not have provided sufficient resolution to reliably assess the relatedness of these isolates.Eleven suspected transmission events among broilers and humans living/working on eight broiler farms were investigated using whole-genome short-read (Illumina) and long-read sequencing (PacBio). Core genome MLST (cgMLST) was performed to investigate the occurrence of strain transmission. Horizontal plasmid and gene transfer were analysed using BLAST.Of eight suspected strain transmission events, six were confirmed. The isolate pairs had identical ESBL/AmpC genes and fewer than eight allelic differences according to the cgMLST, and five had an almost identical plasmid composition. On one of the farms, cgMLST revealed that the isolate pairs belonging to ST10 from a broiler and a household member of the farmer had 475 different alleles, but that the plasmids were identical, indicating horizontal transfer of mobile elements rather than strain transfer. Of three suspected horizontal plasmid transmission events, one was confirmed. In addition, gene transfer between plasmids was found.The present study confirms transmission of strains as well as horizontal plasmid and gene transfer between broilers and farmers and household members on the same farm. WGS is an important tool to confirm suspected zoonotic strain and resistance gene transmission. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

In-depth analysis of the genome of Trypanosoma evansi, an etiologic agent of surra.

Trypanosoma evansi is the causative agent of the animal trypanosomiasis surra, a disease with serious economic burden worldwide. The availability of the genome of its closely related parasite Trypanosoma brucei allows us to compare their genetic and evolutionarily shared and distinct biological features. The complete genomic sequence of the T. evansi YNB strain was obtained using a combination of genomic and transcriptomic sequencing, de novo assembly, and bioinformatic analysis. The genome size of the T. evansi YNB strain was 35.2 Mb, showing 96.59% similarity in sequence and 88.97% in scaffold alignment with T. brucei. A total of 8,617 protein-coding genes, accounting for 31% of the genome, were predicted. Approximately 1,641 alternative splicing events of 820 genes were identified, with a majority mediated by intron retention, which represented a major difference in post-transcriptional regulation between T. evansi and T. brucei. Disparities in gene copy number of the variant surface glycoprotein, expression site-associated genes, microRNAs, and RNA-binding protein were clearly observed between the two parasites. The results revealed the genomic determinants of T. evansi, which encoded specific biological characteristics that distinguished them from other related trypanosome species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic analysis of three Clostridioides difficile isolates from urban water sources.

We investigated inflow of a wastewater treatment plant and sediment of an urban lake for the presence of Clostridioides difficile by cultivation and PCR. Among seven colonies we sequenced the complete genomes of three: two non-toxigenic isolates from wastewater and one toxigenic isolate from the urban lake. For all obtained isolates, a close genomic relationship with human-derived isolates was observed.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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