June 1, 2021  |  

Improving long-read assembly of microbial genomes and plasmids

Complete, high-quality microbial genomes are very valuable across a broad array of fields, from environmental studies, to human microbiome health, food pathogen surveillance, etc. Long-read sequencing enables accurate resolution of complex microbial genomes and is becoming the new standard. Here we report our novel Microbial Assembly pipeline to facilitate rapid, large-scale analysis of microbial genomes. We sequenced a 48-plex library with one SMRT Cell 8M on the Sequel II System, demultiplexed, then analyzed the data with Microbial Assembly.


April 21, 2020  |  

Dysbiosis and Variation in Predicted Functions of the Granulation Tissue Microbiome in HPV Positive and Negative Severe Chronic Periodontitis.

Retrospective analysis has already shown correlation between severe Chronic Periodontitis (CP) cases with human papiloma virus (HPV). Hence, we aimed to explore deep-seated infected granulation tissue removed during periodontal flap surgery procedures for residential bacterial species between HPV+ and HVP- CP cases, which may serve as good predisposition marker for oral cancer. All CP-granulation samples showed the prominence of Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes phyla with an abundance of gram negative anaerobes, except Streptococcus. In Beta diversity nonmetric multidimensional scaling plot, the random distribution of species was observed between HPV+ and HPV- CP granulation-samples. However, an abundance of Capnocytophaga ochracea was observed in HPV+ CP samples (p<0.05), while Porphyromonas endodontalis, Macellibacteroides fermentas, Treponema phagedenis, and Campylobacter rectus species were highly abundant in HPV- CP samples (p<0.05). The differential species richness leads altered functions related to mismatch-repair and nucleotide excision-repair and cytoskeleton-proteins. Hence, differential abundance of gram negative bacterial species between HPV+ and HPV- granulation-samples under anaerobic conditions may release virulence factors which may alter pathways favouring carcinogenesis. Hence, these species may serve as good predisposition marker for oral-cancer.


September 22, 2019  |  

Rodent papillomaviruses.

Preclinical infection model systems are extremely valuable tools to aid in our understanding of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) biology, disease progression, prevention, and treatments. In this context, rodent papillomaviruses and their respective infection models are useful tools but remain underutilized resources in the field of papillomavirus biology. Two rodent papillomaviruses, MnPV1, which infects the Mastomys species of multimammate rats, and MmuPV1, which infects laboratory mice, are currently the most studied rodent PVs. Both of these viruses cause malignancy in the skin and can provide attractive infection models to study the lesser understood cutaneous papillomaviruses that have been frequently associated with HPV-related skin cancers. Of these, MmuPV1 is the first reported rodent papillomavirus that can naturally infect the laboratory strain of mice. MmuPV1 is an attractive model virus to study papillomavirus pathogenesis because of the ubiquitous availability of lab mice and the fact that this mouse species is genetically modifiable. In this review, we have summarized the knowledge we have gained about PV biology from the study of rodent papillomaviruses and point out the remaining gaps that can provide new research opportunities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next-generation sequencing for pathogen detection and identification

Over the past decade, the field of genomics has seen such drastic improvements in sequencing chemistries that high-throughput sequencing, or next-generation sequencing (NGS), is being applied to generate data across many disciplines. NGS instruments are becoming less expensive, faster, and smaller, and therefore are being adopted in an increasing number of laboratories, including clinical laboratories. Thus far, clinical use of NGS has been mostly focused on the human genome, for purposes such as characterizing the molecular basis of cancer or for diagnosing and understanding the basis of rare genetic disorders. There are, however, an increasing number of examples whereby NGS is employed to discover novel pathogens, and these cases provide precedent for the use of NGS in microbial diagnostics. NGS has many advantages over traditional microbial diagnostic methods, such as unbiased rather than pathogen-specific protocols, ability to detect fastidious or non-culturable organisms, and ability to detect co-infections. One of the most impressive advantages of NGS is that it requires little or no prior knowledge of the pathogen, unlike many other diagnostic assays; therefore for pathogen discovery, NGS is very valuable. However, despite these advantages, there are challenges involved in implementing NGS for routine clinical microbiological diagnosis. We discuss these advantages and challenges in the context of recently described research studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

The full transcription map of mouse papillomavirus type 1 (MmuPV1) in mouse wart tissues.

Mouse papillomavirus type 1 (MmuPV1) provides, for the first time, the opportunity to study infection and pathogenesis of papillomaviruses in the context of laboratory mice. In this report, we define the transcriptome of MmuPV1 genome present in papillomas arising in experimentally infected mice using a combination of RNA-seq, PacBio Iso-seq, 5′ RACE, 3′ RACE, primer-walking RT-PCR, RNase protection, Northern blot and in situ hybridization analyses. We demonstrate that the MmuPV1 genome is transcribed unidirectionally from five major promoters (P) or transcription start sites (TSS) and polyadenylates its transcripts at two major polyadenylation (pA) sites. We designate the P7503, P360 and P859 as “early” promoters because they give rise to transcripts mostly utilizing the polyadenylation signal at nt 3844 and therefore can only encode early genes, and P7107 and P533 as “late” promoters because they give rise to transcripts utilizing polyadenylation signals at either nt 3844 or nt 7047, the latter being able to encode late, capsid proteins. MmuPV1 genome contains five splice donor sites and three acceptor sites that produce thirty-six RNA isoforms deduced to express seven predicted early gene products (E6, E7, E1, E1^M1, E1^M2, E2 and E8^E2) and three predicted late gene products (E1^E4, L2 and L1). The majority of the viral early transcripts are spliced once from nt 757 to 3139, while viral late transcripts, which are predicted to encode L1, are spliced twice, first from nt 7243 to either nt 3139 (P7107) or nt 757 to 3139 (P533) and second from nt 3431 to nt 5372. Thirteen of these viral transcripts were detectable by Northern blot analysis, with the P533-derived late E1^E4 transcripts being the most abundant. The late transcripts could be detected in highly differentiated keratinocytes of MmuPV1-infected tissues as early as ten days after MmuPV1 inoculation and correlated with detection of L1 protein and viral DNA amplification. In mature warts, detection of L1 was also found in more poorly differentiated cells, as previously reported. Subclinical infections were also observed. The comprehensive transcription map of MmuPV1 generated in this study provides further evidence that MmuPV1 is similar to high-risk cutaneous beta human papillomaviruses. The knowledge revealed will facilitate the use of MmuPV1 as an animal virus model for understanding of human papillomavirus gene expression, pathogenesis and immunology.


September 22, 2019  |  

SvABA: genome-wide detection of structural variants and indels by local assembly.

Structural variants (SVs), including small insertion and deletion variants (indels), are challenging to detect through standard alignment-based variant calling methods. Sequence assembly offers a powerful approach to identifying SVs, but is difficult to apply at scale genome-wide for SV detection due to its computational complexity and the difficulty of extracting SVs from assembly contigs. We describe SvABA, an efficient and accurate method for detecting SVs from short-read sequencing data using genome-wide local assembly with low memory and computing requirements. We evaluated SvABA’s performance on the NA12878 human genome and in simulated and real cancer genomes. SvABA demonstrates superior sensitivity and specificity across a large spectrum of SVs and substantially improves detection performance for variants in the 20-300 bp range, compared with existing methods. SvABA also identifies complex somatic rearrangements with chains of short (<1000 bp) templated-sequence insertions copied from distant genomic regions. We applied SvABA to 344 cancer genomes from 11 cancer types and found that short templated-sequence insertions occur in ~4% of all somatic rearrangements. Finally, we demonstrate that SvABA can identify sites of viral integration and cancer driver alterations containing medium-sized (50-300 bp) SVs.© 2018 Wala et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


July 19, 2019  |  

The somatic genomic landscape of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma.

We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

The haplotype-resolved genome and epigenome of the aneuploid HeLa cancer cell line.

The HeLa cell line was established in 1951 from cervical cancer cells taken from a patient, Henrietta Lacks. This was the first successful attempt to immortalize human-derived cells in vitro. The robust growth and unrestricted distribution of HeLa cells resulted in its broad adoption–both intentionally and through widespread cross-contamination–and for the past 60?years it has served a role analogous to that of a model organism. The cumulative impact of the HeLa cell line on research is demonstrated by its occurrence in more than 74,000 PubMed abstracts (approximately 0.3%). The genomic architecture of HeLa remains largely unexplored beyond its karyotype, partly because like many cancers, its extensive aneuploidy renders such analyses challenging. We carried out haplotype-resolved whole-genome sequencing of the HeLa CCL-2 strain, examined point- and indel-mutation variations, mapped copy-number variations and loss of heterozygosity regions, and phased variants across full chromosome arms. We also investigated variation and copy-number profiles for HeLa S3 and eight additional strains. We find that HeLa is relatively stable in terms of point variation, with few new mutations accumulating after early passaging. Haplotype resolution facilitated reconstruction of an amplified, highly rearranged region of chromosome 8q24.21 at which integration of the human papilloma virus type 18 (HPV-18) genome occurred and that is likely to be the event that initiated tumorigenesis. We combined these maps with RNA-seq and ENCODE Project data sets to phase the HeLa epigenome. This revealed strong, haplotype-specific activation of the proto-oncogene MYC by the integrated HPV-18 genome approximately 500?kilobases upstream, and enabled global analyses of the relationship between gene dosage and expression. These data provide an extensively phased, high-quality reference genome for past and future experiments relying on HeLa, and demonstrate the value of haplotype resolution for characterizing cancer genomes and epigenomes.


July 7, 2019  |  

The MHC locus and genetic susceptibility to autoimmune and infectious diseases.

In the past 50 years, variants in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus, also known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), have been reported as major risk factors for complex diseases. Recent advances, including large genetic screens, imputation, and analyses of non-additive and epistatic effects, have contributed to a better understanding of the shared and specific roles of MHC variants in different diseases. We review these advances and discuss the relationships between MHC variants involved in autoimmune and infectious diseases. Further work in this area will help to distinguish between alternative hypotheses for the role of pathogens in autoimmune disease development.


July 7, 2019  |  

Chloroplast genomes: diversity, evolution, and applications in genetic engineering.

Chloroplasts play a crucial role in sustaining life on earth. The availability of over 800 sequenced chloroplast genomes from a variety of land plants has enhanced our understanding of chloroplast biology, intracellular gene transfer, conservation, diversity, and the genetic basis by which chloroplast transgenes can be engineered to enhance plant agronomic traits or to produce high-value agricultural or biomedical products. In this review, we discuss the impact of chloroplast genome sequences on understanding the origins of economically important cultivated species and changes that have taken place during domestication. We also discuss the potential biotechnological applications of chloroplast genomes.


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