October 23, 2019  |  

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and replication. We generated 3 zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) that target sequences within the HBV polymerase, core and X genes. Upon the formation of ZFN-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSB), imprecise repair by non-homologous end joining leads to mutations that inactivate HBV genes. We delivered HBV-specific ZFNs using self-complementary adeno-associated virus (scAAV) vectors and tested their anti-HBV activity in HepAD38 cells. HBV-ZFNs efficiently disrupted HBV target sites by inducing site-specific mutations. Cytotoxicity was seen with one of the ZFNs. scAAV-mediated delivery of a ZFN targeting HBV polymerase resulted in complete inhibition of HBV DNA replication and production of infectious HBV virions in HepAD38 cells. This effect was sustained for at least 2 weeks following only a single treatment. Furthermore, high specificity was observed for all ZFNs, as negligible off-target cleavage was seen via high-throughput sequencing of 7 closely matched potential off-target sites. These results show that HBV-targeted ZFNs can efficiently inhibit active HBV replication and suppress the cellular template for HBV persistence, making them promising candidates for eradication therapy.


October 23, 2019  |  

Accurate identification and quantification of DNA species by next-generation sequencing in adeno-associated viral vectors produced in insect cells.

Recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vectors have proven excellent tools for the treatment of many genetic diseases and other complex diseases. However, the illegitimate encapsidation of DNA contaminants within viral particles constitutes a major safety concern for rAAV-based therapies. Moreover, the development of rAAV vectors for early-phase clinical trials has revealed the limited accuracy of the analytical tools used to characterize these new and complex drugs. Although most published data concerning residual DNA in rAAV preparations have been generated by quantitative PCR, we have developed a novel single-strand virus sequencing (SSV-Seq) method for quantification of DNA contaminants in AAV vectors produced in mammalian cells by next-generation sequencing (NGS). Here, we describe the adaptation of SSV-Seq for the accurate identification and quantification of DNA species in rAAV stocks produced in insect cells. We found that baculoviral DNA was the most abundant contaminant, representing less than 2.1% of NGS reads regardless of serotype (2, 8, or rh10). Sf9 producer cell DNA was detected at low frequency (=0.03%) in rAAV lots. Advanced computational analyses revealed that (1) baculoviral sequences close to the inverted terminal repeats preferentially underwent illegitimate encapsidation, and (2) single-nucleotide variants were absent from the rAAV genome. The high-throughput sequencing protocol described here enables effective DNA quality control of rAAV vectors produced in insect cells, and is adapted to conform with regulatory agency safety requirements.


September 22, 2019  |  

Alternative polyadenylation: methods, findings, and impacts.

Alternative polyadenylation (APA), a phenomenon that RNA molecules with different 3′ ends originate from distinct polyadenylation sites of a single gene, is emerging as a mechanism widely used to regulate gene expression. In the present review, we first summarized various methods prevalently adopted in APA study, mainly focused on the next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based techniques specially designed for APA identification, the related bioinformatics methods, and the strategies for APA study in single cells. Then we summarized the main findings and advances so far based on these methods, including the preferences of alternative polyA (pA) site, the biological processes involved, and the corresponding consequences. We especially categorized the APA changes discovered so far and discussed their potential functions under given conditions, along with the possible underlying molecular mechanisms. With more in-depth studies on extensive samples, more signatures and functions of APA will be revealed, and its diverse roles will gradually heave in sight. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Characterization of novel transcripts in pseudorabies virus.

In this study we identified two 3′-coterminal RNA molecules in the pseudorabies virus. The highly abundant short transcript (CTO-S) proved to be encoded between the ul21 and ul22 genes in close vicinity of the replication origin (OriL) of the virus. The less abundant long RNA molecule (CTO-L) is a transcriptional readthrough product of the ul21 gene and overlaps OriL. These polyadenylated RNAs were characterized by ascertaining their nucleotide sequences with the Illumina HiScanSQ and Pacific Biosciences Real-Time (PacBio RSII) sequencing platforms and by analyzing their transcription kinetics through use of multi-time-point Real-Time RT-PCR and the PacBio RSII system. It emerged that transcription of the CTOs is fully dependent on the viral transactivator protein IE180 and CTO-S is not a microRNA precursor. We propose an interaction between the transcription and replication machineries at this genomic location, which might play an important role in the regulation of DNA synthesis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Full-length isoform sequencing reveals novel transcripts and substantial transcriptional overlaps in a herpesvirus.

Whole transcriptome studies have become essential for understanding the complexity of genetic regulation. However, the conventionally applied short-read sequencing platforms cannot be used to reliably distinguish between many transcript isoforms. The Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RS II platform is capable of reading long nucleic acid stretches in a single sequencing run. The pseudorabies virus (PRV) is an excellent system to study herpesvirus gene expression and potential interactions between the transcriptional units. In this work, non-amplified and amplified isoform sequencing protocols were used to characterize the poly(A+) fraction of the lytic transcriptome of PRV, with the aim of a complete transcriptional annotation of the viral genes. The analyses revealed a previously unrecognized complexity of the PRV transcriptome including the discovery of novel protein-coding and non-coding genes, novel mono- and polycistronic transcription units, as well as extensive transcriptional overlaps between neighboring and distal genes. This study identified non-coding transcripts overlapping all three replication origins of the PRV, which might play a role in the control of DNA synthesis. We additionally established the relative expression levels of gene products. Our investigations revealed that the whole PRV genome is utilized for transcription, including both DNA strands in all coding and intergenic regions. The genome-wide occurrence of transcript overlaps suggests a crosstalk between genes through a network formed by interacting transcriptional machineries with a potential function in the control of gene expression.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptomic study of Herpes simplex virus type-1 using full-length sequencing techniques

Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) is a human pathogenic member of the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily of herpesviruses. The HSV-1 genome is a large double-stranded DNA specifying about 85 protein coding genes. The latest surveys have demonstrated that the HSV-1 transcriptome is much more complex than it had been thought before. Here, we provide a long-read sequencing dataset, which was generated by using the RSII and Sequel systems from Pacific Biosciences (PacBio), as well as MinION sequencing system from Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT). This dataset contains 39,096 reads of inserts (ROIs) mapped to the HSV-1 genome (X14112) in RSII sequencing, while Sequel sequencing yielded 77,851 ROIs. The MinION cDNA sequencing altogether resulted in 158,653 reads, while the direct RNA-seq produced 16,516 reads. This dataset can be utilized for the identification of novel HSV RNAs and transcripts isoforms, as well as for the comparison of the quality and length of the sequencing reads derived from the currently available long- read sequencing platforms. The various library preparation approaches can also be compared with each other.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read isoform sequencing reveals a hidden complexity of the transcriptional landscape of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1.

In this study, we used the amplified isoform sequencing technique from Pacific Biosciences to characterize the poly(A)(+) fraction of the lytic transcriptome of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Our analysis detected 34 formerly unidentified protein-coding genes, 10 non-coding RNAs, as well as 17 polycistronic and complex transcripts. This work also led us to identify many transcript isoforms, including 13 splice and 68 transcript end variants, as well as several transcript overlaps. Additionally, we determined previously unascertained transcriptional start and polyadenylation sites. We analyzed the transcriptional activity from the complementary DNA strand in five convergent HSV gene pairs with quantitative RT-PCR and detected antisense RNAs in each gene. This part of the study revealed an inverse correlation between the expressions of convergent partners. Our work adds new insights for understanding the complexity of the pervasive transcriptional overlaps by suggesting that there is a crosstalk between adjacent and distal genes through interaction between their transcription apparatuses. We also identified transcripts overlapping the HSV replication origins, which may indicate an interplay between the transcription and replication machineries. The relative abundance of HSV-1 transcripts has also been established by using a novel method based on the calculation of sequencing reads for the analysis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of the dynamic transcriptome of a herpesvirus with long-read Single Molecule Real-Time Sequencing.

Herpesvirus gene expression is co-ordinately regulated and sequentially ordered during productive infection. The viral genes can be classified into three distinct kinetic groups: immediate-early, early, and late classes. In this study, a massively parallel sequencing technique that is based on PacBio Single Molecule Real-time sequencing platform, was used for quantifying the poly(A) fraction of the lytic transcriptome of pseudorabies virus (PRV) throughout a 12-hour interval of productive infection on PK-15 cells. Other approaches, including microarray, real-time RT-PCR and Illumina sequencing are capable of detecting only the aggregate transcriptional activity of particular genomic regions, but not individual herpesvirus transcripts. However, SMRT sequencing allows for a distinction between transcript isoforms, including length- and splice variants, as well as between overlapping polycistronic RNA molecules. The non-amplified Isoform Sequencing (Iso-Seq) method was used to analyse the kinetic properties of the lytic PRV transcripts and to then classify them accordingly. Additionally, the present study demonstrates the general utility of long-read sequencing for the time-course analysis of global gene expression in practically any organism.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing of human cytomegalovirus transcriptome reveals RNA isoforms carrying distinct coding potentials.

The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous, human pathogenic herpesvirus. The complete viral genome is transcriptionally active during infection; however, a large part of its transcriptome has yet to be annotated. In this work, we applied the amplified isoform sequencing technique from Pacific Biosciences to characterize the lytic transcriptome of HCMV strain Towne varS. We developed a pipeline for transcript annotation using long-read sequencing data. We identified 248 transcriptional start sites, 116 transcriptional termination sites and 80 splicing events. Using this information, we have annotated 291 previously undescribed or only partially annotated transcript isoforms, including eight novel antisense transcripts and their isoforms, as well as a novel transcript (RS2) in the short repeat region, partially antisense to RS1. Similarly to other organisms, we discovered a high transcriptional diversity in HCMV, with many transcripts only slightly differing from one another. Comparing our transcriptome profiling results to an earlier ribosome footprint analysis, we have concluded that the majority of the transcripts contain multiple translationally active ORFs, and also that most isoforms contain unique combinations of ORFs. Based on these results, we propose that one important function of this transcriptional diversity may be to provide a regulatory mechanism at the level of translation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Sooty mangabey genome sequence provides insight into AIDS resistance in a natural SIV host.

In contrast to infections with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in humans and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in macaques, SIV infection of a natural host, sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys), is non-pathogenic despite high viraemia. Here we sequenced and assembled the genome of a captive sooty mangabey. We conducted genome-wide comparative analyses of transcript assemblies from C. atys and AIDS-susceptible species, such as humans and macaques, to identify candidates for host genetic factors that influence susceptibility. We identified several immune-related genes in the genome of C. atys that show substantial sequence divergence from macaques or humans. One of these sequence divergences, a C-terminal frameshift in the toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) gene of C. atys, is associated with a blunted in vitro response to TLR-4 ligands. In addition, we found a major structural change in exons 3-4 of the immune-regulatory protein intercellular adhesion molecule 2 (ICAM-2); expression of this variant leads to reduced cell surface expression of ICAM-2. These data provide a resource for comparative genomic studies of HIV and/or SIV pathogenesis and may help to elucidate the mechanisms by which SIV-infected sooty mangabeys avoid AIDS.


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