October 23, 2019  |  

Overview of the wheat genetic transformation and breeding status in China.

In the past two decades, Chinese scientists have achieved significant progress on three aspects of wheat genetic transformation. First, the wheat transformation platform has been established and optimized to improve the transformation efficiency, shorten the time required from starting of transformation procedure to the fertile transgenic wheat plants obtained as well as to overcome the problem of genotype-dependent for wheat genetic transformation in wide range of wheat elite varieties. Second, with the help of many emerging techniques such as CRISPR/cas9 function of over 100 wheat genes has been investigated. Finally, modern technology has been combined with the traditional breeding technique such as crossing to accelerate the application of wheat transformation. Overall, the wheat end-use quality and the characteristics of wheat stress tolerance have been improved by wheat genetic engineering technique. So far, wheat transgenic lines integrated with quality-improved genes and stress tolerant genes have been on the way of Production Test stage in the field. The debates and the future studies on wheat transformation have been discussed, and the brief summary of Chinese wheat breeding research history has also been provided in this review.


October 23, 2019  |  

Transmission, evolution, and endogenization: Lessons learned from recent retroviral invasions.

Viruses of the subfamily Orthoretrovirinaeare defined by the ability to reverse transcribe an RNA genome into DNA that integrates into the host cell genome during the intracellular virus life cycle. Exogenous retroviruses (XRVs) are horizontally transmitted between host individuals, with disease outcome depending on interactions between the retrovirus and the host organism. When retroviruses infect germ line cells of the host, they may become endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are permanent elements in the host germ line that are subject to vertical transmission. These ERVs sometimes remain infectious and can themselves give rise to XRVs. This review integrates recent developments in the phylogenetic classification of retroviruses and the identification of retroviral receptors to elucidate the origins and evolution of XRVs and ERVs. We consider whether ERVs may recurrently pressure XRVs to shift receptor usage to sidestep ERV interference. We discuss how related retroviruses undergo alternative fates in different host lineages after endogenization, with koala retrovirus (KoRV) receiving notable interest as a recent invader of its host germ line. KoRV is heritable but also infectious, which provides insights into the early stages of germ line invasions as well as XRV generation from ERVs. The relationship of KoRV to primate and other retroviruses is placed in the context of host biogeography and the potential role of bats and rodents as vectors for interspecies viral transmission. Combining studies of extant XRVs and “fossil” endogenous retroviruses in koalas and other Australasian species has broadened our understanding of the evolution of retroviruses and host-retrovirus interactions. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


October 23, 2019  |  

Bioengineered viral platform for intramuscular passive vaccine delivery to human skeletal muscle.

Skeletal muscle is ideal for passive vaccine administration as it is easily accessible by intramuscular injection. Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors are in consideration for passive vaccination clinical trials for HIV and influenza. However, greater human skeletal muscle transduction is needed for therapeutic efficacy than is possible with existing serotypes. To bioengineer capsids with therapeutic levels of transduction, we utilized a directed evolution approach to screen libraries of shuffled AAV capsids in pools of surgically resected human skeletal muscle cells from five patients. Six rounds of evolution were performed in various muscle cell types, and evolved variants were validated against existing muscle-tropic serotypes rAAV1, 6, and 8. We found that evolved variants NP22 and NP66 had significantly increased primary human and rhesus skeletal muscle fiber transduction from surgical explants ex vivo and in various primary and immortalized myogenic lines in vitro. Importantly, we demonstrated reduced seroreactivity compared to existing serotypes against normal human serum from 50 adult donors. These capsids represent powerful tools for human skeletal muscle expression and secretion of antibodies from passive vaccines.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptional adaptations during long-term persistence of Staphylococcus aureus in the airways of a cystic fibrosis patient.

The lungs of Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients are often colonized and/or infected by Staphylococcus aureus for years, mostly by one predominant clone. For long-term survival in this environment, S. aureus needs to adapt during its interactions with host factors, antibiotics, and other pathogens. Here, we study long-term transcriptional as well as genomic adaptations of an isogenic pair of S. aureus isolates from a single patient using RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). Mimicking in vivo conditions, we cultivated the S. aureus isolates using artificial sputum medium before harvesting RNA for subsequent analysis. We confirmed our RNA-Seq data using quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR and additionally investigated intermediate isolates from the same patient representing in total 13.2 years of persistence in the CF airways. Comparative RNA-Seq analysis of the first and the last (“late”) isolate revealed significant differences in the late isolate after 13.2 years of persistence. Of the 2545 genes expressed in both isolates that were cultivated aerobically, 256 genes were up- and 161 were down-regulated with a minimum 2-fold change (2f). Focusing on 25 highly (=8f) up- (n=9) or down- (n=16) regulated genes, we identified several genes encoding for virulence factors involved in immune evasion, bacterial spread or secretion (e.g. spa, sak, and esxA). Moreover, these genes displayed similar expression trends under aerobic, microaerophilic and anaerobic conditions. Further qRT-PCR-experiments of highly up- or down-regulated genes within intermediate S. aureus isolates resulted in different gene expression patterns over the years. Using sequencing analysis of the differently expressed genes and their upstream regions in the late S. aureus isolate resulted in only few genomic alterations. Comparative transcriptomic analysis revealed adaptive changes affecting mainly genes involved in host-pathogen interaction. Although the underlying mechanisms were not known, our results suggest adaptive processes beyond genomic mutations triggered by local factors rather than by activation of global regulators. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

HIV-1 infection of primary CD4(+) T cells regulates the expression of specific HERV-K (HML-2) elements.

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) occupy extensive regions of the human genome. Although many of these retroviral elements have lost their ability to replicate, those whose insertion took place more recently, such as the HML-2 group of HERV-K elements, still retain intact open reading frames and the capacity to produce certain viral RNA and/or proteins. Transcription of these ERVs is, however, tightly regulated by dedicated epigenetic control mechanisms. Nonetheless, it has been reported that some pathologic states, such as viral infections and certain cancers, coincide with ERV expression suggesting transcriptional reawakening is possible. HML-2 elements are reportedly induced during HIV-1 infection, but the conserved nature of these elements has, until recently, rendered their expression profiling problematic.Here, we provide comprehensive HERV-K HML-2 expression profiles specific for productively HIV-1 infected primary human CD4(+) T cells. We combined enrichment of HIV-1 infected cells using a reporter virus expressing a surface reporter for gentle and efficient purification with long-read Single Molecule Real-Time sequencing. We show that three HML-2 proviruses, 6q25.1, 8q24.3, and 19q13.42 are up-regulated on average between 3- and 5-fold in HIV-1 infected CD4(+) T cells. One provirus, HML-2 12q24.33, in contrast, was repressed in the presence of active HIV replication.In conclusion, this report identifies the HERV-K HML-2 loci whose expression profiles differ upon HIV-1 infection in primary human CD4(+) T cells. These data will help pave the way for further studies on the influence of endogenous retroviruses on HIV-1 replication.Importance Endogenous retroviruses inhabit big portions of our genome. And although they are mainly inert some of the evolutionarily younger members maintain the ability to express both RNA as well as proteins. We have developed an approach using long-read SMRT sequencing that produces long reads, that provides us with ability to obtain detailed and accurate HERV-K HML-2 expression profiles. We have now applied this approach to study HERV-K expression in the presence and absence of productive HIV-1 infection of primary human CD4(+) T cells. In addition to using SMRT sequencing, our strategy also includes the magnetic selection of the infected cells so that levels of background expression due to uninfected cells are kept at a minimum. The results in this manuscript provide the blueprint for in-depth studies of the interactions of the authentic upregulated HERV-K HML-2 elements and HIV-1. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

CLK-dependent exon recognition and conjoined gene formation revealed with a novel small molecule inhibitor.

CDC-like kinase phosphorylation of serine/arginine-rich proteins is central to RNA splicing reactions. Yet, the genomic network of CDC-like kinase-dependent RNA processing events remains poorly defined. Here, we explore the connectivity of genomic CDC-like kinase splicing functions by applying graduated, short-exposure, pharmacological CDC-like kinase inhibition using a novel small molecule (T3) with very high potency, selectivity, and cell-based stability. Using RNA-Seq, we define CDC-like kinase-responsive alternative splicing events, the large majority of which monotonically increase or decrease with increasing CDC-like kinase inhibition. We show that distinct RNA-binding motifs are associated with T3 response in skipped exons. Unexpectedly, we observe dose-dependent conjoined gene transcription, which is associated with motif enrichment in the last and second exons of upstream and downstream partners, respectively. siRNA knockdown of CLK2-associated genes significantly increases conjoined gene formation. Collectively, our results reveal an unexpected role for CDC-like kinase in conjoined gene formation, via regulation of 3′-end processing and associated splicing factors.The phosphorylation of serine/arginine-rich proteins by CDC-like kinase is a central regulatory mechanism for RNA splicing reactions. Here, the authors synthesize a novel small molecule CLK inhibitor and map CLK-responsive alternative splicing events and discover an effect on conjoined gene transcription.


September 22, 2019  |  

The role of MHC-E in T cell immunity is conserved among humans, rhesus macaques, and cynomolgus macaques.

MHC-E is a highly conserved nonclassical MHC class Ib molecule that predominantly binds and presents MHC class Ia leader sequence-derived peptides for NK cell regulation. However, MHC-E also binds pathogen-derived peptide Ags for presentation to CD8+ T cells. Given this role in adaptive immunity and its highly monomorphic nature in the human population, HLA-E is an attractive target for novel vaccine and immunotherapeutic modalities. Development of HLA-E-targeted therapies will require a physiologically relevant animal model that recapitulates HLA-E-restricted T cell biology. In this study, we investigated MHC-E immunobiology in two common nonhuman primate species, Indian-origin rhesus macaques (RM) and Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques (MCM). Compared to humans and MCM, RM expressed a greater number of MHC-E alleles at both the population and individual level. Despite this difference, human, RM, and MCM MHC-E molecules were expressed at similar levels across immune cell subsets, equivalently upregulated by viral pathogens, and bound and presented identical peptides to CD8+ T cells. Indeed, SIV-specific, Mamu-E-restricted CD8+ T cells from RM recognized antigenic peptides presented by all MHC-E molecules tested, including cross-species recognition of human and MCM SIV-infected CD4+ T cells. Thus, MHC-E is functionally conserved among humans, RM, and MCM, and both RM and MCM represent physiologically relevant animal models of HLA-E-restricted T cell immunobiology. Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Recurrent structural variation, clustered sites of selection, and disease risk for the complement factor H (CFH) gene family.

Structural variation and single-nucleotide variation of the complement factor H (CFH) gene family underlie several complex genetic diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS). To understand its diversity and evolution, we performed high-quality sequencing of this ~360-kbp locus in six primate lineages, including multiple human haplotypes. Comparative sequence analyses reveal two distinct periods of gene duplication leading to the emergence of four CFH-related (CFHR) gene paralogs (CFHR2 and CFHR4 ~25-35 Mya and CFHR1 and CFHR3 ~7-13 Mya). Remarkably, all evolutionary breakpoints share a common ~4.8-kbp segment corresponding to an ancestral CFHR gene promoter that has expanded independently throughout primate evolution. This segment is recurrently reused and juxtaposed with a donor duplication containing exons 8 and 9 from ancestral CFH, creating four CFHR fusion genes that include lineage-specific members of the gene family. Combined analysis of >5,000 AMD cases and controls identifies a significant burden of a rare missense mutation that clusters at the N terminus of CFH [P = 5.81 × 10-8, odds ratio (OR) = 9.8 (3.67-Infinity)]. A bipolar clustering pattern of rare nonsynonymous mutations in patients with AMD (P < 10-3) and AHUS (P = 0.0079) maps to functional domains that show evidence of positive selection during primate evolution. Our structural variation analysis in >2,400 individuals reveals five recurrent rearrangement breakpoints that show variable frequency among AMD cases and controls. These data suggest a dynamic and recurrent pattern of mutation critical to the emergence of new CFHR genes but also in the predisposition to complex human genetic disease phenotypes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-wide characterization of human L1 antisense promoter-driven transcripts.

Long INterspersed Element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is the only autonomously active, transposable element in the human genome. L1 sequences comprise approximately 17 % of the human genome, but only the evolutionarily recent, human-specific subfamily is retrotransposition competent. The L1 promoter has a bidirectional orientation containing a sense promoter that drives the transcription of two proteins required for retrotransposition and an antisense promoter. The L1 antisense promoter can drive transcription of chimeric transcripts: 5′ L1 antisense sequences spliced to the exons of neighboring genes.The impact of L1 antisense promoter activity on cellular transcriptomes is poorly understood. To investigate this, we analyzed GenBank ESTs for messenger RNAs that initiate in the L1 antisense promoter. We identified 988 putative L1 antisense chimeric transcripts, 911 of which have not been previously reported. These appear to be alternative genic transcripts, sense-oriented with respect to gene and initiating near, but typically downstream of, the gene transcriptional start site. In multiple cell lines, L1 antisense promoters display enrichment for YY1 transcription factor and histone modifications associated with active promoters. Global run-on sequencing data support the activity of the L1 antisense promoter. We independently detected 124 L1 antisense chimeric transcripts using long read Pacific Biosciences RNA-seq data. Furthermore, we validated four chimeric transcripts by quantitative RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing and demonstrated that they are readily detectable in many normal human tissues.We present a comprehensive characterization of human L1 antisense promoter-driven transcripts and provide substantial evidence that they are transcribed in a variety of human cell-types. Our findings reveal a new wide-reaching aspect of L1 biology by identifying antisense transcripts affecting as many as 4 % of all human genes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptional fates of human-specific segmental duplications in brain.

Despite the importance of duplicate genes for evolutionary adaptation, accurate gene annotation is often incomplete, incorrect, or lacking in regions of segmental duplication. We developed an approach combining long-read sequencing and hybridization capture to yield full-length transcript information and confidently distinguish between nearly identical genes/paralogs. We used biotinylated probes to enrich for full-length cDNA from duplicated regions, which were then amplified, size-fractionated, and sequenced using single-molecule, long-read sequencing technology, permitting us to distinguish between highly identical genes by virtue of multiple paralogous sequence variants. We examined 19 gene families as expressed in developing and adult human brain, selected for their high sequence identity (average >99%) and overlap with human-specific segmental duplications (SDs). We characterized the transcriptional differences between related paralogs to better understand the birth-death process of duplicate genes and particularly how the process leads to gene innovation. In 48% of the cases, we find that the expressed duplicates have changed substantially from their ancestral models due to novel sites of transcription initiation, splicing, and polyadenylation, as well as fusion transcripts that connect duplication-derived exons with neighboring genes. We detect unannotated open reading frames in genes currently annotated as pseudogenes, while relegating other duplicates to nonfunctional status. Our method significantly improves gene annotation, specifically defining full-length transcripts, isoforms, and open reading frames for new genes in highly identical SDs. The approach will be more broadly applicable to genes in structurally complex regions of other genomes where the duplication process creates novel genes important for adaptive traits.© 2018 Dougherty et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive approach to expression of L1 loci.

L1 elements represent the only currently active, autonomous retrotransposon in the human genome, and they make major contributions to human genetic instability. The vast majority of the 500 000 L1 elements in the genome are defective, and only a relatively few can contribute to the retrotransposition process. However, there is currently no comprehensive approach to identify the specific loci that are actively transcribed separate from the excess of L1-related sequences that are co-transcribed within genes. We have developed RNA-Seq procedures, as well as a 1200 bp 5? RACE product coupled with PACBio sequencing that can identify the specific L1 loci that contribute most of the L1-related RNA reads. At least 99% of L1-related sequences found in RNA do not arise from the L1 promoter, instead representing pieces of L1 incorporated in other cellular RNAs. In any given cell type a relatively few active L1 loci contribute to the ‘authentic’ L1 transcripts that arise from the L1 promoter, with significantly different loci seen expressed in different tissues.© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing and de novo assembly of a Chinese genome.

Short-read sequencing has enabled the de novo assembly of several individual human genomes, but with inherent limitations in characterizing repeat elements. Here we sequence a Chinese individual HX1 by single-molecule real-time (SMRT) long-read sequencing, construct a physical map by NanoChannel arrays and generate a de novo assembly of 2.93?Gb (contig N50: 8.3?Mb, scaffold N50: 22.0?Mb, including 39.3?Mb N-bases), together with 206?Mb of alternative haplotypes. The assembly fully or partially fills 274 (28.4%) N-gaps in the reference genome GRCh38. Comparison to GRCh38 reveals 12.8?Mb of HX1-specific sequences, including 4.1?Mb that are not present in previously reported Asian genomes. Furthermore, long-read sequencing of the transcriptome reveals novel spliced genes that are not annotated in GENCODE and are missed by short-read RNA-Seq. Our results imply that improved characterization of genome functional variation may require the use of a range of genomic technologies on diverse human populations.


September 22, 2019  |  

Emergence, retention and selection: A trilogy of origination for functional de novo proteins from ancestral lncRNAs in primates.

While some human-specific protein-coding genes have been proposed to originate from ancestral lncRNAs, the transition process remains poorly understood. Here we identified 64 hominoid-specific de novo genes and report a mechanism for the origination of functional de novo proteins from ancestral lncRNAs with precise splicing structures and specific tissue expression profiles. Whole-genome sequencing of dozens of rhesus macaque animals revealed that these lncRNAs are generally not more selectively constrained than other lncRNA loci. The existence of these newly-originated de novo proteins is also not beyond anticipation under neutral expectation, as they generally have longer theoretical lifespan than their current age, due to their GC-rich sequence property enabling stable ORFs with lower chance of non-sense mutations. Interestingly, although the emergence and retention of these de novo genes are likely driven by neutral forces, population genetics study in 67 human individuals and 82 macaque animals revealed signatures of purifying selection on these genes specifically in human population, indicating a proportion of these newly-originated proteins are already functional in human. We thus propose a mechanism for creation of functional de novo proteins from ancestral lncRNAs during the primate evolution, which may contribute to human-specific genetic novelties by taking advantage of existed genomic contexts.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-wide analysis of complex wheat gliadins, the dominant carriers of celiac disease epitopes.

Gliadins, specified by six compound chromosomal loci (Gli-A1/B1/D1 and Gli-A2/B2/D2) in hexaploid bread wheat, are the dominant carriers of celiac disease (CD) epitopes. Because of their complexity, genome-wide characterization of gliadins is a strong challenge. Here, we approached this challenge by combining transcriptomic, proteomic and bioinformatic investigations. Through third-generation RNA sequencing, full-length transcripts were identified for 52 gliadin genes in the bread wheat cultivar Xiaoyan 81. Of them, 42 were active and predicted to encode 25 a-, 11 ?-, one d- and five ?-gliadins. Comparative proteomic analysis between Xiaoyan 81 and six newly-developed mutants each lacking one Gli locus indicated the accumulation of 38 gliadins in the mature grains. A novel group of a-gliadins (the CSTT group) was recognized to contain very few or no CD epitopes. The d-gliadins identified here or previously did not carry CD epitopes. Finally, the mutant lacking Gli-D2 showed significant reductions in the most celiac-toxic a-gliadins and derivative CD epitopes. The insights and resources generated here should aid further studies on gliadin functions in CD and the breeding of healthier wheat.


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