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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Simultaneous non-contiguous deletions using large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases.

Toward achieving rapid and large scale genome modification directly in a target organism, we have developed a new genome engineering strategy that uses a combination of bioinformatics aided design, large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases. Using Cre recombinase we swapped a target 126-kb segment of the Escherichia coli genome with a 72-kb synthetic DNA cassette, thereby effectively eliminating over 54 kb of genomic DNA from three non-contiguous regions in a single recombination event. We observed complete replacement of the native sequence with the modified synthetic sequence through the action of the Cre recombinase and no competition from homologous recombination. Because…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

CRISPR/Cas9-generated p47(phox)-deficient cell line for Chronic Granulomatous Disease gene therapy vector development.

Development of gene therapy vectors requires cellular models reflecting the genetic background of a disease thus allowing for robust preclinical vector testing. For human p47(phox)-deficient chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) vector testing we generated a cellular model using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 to introduce a GT-dinucleotide deletion (?GT) mutation in p47(phox) encoding NCF1 gene in the human acute myeloid leukemia PLB-985 cell line. CGD is a group of hereditary immunodeficiencies characterized by impaired respiratory burst activity in phagocytes due to a defective phagocytic nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. In Western countries autosomal-recessive p47(phox)-subunit deficiency represents the second…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing of trinucleotide repeat expansion in myotonic dystrophy patient-derived iPS and myogenic cells.

CRISPR/Cas9 is an attractive platform to potentially correct dominant genetic diseases by gene editing with unprecedented precision. In the current proof-of-principle study, we explored the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene-editing in myotonic dystrophy type-1 (DM1), an autosomal-dominant muscle disorder, by excising the CTG-repeat expansion in the 3′-untranslated-region (UTR) of the human myotonic dystrophy protein kinase (DMPK) gene in DM1 patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (DM1-iPSC), DM1-iPSC-derived myogenic cells and DM1 patient-specific myoblasts. To eliminate the pathogenic gain-of-function mutant DMPK transcript, we designed a dual guide RNA based strategy that excises the CTG-repeat expansion with high efficiency, as confirmed by Southern blot…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

CRISPR/Cas9 deletions in a conserved exon of Distal-less generates gains and losses in a recently acquired morphological novelty in flies.

Distal-less has been repeatedly co-opted for the development of many novel traits. Here, we document its curious role in the development of a novel abdominal appendage (“sternite brushes”) in sepsid flies. CRISPR/Cas9 deletions in the homeodomain result in losses of sternite brushes, demonstrating that Distal-less is necessary for their development. However, deletions in the upstream coding exon (Exon 2) produce losses or gains of brushes. A dissection of Exon 2 reveals that the likely mechanism for gains involves a deletion in an exon-splicing enhancer site that leads to exon skipping. Such contradictory phenotypes are also observed in butterflies, suggesting that…

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Sunday, 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…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Somatic APP gene recombination in Alzheimer’s disease and normal neurons.

The diversity and complexity of the human brain are widely assumed to be encoded within a constant genome. Somatic gene recombination, which changes germline DNA sequences to increase molecular diversity, could theoretically alter this code but has not been documented in the brain, to our knowledge. Here we describe recombination of the Alzheimer’s disease-related gene APP, which encodes amyloid precursor protein, in human neurons, occurring mosaically as thousands of variant ‘genomic cDNAs’ (gencDNAs). gencDNAs lacked introns and ranged from full-length cDNA copies of expressed, brain-specific RNA splice variants to myriad smaller forms that contained intra-exonic junctions, insertions, deletions, and/or single…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A quantitative SMRT cell sequencing method for ribosomal amplicons.

Advances in sequencing technologies continue to provide unprecedented opportunities to characterize microbial communities. For example, the Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) platform has emerged as a unique approach harnessing DNA polymerase activity to sequence template molecules, enabling long reads at low costs. With the aim to simultaneously classify and enumerate in situ microbial populations, we developed a quantitative SMRT (qSMRT) approach that involves the addition of exogenous standards to quantify ribosomal amplicons derived from environmental samples. The V7-9 regions of 18S SSU rDNA were targeted and quantified from protistan community samples collected in the Ross Sea during the Austral…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Discovery of enzymes for toluene synthesis from anoxic microbial communities.

Microbial toluene biosynthesis was reported in anoxic lake sediments more than three decades ago, but the enzyme catalyzing this biochemically challenging reaction has never been identified. Here we report the toluene-producing enzyme PhdB, a glycyl radical enzyme of bacterial origin that catalyzes phenylacetate decarboxylation, and its cognate activating enzyme PhdA, a radical S-adenosylmethionine enzyme, discovered in two distinct anoxic microbial communities that produce toluene. The unconventional process of enzyme discovery from a complex microbial community (>300,000 genes), rather than from a microbial isolate, involved metagenomics- and metaproteomics-enabled biochemistry, as well as in vitro confirmation of activity with recombinant enzymes. This…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

RNAi-based treatment of chronically infected patients and chimpanzees reveals that integrated hepatitis B virus DNA is a source of HBsAg.

Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major health concern worldwide, frequently leading to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Evidence suggests that high viral antigen load may play a role in chronicity. Production of viral proteins is thought to depend on transcription of viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). In a human clinical trial with an RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapeutic targeting HBV transcripts, ARC-520, HBV S antigen (HBsAg) was strongly reduced in treatment-naïve patients positive for HBV e antigen (HBeAg) but was reduced significantly less in patients who were HBeAg-negative or had received long-term therapy with nucleos(t)ide…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Multiplex amplicon sequencing for microbe identification in community-based culture collections.

Microbiome analysis using metagenomic sequencing has revealed a vast microbial diversity associated with plants. Identifying the molecular functions associated with microbiome-plant interaction is a significant challenge concerning the development of microbiome-derived technologies applied to agriculture. An alternative to accelerate the discovery of the microbiome benefits to plants is to construct microbial culture collections concomitant with accessing microbial community structure and abundance. However, traditional methods of isolation, cultivation, and identification of microbes are time-consuming and expensive. Here we describe a method for identification of microbes in culture collections constructed by picking colonies from primary platings that may contain single or multiple…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Gill bacteria enable a novel digestive strategy in a wood-feeding mollusk.

Bacteria play many important roles in animal digestive systems, including the provision of enzymes critical to digestion. Typically, complex communities of bacteria reside in the gut lumen in direct contact with the ingested materials they help to digest. Here, we demonstrate a previously undescribed digestive strategy in the wood-eating marine bivalve Bankia setacea, wherein digestive bacteria are housed in a location remote from the gut. These bivalves, commonly known as shipworms, lack a resident microbiota in the gut compartment where wood is digested but harbor endosymbiotic bacteria within specialized cells in their gills. We show that this comparatively simple bacterial…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Multiplatform next-generation sequencing identifies novel RNA molecules and transcript isoforms of the endogenous retrovirus isolated from cultured cells.

In this study, we applied short- and long-read RNA sequencing techniques, as well as PCR analysis to investigate the transcriptome of the porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) expressed from cultured porcine kidney cell line PK-15. This analysis has revealed six novel transcripts and eight transcript isoforms, including five length and three splice variants. We were able to establish whether a deletion in a transcript is the result of the splicing of mRNAs or of genomic deletion in one of the PERV clones. Additionally, we re-annotated the formerly identified RNA molecules. Our analysis revealed a higher complexity of PERV transcriptome than it…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Splicing of nascent RNA coincides with intron exit from RNA Polymerase II.

Protein-coding genes in eukaryotes are transcribed by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and introns are removed from pre-mRNA by the spliceosome. Understanding the time lag between Pol II progression and splicing could provide mechanistic insights into the regulation of gene expression. Here, we present two single-molecule nascent RNA sequencing methods that directly determine the progress of splicing catalysis as a function of Pol II position. Endogenous genes were analyzed on a global scale in budding yeast. We show that splicing is 50% complete when Pol II is only 45 nt downstream of introns, with the first spliced products observed as…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The genome of the Hi5 germ cell line from Trichoplusia ni, an agricultural pest and novel model for small RNA biology.

We report a draft assembly of the genome of Hi5 cells from the lepidopteran insect pest,Trichoplusia ni, assigning 90.6% of bases to one of 28 chromosomes and predicting 14,037 protein-coding genes. Chemoreception and detoxification gene families revealT. ni-specific gene expansions that may explain its widespread distribution and rapid adaptation to insecticides. Transcriptome and small RNA data from thorax, ovary, testis, and the germline-derived Hi5 cell line show distinct expression profiles for 295 microRNA- and >393 piRNA-producing loci, as well as 39 genes encoding small RNA pathway proteins. Nearly all of the W chromosome is devoted to piRNA production, andT. nisiRNAs…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The repeat structure of two paralogous genes, Yersinia ruckeri invasin (yrInv) and a “Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule”, (yrIlm) sheds light on the evolution of adhesive capacities of a fish pathogen.

Inverse autotransporters comprise the recently identified type Ve secretion system and are exemplified by intimin from enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli and invasin from enteropathogenic Yersiniae. These proteins share a common domain architecture and promote bacterial adhesion to host cells. Here, we identified and characterized two putative inverse autotransporter genes in the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri NVH_3758, namely yrInv (for Y. ruckeri invasin) and yrIlm (for Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule). When trying to clone the highly repetitive genes for structural and functional studies, we experienced problems in obtaining PCR products. PCR failures and the highly repetitive nature of inverse autotransporters prompted us…

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