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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A combinatorial approach to synthetic transcription factor-promoter combinations for yeast strain engineering.

Despite the need for inducible promoters in strain development efforts, the majority of engineering in Saccharomyces cerevisiae continues to rely on a few constitutively active or inducible promoters. Building on advances that use the modular nature of both transcription factors and promoter regions, we have built a library of hybrid promoters that are regulated by a synthetic transcription factor. The hybrid promoters consist of native S. cerevisiae promoters, in which the operator regions have been replaced with sequences that are recognized by the bacterial LexA DNA binding protein. Correspondingly, the synthetic transcription factor (TF) consists of the DNA binding domain…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Biosynthesis of the 15-membered ring depsipeptide neoantimycin.

Antimycins are a family of natural products possessing outstanding biological activities and unique structures, which have intrigued chemists for over a half century. Of particular interest are the ring-expanded antimycins that show promising anticancer potential and whose biosynthesis remains uncharacterized. Specifically, neoantimycin and its analogs have been shown to be effective regulators of the oncogenic proteins GRP78/BiP and K-Ras. The neoantimycin structural skeleton is built on a 15-membered tetralactone ring containing one methyl, one hydroxy, one benzyl, and three alkyl moieties, as well as an amide linkage to a conserved 3-formamidosalicylic acid moiety. Although the biosynthetic gene cluster for neoantimycins…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sea cucumber genome provides insights into saponin biosynthesis and aestivation regulation.

Echinoderms exhibit several fascinating evolutionary innovations that are rarely seen in the animal kingdom, but how these animals attained such features is not well understood. Here we report the sequencing and analysis of the genome and extensive transcriptomes of the sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus, a species from a special echinoderm group with extraordinary potential for saponin synthesis, aestivation and organ regeneration. The sea cucumber does not possess a reorganized Hox cluster as previously assumed for all echinoderms, and the spatial expression of Hox7 and Hox11/13b potentially guides the embryo-to-larva axial transformation. Contrary to the typical production of lanosterol in animal…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A rapid method for directed gene knockout for screening in G0 zebrafish.

Zebrafish is a powerful model for forward genetics. Reverse genetic approaches are limited by the time required to generate stable mutant lines. We describe a system for gene knockout that consistently produces null phenotypes in G0 zebrafish. Yolk injection of sets of four CRISPR/Cas9 ribonucleoprotein complexes redundantly targeting a single gene recapitulated germline-transmitted knockout phenotypes in >90% of G0 embryos for each of 8 test genes. Early embryonic (6 hpf) and stable adult phenotypes were produced. Simultaneous multi-gene knockout was feasible but associated with toxicity in some cases. To facilitate use, we generated a lookup table of four-guide sets for 21,386 zebrafish genes…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Antiviral adaptive immunity and tolerance in the mosquito Aedes aegyti

Mosquitoes spread pathogenic arboviruses while themselves tolerate infection. We here characterize an immunity pathway providing long-term antiviral protection and define how this pathway discriminates between self and non-self. Mosquitoes use viral RNAs to create viral derived cDNAs (vDNAs) central to the antiviral response. vDNA molecules are acquired through a process of reverse-transcription and recombination directed by endogenous retrotransposons. These vDNAs are thought to integrate in the host genome as endogenous viral elements (EVEs). Sequencing of pre-integrated vDNA revealed that the acquisition process exquisitely distinguishes viral from host RNA, providing one layer of self-nonself discrimination. Importantly, we show EVE-derived piRNAs have…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The unique evolution of the pig LRC, a single KIR but expansion of LILR and a novel Ig receptor family.

The leukocyte receptor complex (LRC) encodes numerous immunoglobulin (Ig)-like receptors involved in innate immunity. These include the killer-cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) and the leukocyte Ig-like receptors (LILR) which can be polymorphic and vary greatly in number between species. Using the recent long-read genome assembly, Sscrofa11.1, we have characterized the porcine LRC on chromosome 6. We identified a ~?197-kb region containing numerous LILR genes that were missing in previous assemblies. Out of 17 such LILR genes and fragments, six encode functional proteins, of which three are inhibitory and three are activating, while the majority of pseudogenes had the potential to encode…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Functional metagenomics identifies an exosialidase with an inverting catalytic mechanism that defines a new glycoside hydrolase family (GH156).

Exosialidases are glycoside hydrolases that remove a single terminal sialic acid residue from oligosaccharides. They are widely distributed in biology, having been found in prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and certain viruses. Most characterized prokaryotic sialidases are from organisms that are pathogenic or commensal with mammals. However, in this study, we used functional metagenomic screening to seek microbial sialidases encoded by environmental DNA isolated from an extreme ecological niche, a thermal spring. Using recombinant expression of potential exosialidase candidates and a fluorogenic sialidase substrate, we discovered an exosialidase having no homology to known sialidases. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that this protein is a member…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Comprehensive profiling of four base overhang ligation fidelity by T4 DNA Ligase and application to DNA assembly.

Synthetic biology relies on the manufacture of large and complex DNA constructs from libraries of genetic parts. Golden Gate and other Type IIS restriction enzyme-dependent DNA assembly methods enable rapid construction of genes and operons through one-pot, multifragment assembly, with the ordering of parts determined by the ligation of Watson-Crick base-paired overhangs. However, ligation of mismatched overhangs leads to erroneous assembly, and low-efficiency Watson Crick pairings can lead to truncated assemblies. Using sets of empirically vetted, high-accuracy junction pairs avoids this issue but limits the number of parts that can be joined in a single reaction. Here, we report the…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Streptococcus suis contains multiple phase-variable methyltransferases that show a discrete lineage distribution.

Streptococcus suis is a major pathogen of swine, responsible for a number of chronic and acute infections, and is also emerging as a major zoonotic pathogen, particularly in South-East Asia. Our study of a diverse population of S. suis shows that this organism contains both Type I and Type III phase-variable methyltransferases. In all previous examples, phase-variation of methyltransferases results in genome wide methylation differences, and results in differential regulation of multiple genes, a system known as the phasevarion (phase-variable regulon). We hypothesized that each variant in the Type I and Type III systems encoded a methyltransferase with a unique…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Conjugative transfer of a novel Staphylococcal plasmid encoding the biocide resistance gene, qacA.

Staphylococcus aureus is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI). Some S. aureus strains harbor plasmids that carry genes that affect resistance to biocides. Among these genes, qacA encodes the QacA Multidrug Efflux Pump that imparts decreased susceptibility to chlorhexidine, a biocide used ubiquitously in healthcare facilities. Furthermore, chlorhexidine has been considered as a S. aureus decolonization strategy in community settings. We previously conducted a chlorhexidine-based SSTI prevention trial among Ft. Benning Army trainees. Analysis of a clinical isolate (C02) from that trial identified a novel qacA-positive plasmid, pC02. Prior characterization of qacA-containing plasmids is limited and…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Acquired interbacterial defense systems protect against interspecies antagonism in the human gut microbiome

The genomes of bacteria derived from the gut microbiota are replete with pathways that mediate contact-dependent interbacterial antagonism. However, the role of direct interactions between co-resident microbes in driving microbiome composition is not well understood. Here we report the widespread occurrence of acquired interbacterial defense (AID) gene clusters in the human gut microbiome. These clusters are found on predicted mobile elements and encode arrays of immunity genes that confer protection against interbacterial toxin-mediated antagonism in vitro and in gnotobiotic mice. We find that Bacteroides ovatus strains containing AID systems that inactivate B. fragilis toxins delivered between cells by the type…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Analysis of structural variants in four African cichlids highlights an association with developmental and immune related genes

African Lakes Cichlids are one of the most impressive example of adaptive radiation. Independently in Lake Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi, several hundreds of species arose within the last 10 million to 100,000 years. Whereas most analyses in cichlids focused on nucleotide substitutions across species to investigate the genetic bases of this explosive radiation, to date, no study has investigated the contribution of structural variants (SVs) to speciation events (through a reduction of gene flow) and adaptation to different ecological niches. Here, we annotate and characterize the repertoires and evolutionary potential of different SV classes (deletion, duplication, inversion, insertions and translocations)…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Genome-scale analysis of Acetobacterium bakii reveals the cold adaptation of psychrotolerant acetogens by post-transcriptional regulation.

Acetogens synthesize acetyl-CoA via CO2 or CO fixation, producing organic compounds. Despite their ecological and industrial importance, their transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation has not been systematically studied. With completion of the genome sequence of Acetobacterium bakii (4.28-Mb), we measured changes in the transcriptome of this psychrotolerant acetogen in response to temperature variations under autotrophic and heterotrophic growth conditions. Unexpectedly, acetogenesis genes were highly up-regulated at low temperatures under heterotrophic, as well as autotrophic, growth conditions. To mechanistically understand the transcriptional regulation of acetogenesis genes via changes in RNA secondary structures of 5′-untranslated regions (5′-UTR), the primary transcriptome was experimentally determined,…

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Functional analysis of the first complete genome sequence of a multidrug resistant sequence type 2 Staphylococcus epidermidis.

Staphylococcus epidermidis is a significant opportunistic pathogen of humans. The ST2 lineage is frequently multidrug resistant and accounts for most of the clinical disease worldwide. However, there are no publically available, closed ST2 genomes and pathogenesis studies have not focused on these strains. We report the complete genome and methylome of BPH0662, a multidrug resistant, hospital adapted, ST2 S. epidermidis, and describe the correlation between resistome and phenotype, as well as demonstrate its relationship to publically available, international ST2 isolates. Furthermore, we delineate the methylome determined by the two type I restriction modification systems present in BPH0662 through heterologous expression…

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

A Sequel to Sanger: amplicon sequencing that scales.

Although high-throughput sequencers (HTS) have largely displaced their Sanger counterparts, the short read lengths and high error rates of most platforms constrain their utility for amplicon sequencing. The present study tests the capacity of single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing implemented on the SEQUEL platform to overcome these limitations, employing 658 bp amplicons of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I gene as a model system.By examining templates from more than 5000 species and 20,000 specimens, the performance of SMRT sequencing was tested with amplicons showing wide variation in GC composition and varied sequence attributes. SMRT and Sanger sequences were very similar, but…

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