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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The genome of Peromyscus leucopus, natural host for Lyme disease and other emerging infections.

The rodent Peromyscus leucopus is the natural reservoir of several tick-borne infections, including Lyme disease. To expand the knowledge base for this key species in life cycles of several pathogens, we assembled and scaffolded the P. leucopus genome. The resulting assembly was 2.45 Gb in total length, with 24 chromosome-length scaffolds harboring 97% of predicted genes. RNA sequencing following infection of P. leucopus with Borreliella burgdorferi, a Lyme disease agent, shows that, unlike blood, the skin is actively responding to the infection after several weeks. P. leucopus has a high level of segregating nucleotide variation, suggesting that natural resistance alleles…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Iron-associated protein interaction networks reveal the key functional modules related to survival and virulence of Pasteurella multocida.

Pasteurella multocida causes respiratory infectious diseases in a multitude of birds and mammals. A number of virulence-associated genes were reported across different strains of P. multocida, including those involved in the iron transport and metabolism. Comparative iron-associated genes of P. multocida among different animal hosts towards their interaction networks have not been fully revealed. Therefore, this study aimed to identify the iron-associated genes from core- and pan-genomes of fourteen P. multocida strains and to construct iron-associated protein interaction networks using genome-scale network analysis which might be associated with the virulence. Results showed that these fourteen strains had 1587 genes in…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Insights into the evolution and drug susceptibility of Babesia duncani from the sequence of its mitochondrial and apicoplast genomes.

Babesia microti and Babesia duncani are the main causative agents of human babesiosis in the United States. While significant knowledge about B. microti has been gained over the past few years, nothing is known about B. duncani biology, pathogenesis, mode of transmission or sensitivity to currently recommended therapies. Studies in immunocompetent wild type mice and hamsters have shown that unlike B. microti, infection with B. duncani results in severe pathology and ultimately death. The parasite factors involved in B. duncani virulence remain unknown. Here we report the first known completed sequence and annotation of the apicoplast and mitochondrial genomes of…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Divergent evolutionary trajectories following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites.

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Survey of Ixodes pacificus ticks in California reveals a diversity of microorganisms and a novel and widespread Anaplasmataceae species.

Ixodes pacificus ticks can harbor a wide range of human and animal pathogens. To survey the prevalence of tick-borne known and putative pathogens, we tested 982 individual adult and nymphal I. pacificus ticks collected throughout California between 2007 and 2009 using a broad-range PCR and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (PCR/ESI-MS) assay designed to detect a wide range of tick-borne microorganisms. Overall, 1.4% of the ticks were found to be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, 2.0% were infected with Borrelia miyamotoi and 0.3% were infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum. In addition, 3.0% were infected with Babesia odocoilei. About 1.2% of the ticks were…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks influences pathogen susceptibility.

Ticks are of medical importance owing to their ability to transmit pathogens to humans and animals. The Rocky Mountain wood tick, Dermacentor andersoni, is a vector of a number of pathogens, including Anaplasma marginale, which is the most widespread tick-borne pathogen of livestock. Although ticks host pathogenic bacteria, they also harbor bacterial endosymbionts that have a role in tick physiology, survival, as well as pathogen acquisition and transmission. The goal of this study was to characterize the bacterial microbiome and examine the impact of microbiome disruption on pathogen susceptibility. The bacterial microbiome of two populations of D. andersoni with historically…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Effects of metal and metalloid pollutants on the microbiota composition of feces obtained from twelve commercial pig farms across China.

Understanding the metal and metalloid contamination and microbiota composition of pig feces is an important step required to support the design and implementation of effective pollution control and prevention strategies. A survey was implemented in 12 locations across China to investigate the content of metals and metalloids, and the main composition of the microbial communities of commercially reared pigs during two growth periods, defined as the early (Q group) and the later fattening growth phases (H group). These data showed widespread Al, Mn, Cu, Zn, and Fe pollution in pig feces. The concentration of Zn in the Q group feces…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Next-generation approaches to advancing eco-immunogenomic research in critically endangered primates.

High-throughput sequencing platforms are generating massive amounts of genomic data from nonmodel species, and these data sets are valuable resources that can be mined to advance a number of research areas. An example is the growing amount of transcriptome data that allow for examination of gene expression in nonmodel species. Here, we show how publicly available transcriptome data from nonmodel primates can be used to design novel research focused on immunogenomics. We mined transcriptome data from the world’s most endangered group of primates, the lemurs of Madagascar, for sequences corresponding to immunoglobulins. Our results confirmed homology between strepsirrhine and haplorrhine…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Recent insights into the tick microbiome gained through next-generation sequencing.

The tick microbiome comprises communities of microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and eukaryotes, and is being elucidated through modern molecular techniques. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has enabled the genes and genomes within these microbial communities to be explored in a rapid and cost-effective manner. The advantages of using NGS to investigate microbiomes surpass the traditional non-molecular methods that are limited in their sensitivity, and conventional molecular approaches that are limited in their scalability. In recent years the number of studies using NGS to investigate the microbial diversity and composition of ticks has expanded. Here, we provide a review…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Rewired RNAi-mediated genome surveillance in house dust mites.

House dust mites are common pests with an unusual evolutionary history, being descendants of a parasitic ancestor. Transition to parasitism is frequently accompanied by genome rearrangements, possibly to accommodate the genetic change needed to access new ecology. Transposable element (TE) activity is a source of genomic instability that can trigger large-scale genomic alterations. Eukaryotes have multiple transposon control mechanisms, one of which is RNA interference (RNAi). Investigation of the dust mite genome failed to identify a major RNAi pathway: the Piwi-associated RNA (piRNA) pathway, which has been replaced by a novel small-interfering RNA (siRNA)-like pathway. Co-opting of piRNA function by…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The draft genome assembly of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus supports identification of novel allergen isoforms in Dermatophagoides species.

Background: Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (DP) and Dermatophagoides farinae (DF) are highly similar disease-asso- ciated mites with frequently overlapping geographic distributions. A draft genome of DP was assembled to identify the candidate allergens in DP that are homologous to those in DF, investigate allergen isoforms, and facilitate comparisons with related Acari. Methods: PacBio and Illumina whole-genome sequencing was performed on DP. Assembly and reconstruction of the genomes were optimized for isoform identification in a heterogeneous population. Bioinformatic analyses of Acari genomes were performed. Results: The predicted size of the DP nuclear genome is 52.5 Mb. A predicted set of 19,368 proteins was…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Primordial origin and diversification of plasmids in Lyme disease agent bacteria.

With approximately one-third of their genomes consisting of linear and circular plasmids, the Lyme disease agent cluster of species has the most complex genomes among known bacteria. We report here a comparative analysis of plasmids in eleven Borreliella (also known as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato) species.We sequenced the complete genomes of two B. afzelii, two B. garinii, and individual B. spielmanii, B. bissettiae, B. valaisiana and B. finlandensis isolates. These individual isolates carry between seven and sixteen plasmids, and together harbor 99 plasmids. We report here a comparative analysis of these plasmids, along with 70 additional Borreliella plasmids available in…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

In vitro culture of the insect endosymbiont Spiroplasma poulsonii highlights bacterial genes involved in host-symbiont interaction.

Endosymbiotic bacteria associated with eukaryotic hosts are omnipresent in nature, particularly in insects. Studying the bacterial side of host-symbiont interactions is, however, often limited by the unculturability and genetic intractability of the symbionts. Spiroplasma poulsonii is a maternally transmitted bacterial endosymbiont that is naturally associated with several Drosophila species. S. poulsonii strongly affects its host’s physiology, for example by causing male killing or by protecting it against various parasites. Despite intense work on this model since the 1950s, attempts to cultivate endosymbiotic Spiroplasma in vitro have failed so far. Here, we developed a method to sustain the in vitro culture of…

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