April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

A draft nuclear-genome assembly of the acoel flatworm Praesagittifera naikaiensis.

Acoels are primitive bilaterians with very simple soft bodies, in which many organs, including the gut, are not developed. They provide platforms for studying molecular and developmental mechanisms involved in the formation of the basic bilaterian body plan, whole-body regeneration, and symbiosis with photosynthetic microalgae. Because genomic information is essential for future research on acoel biology, we sequenced and assembled the nuclear genome of an acoel, Praesagittifera naikaiensis.To avoid sequence contamination derived from symbiotic microalgae, DNA was extracted from embryos that were free of algae. More than 290x sequencing coverage was achieved using a combination of Illumina (paired-end and mate-pair libraries) and PacBio sequencing. RNA sequencing and Iso-Seq data from embryos, larvae, and adults were also obtained. First, a preliminary ~17-kilobase pair (kb) mitochondrial genome was assembled, which was deleted from the nuclear sequence assembly. As a result, a draft nuclear genome assembly was ~656 Mb in length, with a scaffold N50 of 117 kb and a contig N50 of 57 kb. Although ~70% of the assembled sequences were likely composed of repetitive sequences that include DNA transposons and retrotransposons, the draft genome was estimated to contain 22,143 protein-coding genes, ~99% of which were substantiated by corresponding transcripts. We could not find horizontally transferred microalgal genes in the acoel genome. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs analyses indicated that 77% of the conserved single-copy genes were complete. Pfam domain analyses provided a basic set of gene families for transcription factors and signaling molecules.Our present sequencing and assembly of the P. naikaiensis nuclear genome are comparable to those of other metazoan genomes, providing basic information for future studies of genic and genomic attributes of this animal group. Such studies may shed light on the origins and evolution of simple bilaterians. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Armadillidium vulgare (Crustacea, Isopoda) Provides Insights into Sex Chromosome Evolution in the Context of Cytoplasmic Sex Determination.

The terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare is an original model to study the evolution of sex determination and symbiosis in animals. Its sex can be determined by ZW sex chromosomes, or by feminizing Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts. Here, we report the sequence and analysis of the ZW female genome of A. vulgare. A distinguishing feature of the 1.72 gigabase assembly is the abundance of repeats (68% of the genome). We show that the Z and W sex chromosomes are essentially undifferentiated at the molecular level and the W-specific region is extremely small (at most several hundreds of kilobases). Our results suggest that recombination suppression has not spread very far from the sex-determining locus, if at all. This is consistent with A. vulgare possessing evolutionarily young sex chromosomes. We characterized multiple Wolbachia nuclear inserts in the A. vulgare genome, none of which is associated with the W-specific region. We also identified several candidate genes that may be involved in the sex determination or sexual differentiation pathways. The A. vulgare genome serves as a resource for studying the biology and evolution of crustaceans, one of the most speciose and emblematic metazoan groups. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mitochondrial DNA and their nuclear copies in the parasitic wasp Pteromalus puparum: A comparative analysis in Chalcidoidea.

Chalcidoidea (chalcidoid wasps) are an abundant and megadiverse insect group with both ecological and economical importance. Here we report a complete mitochondrial genome in Chalcidoidea from Pteromalus puparum (Pteromalidae). Eight tandem repeats followed by 6 reversed repeats were detected in its 3308?bp control region. This long and complex control region may explain failures of amplifying and sequencing of complete mitochondrial genomes in some chalcidoids. In addition to 37 typical mitochondrial genes, an extra identical isoleucine tRNA (trnI) was detected at the opposite end of the control region. This recent mitochondrial gene duplication indicates that gene arrangements in chalcidoids are ongoing. A comparison among available chalcidoid mitochondrial genomes reveals rapid gene order rearrangements overall and high protein substitution rates in most chalcidoid taxa. In addition, we identified 24 nuclear sequences of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs) in P. puparum, summing up to 9989?bp, with 3617?bp of these NUMTs originating from mitochondrial coding regions. NUMTs abundance in P. puparum is only one-twelfth of that in its relative, Nasonia vitripennis. Based on phylogenetic analysis, we provide evidence that a faster nuclear degradation rate contributes to the reduced NUMT numbers in P. puparum. Overall, our study shows unusually high rates of mitochondrial evolution and considerable variation in NUMT accumulation in Chalcidoidea. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length transcriptome analysis of Litopenaeus vannamei reveals transcript variants involved in the innate immune system.

To better understand the immune system of shrimp, this study combined PacBio isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) and Illumina paired-end short reads sequencing methods to discover full-length immune-related molecules of the Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. A total of 72,648 nonredundant full-length transcripts (unigenes) were generated with an average length of 2545 bp from five main tissues, including the hepatopancreas, cardiac stomach, heart, muscle, and pyloric stomach. These unigenes exhibited a high annotation rate (62,164, 85.57%) when compared against NR, NT, Swiss-Prot, Pfam, GO, KEGG and COG databases. A total of 7544 putative long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) were detected and 1164 nonredundant full-length transcripts (449 UniTransModels) participated in the alternative splicing (AS) events. Importantly, a total of 5279 nonredundant full-length unigenes were successfully identified, which were involved in the innate immune system, including 9 immune-related processes, 19 immune-related pathways and 10 other immune-related systems. We also found wide transcript variants, which increased the number and function complexity of immune molecules; for example, toll-like receptors (TLRs) and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs). The 480 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were significantly higher or tissue-specific expression patterns in the hepatopancreas compared with that in other four tested tissues (FDR <0.05). Furthermore, the expression levels of six selected immune-related DEGs and putative IRFs were validated using real-time PCR technology, substantiating the reliability of the PacBio Iso-seq results. In conclusion, our results provide new genetic resources of long-read full-length transcripts data and information for identifying immune-related genes, which are an invaluable transcriptomic resource as genomic reference, especially for further exploration of the innate immune and defense mechanisms of shrimp. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Massive Changes of Genome Size Driven by Expansions of Non-autonomous Transposable Elements.

In eukaryotes, genome size correlates little with the number of coding genes or the level of organismal complexity (C-value paradox). The underlying causes of variations in genome size, whether adaptive or neutral, remain unclear, although several biological traits often covary with it [1-5]. Rapid increases in genome size occur mainly through whole-genome duplications or bursts in the activity of transposable elements (TEs) [6]. The very small and compact genome of Oikopleura dioica, a tunicate of the larvacean class, lacks elements of most ancient families of animal retrotransposons [7, 8]. Here, we sequenced the genomes of six other larvaceans, all of which are larger than that of Oikopleura (up to 12 times) and which increase in size with greater body length. Although no evidence was found for whole-genome duplications within the group of species, the global amount of TEs strongly correlated with genome size. Compared to other metazoans, however, the TE diversity was reduced in all species, as observed previously in O. dioica, suggesting a common ancestor with a compacted genome. Strikingly, non-autonomous elements, particularly short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs), massively contributed to genome size variation through species-specific independent amplifications, ranging from 3% in the smallest genome up to 49% in the largest. Variations in SINE abundance explain as much as 83% of interspecific genome size variation. These data support an indirect influence of autonomous TEs on genome size via their ability to mobilize non-autonomous elements. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

De novo transcriptome assembly of the cubomedusa Tripedalia cystophora, including the analysis of a set of genes involved in peptidergic neurotransmission.

The phyla Cnidaria, Placozoa, Ctenophora, and Porifera emerged before the split of proto- and deuterostome animals, about 600 million years ago. These early metazoans are interesting, because they can give us important information on the evolution of various tissues and organs, such as eyes and the nervous system. Generally, cnidarians have simple nervous systems, which use neuropeptides for their neurotransmission, but some cnidarian medusae belonging to the class Cubozoa (box jellyfishes) have advanced image-forming eyes, probably associated with a complex innervation. Here, we describe a new transcriptome database from the cubomedusa Tripedalia cystophora.Based on the combined use of the Illumina and PacBio sequencing technologies, we produced a highly contiguous transcriptome database from T. cystophora. We then developed a software program to discover neuropeptide preprohormones in this database. This script enabled us to annotate seven novel T. cystophora neuropeptide preprohormone cDNAs: One coding for 19 copies of a peptide with the structure pQWLRGRFamide; one coding for six copies of a different RFamide peptide; one coding for six copies of pQPPGVWamide; one coding for eight different neuropeptide copies with the C-terminal LWamide sequence; one coding for thirteen copies of a peptide with the RPRAamide C-terminus; one coding for four copies of a peptide with the C-terminal GRYamide sequence; and one coding for seven copies of a cyclic peptide, of which the most frequent one has the sequence CTGQMCWFRamide. We could also identify orthologs of these seven preprohormones in the cubozoans Alatina alata, Carybdea xaymacana, Chironex fleckeri, and Chiropsalmus quadrumanus. Furthermore, using TBLASTN screening, we could annotate four bursicon-like glycoprotein hormone subunits, five opsins, and 52 other family-A G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which also included two leucine-rich repeats containing G protein-coupled receptors (LGRs) in T. cystophora. The two LGRs are potential receptors for the glycoprotein hormones, while the other GPCRs are candidate receptors for the above-mentioned neuropeptides.By combining Illumina and PacBio sequencing technologies, we have produced a new high-quality de novo transcriptome assembly from T. cystophora that should be a valuable resource for identifying the neuronal components that are involved in vision and other behaviors in cubomedusae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of a male specific region containing a candidate sex determining gene in Atlantic cod.

The genetic mechanisms determining sex in teleost fishes are highly variable and the master sex determining gene has only been identified in few species. Here we characterize a male-specific region of 9?kb on linkage group 11 in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) harboring a single gene named zkY for zinc knuckle on the Y chromosome. Diagnostic PCR test of phenotypically sexed males and females confirm the sex-specific nature of the Y-sequence. We identified twelve highly similar autosomal gene copies of zkY, of which eight code for proteins containing the zinc knuckle motif. 3D modeling suggests that the amino acid changes observed in six copies might influence the putative RNA-binding specificity. Cod zkY and the autosomal proteins zk1 and zk2 possess an identical zinc knuckle structure, but only the Y-specific gene zkY was expressed at high levels in the developing larvae before the onset of sex differentiation. Collectively these data suggest zkY as a candidate master masculinization gene in Atlantic cod. PCR amplification of Y-sequences in Arctic cod (Arctogadus glacialis) and Greenland cod (Gadus macrocephalus ogac) suggests that the male-specific region emerged in codfishes more than 7.5 million years ago.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genome of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish sheds light on the early evolution of active predation.

Unique among cnidarians, jellyfish have remarkable morphological and biochemical innovations that allow them to actively hunt in the water column and were some of the first animals to become free-swimming. The class Scyphozoa, or true jellyfish, are characterized by a predominant medusa life-stage consisting of a bell and venomous tentacles used for hunting and defense, as well as using pulsed jet propulsion for mobility. Here, we present the genome of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai) to understand the genetic basis of these key innovations.We sequenced the genome and transcriptomes of the bell and tentacles of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish as well as transcriptomes across tissues and developmental stages of the Sanderia malayensis jellyfish. Analyses of the Nemopilema and other cnidarian genomes revealed adaptations associated with swimming, marked by codon bias in muscle contraction and expansion of neurotransmitter genes, along with expanded Myosin type II family and venom domains, possibly contributing to jellyfish mobility and active predation. We also identified gene family expansions of Wnt and posterior Hox genes and discovered the important role of retinoic acid signaling in this ancient lineage of metazoans, which together may be related to the unique jellyfish body plan (medusa formation).Taken together, the Nemopilema jellyfish genome and transcriptomes genetically confirm their unique morphological and physiological traits, which may have contributed to the success of jellyfish as early multi-cellular predators.


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