June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative genomics of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O145:H28 strains associated with the 2007 Belgium and 2010 US outbreaks.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an emerging pathogen. Recently there has been a global in the number of outbreaks caused by non-O157 STECs, typically involving six serogroups O26, O45, 0103, 0111, and 0145. STEC O145:H28 has been associated with severe human disease including hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), and is demonstrated by the 2007 Belgian ice-cream-associated outbreak and 2010 US lettuce-associated outbreak, with over 10% of patients developing HUS in each. The goal of this work was to do comparative genomics of strains, clinical and environmental, to investigate genome diversity and virulence evolution of this important foodborne pathogen.


June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens.

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single-nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non- pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA Sequencing with short reads (SMRT CCS (circular consensus) or second-generation reads), wherein the short reads are used to error-correct the long reads which are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which SMRT sequencing reads from a single long insert library are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run, and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) for numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT Sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. With relatively short sequencing run times and automated analysis pipelines, it is possible to go from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome in about a day.


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete microbial genomes, epigenomes, and transcriptomes using long-read PacBio Sequencing.

For comprehensive metabolic reconstructions and a resulting understanding of the pathways leading to natural products, it is desirable to obtain complete information about the genetic blueprint of the organisms used. Traditional Sanger and next-generation, short-read sequencing technologies have shortcomings with respect to read lengths and DNA-sequence context bias, leading to fragmented and incomplete genome information. The development of long-read, single molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing from Pacific Biosciences, with >10,000 bp average read lengths and a lack of sequence context bias, now allows for the generation of complete genomes in a fully automated workflow. In addition to the genome sequence, DNA methylation is characterized in the process of sequencing. PacBio® sequencing has also been applied to microbial transcriptomes. Long reads enable sequencing of full-length cDNAs allowing for identification of complete gene and operon sequences without the need for transcript assembly. We will highlight several examples where these capabilities have been leveraged in the areas of industrial microbiology, including biocommodities, biofuels, bioremediation, new bacteria with potential commercial applications, antibiotic discovery, and livestock/plant microbiome interactions.


June 1, 2021  |  

Whole genome sequencing and epigenome characterization of cancer cells using the PacBio platform.

The comprehensive characterization of cancer genomes and epigenomes for understanding drug resistance remains an important challenge in the field of oncology. For example, PC-9, a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCL) cell line, contains a deletion mutation in exon 19 (DelE746A750) of EGRF that renders it sensitive to erlotinib, an EGFR inhibitor. However, sustained treatment of these cells with erlotinib leads to drug-tolerant cell populations that grow in the presence of erlotinib. However, the resistant cells can be resensitized to erlotinib upon treatment with methyltransferase inhibitors, suggesting a role of epigenetic modification in development of drug resistance. We have characterized for the first time cancer genomes of both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant PC- 9 cells using long-read PacBio sequencing. The PacBio data allowed us to generate a high-quality, de novo assembly of this cancer genome, enabling the detection of forms of genomic variations at all size scales, including SNPs, structural variations, copy number alterations, gene fusions, and translocations. The data simultaneously provide a global view of epigenetic DNA modifications such as methylation. We will present findings on large-scale changes in the methylation status across the cancer genome as a function of drug sensitivity.


June 1, 2021  |  

Epigenome characterization of human genomes using the PacBio platform

In addition to the genome and transcriptome, epigenetic information is essential to understand biological processes and their regulation, and their misregulation underlying disease. Traditionally, epigenetic DNA modifications are detected using upfront sample preparation steps such as bisulfite conversion, followed by sequencing. Bisulfite sequencing has provided a wealth of knowledge about human epigenetics, however it does not access the entire genome due to limitations in read length and GC- bias of the sequencing technologies used. In contrast, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) DNA Sequencing is unique in that it can detect DNA base modifications as part of the sequencing process. It can thereby leverage the long read lengths and lack of GC bias for more comprehensive views of the human epigenome. I will highlight several examples of this capability towards the generation of new biological insights, including the resolution of methylation states in repetitive and GC-rich regions of the genome, and large-scale changes in the methylation status across a cancer genome as a function of drug sensitivity.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rational development of transformation in Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405 via complete methylome analysis and evasion of native restriction-modification systems.

A major barrier to both metabolic engineering and fundamental biological studies is the lack of genetic tools in most microorganisms. One example is Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405T, where genetic tools are not available to help validate decades of hypotheses. A significant barrier to DNA transformation is restriction-modification systems, which defend against foreign DNA methylated differently than the host. To determine the active restriction-modification systems in this strain, we performed complete methylome analysis via single-molecule, real-time sequencing to detect 6-methyladenine and 4-methylcytosine and the rarely used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing to detect 5-methylcytosine. Multiple active systems were identified, and corresponding DNA methyltransferases were expressed from the Escherichia coli chromosome to mimic the C. thermocellum methylome. Plasmid methylation was experimentally validated and successfully electroporated into C. thermocellum ATCC 27405. This combined approach enabled genetic modification of the C. thermocellum-type strain and acts as a blueprint for transformation of other non-model microorganisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence analysis of 91 Salmonella Enteritidis isolates from mice caught on poultry farms in the mid 1990s.

A total of 91 draft genome sequences were used to analyze isolates of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis obtained from feral mice caught on poultry farms in Pennsylvania. One objective was to find mutations disrupting open reading frames (ORFs) and another was to determine if ORF-disruptive mutations were present in isolates obtained from other sources. A total of 83 mice were obtained between 1995-1998. Isolates separated into two genomic clades and 12 subgroups due to 742 mutations. Nineteen ORF-disruptive mutations were found, and in addition, bigA had exceptional heterogeneity requiring additional evaluation. The TRAMS algorithm detected only 6 ORF disruptions. The sefD mutation was the most frequently encountered mutation and it was prevalent in human, poultry, environmental and mouse isolates. These results confirm previous assessments of the mouse as a rich source of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis that varies in genotype and phenotype. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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