April 21, 2020  |  

A systematic review of the Trypanosoma cruzi genetic heterogeneity, host immune response and genetic factors as plausible drivers of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy.

Chagas disease is a complex tropical pathology caused by the kinetoplastid Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite displays massive genetic diversity and has been classified by international consensus in at least six Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) that are broadly distributed in the American continent. The main clinical manifestation of the disease is the chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCC) that is lethal in the infected individuals. However, one intriguing feature is that only 30-40% of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Some authors have suggested that the immune response, host genetic factors, virulence factors and even the massive genetic heterogeneity of T. cruzi are responsible of this clinical pattern. To date, no conclusive data support the reason why a few percentages of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Therefore, we decided to conduct a systematic review analysing the host genetic factors, immune response, cytokine production, virulence factors and the plausible association of the parasite DTUs and CCC. The epidemiological and clinical implications are herein discussed.

April 21, 2020  |  

Systematic evasion of the restriction-modification barrier in bacteria.

Bacteria that are recalcitrant to genetic manipulation using modern in vitro techniques are termed genetically intractable. Genetic intractability is a fundamental barrier to progress that hinders basic, synthetic, and translational microbiology research and development beyond a few model organisms. The most common underlying causes of genetic intractability are restriction-modification (RM) systems, ubiquitous defense mechanisms against xenogeneic DNA that hinder the use of genetic approaches in the vast majority of bacteria and exhibit strain-level variation. Here, we describe a systematic approach to overcome RM systems. Our approach was inspired by a simple hypothesis: if a synthetic piece of DNA lacks the highly specific target recognition motifs for a host’s RM systems, then it is invisible to these systems and will not be degraded during artificial transformation. Accordingly, in this process, we determine the genome and methylome of an individual bacterial strain and use this information to define the bacterium’s RM target motifs. We then synonymously eliminate RM targets from the nucleotide sequence of a genetic tool in silico, synthesize an RM-silent “SyngenicDNA” tool, and propagate the tool as minicircle plasmids, termed SyMPL (SyngenicDNA Minicircle Plasmid) tools, before transformation. In a proof-of-principle of our approach, we demonstrate a profound improvement (five orders of magnitude) in the transformation of a clinically relevant USA300 strain of Staphylococcus aureus This stealth-by-engineering SyngenicDNA approach is effective, flexible, and we expect in future applications could enable microbial genetics free of the restraints of restriction-modification barriers.Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

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