April 21, 2020  |  

Efficacy of Newly Isolated and Highly Potent Bacteriophages in a Mouse Model of XDRAB Bacteremia.

Bacteremia can be caused by Acinetobacter baumannii with clinical manifestations ranging from transient bacteremia to septic shock. Extensively drug-resistant A. baumannii (XDRAB) strains producing the New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase, which confers resistance to all ß-lactams including carbapenems, have emerged and infected patients suffer increased mortality, morbidity and length of hospitalization. The lack of new antimicrobials led to a renewed interest into phage therapy, the so-called forgotten cure. Accordingly, we tested new lytic bacteriophages in a Galleria mellonella and a mouse model of XDRAB-induced bacteremia.Galleria mellonella were challenged with 5.105 CFU of the XDRAB strain FER. Phages vB_AbaM_3054 and vB_AbaM_3090 were administrated alone or in combination 30?min. after bacterial challenge. Saline and imipenem were injected as controls. Mice were challenged i.p. with 6.107 CFU of A. baumannii FER. vB_AbaM_3054 and vB_AbaM_3090 were administrated i.p. alone or in combination 2?h after bacterial challenge. Saline and imipenem were injected as controls. Larvae and mice survival were followed for 7 days and compared with Log-Rank (Mantel-Cox) and Gehan-Breslow-Wilcoxon tests.Phage-based treatments showed high efficacy in larvae (ca. 100% survival at 80?h) and mice (ca. 100% survival at day 7) compared to the untreated control (0% survival at 48?h and 24?h in larvae and mice, respectively).The present data reporting efficacy of phage therapy in a mouse model of bacteremia support the development of phage-based drugs to manage infection due to multi-drug resistant A. baumannii and particularly XDRAB.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

The landscape of SNCA transcripts across synucleinopathies: New insights from long reads sequencing analysis

Dysregulation of alpha-synuclein expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, in particular Parkinsontextquoterights Disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Previous studies have shown that the alternatively spliced isoforms of the SNCA gene are differentially expressed in different parts of the brain for PD and DLB patients. Similarly, SNCA isoforms with skipped exons can have a functional impact on the protein domains. The large intronic region of the SNCA gene was also shown to harbor structural variants that affect transcriptional levels. Here we apply the first study of using long read sequencing with targeted capture of both the gDNA and cDNA of the SNCA gene in brain tissues of PD, DLB, and control samples using the PacBio Sequel system. The targeted full-length cDNA (Iso-Seq) data confirmed complex usage of known alternative start sites and variable 3textquoteright UTR lengths, as well as novel 5textquoteright starts and 3textquoteright ends not previously described. The targeted gDNA data allowed phasing of up to 81% of the ~114kb SNCA region, with the longest phased block excedding 54 kb. We demonstrate that long gDNA and cDNA reads have the potential to reveal long-range information not previously accessible using traditional sequencing methods. This approach has a potential impact in studying disease risk genes such as SNCA, providing new insights into the genetic etiologies, including perturbations to the landscape the gene transcripts, of human complex diseases such as synucleinopathies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and transcriptomic characterization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa small colony variants derived from a chronic infection model.

Phenotypic change is a hallmark of bacterial adaptation during chronic infection. In the case of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection in patients with cystic fibrosis, well-characterized phenotypic variants include mucoid and small colony variants (SCVs). It has previously been shown that SCVs can be reproducibly isolated from the murine lung following the establishment of chronic infection with mucoid P. aeruginosa strain NH57388A. Using a combination of single-molecule real-time (PacBio) and Illumina sequencing we identify a large genomic inversion in the SCV through recombination between homologous regions of two rRNA operons and an associated truncation of one of the 16S rRNA genes and suggest this may be the genetic switch for conversion to the SCV phenotype. This phenotypic conversion is associated with large-scale transcriptional changes distributed throughout the genome. This global rewiring of the cellular transcriptomic output results in changes to normally differentially regulated genes that modulate resistance to oxidative stress, central metabolism and virulence. These changes are of clinical relevance because the appearance of SCVs during chronic infection is associated with declining lung function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Dnase1l3 deletion causes aberrations in length and end-motif frequencies in plasma DNA.

Circulating DNA in plasma consists of short DNA fragments. The biological processes generating such fragments are not well understood. DNASE1L3 is a secreted DNASE1-like nuclease capable of digesting DNA in chromatin, and its absence causes anti-DNA responses and autoimmunity in humans and mice. We found that the deletion of Dnase1l3 in mice resulted in aberrations in the fragmentation of plasma DNA. Such aberrations included an increase in short DNA molecules below 120 bp, which was positively correlated with anti-DNA antibody levels. We also observed an increase in long, multinucleosomal DNA molecules and decreased frequencies of the most common end motifs found in plasma DNA. These aberrations were independent of anti-DNA response, suggesting that they represented a primary effect of DNASE1L3 loss. Pregnant Dnase1l3-/- mice carrying Dnase1l3+/- fetuses showed a partial restoration of normal frequencies of plasma DNA end motifs, suggesting that DNASE1L3 from Dnase1l3-proficient fetuses could enter maternal systemic circulation and affect both fetal and maternal DNA fragmentation in a systemic as well as local manner. However, the observed shortening of circulating fetal DNA relative to maternal DNA was not affected by the deletion of Dnase1l3 Collectively, our findings demonstrate that DNASE1L3 plays a role in circulating plasma DNA homeostasis by enhancing fragmentation and influencing end-motif frequencies. These results support a distinct role of DNASE1L3 as a regulator of the physical form and availability of cell-free DNA and may have important implications for the mechanism whereby this enzyme prevents autoimmunity. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

A New Species of the ?-Proteobacterium Francisella, F. adeliensis Sp. Nov., Endocytobiont in an Antarctic Marine Ciliate and Potential Evolutionary Forerunner of Pathogenic Species.

The study of the draft genome of an Antarctic marine ciliate, Euplotes petzi, revealed foreign sequences of bacterial origin belonging to the ?-proteobacterium Francisella that includes pathogenic and environmental species. TEM and FISH analyses confirmed the presence of a Francisella endocytobiont in E. petzi. This endocytobiont was isolated and found to be a new species, named F. adeliensis sp. nov.. F. adeliensis grows well at wide ranges of temperature, salinity, and carbon dioxide concentrations implying that it may colonize new organisms living in deeply diversified habitats. The F. adeliensis genome includes the igl and pdp gene sets (pdpC and pdpE excepted) of the Francisella pathogenicity island needed for intracellular growth. Consistently with an F. adeliensis ancient symbiotic lifestyle, it also contains a single insertion-sequence element. Instead, it lacks genes for the biosynthesis of essential amino acids such as cysteine, lysine, methionine, and tyrosine. In a genome-based phylogenetic tree, F. adeliensis forms a new early branching clade, basal to the evolution of pathogenic species. The correlations of this clade with the other clades raise doubts about a genuine free-living nature of the environmental Francisella species isolated from natural and man-made environments, and suggest to look at F. adeliensis as a pioneer in the Francisella colonization of eukaryotic organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

a-Difluoromethylornithine reduces gastric carcinogenesis by causing mutations in Helicobacter pylori cagY.

Infection by Helicobacter pylori is the primary cause of gastric adenocarcinoma. The most potent H. pylori virulence factor is cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA), which is translocated by a type 4 secretion system (T4SS) into gastric epithelial cells and activates oncogenic signaling pathways. The gene cagY encodes for a key component of the T4SS and can undergo gene rearrangements. We have shown that the cancer chemopreventive agent a-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), known to inhibit the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, reduces H. pylori-mediated gastric cancer incidence in Mongolian gerbils. In the present study, we questioned whether DFMO might directly affect H. pylori pathogenicity. We show that H. pylori output strains isolated from gerbils treated with DFMO exhibit reduced ability to translocate CagA in gastric epithelial cells. Further, we frequently detected genomic modifications in the middle repeat region of the cagY gene of output strains from DFMO-treated animals, which were associated with alterations in the CagY protein. Gerbils did not develop carcinoma when infected with a DFMO output strain containing rearranged cagY or the parental strain in which the wild-type cagY was replaced by cagY with DFMO-induced rearrangements. Lastly, we demonstrate that in vitro treatment of H. pylori by DFMO induces oxidative DNA damage, expression of the DNA repair enzyme MutS2, and mutations in cagY, demonstrating that DFMO directly affects genomic stability. Deletion of mutS2 abrogated the ability of DFMO to induce cagY rearrangements directly. In conclusion, DFMO-induced oxidative stress in H. pylori leads to genomic alterations and attenuates virulence.


April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative Splicing of the Delta-Opioid Receptor Gene Suggests Existence of New Functional Isoforms.

The delta-opioid receptor (DOPr) participates in mediating the effects of opioid analgesics. However, no selective agonists have entered clinical care despite potential to ameliorate many neurological and psychiatric disorders. In an effort to address the drug development challenges, the functional contribution of receptor isoforms created by alternative splicing of the three-exonic coding gene, OPRD1, has been overlooked. We report that the gene is transcriptionally more diverse than previously demonstrated, producing novel protein isoforms in humans and mice. We provide support for the functional relevance of splice variants through context-dependent expression profiling (tissues, disease model) and conservation of the transcriptional landscape in closely related vertebrates. The conserved alternative transcriptional events have two distinct patterns. First, cassette exon inclusions between exons 1 and 2 interrupt the reading frame, producing truncated receptor fragments comprising only the first transmembrane (TM) domain, despite the lack of exact exon orthologues between distant species. Second, a novel promoter and transcriptional start site upstream of exon 2 produces a transcript of an N-terminally truncated 6TM isoform. However, a fundamental difference in the exonic landscaping as well as translation and translation products poses limits for modelling the human DOPr receptor system in mice.


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 the core-genome and 3400 genes constituting their pan-genome. Out of these, 2651 genes associated with iron transport and metabolism were selected to construct the protein interaction networks and 361 genes were incorporated into the iron-associated protein interaction network (iPIN) consisting of nine different iron-associated functional modules. After comparing with the virulence factor database (VFDB), 21 virulence-associated proteins were determined and 11 of these belonged to the heme biosynthesis module. From this study, the core heme biosynthesis module and the core outer membrane hemoglobin receptor HgbA were proposed as candidate targets to design novel antibiotics and vaccines for preventing pasteurellosis across the serotypes or animal hosts for enhanced precision agriculture to ensure sustainability in food security. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic analysis of three Clostridioides difficile isolates from urban water sources.

We investigated inflow of a wastewater treatment plant and sediment of an urban lake for the presence of Clostridioides difficile by cultivation and PCR. Among seven colonies we sequenced the complete genomes of three: two non-toxigenic isolates from wastewater and one toxigenic isolate from the urban lake. For all obtained isolates, a close genomic relationship with human-derived isolates was observed.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Sequential evolution of virulence and resistance during clonal spread of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The past two decades have witnessed an alarming expansion of staphylococcal disease caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). The factors underlying the epidemic expansion of CA-MRSA lineages such as USA300, the predominant CA-MRSA clone in the United States, are largely unknown. Previously described virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes that promote the dissemination of CA-MRSA are carried by mobile genetic elements, including phages and plasmids. Here, we used high-resolution genomics and experimental infections to characterize the evolution of a USA300 variant plaguing a patient population at increased risk of infection to understand the mechanisms underlying the emergence of genetic elements that facilitate clonal spread of the pathogen. Genetic analyses provided conclusive evidence that fitness (manifest as emergence of a dominant clone) changed coincidently with the stepwise emergence of (i) a unique prophage and mutation of the regulator of the pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthetic operon that promoted abscess formation and colonization, respectively, thereby priming the clone for success; and (ii) a unique plasmid that conferred resistance to two topical microbiocides, mupirocin and chlorhexidine, frequently used for decolonization and infection prevention. The resistance plasmid evolved through successive incorporation of DNA elements from non-S. aureus spp. into an indigenous cryptic plasmid, suggesting a mechanism for interspecies genetic exchange that promotes antimicrobial resistance. Collectively, the data suggest that clonal spread in a vulnerable population resulted from extensive clinical intervention and intense selection pressure toward a pathogen lifestyle that involved the evolution of consequential mutations and mobile genetic elements.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid and Focused Maturation of a VRC01-Class HIV Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Lineage Involves Both Binding and Accommodation of the N276-Glycan.

The VH1-2 restricted VRC01-class of antibodies targeting the HIV envelope CD4 binding site are a major focus of HIV vaccine strategies. However, a detailed analysis of VRC01-class antibody development has been limited by the rare nature of these responses during natural infection and the lack of longitudinal sampling of such responses. To inform vaccine strategies, we mapped the development of a VRC01-class antibody lineage (PCIN63) in the subtype C infected IAVI Protocol C neutralizer PC063. PCIN63 monoclonal antibodies had the hallmark VRC01-class features and demonstrated neutralization breadth similar to the prototype VRC01 antibody, but were 2- to 3-fold less mutated. Maturation occurred rapidly within ~24 months of emergence of the lineage and somatic hypermutations accumulated at key contact residues. This longitudinal study of broadly neutralizing VRC01-class antibody lineage reveals early binding to the N276-glycan during affinity maturation, which may have implications for vaccine design.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Genetically Tractable, Natural Mouse Model of Cryptosporidiosis Offers Insights into Host Protective Immunity.

Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of diarrheal disease and an important contributor to early childhood mortality, malnutrition, and growth faltering. Older children in high endemicity regions appear resistant to infection, while previously unexposed adults remain susceptible. Experimental studies in humans and animals support the development of disease resistance, but we do not understand the mechanisms that underlie protective immunity to Cryptosporidium. Here, we derive an in vivo model of Cryptosporidium infection in immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice by isolating parasites from naturally infected wild mice. Similar to human cryptosporidiosis, this infection causes intestinal pathology, and interferon-? controls early infection while T cells are critical for clearance. Importantly, mice that controlled a live infection were resistant to secondary challenge and vaccination with attenuated parasites provided protection equal to live infection. Both parasite and host are genetically tractable and this in vivo model will facilitate mechanistic investigation and rational vaccine design.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

5’UTR-mediated regulation of Ataxin-1 expression.

Expression of mutant Ataxin-1 with an abnormally expanded polyglutamine domain is necessary for the onset and progression of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Understanding how Ataxin-1 expression is regulated in the human brain could inspire novel molecular therapies for this fatal, dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease. Previous studies have shown that the ATXN1 3’UTR plays a key role in regulating the Ataxin-1 cellular pool via diverse post-transcriptional mechanisms. Here we show that elements within the ATXN1 5’UTR also participate in the regulation of Ataxin-1 expression. PCR and PacBio sequencing analysis of cDNA obtained from control and SCA1 human brain samples revealed the presence of three major, alternatively spliced ATXN1 5’UTR variants. In cell-based assays, fusion of these variants upstream of an EGFP reporter construct revealed significant and differential impacts on total EGFP protein output, uncovering a type of genetic rheostat-like function of the ATXN1 5’UTR. We identified ribosomal scanning of upstream AUG codons and increased transcript instability as potential mechanisms of regulation. Importantly, transcript-based analyses revealed significant differences in the expression pattern of ATXN1 5’UTR variants between control and SCA1 cerebellum. Together, the data presented here shed light into a previously unknown role for the ATXN1 5’UTR in the regulation of Ataxin-1 and provide new opportunities for the development of SCA1 therapeutics. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.


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 a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


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