June 1, 2021  |  

Getting the most out of your PacBio libraries with size selection.

PacBio RS II sequencing chemistries provide read lengths beyond 20 kb with high consensus accuracy. The long read lengths of P4-C2 chemistry and demonstrated consensus accuracy of 99.999% are ideal for applications such as de novo assembly, targeted sequencing and isoform sequencing. The recently launched P5-C3 chemistry generates even longer reads with N50 often >10,000 bp, making it the best choice for scaffolding and spanning structural rearrangements. With these chemistry advances, PacBio’s read length performance is now primarily determined by the SMRTbell library itself. Size selection of a high-quality, sheared 20 kb library using the BluePippin™ System has been demonstrated to increase the N50 read length by as much as 5 kb with C3 chemistry. BluePippin size selection or a more stringent AMPure® PB selection cutoff can be used to recover long fragments from degraded genomic material. The selection of chemistries, P4-C2 versus P5-C3, is highly dependent on the final size distribution of the SMRTbell library and experimental goals. PacBio’s long read lengths also allow for the sequencing of full-length cDNA libraries at single-molecule resolution. However, longer transcripts are difficult to detect due to lower abundance, amplification bias, and preferential loading of smaller SMRTbell constructs. Without size selection, most sequenced transcripts are 1-1.5 kb. Size selection dramatically increases the number of transcripts >1.5 kb, and is essential for >3 kb transcripts.


June 1, 2021  |  

Using whole exome sequencing and bacterial pathogen sequencing to investigate the genetic basis of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections.

Pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial (PNTM) infections occur in patients with chronic lung disease, but also in a distinct group of elderly women without lung defects who share a common body morphology: tall and lean with scoliosis, pectus excavatum, and mitral valve prolapse. In order to characterize the human host susceptibility to PNTM, we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) of 44 individuals in extended families of patients with active PNTM as well as 55 additional unrelated individuals with PNTM. This unique collection of familial cohorts in PNTM represents an important opportunity for a high yield search for genes that regulate mucosal immunity. An average of 58 million 100bp paired-end Illumina reads per exome were generated and mapped to the hg19 reference genome. Following variant detection and classification, we identified 58,422 potentially high-impact SNPs, 97.3% of which were missense mutations. Segregating variants using the family pedigrees as well as comparisons to the unrelated individuals identified multiple potential variants associated with PNTM. Validations of these candidate variants in a larger PNTM cohort are underway. In addition to WES, we sequenced the genomes of 52 mycobacterial isolates, including 9 from these PNTM patients, to integrate host PNTM susceptibility with mycobacterial genotypes and gain insights into the key factors involved in this devastating disease. These genomes were sequenced using a combination of 454, Illumina, and PacBio platforms and assembled using multiple genome assemblers. The resulting genome sequences were used to identify mycobacterial genotypes associated with virulence, invasion, and drug resistance.


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  |  

The use of Online Tools for Antimicrobial Resistance Prediction by Whole Genome Sequencing in MRSA and VRE.

The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis represents a serious threat to public health and has resulted in concentrated efforts to accelerate development of rapid molecular diagnostics for AMR. In combination with publicly-available web-based AMR databases, whole genome sequencing (WGS) offers the capacity for rapid detection of antibiotic resistance genes. Here we studied the concordance between WGS-based resistance prediction and phenotypic susceptibility testing results for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE) clinical isolates using publicly-available tools and databases.Clinical isolates prospectively collected at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center between December 2016 and December 2017 underwent WGS. Antibiotic resistance gene content was assessed from assembled genomes by BLASTn search of online databases. Concordance between WGS-predicted resistance profile and phenotypic susceptibility as well as sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (NPV, PPV) were calculated for each antibiotic/organism combination, using the phenotypic results as the gold standard.Phenotypic susceptibility testing and WGS results were available for 1242 isolate/antibiotic combinations. Overall concordance was 99.3% with a sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV of 98.7% (95% CI, 97.2-99.5%), 99.6% (95 % CI, 98.8-99.9%), 99.3% (95% CI, 98.0-99.8%), 99.2% (95% CI, 98.3-99.7%), respectively. Additional identification of point mutations in housekeeping genes increased the concordance to 99.4% and the sensitivity to 99.3% (95% CI, 98.2-99.8%) and NPV to 99.4% (95% CI, 98.4-99.8%).WGS can be used as a reliable predicator of phenotypic resistance for both MRSA and VRE using readily-available online tools.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mce3R Stress-Resistance Pathway Is Vulnerable to Small-Molecule Targeting That Improves Tuberculosis Drug Activities.

One-third of the world’s population carries Mycobacterium tuberculosis ( Mtb), the infectious agent that causes tuberculosis (TB), and every 17 s someone dies of TB. After infection, Mtb can live dormant for decades in a granuloma structure arising from the host immune response, and cholesterol is important for this persistence of Mtb. Current treatments require long-duration drug regimens with many associated toxicities, which are compounded by the high doses required. We phenotypically screened 35 6-azasteroid analogues against Mtb and found that, at low micromolar concentrations, a subset of the analogues sensitized Mtb to multiple TB drugs. Two analogues were selected for further study to characterize the bactericidal activity of bedaquiline and isoniazid under normoxic and low-oxygen conditions. These two 6-azasteroids showed strong synergy with bedaquiline (fractional inhibitory concentration index = 0.21, bedaquiline minimal inhibitory concentration = 16 nM at 1 µM 6-azasteroid). The rate at which spontaneous resistance to one of the 6-azasteroids arose in the presence of bedaquiline was approximately 10-9, and the 6-azasteroid-resistant mutants retained their isoniazid and bedaquiline sensitivity. Genes in the cholesterol-regulated Mce3R regulon were required for 6-azasteroid activity, whereas genes in the cholesterol catabolism pathway were not. Expression of a subset of Mce3R genes was down-regulated upon 6-azasteroid treatment. The Mce3R regulon is implicated in stress resistance and is absent in saprophytic mycobacteria. This regulon encodes a cholesterol-regulated stress-resistance pathway that we conclude is important for pathogenesis and contributes to drug tolerance, and this pathway is vulnerable to small-molecule targeting in live mycobacteria.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution and global transmission of a multidrug-resistant, community-associated MRSA lineage from the Indian subcontinent

The evolution and global transmission of antimicrobial resistance has been well documented in Gram-negative bacteria and healthcare-associated epidemic pathogens, often emerging from regions with heavy antimicrobial use. However, the degree to which similar processes occur with Gram-positive bacteria in the community setting is less well understood. Here, we trace the recent origins and global spread of a multidrug resistant, community-associated Staphylococcus aureus lineage from the Indian subcontinent, the Bengal Bay clone (ST772). We generated whole genome sequence data of 340 isolates from 14 countries, including the first isolates from Bangladesh and India, to reconstruct the evolutionary history and genomic epidemiology of the lineage. Our data shows that the clone emerged on the Indian subcontinent in the early 1970s and disseminated rapidly in the 1990s. Short-term outbreaks in community and healthcare settings occurred following intercontinental transmission, typically associated with travel and family contacts on the subcontinent, but ongoing endemic transmission was uncommon. Acquisition of a multidrug resistance integrated plasmid was instrumental in the divergence of a single dominant and globally disseminated clade in the early 1990s. Phenotypic data on biofilm, growth and toxicity point to antimicrobial resistance as the driving force in the evolution of ST772. The Bengal Bay clone therefore combines the multidrug resistance of traditional healthcare-associated clones with the epidemiological transmission of community-associated MRSA. Our study demonstrates the importance of whole genome sequencing for tracking the evolution of emerging and resistant pathogens. It provides a critical framework for ongoing surveillance of the clone on the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere.Importance The Bengal Bay clone (ST772) is a community-acquired and multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus lineage first isolated from Bangladesh and India in 2004. In this study, we show that the Bengal Bay clone emerged from a virulent progenitor circulating on the Indian subcontinent. Its subsequent global transmission was associated with travel or family contact in the region. ST772 progressively acquired specific resistance elements at limited cost to its fitness and continues to be exported globally resulting in small-scale community and healthcare outbreaks. The Bengal Bay clone therefore combines the virulence potential and epidemiology of community-associated clones with the multidrug-resistance of healthcare-associated S. aureus lineages. This study demonstrates the importance of whole genome sequencing for the surveillance of highly antibiotic resistant pathogens, which may emerge in the community setting of regions with poor antibiotic stewardship and rapidly spread into hospitals and communities across the world.


April 21, 2020  |  

The replication-competent HIV-1 latent reservoir is primarily established near the time of therapy initiation.

Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective at suppressing HIV-1 replication, the virus persists as a latent reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells during therapy. This reservoir forms even when ART is initiated early after infection, but the dynamics of its formation are largely unknown. The viral reservoirs of individuals who initiate ART during chronic infection are generally larger and genetically more diverse than those of individuals who initiate therapy during acute infection, consistent with the hypothesis that the reservoir is formed continuously throughout untreated infection. To determine when viruses enter the latent reservoir, we compared sequences of replication-competent viruses from resting peripheral CD4+ T cells from nine HIV-positive women on therapy to viral sequences circulating in blood collected longitudinally before therapy. We found that, on average, 71% of the unique viruses induced from the post-therapy latent reservoir were most genetically similar to viruses replicating just before ART initiation. This proportion is far greater than would be expected if the reservoir formed continuously and was always long lived. We conclude that ART alters the host environment in a way that allows the formation or stabilization of most of the long-lived latent HIV-1 reservoir, which points to new strategies targeted at limiting the formation of the reservoir around the time of therapy initiation.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

The ADEP Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010 Reveals an Accessory clpP Gene as a Novel Antibiotic Resistance Factor.

The increasing threat posed by multiresistant bacterial pathogens necessitates the discovery of novel antibacterials with unprecedented modes of action. ADEP1, a natural compound produced by Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010, is the prototype for a new class of acyldepsipeptide (ADEP) antibiotics. ADEP antibiotics deregulate the proteolytic core ClpP of the bacterial caseinolytic protease, thereby exhibiting potent antibacterial activity against Gram-positive bacteria, including multiresistant pathogens. ADEP1 and derivatives, here collectively called ADEP, have been previously investigated for their antibiotic potency against different species, structure-activity relationship, and mechanism of action; however, knowledge on the biosynthesis of the natural compound and producer self-resistance have remained elusive. In this study, we identified and analyzed the ADEP biosynthetic gene cluster in S. hawaiiensis NRRL 15010, which comprises two NRPSs, genes necessary for the biosynthesis of (4S,2R)-4-methylproline, and a type II polyketide synthase (PKS) for the assembly of highly reduced polyenes. While no resistance factor could be identified within the gene cluster itself, we discovered an additional clpP homologous gene (named clpPADEP) located further downstream of the biosynthetic genes, separated from the biosynthetic gene cluster by several transposable elements. Heterologous expression of ClpPADEP in three ADEP-sensitive Streptomyces species proved its role in conferring ADEP resistance, thereby revealing a novel type of antibiotic resistance determinant.IMPORTANCE Antibiotic acyldepsipeptides (ADEPs) represent a promising new class of potent antibiotics and, at the same time, are valuable tools to study the molecular functioning of their target, ClpP, the proteolytic core of the bacterial caseinolytic protease. Here, we present a straightforward purification procedure for ADEP1 that yields substantial amounts of the pure compound in a time- and cost-efficient manner, which is a prerequisite to conveniently study the antimicrobial effects of ADEP and the operating mode of bacterial ClpP machineries in diverse bacteria. Identification and characterization of the ADEP biosynthetic gene cluster in Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010 enables future bioinformatics screenings for similar gene clusters and/or subclusters to find novel natural compounds with specific substructures. Most strikingly, we identified a cluster-associated clpP homolog (named clpPADEP) as an ADEP resistance gene. ClpPADEP constitutes a novel bacterial resistance factor that alone is necessary and sufficient to confer high-level ADEP resistance to Streptomyces across species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Information about variations in multiple copies of bacterial 16S rRNA genes may aid in species identification.

Variable region analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences is the most common tool in bacterial taxonomic studies. Although used for distinguishing bacterial species, its use remains limited due to the presence of variable copy numbers with sequence variation in the genomes. In this study, 16S rRNA gene sequences, obtained from completely assembled whole genome and Sanger electrophoresis sequencing of cloned PCR products from Serratia fonticola GS2, were compared. Sanger sequencing produced a combination of sequences from multiple copies of 16S rRNA genes. To determine whether the variant copies of 16S rRNA genes affected Sanger sequencing, two ratios (5:5 and 8:2) with different concentrations of cloned 16S rRNA genes were used; it was observed that the greater the number of copies with similar sequences the higher its chance of amplification. Effect of multiple copies for taxonomic classification of 16S rRNA gene sequences was investigated using the strain GS2 as a model. 16S rRNA copies with the maximum variation had 99.42% minimum pairwise similarity and this did not have an effect on species identification. Thus, PCR products from genomes containing variable 16S rRNA gene copies can provide sufficient information for species identification except from species which have high similarity of sequences in their 16S rRNA gene copies like the case of Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus cereus. In silico analysis of 1,616 bacterial genomes from long-read sequencing was also done. The average minimum pairwise similarity for each phylum was reported with their average genome size and average “unique copies” of 16S rRNA genes and we found that the phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes showed the highest amount of variation in their copies of their 16S rRNA genes. Overall, our results shed light on how the variations in the multiple copies of the 16S rRNA genes of bacteria can aid in appropriate species identification.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic characterization of Nocardia seriolae strains isolated from diseased fish.

Members of the genus Nocardia are widespread in diverse environments; a wide range of Nocardia species are known to cause nocardiosis in several animals, including cat, dog, fish, and humans. Of the pathogenic Nocardia species, N. seriolae is known to cause disease in cultured fish, resulting in major economic loss. We isolated two N. seriolae strains, CK-14008 and EM15050, from diseased fish and sequenced their genomes using the PacBio sequencing platform. To identify their genomic features, we compared their genomes with those of other Nocardia species. Phylogenetic analysis showed that N. seriolae shares a common ancestor with a putative human pathogenic Nocardia species. Moreover, N. seriolae strains were phylogenetically divided into four clusters according to host fish families. Through genome comparison, we observed that the putative pathogenic Nocardia strains had additional genes for iron acquisition. Dozens of antibiotic resistance genes were detected in the genomes of N. seriolae strains; most of the antibiotics were involved in the inhibition of the biosynthesis of proteins or cell walls. Our results demonstrated the virulence features and antibiotic resistance of fish pathogenic N. seriolae strains at the genomic level. These results may be useful to develop strategies for the prevention of fish nocardiosis. © 2018 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reconstruction of the genomes of drug-resistant pathogens for outbreak investigation through metagenomic sequencing

Culture-independent methods that target genome fragments have shown promise in identifying certain pathogens, but the holy grail of comprehensive pathogen genome detection from microbiologically complex samples for subsequent forensic analyses remains a challenge. In the context of an investigation of a nosocomial outbreak, we used shotgun metagenomic sequencing of a human fecal sample and a neural network algorithm based on tetranucleotide frequency profiling to reconstruct microbial genomes and tested the same approach using rectal swabs from a second patient. The approach rapidly and readily detected the genome of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae in the patient fecal specimen and in the rectal swab sample, achieving a level of strain resolution that was sufficient for confident transmission inference during a highly clonal outbreak. The analysis also detected previously unrecognized colonization of the patient by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, another multidrug-resistant bacterium.IMPORTANCE The study results reported here perfectly demonstrate the power and promise of clinical metagenomics to recover genome sequences of important drug-resistant bacteria and to rapidly provide rich data that inform outbreak investigations and treatment decisions, independently of the need to culture the organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mycobacterium ulcerans Population Genomics To Inform on the Spread of Buruli Ulcer across Central Africa.

Buruli ulcer is a neglected tropical disease of skin and subcutaneous tissue caused by infection with the pathogen Mycobacterium ulcerans Many critical issues for disease control, such as understanding the mode of transmission and identifying source reservoirs of M. ulcerans, are still largely unknown. Here, we used genomics to reconstruct in detail the evolutionary trajectory and dynamics of M. ulcerans populations at a central African scale and at smaller geographical village scales. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data were analyzed from 179 M. ulcerans strains isolated from all Buruli ulcer foci in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Republic of Congo, and Angola that have ever yielded positive M. ulcerans cultures. We used both temporal associations and the study of the mycobacterial demographic history to estimate the contribution of humans as a reservoir in Buruli ulcer transmission. Our phylogeographic analysis revealed one almost exclusively predominant sublineage of M. ulcerans that arose in Central Africa and proliferated in its different regions of endemicity during the Age of Discovery. We observed how the best sampled endemic hot spot, the Songololo territory, became an area of endemicity while the region was being colonized by Belgium (1880s). We furthermore identified temporal parallels between the observed past population fluxes of M. ulcerans from the Songololo territory and the timing of health policy changes toward control of the Buruli ulcer epidemic in that region. These findings suggest that an intervention based on detecting and treating human cases in an area of endemicity might be sufficient to break disease transmission chains, irrespective of other reservoirs of the bacterium.IMPORTANCE Buruli ulcer is a destructive skin and soft tissue infection caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans The disease is characterized by progressive skin ulceration, which can lead to permanent disfigurement and long-term disability. Currently, the major hurdles facing disease control are incomplete understandings of both the mode of transmission and environmental reservoirs of M. ulcerans As decades of spasmodic environmental sampling surveys have not brought us much closer to overcoming these hurdles, the Buruli ulcer research community has recently switched to using comparative genomics. The significance of our research is in how we used both temporal associations and the study of the mycobacterial demographic history to estimate the contribution of humans as a reservoir in Buruli ulcer transmission. Our approach shows that it might be possible to use bacterial population genomics to assess the impact of health interventions, providing valuable feedback for managers of disease control programs in areas where health surveillance infrastructure is poor. Copyright © 2019 Vandelannoote et al.


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