October 23, 2019  |  

Molecular barcoding of viral vectors enables mapping and optimization of mRNA trans-splicing.

Genome editing has proven to be highly potent in the generation of functional gene knockouts in dividing cells. In the CNS however, efficient technologies to repair sequences are yet to materialize. Reprogramming on the mRNA level is an attractive alternative as it provides means to perform in situ editing of coding sequences without nuclease dependency. Furthermore, de novo sequences can be inserted without the requirement of homologous recombination. Such reprogramming would enable efficient editing in quiescent cells (e.g., neurons) with an attractive safety profile for translational therapies. In this study, we applied a novel molecular-barcoded screening assay to investigate RNA trans-splicing in mammalian neurons. Through three alternative screening systems in cell culture and in vivo, we demonstrate that factors determining trans-splicing are reproducible regardless of the screening system. With this screening, we have located the most permissive trans-splicing sequences targeting an intron in the Synapsin I gene. Using viral vectors, we were able to splice full-length fluorophores into the mRNA while retaining very low off-target expression. Furthermore, this approach also showed evidence of functionality in the mouse striatum. However, in its current form, the trans-splicing events are stochastic and the overall activity lower than would be required for therapies targeting loss-of-function mutations. Nevertheless, the herein described barcode-based screening assay provides a unique possibility to screen and map large libraries in single animals or cell assays with very high precision.© 2018 Davidsson et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the RNA Society.


September 22, 2019  |  

Integrative analysis of three RNA sequencing methods identifies mutually exclusive exons of MADS-box isoforms during early bud development in Picea abies.

Recent efforts to sequence the genomes and transcriptomes of several gymnosperm species have revealed an increased complexity in certain gene families in gymnosperms as compared to angiosperms. One example of this is the gymnosperm sister clade to angiosperm TM3-like MADS-box genes, which at least in the conifer lineage has expanded in number of genes. We have previously identified a member of this sub-clade, the conifer gene DEFICIENS AGAMOUS LIKE 19 (DAL19), as being specifically upregulated in cone-setting shoots. Here, we show through Sanger sequencing of mRNA-derived cDNA and mapping to assembled conifer genomic sequences that DAL19 produces six mature mRNA splice variants in Picea abies. These splice variants use alternate first and last exons, while their four central exons constitute a core region present in all six transcripts. Thus, they are likely to be transcript isoforms. Quantitative Real-Time PCR revealed that two mutually exclusive first DAL19 exons are differentially expressed across meristems that will form either male or female cones, or vegetative shoots. Furthermore, mRNA in situ hybridization revealed that two mutually exclusive last DAL19 exons were expressed in a cell-specific pattern within bud meristems. Based on these findings in DAL19, we developed a sensitive approach to transcript isoform assembly from short-read sequencing of mRNA. We applied this method to 42 putative MADS-box core regions in P. abies, from which we assembled 1084 putative transcripts. We manually curated these transcripts to arrive at 933 assembled transcript isoforms of 38 putative MADS-box genes. 152 of these isoforms, which we assign to 28 putative MADS-box genes, were differentially expressed across eight female, male, and vegetative buds. We further provide evidence of the expression of 16 out of the 38 putative MADS-box genes by mapping PacBio Iso-Seq circular consensus reads derived from pooled sample sequencing to assembled transcripts. In summary, our analyses reveal the use of mutually exclusive exons of MADS-box gene isoforms during early bud development in P. abies, and we find that the large number of identified MADS-box transcripts in P. abies results not only from expansion of the gene family through gene duplication events but also from the generation of numerous splice variants.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-molecule DNA sequencing of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes with multiple TP53 alterations.

Although the frequency of TP53 mutations in hemato- logic malignancies is low, these mutations have a high clinical relevance and are usually associated with poor prognosis. Somatic TP53 mutations have been detected in up to 73.3% of cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with complex karyotype and 18.9% of AML with other unfavorable cytogenetic risk factors. AML with TP53 mutations, and/or chromosomal aneuploidy, has been defined as a distinct AML subtype. In low-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), TP53 mutations occur at an early disease stage and predict disease progression. TP53 mutation diagnosis is now part of the revised European LeukemiaNet (ELN) guidelines.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multiscale patterns and drivers of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the roots and root-associated soil of a wild perennial herb.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form diverse communities and are known to influence above-ground community dynamics and biodiversity. However, the multiscale patterns and drivers of AM fungal composition and diversity are still poorly understood. We sequenced DNA markers from roots and root-associated soil from Plantago lanceolata plants collected across multiple spatial scales to allow comparison of AM fungal communities among neighbouring plants, plant subpopulations, nearby plant populations, and regions. We also measured soil nutrients, temperature, humidity, and community composition of neighbouring plants and nonAM root-associated fungi. AM fungal communities were already highly dissimilar among neighbouring plants (c. 30 cm apart), albeit with a high variation in the degree of similarity at this small spatial scale. AM fungal communities were increasingly, and more consistently, dissimilar at larger spatial scales. Spatial structure and environmental drivers explained a similar percentage of the variation, from 7% to 25%. A large fraction of the variation remained unexplained, which may be a result of unmeasured environmental variables, species interactions and stochastic processes. We conclude that AM fungal communities are highly variable among nearby plants. AM fungi may therefore play a major role in maintaining small-scale variation in community dynamics and biodiversity.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Clonal distribution of BCR-ABL1 mutations and splice isoforms by single-molecule long-read RNA sequencing.

The evolution of mutations in the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene transcript renders CML patients resistant to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) based therapy. Thus screening for BCR-ABL1 mutations is recommended particularly in patients experiencing poor response to treatment. Herein we describe a novel approach for the detection and surveillance of BCR-ABL1 mutations in CML patients.To detect mutations in the BCR-ABL1 transcript we developed an assay based on the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing technology, which allows for single-molecule long-read sequencing of BCR-ABL1 fusion transcript molecules. Samples from six patients with poor response to therapy were analyzed both at diagnosis and follow-up. cDNA was generated from total RNA and a 1,6 kb fragment encompassing the BCR-ABL1 transcript was amplified using long range PCR. To estimate the sensitivity of the assay, a serial dilution experiment was performed.Over 10,000 full-length BCR-ABL1 sequences were obtained for all samples studied. Through the serial dilution analysis, mutations in CML patient samples could be detected down to a level of at least 1%. Notably, the assay was determined to be sufficiently sensitive even in patients harboring a low abundance of BCR-ABL1 levels. The PacBio sequencing successfully identified all mutations seen by standard methods. Importantly, we identified several mutations that escaped detection by the clinical routine analysis. Resistance mutations were found in all but one of the patients. Due to the long reads afforded by PacBio sequencing, compound mutations present in the same molecule were readily distinguished from independent alterations arising in different molecules. Moreover, several transcript isoforms of the BCR-ABL1 transcript were identified in two of the CML patients. Finally, our assay allowed for a quick turn around time allowing samples to be reported upon within 2 days.In summary the PacBio sequencing assay can be applied to detect BCR-ABL1 resistance mutations in both diagnostic and follow-up CML patient samples using a simple protocol applicable to routine diagnosis. The method besides its sensitivity, gives a complete view of the clonal distribution of mutations, which is of importance when making therapy decisions.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fungal community shifts underpin declining mycelial production and turnover across a Pinus sylvestris chronosequence

Fungi play critical roles in ecosystem processes such as decomposition and nutrient cycling, but have also been highlighted as significant contributors to organic matter build-up in boreal forest soils. Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) mycelial biomass and necromass dynamics have recently been highlighted as essential for regulating build-up of soil organic matter. Understanding the extent to which shifts in mycelial community or growth trait composition cause changes in mycelial production and turnover over ecological gradients would aid a mechanistic understanding of these important processes at an ecosystem scale. Here, we test the hypotheses that shifting species and mycelial trait (exploration type) composition within the mycelial community underpin changes in biomass turnover with increasing forest age. We quantified mycelial turnover and assessed fungal community composition in a chronosequence of eight, 12- to 158-year-old, managed Pinus sylvestris forests. Turnover was estimated by determining mycelial biomass (ergosterol) in a sequence of ingrowth mesh bags and applying mathematical models. Fungal communities in the bags were identified using Pacific Biosciences sequencing of fungal ITS2 amplicons. To evaluate the accuracy of this method to represent all ECM fungi, community composition in bags was followed over time and compared with communities in soil. Mycelial communities changed with stand age, but we found no evidence that there were concurrent shifts in mycelial exploration types. Forest age and turnover were significantly correlated with ECM mycelial community composition and collectively explained 39.4% of total variation. The similarity between fungal communities in mesh bags and in soil was strongly forest age dependent, with communities in mesh bags diverging from soil communities in stands older than 60 years. However, in all stands, when bag incubation time exceeded 75 days, communities became more similar to soil communities. Synthesis. Our results support the idea that shifts in fungal community composition underpin the forest age-related decrease in mycelial turnover; however, since ingrowth mesh bags exclude some mycorrhizal species in older forests, it remains a possibility that turnover estimates were not reflecting the entire community. While we found no evidence that mycelial exploration types of fungi changed systematically with forest age, we suggest that other traits that relate to biomass turnover and necromass degradation require further study, as they may explain the extent to which ectomycorrhizal fungi regulate and contribute to soil organic matter accumulation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Analysis of the hybrid genomes of two field isolates of the soil-borne fungal species Verticillium longisporum.

Brassica plant species are attacked by a number of pathogens; among them, the ones with a soil-borne lifestyle have become increasingly important. Verticillium stem stripe caused by Verticillium longisporum is one example. This fungal species is thought to be of a hybrid origin, having a genome composed of combinations of lineages denominated A and D. In this study we report the draft genomes of 2 V. longisporum field isolates sequenced using the Illumina technology. Genomic characterization and lineage composition, followed by selected gene analysis to facilitate the comprehension of its genomic features and potential effector categories were performed.The draft genomes of 2 Verticillium longisporum single spore isolates (VL1 and VL2) have an estimated ungapped size of about 70 Mb. The total number of protein encoding genes identified in VL1 was 20,793, whereas 21,072 gene models were predicted in VL2. The predicted genome size, gene contents, including the gene families coding for carbohydrate active enzymes were almost double the numbers found in V. dahliae and V. albo-atrum. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were frequently distributed in the two genomes but the distribution of heterozygosity and depth was not independent. Further analysis of potential parental lineages suggests that the V. longisporum genome is composed of two parts, A1 and D1, where A1 is more ancient than the parental lineage genome D1, the latter being more closer related to V. dahliae. Presence of the mating-type genes MAT1-1-1 and MAT1-2-1 in the V. longisporum genomes were confirmed. However, the MAT genes in V. dahliae, V. albo-atrum and V. longisporum have experienced extensive nucleotide changes at least partly explaining the present asexual nature of these fungal species.The established draft genome of V. longisporum is comparatively large compared to other studied ascomycete fungi. Consequently, high numbers of genes were predicted in the two V. longisporum genomes, among them many secreted proteins and carbohydrate active enzyme (CAZy) encoding genes. The genome is composed of two parts, where one lineage is more ancient than the part being more closely related to V. dahliae. Dissimilar mating-type sequences were identified indicating possible ancient hybridization events.


September 22, 2019  |  

In situ analyses directly in diarrheal stool reveal large variations in bacterial load and active toxin expression of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae.

The bacterial pathogens enterotoxigenicEscherichia coli(ETEC) andVibrio choleraeare major causes of diarrhea. ETEC causes diarrhea by production of the heat-labile toxin (LT) and heat-stable toxins (STh and STp), whileV. choleraeproduces cholera toxin (CT). In this study, we determined the occurrence and bacterial doses of the two pathogens and their respective toxin expression levels directly in liquid diarrheal stools of patients in Dhaka, Bangladesh. By quantitative culture and real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) detection of the toxin genes, the two pathogens were found to coexist in several of the patients, at concentrations between 102and 108bacterial gene copies per ml. Even in culture-negative samples, gene copy numbers of 102to 104of either ETEC orV. choleraetoxin genes were detected by qPCR. RNA was extracted directly from stool, and gene expression levels, quantified by reverse transcriptase qPCR (RT-qPCR), of the genes encoding CT, LT, STh, and STp showed expression of toxin genes. Toxin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) confirmed active toxin secretion directly in the liquid diarrhea. Analysis of ETEC isolates by multiplex PCR, dot blot analysis, and genome sequencing suggested that there are genetic ETEC profiles that are more commonly found as dominating single pathogens and others that are coinfectants with lower bacterial loads. The ETEC genomes, including assembled genomes of dominating ETEC isolates expressing LT/STh/CS5/CS6 and LT/CS7, are provided. In addition, this study highlights an emerging important ETEC strain expressing LT/STp and the novel colonization factor CS27b. These findings have implications for investigations of pathogenesis as well as for vaccine development. IMPORTANCEThe cause of diarrheal disease is usually determined by screening for several microorganisms by various methods, and sole detection is used to assign the agent as the cause of disease. However, it has become increasingly clear that many infections are caused by coinfections with several pathogens and that the dose of the infecting pathogen is important. We quantified the absolute numbers of enterotoxigenicE. coli(ETEC) andVibrio choleraedirectly in diarrheal fluid. We noted several events where both pathogens were found but also a large dose dependency. In three samples, we found ETEC as the only pathogen sought for. These isolates belonged to globally distributed ETEC clones and were the dominating species in stool with active toxin expression. This suggests that certain superior virulent ETEC lineages are able to outcompete the gut microbiota and be the sole cause of disease and hence need to be specifically monitored.


September 22, 2019  |  

Targeted long-read sequencing of a locus under long-term balancing selection in Capsella.

Rapid advances in short-read DNA sequencing technologies have revolutionized population genomic studies, but there are genomic regions where this technology reaches its limits. Limitations mostly arise due to the difficulties in assembly or alignment to genomic regions of high sequence divergence and high repeat content, which are typical characteristics for loci under strong long-term balancing selection. Studying genetic diversity at such loci therefore remains challenging. Here, we investigate the feasibility and error rates associated with targeted long-read sequencing of a locus under balancing selection. For this purpose, we generated bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) containing the Brassicaceae S-locus, a region under strong negative frequency-dependent selection which has previously proven difficult to assemble in its entirety using short reads. We sequence S-locus BACs with single-molecule long-read sequencing technology and conduct de novo assembly of these S-locus haplotypes. By comparing repeated assemblies resulting from independent long-read sequencing runs on the same BAC clone we do not detect any structural errors, suggesting that reliable assemblies are generated, but we estimate an indel error rate of 5.7×10-5 A similar error rate was estimated based on comparison of Illumina short-read sequences and BAC assemblies. Our results show that, until de novo assembly of multiple individuals using long-read sequencing becomes feasible, targeted long-read sequencing of loci under balancing selection is a viable option with low error rates for single nucleotide polymorphisms or structural variation. We further find that short-read sequencing is a valuable complement, allowing correction of the relatively high rate of indel errors that result from this approach. Copyright © 2018 Bachmann et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Exploring benzimidazole resistance in Haemonchus contortus by next generation sequencing and droplet digital PCR.

Anthelmintic resistance in gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) parasites of grazing ruminants is on the rise in countries across the world. Haemonchus contortus is one of most frequently encountered drug-resistant GINs in small ruminants. This blood-sucking abomasal nematode contributes to massive treatment costs and poses a serious threat to farm animal health. To prevent the establishment of resistant strains of this parasite, up-to-date molecular techniques need to be proposed which would allow for quick, cheap and accurate identification of individuals infected with resistant worms. The effort has been made in the previous decade, with the development of the pyrosequencing method to detect resistance-predicting alleles. Here we propose a novel droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assay for rapid and precise identification of H. contortus strains as being resistant or susceptible to benzimidazole drugs based on the presence or absence of the most common resistance-conferring mutation F200Y (TAC) in the ß tubulin isotype 1 gene. The newly developed ddPCR assay was first optimized and validated utilizing DNA templates from single-worm samples, which were previously sequenced using the next generation PacBio RSII Sequencing (NGS) platform. Subsequent NGS results for faecal larval cultures were then used as a reference to compare the obtained values for fractional abundances of the resistance-determining mutant allele between ddPCR and NGS techniques in each sample. Both methods managed to produce highly similar results and ddPCR proved to be a reliable tool which, when utilized at full capacity, can be used to create a powerful mutation detection and quantification assay. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Out in the cold: Identification of genomic regions associated with cold tolerance in the biocontrol fungus Clonostachys rosea through genome-wide association mapping.

There is an increasing importance for using biocontrol agents in combating plant diseases sustainably and in the long term. As large scale genomic sequencing becomes economically viable, the impact of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on biocontrol-associated phenotypes can be easily studied across entire genomes of fungal populations. Here, we improved a previously reported genome assembly of the biocontrol fungus Clonostachys rosea strain IK726 using the PacBio sequencing platform, which resulted in a total genome size of 70.7 Mbp and 21,246 predicted genes. We further performed whole-genome re-sequencing of 52 additional C. rosea strains isolated globally using Illumina sequencing technology, in order to perform genome-wide association studies in conditions relevant for biocontrol activity. One such condition is the ability to grow at lower temperatures commonly encountered in cryic or frigid soils in temperate regions, as these will be prevalent for protecting growing crops in temperate climates. Growth rates at 10°C on potato dextrose agar of the 53 sequenced strains of C. rosea were measured and ranged between 0.066 and 0.413 mm/day. Performing a genome wide association study, a total of 1,478 SNP markers were significantly associated with the trait and located in 227 scaffolds, within or close to (< 1000 bp distance) 265 different genes. The predicted gene products included several chaperone proteins, membrane transporters, lipases, and proteins involved in chitin metabolism with possible roles in cold tolerance. The data reported in this study provides a foundation for future investigations into the genetic basis for cold tolerance in fungi, with important implications for biocontrol.


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