July 19, 2019  |  

Single molecule sequencing and genome assembly of a clinical specimen of Loa loa, the causative agent of loiasis.

More than 20% of the world’s population is at risk for infection by filarial nematodes and >180 million people worldwide are already infected. Along with infection comes significant morbidity that has a socioeconomic impact. The eight filarial nematodes that infect humans are Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori, Onchocerca volvulus, Loa loa, Mansonella perstans, Mansonella streptocerca, and Mansonella ozzardi, of which three have published draft genome sequences. Since all have humans as the definitive host, standard avenues of research that rely on culturing and genetics have often not been possible. Therefore, genome sequencing provides an important window into understanding the biology of these parasites. The need for large amounts of high quality genomic DNA from homozygous, inbred lines; the availability of only short sequence reads from next-generation sequencing platforms at a reasonable expense; and the lack of random large insert libraries has limited our ability to generate high quality genome sequences for these parasites. However, the Pacific Biosciences single molecule, real-time sequencing platform holds great promise in reducing input amounts and generating sufficiently long sequences that bypass the need for large insert paired libraries.Here, we report on efforts to generate a more complete genome assembly for L. loa using genetically heterogeneous DNA isolated from a single clinical sample and sequenced on the Pacific Biosciences platform. To obtain the best assembly, numerous assemblers and sequencing datasets were analyzed, combined, and compared. Quiver-informed trimming of an assembly of only Pacific Biosciences reads by HGAP2 was selected as the final assembly of 96.4 Mbp in 2,250 contigs. This results in ~9% more of the genome in ~85% fewer contigs from ~80% less starting material at a fraction of the cost of previous Roche 454-based sequencing efforts.The result is the most complete filarial nematode assembly produced thus far and demonstrates the utility of single molecule sequencing on the Pacific Biosciences platform for genetically heterogeneous metazoan genomes.


July 19, 2019  |  

Population structure of KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from midwestern U.S. hospitals.

Genome sequencing of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from regional U.S. hospitals was used to characterize strain diversity and the bla(KPC) genetic context. A phylogeny based on core single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) supports a division of sequence type 258 (ST258) into two distinct groups. The primary differences between the groups are in the capsular polysaccharide locus (cps) and their plasmid contents. A strict association between clade and KPC variant was found. The bla(KPC) gene was found on variants of two plasmid backbones. This study indicates that highly similar K. pneumoniae subpopulations coexist within the same hospitals over time. Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Evolution of hypervirulence by a MRSA clone through acquisition of a transposable element.

Staphylococcus aureus has evolved as a pathogen that causes a range of diseases in humans. There are two dominant modes of evolution thought to explain most of the virulence differences between strains. First, virulence genes may be acquired from other organisms. Second, mutations may cause changes in the regulation and expression of genes. Here we describe an evolutionary event in which transposition of an IS element has a direct impact on virulence gene regulation resulting in hypervirulence. Whole-genome analysis of a methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strain USA500 revealed acquisition of a transposable element (IS256) that is absent from close relatives of this strain. Of the multiple copies of IS256 found in the USA500 genome, one was inserted in the promoter sequence of repressor of toxins (Rot), a master transcriptional regulator responsible for the expression of virulence factors in S. aureus. We show that insertion into the rot promoter by IS256 results in the derepression of cytotoxin expression and increased virulence. Taken together, this work provides new insight into evolutionary strategies by which S. aureus is able to modify its virulence properties and demonstrates a novel mechanism by which horizontal gene transfer directly impacts virulence through altering toxin regulation. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


July 19, 2019  |  

Intrahost dynamics of antiviral resistance in influenza a virus reflect complex patterns of segment linkage, reassortment, and natural selection.

Resistance following antiviral therapy is commonly observed in human influenza viruses. Although this evolutionary process is initiated within individual hosts, little is known about the pattern, dynamics, and drivers of antiviral resistance at this scale, including the role played by reassortment. In addition, the short duration of human influenza virus infections limits the available time window in which to examine intrahost evolution. Using single-molecule sequencing, we mapped, in detail, the mutational spectrum of an H3N2 influenza A virus population sampled from an immunocompromised patient who shed virus over a 21-month period. In this unique natural experiment, we were able to document the complex dynamics underlying the evolution of antiviral resistance. Individual resistance mutations appeared weeks before they became dominant, evolved independently on cocirculating lineages, led to a genome-wide reduction in genetic diversity through a selective sweep, and were placed into new combinations by reassortment. Notably, despite frequent reassortment, phylogenetic analysis also provided evidence for specific patterns of segment linkage, with a strong association between the hemagglutinin (HA)- and matrix (M)-encoding segments that matches that previously observed at the epidemiological scale. In sum, we were able to reveal, for the first time, the complex interaction between multiple evolutionary processes as they occur within an individual host.Understanding the evolutionary forces that shape the genetic diversity of influenza virus is crucial for predicting the emergence of drug-resistant strains but remains challenging because multiple processes occur concurrently. We characterized the evolution of antiviral resistance in a single persistent influenza virus infection, representing the first case in which reassortment and the complex patterns of drug resistance emergence and evolution have been determined within an individual host. Deep-sequence data from multiple time points revealed that the evolution of antiviral resistance reflects a combination of frequent mutation, natural selection, and a complex pattern of segment linkage and reassortment. In sum, these data show how immunocompromised hosts may help reveal the drivers of strain emergence. Copyright © 2015 Rogers et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Parallel epidemics of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus USA300 infection in North and South America.

The community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) epidemic in the United States is attributed to the spread of the USA300 clone. An epidemic of CA-MRSA closely related to USA300 has occurred in northern South America (USA300 Latin-American variant, USA300-LV). Using phylogenomic analysis, we aimed to understand the relationships between these 2 epidemics.We sequenced the genomes of 51 MRSA clinical isolates collected between 1999 and 2012 from the United States, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Phylogenetic analysis was used to infer the relationships and times since the divergence of the major clades.Phylogenetic analyses revealed 2 dominant clades that segregated by geographical region, had a putative common ancestor in 1975, and originated in 1989, in North America, and in 1985, in South America. Emergence of these parallel epidemics coincides with the independent acquisition of the arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) in North American isolates and a novel copper and mercury resistance (COMER) mobile element in South American isolates.Our results reveal the existence of 2 parallel USA300 epidemics that shared a recent common ancestor. The simultaneous rapid dissemination of these 2 epidemic clades suggests the presence of shared, potentially convergent adaptations that enhance fitness and ability to spread.© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


July 19, 2019  |  

Novel katG mutations causing isoniazid resistance in clinical M. tuberculosis isolates.

We report the discovery and confirmation of 23 novel mutations with previously undocumented role in isoniazid (INH) drug resistance, in catalase-peroxidase (katG) gene of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) isolates. With these mutations, a synonymous mutation in fabG1 (g609a), and two canonical mutations, we were able to explain 98% of the phenotypic resistance observed in 366 clinical Mtb isolates collected from four high tuberculosis (TB)-burden countries: India, Moldova, Philippines, and South Africa. We conducted overlapping targeted and whole-genome sequencing for variant discovery in all clinical isolates with a variety of INH-resistant phenotypes. Our analysis showed that just two canonical mutations (katG 315AGC-ACC and inhA promoter-15C-T) identified 89.5% of resistance phenotypes in our collection. Inclusion of the 23 novel mutations reported here, and the previously documented point mutation in fabG1, increased the sensitivity of these mutations as markers of INH resistance to 98%. Only six (2%) of the 332 resistant isolates in our collection did not harbor one or more of these mutations. The third most prevalent substitution, at inhA promoter position -8, present in 39 resistant isolates, was of no diagnostic significance since it always co-occurred with katG 315. 79% of our isolates harboring novel mutations belong to genetic group 1 indicating a higher tendency for this group to go down an uncommon evolutionary path and evade molecular diagnostics. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms of INH resistance in Mtb isolates that lack the canonical mutations and could improve the sensitivity of next generation molecular diagnostics.


July 19, 2019  |  

Heterosexual transmission of subtype C HIV-1 selects consensus-like variants without increased replicative capacity or interferon-a resistance.

Heterosexual transmission of HIV-1 is characterized by a genetic bottleneck that selects a single viral variant, the transmitted/founder (TF), during most transmission events. To assess viral characteristics influencing HIV-1 transmission, we sequenced 167 near full-length viral genomes and generated 40 infectious molecular clones (IMC) including TF variants and multiple non-transmitted (NT) HIV-1 subtype C variants from six linked heterosexual transmission pairs near the time of transmission. Consensus-like genomes sensitive to donor antibodies were selected for during transmission in these six transmission pairs. However, TF variants did not demonstrate increased viral fitness in terms of particle infectivity or viral replicative capacity in activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC). In addition, resistance of the TF variant to the antiviral effects of interferon-a (IFN-a) was not significantly different from that of non-transmitted variants from the same transmission pair. Thus neither in vitro viral replicative capacity nor IFN-a resistance discriminated the transmission potential of viruses in the quasispecies of these chronically infected individuals. However, our findings support the hypothesis that within-host evolution of HIV-1 in response to adaptive immune responses reduces viral transmission potential.


July 19, 2019  |  

Emergence of ebola virus escape variants in infected nonhuman primates treated with the MB-003 antibody cocktail.

MB-003, a plant-derived monoclonal antibody cocktail used effectively in treatment of Ebola virus infection in non-human primates, was unable to protect two of six animals when initiated 1 or 2 days post-infection. We characterized a mechanism of viral escape in one of the animals, after observation of two clusters of genomic mutations that resulted in five nonsynonymous mutations in the monoclonal antibody target sites. These mutations were linked to a reduction in antibody binding and later confirmed to be present in a viral isolate that was not neutralized in vitro. Retrospective evaluation of a second independent study allowed the identification of a similar case. Four SNPs in previously identified positions were found in this second fatality, suggesting that genetic drift could be a potential cause for treatment failure. These findings highlight the importance selecting different target domains for each component of the cocktail to minimize the potential for viral escape. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Recurrent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus cutaneous abscesses and selection of reduced chlorhexidine susceptibility during chlorhexidine use.

We describe the selection of reduced chlorhexidine susceptibility during chlorhexidine use in a patient with two episodes of cutaneous USA300 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus abscess. The second clinical isolate harbors a novel plasmid that encodes the QacA efflux pump. Greater use of chlorhexidine for disease prevention warrants surveillance for resistance. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genomic epidemiology of hypervirulent serogroup W, ST-11 Neisseria meningitidis

Neisseria meningitidis is a leading bacterial cause of sepsis and meningitis globally with dynamic strain distribution over time. Beginning with an epidemic among Hajj pilgrims in 2000, serogroup W (W) sequence type (ST) 11 emerged as a leading cause of epidemic meningitis in the African ‘meningitis belt’ and endemic cases in South America, Europe, Middle East and China. Previous genotyping studies were unable to reliably discriminate sporadic W ST-11 strains in circulation since 1970 from the Hajj outbreak strain (Hajj clone). It is also unclear what proportion of more recent W ST-11 disease clusters are caused by direct descendants of the Hajj clone. Whole genome sequences of 270 meningococcal strains isolated from patients with invasive meningococcal disease globally from 1970 to 2013 were compared using whole genome phylogenetic and major antigen-encoding gene sequence analyses. We found that all W ST-11 strains were descendants of an ancestral strain that had undergone unique capsular switching events. The Hajj clone and its descendants were distinct from other W ST-11 strains in that they shared a common antigen gene profile and had undergone recombination involving virulence genes encoding factor H binding protein, nitric oxide reductase, and nitrite reductase. These data demonstrate that recent acquisition of a distinct antigen-encoding gene profile and variations in meningococcal virulence genes was associated with the emergence of the Hajj clone. Importantly, W ST-11 strains unrelated to the Hajj outbreak contribute a significant proportion of W ST-11 cases globally. This study helps illuminate genomic factors associated with meningococcal strain emergence and evolution.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genetic diversity and protective efficacy of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine.

The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine targets the circumsporozoite protein of Plasmodium falciparum and has partial protective efficacy against clinical and severe malaria disease in infants and children. We investigated whether the vaccine efficacy was specific to certain parasite genotypes at the circumsporozoite protein locus.We used polymerase chain reaction-based next-generation sequencing of DNA extracted from samples from 4985 participants to survey circumsporozoite protein polymorphisms. We evaluated the effect that polymorphic positions and haplotypic regions within the circumsporozoite protein had on vaccine efficacy against first episodes of clinical malaria within 1 year after vaccination.In the per-protocol group of 4577 RTS,S/AS01-vaccinated participants and 2335 control-vaccinated participants who were 5 to 17 months of age, the 1-year cumulative vaccine efficacy was 50.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 34.6 to 62.3) against clinical malaria in which parasites matched the vaccine in the entire circumsporozoite protein C-terminal (139 infections), as compared with 33.4% (95% CI, 29.3 to 37.2) against mismatched malaria (1951 infections) (P=0.04 for differential vaccine efficacy). The vaccine efficacy based on the hazard ratio was 62.7% (95% CI, 51.6 to 71.3) against matched infections versus 54.2% (95% CI, 49.9 to 58.1) against mismatched infections (P=0.06). In the group of infants 6 to 12 weeks of age, there was no evidence of differential allele-specific vaccine efficacy.These results suggest that among children 5 to 17 months of age, the RTS,S vaccine has greater activity against malaria parasites with the matched circumsporozoite protein allele than against mismatched malaria. The overall vaccine efficacy in this age category will depend on the proportion of matched alleles in the local parasite population; in this trial, less than 10% of parasites had matched alleles. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantifying influenza virus diversity and transmission in humans.

Influenza A virus is characterized by high genetic diversity. However, most of what is known about influenza evolution has come from consensus sequences sampled at the epidemiological scale that only represent the dominant virus lineage within each infected host. Less is known about the extent of within-host virus diversity and what proportion of this diversity is transmitted between individuals. To characterize virus variants that achieve sustainable transmission in new hosts, we examined within-host virus genetic diversity in household donor-recipient pairs from the first wave of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic when seasonal H3N2 was co-circulating. Although the same variants were found in multiple members of the community, the relative frequencies of variants fluctuated, with patterns of genetic variation more similar within than between households. We estimated the effective population size of influenza A virus across donor-recipient pairs to be approximately 100-200 contributing members, which enabled the transmission of multiple lineages, including antigenic variants.


July 19, 2019  |  

Nested Russian doll-like genetic mobility drives rapid dissemination of the Carbapenem resistance gene blaKPC

The recent widespread emergence of carbapenem resistance in Enterobacteriaceae is a major public health concern, as carbapenems are a therapy of last resort against this family of common bacterial pathogens. Resistance genes can mobilize via various mechanisms, including conjugation and transposition; however, the importance of this mobility in short-term evolution, such as within nosocomial outbreaks, is unknown. Using a combination of short- and long-read whole-genome sequencing of 281 blaKPC-positive Enterobacteriaceae isolates from a single hospital over 5 years, we demonstrate rapid dissemination of this carbapenem resistance gene to multiple species, strains, and plasmids. Mobility of blaKPC occurs at multiple nested genetic levels, with transmission of blaKPC strains between individuals, frequent transfer of blaKPC plasmids between strains/species, and frequent transposition of blaKPC transposon Tn4401 between plasmids. We also identify a common insertion site for Tn4401 within various Tn2-like elements, suggesting that homologous recombination between Tn2-like elements has enhanced the spread of Tn4401 between different plasmid vectors. Furthermore, while short-read sequencing has known limitations for plasmid assembly, various studies have attempted to overcome this by the use of reference-based methods. We also demonstrate that, as a consequence of the genetic mobility observed in this study, plasmid structures can be extremely dynamic, and therefore these reference-based methods, as well as traditional partial typing methods, can produce very misleading conclusions. Overall, our findings demonstrate that nonclonal resistance gene dissemination can be extremely rapid, presenting significant challenges for public health surveillance and achieving effective control of antibiotic resistance. Copyright © 2016 Sheppard et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Rapid sequencing of complete env genes from primary HIV-1 samples

The ability to study rapidly evolving viral populations has been constrained by the read length of next-generation sequencing approaches and the sampling depth of single-genome amplification methods. Here, we develop and characterize a method using Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing technology to sequence multiple, intact full-length human immunodeficiency virus-1 env genes amplified from viral RNA populations circulating in blood, and provide computational tools for analyzing and visualizing these data.


July 19, 2019  |  

Defective HIV-1 proviruses produce novel protein-coding RNA species in HIV-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy.

Despite years of plasma HIV-RNA levels <40 copies per milliliter during combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), the majority of HIV-infected patients exhibit persistent seropositivity to HIV-1 and evidence of immune activation. These patients also show persistence of proviruses of HIV-1 in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Many of these proviruses have been characterized as defective and thus thought to contribute little to HIV-1 pathogenesis. By combining 5'LTR-to-3'LTR single-genome amplification and direct amplicon sequencing, we have identified the presence of "defective" proviruses capable of transcribing novel unspliced HIV-RNA (usHIV-RNA) species in patients at all stages of HIV-1 infection. Although these novel usHIV-RNA transcripts had exon structures that were different from those of the known spliced HIV-RNA variants, they maintained translationally competent ORFs, involving elements of gag, pol, env, rev, and nef to encode a series of novel HIV-1 chimeric proteins. These novel usHIV-RNAs were detected in five of five patients, including four of four patients with prolonged viral suppression of HIV-RNA levels <40 copies per milliliter for more than 6 y. Our findings suggest that the persistent defective proviruses of HIV-1 are not "silent," but rather may contribute to HIV-1 pathogenesis by stimulating host-defense pathways that target foreign nucleic acids and proteins.


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