April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Aquella oligotrophica gen. nov. sp. nov.: A new member of the family Neisseriaceae isolated from laboratory tap water.

A bacterial strain designated as P08T was isolated from laboratory tap water during a water quality assessment in University of Malaya, Malaysia. The strain was a Gram-negative, rod-shaped, nonmotile, and aerobic bacterium. Complete genome of P08T comprised of a 2,820,660 bp chromosome with a G + C content of 36.43%. Both 16S rRNA phylogeny and phylogenetic tree inferred from the core gene matrix demonstrated that P08T formed a hitherto unknown subline within the family Neisseriaceae. Ortho average nucleotide identity (OrthoANI) values and the percentage of conserved proteins (POCP) calculated from complete genome sequence indicated low relatedness between P08T and its phylogenetic neighbors. Respiratory quinone analysis revealed Q-8 as the only detectable quinone. The predominant cellular fatty acids were identified as C14:0 , iso-C15:0 , and summed feature 3 (C16:1 ?7c/C16:1 ?6c). The polar lipids consisted of uncharacterized aminolipid, phosphatidylglycerol, and phosphatidylethanolamine. All aspects of phenotypic and phylogenetic data suggested that strain P08T represents a novel genus within family Neisseriaceae, for which the name Aquella gen. nov. is proposed. The type species of the genus is Aquella oligotrophica sp. nov., and the type strain is P08T (=LMG 29629T =DSM 100970T ). © 2019 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic characterization of Kerstersia gyiorum SWMUKG01, an isolate from a patient with respiratory infection in China.

The Gram-negative bacterium Kerstersia gyiorum, a potential etiological agent of clinical infections, was isolated from several human patients presenting clinical symptoms. Its significance as a possible pathogen has been previously overlooked as no disease has thus far been definitively associated with this bacterium. To better understand how the organism contributes to the infectious disease, we determined the complete genomic sequence of K. gyiorum SWMUKG01, the first clinical isolate from southwest China.The genomic data obtained displayed a single circular chromosome of 3, 945, 801 base pairs in length, which contains 3, 441 protein-coding genes, 55 tRNA genes and 9 rRNA genes. Analysis on the full spectrum of protein coding genes for cellular structures, two-component regulatory systems and iron uptake pathways that may be important for the success of the bacterial survival, colonization and establishment in the host conferred new insights into the virulence characteristics of K. gyiorum. Phylogenomic comparisons with Alcaligenaceae species indicated that K. gyiorum SWMUKG01 had a close evolutionary relationships with Alcaligenes aquatilis and Alcaligenes faecalis.The comprehensive analysis presented in this work determinates for the first time a complete genome sequence of K. gyiorum, which is expected to provide useful information for subsequent studies on pathogenesis of this species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Human contamination in bacterial genomes has created thousands of spurious proteins.

Contaminant sequences that appear in published genomes can cause numerous problems for downstream analyses, particularly for evolutionary studies and metagenomics projects. Our large-scale scan of complete and draft bacterial and archaeal genomes in the NCBI RefSeq database reveals that 2250 genomes are contaminated by human sequence. The contaminant sequences derive primarily from high-copy human repeat regions, which themselves are not adequately represented in the current human reference genome, GRCh38. The absence of the sequences from the human assembly offers a likely explanation for their presence in bacterial assemblies. In some cases, the contaminating contigs have been erroneously annotated as containing protein-coding sequences, which over time have propagated to create spurious protein “families” across multiple prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. As a result, 3437 spurious protein entries are currently present in the widely used nr and TrEMBL protein databases. We report here an extensive list of contaminant sequences in bacterial genome assemblies and the proteins associated with them. We found that nearly all contaminants occurred in small contigs in draft genomes, which suggests that filtering out small contigs from draft genome assemblies may mitigate the issue of contamination while still keeping nearly all of the genuine genomic sequences. © 2019 Breitwieser et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Heteroresistance to the model antimicrobial peptide polymyxin B in the emerging Neisseria meningitidis lineage 11.2 urethritis clade: mutations in the pilMNOPQ operon.

Clusters of Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) urethritis among primarily heterosexual males in multiple US cities have been attributed to a unique non-encapsulated meningococcal clade (the US Nm urethritis clade, US_NmUC) within the hypervirulent clonal complex 11. Resistance to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a key feature of urogenital pathogenesis of the closely related species, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The US_NmUC isolates were found to be highly resistant to the model AMP, polymyxin B (PmB, MICs 64-256 µg ml-1 ). The isolates also demonstrated stable subpopulations of heteroresistant colonies that showed near total resistant to PmB (MICs 384-1024 µg ml-1 ) and colistin (MIC 256 µg ml-1 ) as well as enhanced LL-37 resistance. This is the first observation of heteroresistance in N. meningitidis. Consistent with previous findings, overall PmB resistance in US_NmUC isolates was due to active Mtr efflux and LptA-mediated lipid A modification. However, whole genome sequencing, variant analyses and directed mutagenesis revealed that the heteroresistance phenotypes and very high-level AMP resistance were the result of point mutations and IS1655 element movement in the pilMNOPQ operon, encoding the type IV pilin biogenesis apparatus. Cross-resistance to other classes of antibiotics was also observed in the heteroresistant colonies. High-level resistance to AMPs may contribute to the pathogenesis of US_NmUC. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Clonal expansion and spread of the ceftriaxone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae strain FC428, identified in Japan in 2015, and closely related isolates.

Ceftriaxone resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a major public health concern globally because a high-dose (1?g) injection of ceftriaxone is the only remaining option for empirical monotherapy of gonorrhoea. The ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal strain FC428, cultured in Osaka in 2015, is suspected to have spread nationally and internationally. We describe the complete finished genomes of FC428 and two closely related isolates from Osaka in 2015, and examine the genomic epidemiology of these isolates plus three ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal isolates from Osaka and Hyogo in 2016-17 and four ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal isolates cultured in 2017 in Australia, Canada and Denmark.During 2015-17, we identified six ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal isolates through our surveillance systems in Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (six antimicrobials) was performed using Etest. Complete whole-genome sequences of the first three isolates (FC428, FC460 and FC498) from 2015 were obtained using PacBio RS II and Illumina MiSeq sequencing. The three complete genome sequences and draft genome sequences of the three additional Japanese (sequenced with Illumina MiSeq) and four international ceftriaxone-resistant isolates were compared.Detailed genomic analysis suggested that the Japanese isolates (FC428, FC460, FC498, KU16054, KM383 and KU17039) and the four international MLST ST1903 isolates from Australia, Canada and Denmark formed four linked subclades.Using detailed genomic analysis, we describe the clonal expansion of the ceftriaxone-resistant N. gonorrhoeae strain FC428, initially identified in 2015 in Japan, and closely related isolates. FC428 and its close relatives show some genomic diversity, suggesting multiple genetic subclades are already spreading internationally. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-molecule sequencing detection of N6-methyladenine in microbial reference materials.

The DNA base modification N6-methyladenine (m6A) is involved in many pathways related to the survival of bacteria and their interactions with hosts. Nanopore sequencing offers a new, portable method to detect base modifications. Here, we show that a neural network can improve m6A detection at trained sequence contexts compared to previously published methods using deviations between measured and expected current values as each adenine travels through a pore. The model, implemented as the mCaller software package, can be extended to detect known or confirm suspected methyltransferase target motifs based on predictions of methylation at untrained contexts. We use PacBio, Oxford Nanopore, methylated DNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (MeDIP-seq), and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data to generate and orthogonally validate methylomes for eight microbial reference species. These well-characterized microbial references can serve as controls in the development and evaluation of future methods for the identification of base modifications from single-molecule sequencing data.


April 21, 2020  |  

A First Study of the Virulence Potential of a Bacillus subtilis Isolate From Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent.

Bacillus subtilis is the best studied Gram-positive bacterium, primarily as a model of cell differentiation and industrial exploitation. To date, little is known about the virulence of B. subtilis. In this study, we examined the virulence potential of a B. subtilis strain (G7) isolated from the Iheya North hydrothermal field of Okinawa Trough. G7 is aerobic, motile, endospore-forming, and requires NaCl for growth. The genome of G7 is composed of one circular chromosome of 4,216,133 base pairs with an average GC content of 43.72%. G7 contains 4,416 coding genes, 27.5% of which could not be annotated, and the remaining 72.5% were annotated with known or predicted functions in 25 different COG categories. Ten sets of 23S, 5S, and 16S ribosomal RNA operons, 86 tRNA and 14 sRNA genes, 50 tandem repeats, 41 mini-satellites, one microsatellite, and 42 transposons were identified in G7. Comparing to the genome of the B. subtilis wild type strain NCIB 3610T, G7 genome contains many genomic translocations, inversions, and insertions, and twice the amount of genomic Islands (GIs), with 42.5% of GI genes encoding hypothetical proteins. G7 possesses abundant putative virulence genes associated with adhesion, invasion, dissemination, anti-phagocytosis, and intracellular survival. Experimental studies showed that G7 was able to cause mortality in fish and mice following intramuscular/intraperitoneal injection, resist the killing effect of serum complement, and replicate in mouse macrophages and fish peripheral blood leukocytes. Taken together, our study indicates that G7 is a B. subtilis isolate with unique genetic features and can be lethal to vertebrate animals once being introduced into the animals by artificial means. These results provide the first insight into the potential harmfulness of deep-sea B. subtilis.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of a metabolic pathway transfer and genomic integration system for the syngas-fermenting bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii.

Clostridium spp. can synthesize valuable chemicals and fuels by utilizing diverse waste-stream substrates, including starchy biomass, lignocellulose, and industrial waste gases. However, metabolic engineering in Clostridium spp. is challenging due to the low efficiency of gene transfer and genomic integration of entire biosynthetic pathways.We have developed a reliable gene transfer and genomic integration system for the syngas-fermenting bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii based on the conjugal transfer of donor plasmids containing large transgene cassettes (>?5 kb) followed by the inducible activation of Himar1 transposase to promote integration. We established a conjugation protocol for the efficient generation of transconjugants using the Gram-positive origins of replication repL and repH. We also investigated the impact of DNA methylation on conjugation efficiency by testing donor constructs with all possible combinations of Dam and Dcm methylation patterns, and used bisulfite conversion and PacBio sequencing to determine the DNA methylation profile of the C. ljungdahlii genome, resulting in the detection of four sequence motifs with N6-methyladenosine. As proof of concept, we demonstrated the transfer and genomic integration of a heterologous acetone biosynthesis pathway using a Himar1 transposase system regulated by a xylose-inducible promoter. The functionality of the integrated pathway was confirmed by detecting enzyme proteotypic peptides and the formation of acetone and isopropanol by C. ljungdahlii cultures utilizing syngas as a carbon and energy source.The developed multi-gene delivery system offers a versatile tool to integrate and stably express large biosynthetic pathways in the industrial promising syngas-fermenting microorganism C. ljungdahlii. The simple transfer and stable integration of large gene clusters (like entire biosynthetic pathways) is expanding the range of possible fermentation products of heterologously expressing recombinant strains. We also believe that the developed gene delivery system can be adapted to other clostridial strains as well.


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