September 22, 2019  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing uncovers a widespread coupling between transcription initiation and mRNA processing.

The multifaceted control of gene expression requires tight coordination of regulatory mechanisms at transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. Here, we studied the interdependence of transcription initiation, splicing and polyadenylation events on single mRNA molecules by full-length mRNA sequencing.In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, we find 2700 genes with interdependent alternative transcription initiation, splicing and polyadenylation events, both in proximal and distant parts of mRNA molecules, including examples of coupling between transcription start sites and polyadenylation sites. The analysis of three human primary tissues (brain, heart and liver) reveals similar patterns of interdependency between transcription initiation and mRNA processing events. We predict thousands of novel open reading frames from full-length mRNA sequences and obtained evidence for their translation by shotgun proteomics. The mapping database rescues 358 previously unassigned peptides and improves the assignment of others. By recognizing sample-specific amino-acid changes and novel splicing patterns, full-length mRNA sequencing improves proteogenomics analysis of MCF-7 cells.Our findings demonstrate that our understanding of transcriptome complexity is far from complete and provides a basis to reveal largely unresolved mechanisms that coordinate transcription initiation and mRNA processing.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next generation multilocus sequence typing (NGMLST) and the analytical software program MLSTEZ enable efficient, cost-effective, high-throughput, multilocus sequencing typing.

Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has become the preferred method for genotyping many biological species, and it is especially useful for analyzing haploid eukaryotes. MLST is rigorous, reproducible, and informative, and MLST genotyping has been shown to identify major phylogenetic clades, molecular groups, or subpopulations of a species, as well as individual strains or clones. MLST molecular types often correlate with important phenotypes. Conventional MLST involves the extraction of genomic DNA and the amplification by PCR of several conserved, unlinked gene sequences from a sample of isolates of the taxon under investigation. In some cases, as few as three loci are sufficient to yield definitive results. The amplicons are sequenced, aligned, and compared by phylogenetic methods to distinguish statistically significant differences among individuals and clades. Although MLST is simpler, faster, and less expensive than whole genome sequencing, it is more costly and time-consuming than less reliable genotyping methods (e.g. amplified fragment length polymorphisms). Here, we describe a new MLST method that uses next-generation sequencing, a multiplexing protocol, and appropriate analytical software to provide accurate, rapid, and economical MLST genotyping of 96 or more isolates in single assay. We demonstrate this methodology by genotyping isolates of the well-characterized, human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptional diversity during lineage commitment of human blood progenitors.

Blood cells derive from hematopoietic stem cells through stepwise fating events. To characterize gene expression programs driving lineage choice, we sequenced RNA from eight primary human hematopoietic progenitor populations representing the major myeloid commitment stages and the main lymphoid stage. We identified extensive cell type-specific expression changes: 6711 genes and 10,724 transcripts, enriched in non-protein-coding elements at early stages of differentiation. In addition, we found 7881 novel splice junctions and 2301 differentially used alternative splicing events, enriched in genes involved in regulatory processes. We demonstrated experimentally cell-specific isoform usage, identifying nuclear factor I/B (NFIB) as a regulator of megakaryocyte maturation-the platelet precursor. Our data highlight the complexity of fating events in closely related progenitor populations, the understanding of which is essential for the advancement of transplantation and regenerative medicine. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.


September 22, 2019  |  

Bat biology, genomes, and the Bat1K project: To generate chromosome-level genomes for all living bat species.

Bats are unique among mammals, possessing some of the rarest mammalian adaptations, including true self-powered flight, laryngeal echolocation, exceptional longevity, unique immunity, contracted genomes, and vocal learning. They provide key ecosystem services, pollinating tropical plants, dispersing seeds, and controlling insect pest populations, thus driving healthy ecosystems. They account for more than 20% of all living mammalian diversity, and their crown-group evolutionary history dates back to the Eocene. Despite their great numbers and diversity, many species are threatened and endangered. Here we announce Bat1K, an initiative to sequence the genomes of all living bat species (n~1,300) to chromosome-level assembly. The Bat1K genome consortium unites bat biologists (>148 members as of writing), computational scientists, conservation organizations, genome technologists, and any interested individuals committed to a better understanding of the genetic and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie the unique adaptations of bats. Our aim is to catalog the unique genetic diversity present in all living bats to better understand the molecular basis of their unique adaptations; uncover their evolutionary history; link genotype with phenotype; and ultimately better understand, promote, and conserve bats. Here we review the unique adaptations of bats and highlight how chromosome-level genome assemblies can uncover the molecular basis of these traits. We present a novel sequencing and assembly strategy and review the striking societal and scientific benefits that will result from the Bat1K initiative.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative heterochromatin profiling reveals conserved and unique epigenome signatures linked to adaptation and development of malaria parasites.

Heterochromatin-dependent gene silencing is central to the adaptation and survival of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites, allowing clonally variant gene expression during blood infection in humans. By assessing genome-wide heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) occupancy, we present a comprehensive analysis of heterochromatin landscapes across different Plasmodium species, strains, and life cycle stages. Common targets of epigenetic silencing include fast-evolving multi-gene families encoding surface antigens and a small set of conserved HP1-associated genes with regulatory potential. Many P. falciparum heterochromatic genes are marked in a strain-specific manner, increasing the parasite’s adaptive capacity. Whereas heterochromatin is strictly maintained during mitotic proliferation of asexual blood stage parasites, substantial heterochromatin reorganization occurs in differentiating gametocytes and appears crucial for the activation of key gametocyte-specific genes and adaptation of erythrocyte remodeling machinery. Collectively, these findings provide a catalog of heterochromatic genes and reveal conserved and specialized features of epigenetic control across the genus Plasmodium. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Developing collaborative works for faster progress on fungal respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the major genetic inherited disease in Caucasian populations. The respiratory tract of CF patients displays a sticky viscous mucus, which allows for the entrapment of airborne bacteria and fungal spores and provides a suitable environment for growth of microorganisms, including numerous yeast and filamentous fungal species. As a consequence, respiratory infections are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in this clinical context. Although bacteria remain the most common agents of these infections, fungal respiratory infections have emerged as an important cause of disease. Therefore, the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM) has launched a working group on Fungal respiratory infections in Cystic Fibrosis (Fri-CF) in October 2006, which was subsequently approved by the European Confederation of Medical Mycology (ECMM). Meetings of this working group, comprising both clinicians and mycologists involved in the follow-up of CF patients, as well as basic scientists interested in the fungal species involved, provided the opportunity to initiate collaborative works aimed to improve our knowledge on these infections to assist clinicians in patient management. The current review highlights the outcomes of some of these collaborative works in clinical surveillance, pathogenesis and treatment, giving special emphasis to standardization of culture procedures, improvement of species identification methods including the development of nonculture-based diagnostic methods, microbiome studies and identification of new biological markers, and the description of genotyping studies aiming to differentiate transient carriage and chronic colonization of the airways. The review also reports on the breakthrough in sequencing the genomes of the main Scedosporium species as basis for a better understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of these fungi, and discusses treatment options of infections caused by multidrug resistant microorganisms, such as Scedosporium and Lomentospora species and members of the Rasamsonia argillacea species complex.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multisite de novo mutations in human offspring after paternal exposure to ionizing radiation.

A genome-wide evaluation of the effects of ionizing radiation on mutation induction in the mouse germline has identified multisite de novo mutations (MSDNs) as marker for previous exposure. Here we present the results of a small pilot study of whole genome sequencing in offspring of soldiers who served in radar units on weapon systems that were emitting high-frequency radiation. We found cases of exceptionally high MSDN rates as well as an increased mean in our cohort: While a MSDN mutation is detected in average in 1 out of 5 offspring of unexposed controls, we observed 12 MSDNs in altogether 18 offspring, including a family with 6 MSDNs in 3 offspring. Moreover, we found two translocations, also resulting from neighboring mutations. Our findings indicate that MSDNs might be suited in principle for the assessment of DNA damage from ionizing radiation also in humans. However, as exact person-related dose values in risk groups are usually not available, the interpretation of MSDNs in single families would benefit from larger molecular epidemiologic studies on this new biomarker.


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