June 1, 2021  |  

High-accuracy, single-base resolution of near-full-length HIV genomes.

Background: The HIV-1 proviral reservoir is incredibly stable, even while undergoing antiretroviral therapy, and is seen as the major barrier to HIV-1 eradication. Identifying and comprehensively characterizing this reservoir will be critical to achieving an HIV cure. Historically, this has been a tedious and labor intensive process, requiring high-replicate single-genome amplification reactions, or overlapping amplicons that are then reconstructed into full-length genomes by algorithmic imputation. Here, we present a deep sequencing and analysis method able to determine the exact identity and relative abundances of near-full-length HIV genomes from samples containing mixtures of genomes without shearing or complex bioinformatic reconstruction. Methods: We generated clonal near-full-length (~9 kb) amplicons derived from single genome amplification (SGA) of primary proviral isolates or PCR of well-documented control strains. These clonal products were mixed at various abundances and sequenced as near-full-length (~9 kb) amplicons without shearing. Each mixture yielded many near-full-length HIV-1 reads. Mathematical analysis techniques resolved the complex mixture of reads into estimates of distinct near-full-length viral genomes with their relative abundances. Results: Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing data contained near-full-length (~9 kb) continuous reads for each sample including some runs with greater than 10,000 near-full-length-genome reads in a three-hour sequencing run. Our methods correctly recapitulated exactly the originating genomes at a single-base resolution and their relative abundances in both mixtures of clonal controls and SGAs, and these results were validated using independent sequencing methods. Correct resolution was achieved even when genomes differed only by a single base. Minor abundances of 5% were reliably detected. Conclusions: SMRT Sequencing yields long-read sequencing results from individual DNA molecules, a rapid time-to-result. The single-molecule, full-length nature of this sequencing method allows us to estimate variant subspecies and relative abundances with single-nucleotide resolution. This method allows for reference-agnostic and cost-effective full-genome sequencing of HIV-1, which could both further our understanding of latent infection and develop novel and improved tools for quantifying HIV provirus, which will be critical to cure HIV.


June 1, 2021  |  

Long-read assembly of the Aedes aegypti Aag2 cell line genome resolves ancient endogenous viral elements

Transmission of arboviruses such as Dengue Virus by Aedes aegypti causes debilitating disease across the globe. Disease in humans can include severe acute symptoms such as hemorrhagic fever and organ failure, but mosquitoes tolerate high titers of virus in a persistent infection. The mechanisms responsible for this viral tolerance are unclear. Recent publications highlighted the integration of genetic material from non-retroviral RNA viruses into the genome of the host during infection that relies upon endogenous retro-transcriptase activity from transposons. These endogenous viral elements (EVEs) found in the genome are predicted to be ancient, and at least some EVEs are under purifying selection, suggesting they are beneficial to the host. To characterize EVE biogenesis in a tractable system, we sequenced the Ae. aegypti cell line, Aag2, to 58-fold coverage and present a de novo assembly of the genome. The assembly contains 1.7 Gb of genomic and 255 Mb of alternative haplotype specific sequence, consisting of contigs with a N50 of 1.4 Mb; a value that, when compared with other assemblies of the Aedes genus, is from 1-3 orders of magnitude longer. The Aag2 genome is highly repetitive (70%), most of which is classified as transposable elements (60%). We identify EVEs in the genome homologous to a range of extant viruses, many of which cluster in these regions of repetitive DNA. The contiguous assembly allows for more comprehensive identification of the transposable elements and EVEs that are most likely to be lost in assemblies lacking the read length of SMRT Sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative metagenome-assembled genome analysis of “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae”, formerly known as Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium – 1 (BVAB1)

Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium 1 (BVAB1) is an as-yet uncultured bacterial species found in the human vagina that belongs to the family Lachnospiraceae within the order Clostridiales. As its name suggests, this bacterium is often associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common vaginal disorder that has been shown to increase a woman’s risk for HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections as well as preterm birth. Further, BVAB1 is associated with the persistence of BV following metronidazole treatment, increased vaginal inflammation, and adverse obstetrics outcomes. There is no available complete genome sequence of BVAB1, which has made it di?cult to mechanistically understand its role in disease. We present here a circularized metagenome-assembled genome (cMAG) of B VAB1 as well as a comparative analysis including an additional six metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of this species. These sequences were derived from cervicovaginal samples of seven separate women. The cMAG is 1.649 Mb in size and encodes 1,578 genes. We propose to rename BVAB1 to “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae” based on phylogenetic analyses, and provide genomic evidence that this candidate species may metabolize D-lactate, produce trimethylamine (one of the chemicals responsible for BV-associated odor), and be motile. The cMAG and the six MAGs are valuable resources that will further contribute to our understanding of the heterogeneous etiology of bacterial vaginosis.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tracking short-term changes in the genetic diversity and antimicrobial resistance of OXA-232-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae ST14 in clinical settings.

To track stepwise changes in genetic diversity and antimicrobial resistance in rapidly evolving OXA-232-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae ST14, an emerging carbapenem-resistant high-risk clone, in clinical settings.Twenty-six K. pneumoniae ST14 isolates were collected by the Korean Nationwide Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance system over the course of 1 year. Isolates were subjected to whole-genome sequencing and MIC determinations using 33 antibiotics from 14 classes.Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing identified 72 unique SNP sites spanning the chromosomes of the isolates, dividing them into three clusters (I, II and III). The initial isolate possessed two plasmids with 18 antibiotic-resistance genes, including blaOXA-232, and exhibited resistance to 11 antibiotic classes. Four other plasmids containing 12 different resistance genes, including blaCTX-M-15 and strA/B, were introduced over time, providing additional resistance to aztreonam and streptomycin. Moreover, chromosomal integration of insertion sequence Ecp1-blaCTX-M-15 mediated the inactivation of mgrB responsible for colistin resistance in four isolates from cluster III. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first description of K. pneumoniae ST14 resistant to both carbapenem and colistin in South Korea. Furthermore, although some acquired genes were lost over time, the retention of 12 resistance genes and inactivation of mgrB provided resistance to 13 classes of antibiotics.We describe stepwise changes in OXA-232-producing K. pneumoniae ST14 in vivo over time in terms of antimicrobial resistance. Our findings contribute to our understanding of the evolution of emerging high-risk K. pneumoniae clones and provide reference data for future outbreaks.Copyright © 2019 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plasmid-encoded tet(X) genes that confer high-level tigecycline resistance in Escherichia coli.

Tigecycline is one of the last-resort antibiotics to treat complicated infections caused by both multidrug-resistant Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria1. Tigecycline resistance has sporadically occurred in recent years, primarily due to chromosome-encoding mechanisms, such as overexpression of efflux pumps and ribosome protection2,3. Here, we report the emergence of the plasmid-mediated mobile tigecycline resistance mechanism Tet(X4) in Escherichia coli isolates from China, which is capable of degrading all tetracyclines, including tigecycline and the US FDA newly approved eravacycline. The tet(X4)-harbouring IncQ1 plasmid is highly transferable, and can be successfully mobilized and stabilized in recipient clinical and laboratory strains of Enterobacteriaceae bacteria. It is noteworthy that tet(X4)-positive E.?coli strains, including isolates co-harbouring mcr-1, have been widely detected in pigs, chickens, soil and dust samples in China. In vivo murine models demonstrated that the presence of Tet(X4) led to tigecycline treatment failure. Consequently, the emergence of plasmid-mediated Tet(X4) challenges the clinical efficacy of the entire family of tetracycline antibiotics. Importantly, our study raises concern that the plasmid-mediated tigecycline resistance may further spread into various ecological niches and into clinical high-risk pathogens. Collective efforts are in urgent need to preserve the potency of these essential antibiotics.


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  |  

Complete genome screening of clinical MRSA isolates identifies lineage diversity and provides full resolution of transmission and outbreak events

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of Staphylococcus aureus is increasingly used as part of infection prevention practices, but most applications are focused on conserved core genomic regions due to limitations of short-read technologies. In this study we established a long-read technology-based WGS screening program of all first-episode MRSA blood infections at a major urban hospital. A survey of 132 MRSA genomes assembled from long reads revealed widespread gain/loss of accessory mobile genetic elements among established hospital- and community-associated lineages impacting >10% of each genome, and frequent megabase-scale inversions between endogenous prophages. We also characterized an outbreak of a CC5/ST105/USA100 clone among 3 adults and 18 infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) lasting 7 months. The pattern of changes among complete outbreak genomes provided full spatiotemporal resolution of its origins and progression, which was characterized by multiple sub-transmissions and likely precipitated by equipment sharing. Compared to other hospital strains, the outbreak strain carried distinct mutations and accessory genetic elements that impacted genes with roles in metabolism, resistance and persistence. This included a DNA-recognition domain recombination in the hsdS gene of a Type-I restriction-modification system that altered DNA methylation. RNA-Seq profiling showed that the (epi)genetic changes in the outbreak clone attenuated agr gene expression and upregulated genes involved in stress response and biofilm formation. Overall our findings demonstrate that long-read sequencing substantially improves our ability to characterize accessory genomic elements that impact MRSA virulence and persistence, and provides valuable information for infection control efforts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Strengths and potential pitfalls of hay-transfer for ecological restoration revealed by RAD-seq analysis in floodplain Arabis species

Achieving high intraspecific genetic diversity is a critical goal in ecological restoration as it increases the adaptive potential and long-term resilience of populations. Thus, we investigated genetic diversity within and between pristine sites in a fossil floodplain and compared it to sites restored by hay-transfer between 1997 and 2014. RAD-seq genotyping revealed that the stenoecious flood-plain species Arabis nemorensis is co-occurring with individuals that, based on ploidy, ITS-sequencing and morphology, probably belong to the close relative Arabis sagittata, which has a documented preference for dry calcareous grasslands but has not been reported in floodplain meadows. We show that hay-transfer maintains genetic diversity for both species. Additionally, in A. sagittata, transfer from multiple genetically isolated pristine sites resulted in restored sites with increased diversity and admixed local genotypes. In A. nemorensis, transfer did not create novel admixture dynamics because genetic diversity between pristine sites was less differentiated. Thus, the effects of hay-transfer on genetic diversity also depend on the genetic makeup of the donor communities of each species, especially when local material is mixed. Our results demonstrate the efficiency of hay-transfer for habitat restoration and emphasize the importance of pre-restoration characterization of micro-geographic patterns of intraspecific diversity of the community to guarantee that restoration practices reach their goal, i.e. maximize the adaptive potential of the entire restored plant community. Overlooking these patterns may alter the balance between species in the community. Additionally, our comparison of summary statistics obtained from de novo and reference-based RAD-seq pipelines shows that the genomic impact of restoration can be reliably monitored in species lacking prior genomic knowledge.


April 21, 2020  |  

Morphological and genomic characterisation of the hybrid schistosome infecting humans in Europe reveals a complex admixture between Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis parasites

Schistosomes cause schistosomiasis, the worldtextquoterights second most important parasitic disease after malaria. A peculiar feature of schistosomes is their ability to produce viable and fertile hybrids. Originally only present in the tropics, schistosomiasis is now also endemic in Europe. Based on two genetic markers the European species had been identified as a hybrid between the ruminant-infective Schistosoma bovis and the human-infective Schistosoma haematobium.Here we describe for the first time the genomic composition of the European schistosome hybrid (77% of S. haematobium and 23% of S. bovis origins), its morphometric parameters and its compatibility with the European vector snail and intermediate host Compatibility is a key parameter for the parasites life cycle progression. We also show that egg morphology (a classical diagnostic parameter) does not allow for differential diagnosis while genetic tests do so. Additionally, we performed genome assembly improvement and annotation of S. bovis, the parental species for which no satisfactory genome assembly was available.For the first time since the discovery of hybrid schistosomes, these results reveal at the whole genomic level a complex admixture of parental genomes highlighting (i) the high permeability of schistosomes to other speciestextquoteright alleles, and (ii) the importance of hybrid formation for pushing species boundaries not only conceptionally but also geographically.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence analysis of 91 Salmonella Enteritidis isolates from mice caught on poultry farms in the mid 1990s.

A total of 91 draft genome sequences were used to analyze isolates of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis obtained from feral mice caught on poultry farms in Pennsylvania. One objective was to find mutations disrupting open reading frames (ORFs) and another was to determine if ORF-disruptive mutations were present in isolates obtained from other sources. A total of 83 mice were obtained between 1995-1998. Isolates separated into two genomic clades and 12 subgroups due to 742 mutations. Nineteen ORF-disruptive mutations were found, and in addition, bigA had exceptional heterogeneity requiring additional evaluation. The TRAMS algorithm detected only 6 ORF disruptions. The sefD mutation was the most frequently encountered mutation and it was prevalent in human, poultry, environmental and mouse isolates. These results confirm previous assessments of the mouse as a rich source of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis that varies in genotype and phenotype. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.


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  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Enterococcus faecalis Strain SGAir0397, Isolated from a Tropical Air Sample Collected in Singapore.

Enterococcus faecalis strain SGAir0397 was isolated from a tropical air sample collected in Singapore. Its genome was assembled using single-molecule real-time sequencing data and comprises one circular chromosome with a length of 2.69 Mbp. The genome contains 2,595 protein-coding genes, 59 tRNAs, and 12 rRNAs.Copyright © 2019 Purbojati et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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