June 1, 2021  |  

Improving long-read assembly of microbial genomes and plasmids

Complete, high-quality microbial genomes are very valuable across a broad array of fields, from environmental studies, to human microbiome health, food pathogen surveillance, etc. Long-read sequencing enables accurate resolution of complex microbial genomes and is becoming the new standard. Here we report our novel Microbial Assembly pipeline to facilitate rapid, large-scale analysis of microbial genomes. We sequenced a 48-plex library with one SMRT Cell 8M on the Sequel II System, demultiplexed, then analyzed the data with Microbial Assembly.


April 21, 2020  |  

The complete genome sequence and comparative genome analysis of the multi-drug resistant food-borne pathogen Bacillus cereus.

Bacillus cereus is an opportunistic human pathogen causing food-borne gastrointestinal infections and non-gastrointestinal infections worldwide. The strain B. cereus FORC_013 was isolated from fried eel. Its genome was completely sequenced by PacBio technology, analyzed and compared with other complete genome sequences of Bacillus to elucidate the distinct pathogenic features of the strain isolated in South Korea. Genomic analysis revealed pathogenesis and host immune evasion-associated genes encoding tissue-destructive exoenzymes, and pore-forming toxins. In particular, tissue-destructive (hemolysin BL, nonhaemolytic enterotoxins) and cytolytic proteins (cytolysin) were observed in the genome, which damage the plasma membrane of the epithelial cells of the small intestine causing diarrhea in humans. Capsule biosynthesis gene found in both chromosome and plasmid, which might be responsible for protecting the pathogen from the host cell immune defense system after host cell invasion. Additionally, multidrug resistance operon and efflux pumps were identified in the genome, which play a prominent role in multi-antibiotic resistance. Comparative phylogenetic tree analysis of the strain FORC_013 and other B. cereus strains revealed that the closest strains are ATCC 14579 and B4264. This genome data can be used to identify virulence factors that can be applied for the development of novel biomarkers for the rapid detection of this pathogen in foods.Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.


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  |  

Biochemical characterization of a novel cold-adapted agarotetraose-producing a-agarase, AgaWS5, from Catenovulum sediminis WS1-A.

Although many ß-agarases that hydrolyze the ß-1,4 linkages of agarose have been biochemically characterized, only three a-agarases that hydrolyze the a-1,3 linkages are reported to date. In this study, a new a-agarase, AgaWS5, from Catenovulum sediminis WS1-A, a new agar-degrading marine bacterium, was biochemically characterized. AgaWS5 belongs to the glycoside hydrolase (GH) 96 family. AgaWS5 consists of 1295 amino acids (140 kDa) and has the 65% identity to an a-agarase, AgaA33, obtained from an agar-degrading bacterium Thalassomonas agarivorans JAMB-A33. AgaWS5 showed the maximum activity at a pH and temperature of 8 and 40 °C, respectively. AgaWS5 showed a cold-tolerance, and it retained more than 40% of its maximum enzymatic activity at 10 °C. AgaWS5 is predicted to have several calcium-binding sites. Thus, its activity was slightly enhanced in the presence of Ca2+, and was strongly inhibited by EDTA. The Km and Vmax of AgaWS5 for agarose were 10.6 mg/mL and 714.3 U/mg, respectively. Agarose-liquefication, thin layer chromatography, and mass and NMR spectroscopic analyses demonstrated that AgaWS5 is an endo-type a-agarase that degrades agarose and mainly produces agarotetraose. Thus, in this study, a novel cold-adapted GH96 agarotetraose-producing a-agarase was identified.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a 72-kb cointegrant, conjugative multiresistance plasmid from early community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Horizontal transfer of plasmids encoding antimicrobial-resistance and virulence determinants has been instrumental in Staphylococcus aureus evolution, including the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). In the early 1990s the first CA-MRSA isolated in Western Australia (WA), WA-5, encoded cadmium, tetracycline and penicillin-resistance genes on plasmid pWBG753 (~30 kb). WA-5 and pWBG753 appeared only briefly in WA, however, fusidic-acid-resistance plasmids related to pWBG753 were also present in the first European CA-MRSA at the time. Here we characterized a 72-kb conjugative plasmid pWBG731 present in multiresistant WA-5-like clones from the same period. pWBG731 was a cointegrant formed from pWBG753 and a pWBG749-family conjugative plasmid. pWBG731 carried mupirocin, trimethoprim, cadmium and penicillin-resistance genes. The stepwise evolution of pWBG731 likely occurred through the combined actions of IS257, IS257-dependent miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) and the BinL resolution system of the ß-lactamase transposon Tn552 An evolutionary intermediate ~42-kb non-conjugative plasmid pWBG715, possessed the same resistance genes as pWBG731 but retained an integrated copy of the small tetracycline-resistance plasmid pT181. IS257 likely facilitated replacement of pT181 with conjugation genes on pWBG731, thus enabling autonomous transfer. Like conjugative plasmid pWBG749, pWBG731 also mobilized non-conjugative plasmids carrying oriT mimics. It seems likely that pWBG731 represents the product of multiple recombination events between the WA-5 pWBG753 plasmid and other mobile genetic elements present in indigenous CA-MSSA. The molecular evolution of pWBG731 saliently illustrates how diverse mobile genetic elements can together facilitate rapid accrual and horizontal dissemination of multiresistance in S. aureus CA-MRSA.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Resistome and a Novel blaNDM-1-Harboring Plasmid of an Acinetobacter haemolyticus Strain from a Children’s Hospital in Puebla, Mexico.

Acinetobacter calcoaceticus-baumannii complex isolates have been frequently associated with hospital and community infections, with A. baumannii being the most common. Other Acinetobacter spp. not belonging to this complex also cause infections in hospital settings, and the incidence has increased over the past few years. Some species of the Acinetobacter genus possess a great diversity of antibiotic resistance mechanisms, such as efflux pumps, porins, and resistance genes that can be acquired and disseminated by mobilizable genetic elements. By means of whole-genome sequencing, we describe in the clinical Acinetobacter haemolyticus strain AN54 different mechanisms of resistance that involve blaOXA-265, blaNDM-1, aphA6, aac(6′)-Ig, and a resistance-nodulation-cell division-type efflux pump. This strain carries six plasmids, of which the plasmid pAhaeAN54e contains blaNDM-1 in a Tn125-like transposon that is truncated at the 3′ end. This strain also has an insertion sequence IS91 and seven genes encoding hypothetical proteins. The pAhaeAN54e plasmid is nontypable and different from other plasmids carrying blaNDM-1 that have been reported in Mexico and other countries. The presence of these kinds of plasmids in an opportunistic pathogen such as A. haemolyticus highlights the role that these plasmids play in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes, especially against carbapenems, in Mexican hospitals.


April 21, 2020  |  

An Outbreak of KPC-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae Linked with an Index Case of Community-Acquired KPC-Producing Isolate: Epidemiological Investigation and Whole Genome Sequencing Analysis.

Aims: A hospital outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae (KPN) linked with an index case of community-acquired infection occurred in an urban tertiary care hospital in Seoul, South Korea. Therefore, we performed an outbreak investigation and whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis to trace the outbreak and investigate the molecular characteristics of the isolates. Results: From October 2014 to January 2015, we identified a cluster of three patients in the neurosurgery ward with sputum cultures positive for carbapenem-resistant KPN. An epidemiological investigation, including pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis was performed to trace the origins of this outbreak. The index patient’s infection was community acquired. Active surveillance cultures using perirectal swabbing from exposed patients, identified one additional patient with KPC-producing KPN colonization. WGS analyses using PacBio RSII instruments were performed for four linked isolates. WGS revealed a genetic linkage of the four isolates belonging to the same sequence type (ST307). All KPN isolates harbored conjugative resistance plasmids, which has blaKPC-2 carbapenemase genes contained within the Tn4401 “a” isoform and other resistance genes. However, WGS showed only three isolates among four KPC-producing KPN were originated from a common origin. Conclusions: This report demonstrates the challenge that KPC-2-producing KPN with the conjugative resistance plasmid may spread not only in hospitals but also in community, and WGS can help to accurately characterize the outbreak.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rational development of transformation in Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405 via complete methylome analysis and evasion of native restriction-modification systems.

A major barrier to both metabolic engineering and fundamental biological studies is the lack of genetic tools in most microorganisms. One example is Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405T, where genetic tools are not available to help validate decades of hypotheses. A significant barrier to DNA transformation is restriction-modification systems, which defend against foreign DNA methylated differently than the host. To determine the active restriction-modification systems in this strain, we performed complete methylome analysis via single-molecule, real-time sequencing to detect 6-methyladenine and 4-methylcytosine and the rarely used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing to detect 5-methylcytosine. Multiple active systems were identified, and corresponding DNA methyltransferases were expressed from the Escherichia coli chromosome to mimic the C. thermocellum methylome. Plasmid methylation was experimentally validated and successfully electroporated into C. thermocellum ATCC 27405. This combined approach enabled genetic modification of the C. thermocellum-type strain and acts as a blueprint for transformation of other non-model microorganisms.


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