April 21, 2020  |  

An African Salmonella Typhimurium ST313 sublineage with extensive drug-resistance and signatures of host adaptation.

Bloodstream infections by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium constitute a major health burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These invasive non-typhoidal (iNTS) infections are dominated by isolates of the antibiotic resistance-associated sequence type (ST) 313. Here, we report emergence of ST313 sublineage II.1 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sublineage II.1 exhibits extensive drug resistance, involving a combination of multidrug resistance, extended spectrum ß-lactamase production and azithromycin resistance. ST313 lineage II.1 isolates harbour an IncHI2 plasmid we name pSTm-ST313-II.1, with one isolate also exhibiting decreased ciprofloxacin susceptibility. Whole genome sequencing reveals that ST313 II.1 isolates have accumulated genetic signatures potentially associated with altered pathogenicity and host adaptation, related to changes observed in biofilm formation and metabolic capacity. Sublineage II.1 emerged at the beginning of the 21st century and is involved in on-going outbreaks. Our data provide evidence of further evolution within the ST313 clade associated with iNTS in SSA.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Sequevar 14M Ralstonia solanacearum Strain HA4-1 Reveals Novel Type III Effectors Acquired Through Horizontal Gene Transfer.

Ralstonia solanacearum, which causes bacterial wilt in a broad range of plants, is considered a “species complex” due to its significant genetic diversity. Recently, we have isolated a new R. solanacearum strain HA4-1 from Hong’an county in Hubei province of China and identified it being phylotype I, sequevar 14M (phylotype I-14M). Interestingly, we found that it can cause various disease symptoms among different potato genotypes and display different pathogenic behavior compared to a phylogenetically related strain, GMI1000. To dissect the pathogenic mechanisms of HA4-1, we sequenced its whole genome by combined sequencing technologies including Illumina HiSeq2000, PacBio RS II, and BAC-end sequencing. Genome assembly results revealed the presence of a conventional chromosome, a megaplasmid as well as a 143 kb plasmid in HA4-1. Comparative genome analysis between HA4-1 and GMI1000 shows high conservation of the general virulence factors such as secretion systems, motility, exopolysaccharides (EPS), and key regulatory factors, but significant variation in the repertoire and structure of type III effectors, which could be the determinants of their differential pathogenesis in certain potato species or genotypes. We have identified two novel type III effectors that were probably acquired through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). These novel R. solanacearum effectors display homology to several YopJ and XopAC family members. We named them as RipBR and RipBS. Notably, the copy of RipBR on the plasmid is a pseudogene, while the other on the megaplasmid is normal. For RipBS, there are three copies located in the megaplasmid and plasmid, respectively. Our results have not only enriched the genome information on R. solanacearum species complex by sequencing the first sequevar 14M strain and the largest plasmid reported in R. solanacearum to date but also revealed the variation in the repertoire of type III effectors. This will greatly contribute to the future studies on the pathogenic evolution, host adaptation, and interaction between R. solanacearum and potato.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-Read Sequencing Emerging in Medical Genetics

The wide implementation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the field of medical genetics. However, the short read lengths of currently used sequencing approaches pose a limitation for identification of structural variants, sequencing repetitive regions, phasing alleles and distinguishing highly homologous genomic regions. These limitations may significantly contribute to the diagnostic gap in patients with genetic disorders who have undergone standard NGS, like whole exome or even genome sequencing. Now, the emerging long-read sequencing (LRS) technologies may offer improvements in the characterization of genetic variation and regions that are difficult to assess with the currently prevailing NGS approaches. LRS has so far mainly been used to investigate genetic disorders with previously known or strongly suspected disease loci. While these targeted approaches already show the potential of LRS, it remains to be seen whether LRS technologies can soon enable true whole genome sequencing routinely. Ultimately, this could allow the de novo assembly of individual whole genomes used as a generic test for genetic disorders. In this article, we summarize the current LRS-based research on human genetic disorders and discuss the potential of these technologies to facilitate the next major advancements in medical genetics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read based de novo assembly of low-complexity metagenome samples results in finished genomes and reveals insights into strain diversity and an active phage system.

Complete and contiguous genome assemblies greatly improve the quality of subsequent systems-wide functional profiling studies and the ability to gain novel biological insights. While a de novo genome assembly of an isolated bacterial strain is in most cases straightforward, more informative data about co-existing bacteria as well as synergistic and antagonistic effects can be obtained from a direct analysis of microbial communities. However, the complexity of metagenomic samples represents a major challenge. While third generation sequencing technologies have been suggested to enable finished metagenome-assembled genomes, to our knowledge, the complete genome assembly of all dominant strains in a microbiome sample has not been demonstrated. Natural whey starter cultures (NWCs) are used in cheese production and represent low-complexity microbiomes. Previous studies of Swiss Gruyère and selected Italian hard cheeses, mostly based on amplicon metagenomics, concurred that three species generally pre-dominate: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii.Two NWCs from Swiss Gruyère producers were subjected to whole metagenome shotgun sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences Sequel and Illumina MiSeq platforms. In addition, longer Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION reads had to be generated for one to resolve repeat regions. Thereby, we achieved the complete assembly of all dominant bacterial genomes from these low-complexity NWCs, which was corroborated by a 16S rRNA amplicon survey. Moreover, two distinct L. helveticus strains were successfully co-assembled from the same sample. Besides bacterial chromosomes, we could also assemble several bacterial plasmids and phages and a corresponding prophage. Biologically relevant insights were uncovered by linking the plasmids and phages to their respective host genomes using DNA methylation motifs on the plasmids and by matching prokaryotic CRISPR spacers with the corresponding protospacers on the phages. These results could only be achieved by employing long-read sequencing data able to span intragenomic as well as intergenomic repeats.Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of complete de novo genome assembly of all dominant strains from low-complexity NWCs based on whole metagenomics shotgun sequencing data. This allowed to gain novel biological insights and is a fundamental basis for subsequent systems-wide omics analyses, functional profiling and phenotype to genotype analysis of specific microbial communities.


October 23, 2019  |  

CRISPR/Cas9-generated p47(phox)-deficient cell line for Chronic Granulomatous Disease gene therapy vector development.

Development of gene therapy vectors requires cellular models reflecting the genetic background of a disease thus allowing for robust preclinical vector testing. For human p47(phox)-deficient chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) vector testing we generated a cellular model using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 to introduce a GT-dinucleotide deletion (?GT) mutation in p47(phox) encoding NCF1 gene in the human acute myeloid leukemia PLB-985 cell line. CGD is a group of hereditary immunodeficiencies characterized by impaired respiratory burst activity in phagocytes due to a defective phagocytic nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. In Western countries autosomal-recessive p47(phox)-subunit deficiency represents the second largest CGD patient cohort with unique genetics, as the vast majority of p47(phox) CGD patients carries ?GT deletion in exon two of the NCF1 gene. The established PLB-985 NCF1 ?GT cell line reflects the most frequent form of p47(phox)-deficient CGD genetically and functionally. It can be differentiated to granulocytes efficiently, what creates an attractive alternative to currently used iPSC models for rapid testing of novel gene therapy approaches.


October 23, 2019  |  

A high quality assembly of the Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) genome reveals the structure of two sex determination regions.

Tilapias are the second most farmed fishes in the world and a sustainable source of food. Like many other fish, tilapias are sexually dimorphic and sex is a commercially important trait in these fish. In this study, we developed a significantly improved assembly of the tilapia genome using the latest genome sequencing methods and show how it improves the characterization of two sex determination regions in two tilapia species.A homozygous clonal XX female Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) was sequenced to 44X coverage using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) SMRT sequencing. Dozens of candidate de novo assemblies were generated and an optimal assembly (contig NG50 of 3.3Mbp) was selected using principal component analysis of likelihood scores calculated from several paired-end sequencing libraries. Comparison of the new assembly to the previous O. niloticus genome assembly reveals that recently duplicated portions of the genome are now well represented. The overall number of genes in the new assembly increased by 27.3%, including a 67% increase in pseudogenes. The new tilapia genome assembly correctly represents two recent vasa gene duplication events that have been verified with BAC sequencing. At total of 146Mbp of additional transposable element sequence are now assembled, a large proportion of which are recent insertions. Large centromeric satellite repeats are assembled and annotated in cichlid fish for the first time. Finally, the new assembly identifies the long-range structure of both a ~9Mbp XY sex determination region on LG1 in O. niloticus, and a ~50Mbp WZ sex determination region on LG3 in the related species O. aureus.This study highlights the use of long read sequencing to correctly assemble recent duplications and to characterize repeat-filled regions of the genome. The study serves as an example of the need for high quality genome assemblies and provides a framework for identifying sex determining genes in tilapia and related fish species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Is there foul play in the leaf pocket? The metagenome of floating fern Azolla reveals endophytes that do not fix N2 but may denitrify.

Dinitrogen fixation by Nostoc azollae residing in specialized leaf pockets supports prolific growth of the floating fern Azolla filiculoides. To evaluate contributions by further microorganisms, the A. filiculoides microbiome and nitrogen metabolism in bacteria persistently associated with Azolla ferns were characterized. A metagenomic approach was taken complemented by detection of N2 O released and nitrogen isotope determinations of fern biomass. Ribosomal RNA genes in sequenced DNA of natural ferns, their enriched leaf pockets and water filtrate from the surrounding ditch established that bacteria of A. filiculoides differed entirely from surrounding water and revealed species of the order Rhizobiales. Analyses of seven cultivated Azolla species confirmed persistent association with Rhizobiales. Two distinct nearly full-length Rhizobiales genomes were identified in leaf-pocket-enriched samples from ditch grown A. filiculoides. Their annotation revealed genes for denitrification but not N2 -fixation. 15 N2 incorporation was active in ferns with N. azollae but not in ferns without. N2 O was not detectably released from surface-sterilized ferns with the Rhizobiales. N2 -fixing N. azollae, we conclude, dominated the microbiome of Azolla ferns. The persistent but less abundant heterotrophic Rhizobiales bacteria possibly contributed to lowering O2 levels in leaf pockets but did not release detectable amounts of the strong greenhouse gas N2 O.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Computational identification of novel genes: current and future perspectives.

While it has long been thought that all genomic novelties are derived from the existing material, many genes lacking homology to known genes were found in recent genome projects. Some of these novel genes were proposed to have evolved de novo, ie, out of noncoding sequences, whereas some have been shown to follow a duplication and divergence process. Their discovery called for an extension of the historical hypotheses about gene origination. Besides the theoretical breakthrough, increasing evidence accumulated that novel genes play important roles in evolutionary processes, including adaptation and speciation events. Different techniques are available to identify genes and classify them as novel. Their classification as novel is usually based on their similarity to known genes, or lack thereof, detected by comparative genomics or against databases. Computational approaches are further prime methods that can be based on existing models or leveraging biological evidences from experiments. Identification of novel genes remains however a challenging task. With the constant software and technologies updates, no gold standard, and no available benchmark, evaluation and characterization of genomic novelty is a vibrant field. In this review, the classical and state-of-the-art tools for gene prediction are introduced. The current methods for novel gene detection are presented; the methodological strategies and their limits are discussed along with perspective approaches for further studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

wtf genes are prolific dual poison-antidote meiotic drivers.

Meiotic drivers are selfish genes that bias their transmission into gametes, defying Mendelian inheritance. Despite the significant impact of these genomic parasites on evolution and infertility, few meiotic drive loci have been identified or mechanistically characterized. Here, we demonstrate a complex landscape of meiotic drive genes on chromosome 3 of the fission yeasts Schizosaccharomyces kambucha and S. pombe. We identify S. kambucha wtf4 as one of these genes that acts to kill gametes (known as spores in yeast) that do not inherit the gene from heterozygotes. wtf4 utilizes dual, overlapping transcripts to encode both a gamete-killing poison and an antidote to the poison. To enact drive, all gametes are poisoned, whereas only those that inherit wtf4 are rescued by the antidote. Our work suggests that the wtf multigene family proliferated due to meiotic drive and highlights the power of selfish genes to shape genomes, even while imposing tremendous costs to fertility.


September 22, 2019  |  

Cataloguing over-expressed genes in Epstein Barr Virus immortalized lymphoblastoid cell lines through consensus analysis of PacBio transcriptomes corroborates hypomethylation of chromosome 1

The ability of Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) to transform resting cell B-cells into immortalized lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL) provides a continuous source of peripheral blood lymphocytes that are used to model conditions in which these lymphocytes play a key role. Here, the PacBio generated transcriptome of three LCLs from a parent-daughter trio (SRAid:SRP036136) provided by a previous study [1] were analyzed using a kmer-based version of YeATS (KEATS). The set of over-expressed genes in these cell lines were determined based on a comparison with the PacBio transcriptome of twenty tissues pro- vided by another study (hOPTRS) [2]. MIR155 long non-coding RNA (MIR155HG), Fc fragment of IgE receptor II (FCER2), T-cell leukemia/lymphoma 1A (TCL1A), and germinal center associated signaling and motility (GCSAM) were genes having the highest expression counts in the three LCLs with no expression in hOPTRS. Other over-expressed genes, having low expression in hOPTRS, were membrane spanning 4-domains A1 (MS4A1) and ribosomal protein S2 pseudogene 55 (RPS2P55). While some of these genes are known to be over-expressed in LCLs, this study provides a comprehensive cataloguing of such genes. A recent work involving a patient with EBV-positive large B-cell lymphoma was “unusually lacking various B-cell markers”, but over-expressing CD30 [3] – a gene ranked 79 among uniquely expressed genes here. Hypomethylation of chromosome 1 observed in EBV immortalized LCLs [4, 5] is also corroborated here by mapping the genes to chromosomes. Extending previous work identifying un-annotated genes [6], 80 genes were identified which are expressed in the three LCLs, not in hOPTRS, and missing in the GENCODE, RefSeq and RefSeqGene databases. KEATS introduces a method of determining expression counts based on a partitioning of the known annotated genes, has runtimes of a few hours on a personal workstation and provides detailed reports enabling proper debugging.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Sixteen diverse laboratory mouse reference genomes define strain-specific haplotypes and novel functional loci.

We report full-length draft de novo genome assemblies for 16 widely used inbred mouse strains and find extensive strain-specific haplotype variation. We identify and characterize 2,567 regions on the current mouse reference genome exhibiting the greatest sequence diversity. These regions are enriched for genes involved in pathogen defence and immunity and exhibit enrichment of transposable elements and signatures of recent retrotransposition events. Combinations of alleles and genes unique to an individual strain are commonly observed at these loci, reflecting distinct strain phenotypes. We used these genomes to improve the mouse reference genome, resulting in the completion of 10 new gene structures. Also, 62 new coding loci were added to the reference genome annotation. These genomes identified a large, previously unannotated, gene (Efcab3-like) encoding 5,874 amino acids. Mutant Efcab3-like mice display anomalies in multiple brain regions, suggesting a possible role for this gene in the regulation of brain development.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive allele-specific translational regulation in hybrid mice.

Translational regulation is mediated through the interaction between diffusible trans-factors and cis-elements residing within mRNA transcripts. In contrast to extensively studied transcriptional regulation, cis-regulation on translation remains underexplored. Using deep sequencing-based transcriptome and polysome profiling, we globally profiled allele-specific translational efficiency for the first time in an F1 hybrid mouse. Out of 7,156 genes with reliable quantification of both alleles, we found 1,008 (14.1%) exhibiting significant allelic divergence in translational efficiency. Systematic analysis of sequence features of the genes with biased allelic translation revealed that local RNA secondary structure surrounding the start codon and proximal out-of-frame upstream AUGs could affect translational efficiency. Finally, we observed that the cis-effect was quantitatively comparable between transcriptional and translational regulation. Such effects in the two regulatory processes were more frequently compensatory, suggesting that the regulation at the two levels could be coordinated in maintaining robustness of protein expression. © 2015 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.


September 22, 2019  |  

A single-molecule long-read survey of the human transcriptome.

Global RNA studies have become central to understanding biological processes, but methods such as microarrays and short-read sequencing are unable to describe an entire RNA molecule from 5′ to 3′ end. Here we use single-molecule long-read sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences to sequence the polyadenylated RNA complement of a pooled set of 20 human organs and tissues without the need for fragmentation or amplification. We show that full-length RNA molecules of up to 1.5 kb can readily be monitored with little sequence loss at the 5′ ends. For longer RNA molecules more 5′ nucleotides are missing, but complete intron structures are often preserved. In total, we identify ~14,000 spliced GENCODE genes. High-confidence mappings are consistent with GENCODE annotations, but >10% of the alignments represent intron structures that were not previously annotated. As a group, transcripts mapping to unannotated regions have features of long, noncoding RNAs. Our results show the feasibility of deep sequencing full-length RNA from complex eukaryotic transcriptomes on a single-molecule level.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative Annotation Toolkit (CAT)-simultaneous clade and personal genome annotation.

The recent introductions of low-cost, long-read, and read-cloud sequencing technologies coupled with intense efforts to develop efficient algorithms have made affordable, high-quality de novo sequence assembly a realistic proposition. The result is an explosion of new, ultracontiguous genome assemblies. To compare these genomes, we need robust methods for genome annotation. We describe the fully open source Comparative Annotation Toolkit (CAT), which provides a flexible way to simultaneously annotate entire clades and identify orthology relationships. We show that CAT can be used to improve annotations on the rat genome, annotate the great apes, annotate a diverse set of mammals, and annotate personal, diploid human genomes. We demonstrate the resulting discovery of novel genes, isoforms, and structural variants-even in genomes as well studied as rat and the great apes-and how these annotations improve cross-species RNA expression experiments.© 2018 Fiddes et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


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