April 21, 2020  |  

Insights into the bacterial species and communities of a full-scale anaerobic/anoxic/oxic wastewater treatment plant by using third-generation sequencing.

For the first time, full-length 16S rRNA sequencing method was applied to disclose the bacterial species and communities of a full-scale wastewater treatment plant using an anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A/A/O) process in Wuhan, China. The compositions of the bacteria at phylum and class levels in the activated sludge were similar to which revealed by Illumina Miseq sequencing. At genus and species levels, third-generation sequencing showed great merits and accuracy. Typical functional taxa classified to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), denitrifying bacteria (DB), anaerobic ammonium oxidation bacteria (ANAMMOXB) and polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs) were presented, which were Nitrosomonas (1.11%), Nitrospira (3.56%), Pseudomonas (3.88%), Planctomycetes (13.80%), Comamonadaceae (1.83%), respectively. Pseudomonas (3.88%) and Nitrospira (3.56%) were the most predominating two genera, mainly containing Pseudomonas extremaustralis (1.69%), Nitrospira defluvii (3.13%), respectively. Bacteria regarding to nitrogen and phosphorus removal at species level were put forward. The predicted functions proved that the A/A/O process was efficient regarding nitrogen and organics removal. Copyright © 2019 The Society for Biotechnology, Japan. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

CD8 T cells targeting adapted epitopes in chronic HIV infection promote dendritic cell maturation and CD4 T cell trans-infection.

HIV-1 frequently escapes from CD8 T cell responses via HLA-I restricted adaptation, leading to the accumulation of adapted epitopes (AE). We previously demonstrated that AE compromise CD8 T cell responses during acute infection and are associated with poor clinical outcomes. Here, we examined the impact of AE on CD8 T cell responses and their biological relevance in chronic HIV infection (CHI). In contrast to acute infection, the majority of AE are immunogenic in CHI. Longitudinal analyses from acute to CHI showed an increased frequency and magnitude of AE-specific IFN? responses compared to NAE-specific ones. These AE-specific CD8 T cells also were more cytotoxic to CD4 T cells. In addition, AE-specific CD8 T cells expressed lower levels of PD1 and CD57, as well as higher levels of CD28, suggesting a more activated and less exhausted phenotype. During CHI, viral sequencing identified AE-encoding strains as the dominant quasispecies. Despite increased CD4 T cell cytotoxicity, CD8 T cells responding to AE promoted dendritic cell (DC) maturation and CD4 T cell trans-infection perhaps explaining why AE are predominant in CHI. Taken together, our data suggests that the emergence of AE-specific CD8 T cell responses in CHI confers a selective advantage to the virus by promoting DC-mediated CD4 T cell trans-infection.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-Molecule Sequencing: Towards Clinical Applications.

In the past several years, single-molecule sequencing platforms, such as those by Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, have become available to researchers and are currently being tested for clinical applications. They offer exceptionally long reads that permit direct sequencing through regions of the genome inaccessible or difficult to analyze by short-read platforms. This includes disease-causing long repetitive elements, extreme GC content regions, and complex gene loci. Similarly, these platforms enable structural variation characterization at previously unparalleled resolution and direct detection of epigenetic marks in native DNA. Here, we review how these technologies are opening up new clinical avenues that are being applied to pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, constitutional disorders, pharmacogenomics, cancer, and more.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

High-Resolution Evolutionary Analysis of Within-Host Hepatitis C Virus Infection.

Despite recent breakthroughs in treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, we have limited understanding of how virus diversity generated within individuals impacts the evolution and spread of HCV variants at the population scale. Addressing this gap is important for identifying the main sources of disease transmission and evaluating the risk of drug-resistance mutations emerging and disseminating in a population.We have undertaken a high-resolution analysis of HCV within-host evolution from 4 individuals coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1). We used long-read, deep-sequenced data of full-length HCV envelope glycoprotein, longitudinally sampled from acute to chronic HCV infection to investigate the underlying viral population and evolutionary dynamics.We found statistical support for population structure maintaining the within-host HCV genetic diversity in 3 out of 4 individuals. We also report the first population genetic estimate of the within-host recombination rate for HCV (0.28 × 10-7 recombination/site/year), which is considerably lower than that estimated for HIV-1 and the overall nucleotide substitution rate estimated during HCV infection.Our findings indicate that population structure and strong genetic linkage shapes within-host HCV evolutionary dynamics. These results will guide the future investigation of potential HCV drug resistance adaptation during infection, and at the population scale. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.


October 23, 2019  |  

Transmission, evolution, and endogenization: Lessons learned from recent retroviral invasions.

Viruses of the subfamily Orthoretrovirinaeare defined by the ability to reverse transcribe an RNA genome into DNA that integrates into the host cell genome during the intracellular virus life cycle. Exogenous retroviruses (XRVs) are horizontally transmitted between host individuals, with disease outcome depending on interactions between the retrovirus and the host organism. When retroviruses infect germ line cells of the host, they may become endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are permanent elements in the host germ line that are subject to vertical transmission. These ERVs sometimes remain infectious and can themselves give rise to XRVs. This review integrates recent developments in the phylogenetic classification of retroviruses and the identification of retroviral receptors to elucidate the origins and evolution of XRVs and ERVs. We consider whether ERVs may recurrently pressure XRVs to shift receptor usage to sidestep ERV interference. We discuss how related retroviruses undergo alternative fates in different host lineages after endogenization, with koala retrovirus (KoRV) receiving notable interest as a recent invader of its host germ line. KoRV is heritable but also infectious, which provides insights into the early stages of germ line invasions as well as XRV generation from ERVs. The relationship of KoRV to primate and other retroviruses is placed in the context of host biogeography and the potential role of bats and rodents as vectors for interspecies viral transmission. Combining studies of extant XRVs and “fossil” endogenous retroviruses in koalas and other Australasian species has broadened our understanding of the evolution of retroviruses and host-retrovirus interactions. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Advantages of genome sequencing by long-read sequencer using SMRT technology in medical area.

PacBio RS II is the first commercialized third-generation DNA sequencer able to sequence a single molecule DNA in real-time without amplification. PacBio RS II’s sequencing technology is novel and unique, enabling the direct observation of DNA synthesis by DNA polymerase. PacBio RS II confers four major advantages compared to other sequencing technologies: long read lengths, high consensus accuracy, a low degree of bias, and simultaneous capability of epigenetic characterization. These advantages surmount the obstacle of sequencing genomic regions such as high/low G+C, tandem repeat, and interspersed repeat regions. Moreover, PacBio RS II is ideal for whole genome sequencing, targeted sequencing, complex population analysis, RNA sequencing, and epigenetics characterization. With PacBio RS II, we have sequenced and analyzed the genomes of many species, from viruses to humans. Herein, we summarize and review some of our key genome sequencing projects, including full-length viral sequencing, complete bacterial genome and almost-complete plant genome assemblies, and long amplicon sequencing of a disease-associated gene region. We believe that PacBio RS II is not only an effective tool for use in the basic biological sciences but also in the medical/clinical setting.


September 22, 2019  |  

Clinical PathoScope: rapid alignment and filtration for accurate pathogen identification in clinical samples using unassembled sequencing data.

The use of sequencing technologies to investigate the microbiome of a sample can positively impact patient healthcare by providing therapeutic targets for personalized disease treatment. However, these samples contain genomic sequences from various sources that complicate the identification of pathogens.Here we present Clinical PathoScope, a pipeline to rapidly and accurately remove host contamination, isolate microbial reads, and identify potential disease-causing pathogens. We have accomplished three essential tasks in the development of Clinical PathoScope. First, we developed an optimized framework for pathogen identification using a computational subtraction methodology in concordance with read trimming and ambiguous read reassignment. Second, we have demonstrated the ability of our approach to identify multiple pathogens in a single clinical sample, accurately identify pathogens at the subspecies level, and determine the nearest phylogenetic neighbor of novel or highly mutated pathogens using real clinical sequencing data. Finally, we have shown that Clinical PathoScope outperforms previously published pathogen identification methods with regard to computational speed, sensitivity, and specificity.Clinical PathoScope is the only pathogen identification method currently available that can identify multiple pathogens from mixed samples and distinguish between very closely related species and strains in samples with very few reads per pathogen. Furthermore, Clinical PathoScope does not rely on genome assembly and thus can more rapidly complete the analysis of a clinical sample when compared with current assembly-based methods. Clinical PathoScope is freely available at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pathoscope/.


September 22, 2019  |  

Distinguishing highly similar gene isoforms with a clustering-based bioinformatics analysis of PacBio single-molecule long reads.

Gene isoforms are commonly found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Since each isoform may perform a specific function in response to changing environmental conditions, studying the dynamics of gene isoforms is important in understanding biological processes and disease conditions. However, genome-wide identification of gene isoforms is technically challenging due to the high degree of sequence identity among isoforms. Traditional targeted sequencing approach, involving Sanger sequencing of plasmid-cloned PCR products, has low throughput and is very tedious and time-consuming. Next-generation sequencing technologies such as Illumina and 454 achieve high throughput but their short read lengths are a critical barrier to accurate assembly of highly similar gene isoforms, and may result in ambiguities and false joining during sequence assembly. More recently, the third generation sequencer represented by the PacBio platform offers sufficient throughput and long reads covering the full length of typical genes, thus providing a potential to reliably profile gene isoforms. However, the PacBio long reads are error-prone and cannot be effectively analyzed by traditional assembly programs.We present a clustering-based analysis pipeline integrated with PacBio sequencing data for profiling highly similar gene isoforms. This approach was first evaluated in comparison to de novo assembly of 454 reads using a benchmark admixture containing 10 known, cloned msg genes encoding the major surface glycoprotein of Pneumocystis jirovecii. All 10 msg isoforms were successfully reconstructed with the expected length (~1.5 kb) and correct sequence by the new approach, while 454 reads could not be correctly assembled using various assembly programs. When using an additional benchmark admixture containing 22 known P. jirovecii msg isoforms, this approach accurately reconstructed all but 4 these isoforms in their full-length (~3 kb); these 4 isoforms were present in low concentrations in the admixture. Finally, when applied to the original clinical sample from which the 22 known msg isoforms were cloned, this approach successfully identified not only all known isoforms accurately (~3 kb each) but also 48 novel isoforms.PacBio sequencing integrated with the clustering-based analysis pipeline achieves high-throughput and high-resolution discrimination of highly similar sequences, and can serve as a new approach for genome-wide characterization of gene isoforms and other highly repetitive sequences.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next-generation sequencing for pathogen detection and identification

Over the past decade, the field of genomics has seen such drastic improvements in sequencing chemistries that high-throughput sequencing, or next-generation sequencing (NGS), is being applied to generate data across many disciplines. NGS instruments are becoming less expensive, faster, and smaller, and therefore are being adopted in an increasing number of laboratories, including clinical laboratories. Thus far, clinical use of NGS has been mostly focused on the human genome, for purposes such as characterizing the molecular basis of cancer or for diagnosing and understanding the basis of rare genetic disorders. There are, however, an increasing number of examples whereby NGS is employed to discover novel pathogens, and these cases provide precedent for the use of NGS in microbial diagnostics. NGS has many advantages over traditional microbial diagnostic methods, such as unbiased rather than pathogen-specific protocols, ability to detect fastidious or non-culturable organisms, and ability to detect co-infections. One of the most impressive advantages of NGS is that it requires little or no prior knowledge of the pathogen, unlike many other diagnostic assays; therefore for pathogen discovery, NGS is very valuable. However, despite these advantages, there are challenges involved in implementing NGS for routine clinical microbiological diagnosis. We discuss these advantages and challenges in the context of recently described research studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Periodic pattern of genetic and fitness diversity during evolution of an artificial cell-like system.

Genetic and phenotypic diversity are the basis of evolution. Despite their importance, however, little is known about how they change over the course of evolution. In this study, we analyzed the dynamics of the adaptive evolution of a simple evolvable artificial cell-like system using single-molecule real-time sequencing technology that reads an entire single artificial genome. We found that the genomic RNA population increases in fitness intermittently, correlating with a periodic pattern of genetic and fitness diversity produced by repeated diversification and domination. In the diversification phase, a genomic RNA population spreads within a genetic space by accumulating mutations until mutants with higher fitness are generated, resulting in an increase in fitness diversity. In the domination phase, the mutants with higher fitness dominate, decreasing both the fitness and genetic diversity. This study reveals the dynamic nature of genetic and fitness diversity during adaptive evolution and demonstrates the utility of a simplified artificial cell-like system to study evolution at an unprecedented resolution. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long reads: their purpose and place.

In recent years long-read technologies have moved from being a niche and specialist field to a point of relative maturity likely to feature frequently in the genomic landscape. Analogous to next generation sequencing, the cost of sequencing using long-read technologies has materially dropped whilst the instrument throughput continues to increase. Together these changes present the prospect of sequencing large numbers of individuals with the aim of fully characterizing genomes at high resolution. In this article, we will endeavour to present an introduction to long-read technologies showing: what long reads are; how they are distinct from short reads; why long reads are useful and how they are being used. We will highlight the recent developments in this field, and the applications and potential of these technologies in medical research, and clinical diagnostics and therapeutics.


September 22, 2019  |  

CliqueSNV: Scalable reconstruction of intra-host viral populations from NGS reads

Highly mutable RNA viruses such as influenza A virus, human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus exist in infected hosts as highly heterogeneous populations of closely related genomic variants. The presence of low-frequency variants with few mutations with respect to major strains may result in an immune escape, emergence of drug resistance, and an increase of virulence and infectivity. Next-generation sequencing technologies permit detection of sample intra-host viral population at extremely great depth, thus providing an opportunity to access low-frequency variants. Long read lengths offered by single-molecule sequencing technologies allow all viral variants to be sequenced in a single pass. However, high sequencing error rates limit the ability to study heterogeneous viral populations composed of rare, closely related variants. In this article, we present CliqueSNV, a novel reference-based method for reconstruction of viral variants from NGS data. It efficiently constructs an allele graph based on linkage between single nucleotide variations and identifies true viral variants by merging cliques of that graph using combinatorial optimization techniques. The new method outperforms existing methods in both accuracy and running time on experimental and simulated NGS data for titrated levels of known viral variants. For PacBio reads, it accurately reconstructs variants with frequency as low as 0.1%. For Illumina reads, it fully reconstructs main variants. The open source implementation of CliqueSNV is freely available for download at https://github.com/vyacheslav-tsivina/CliqueSNV


September 22, 2019  |  

Computational comparison of availability in CTL/gag epitopes among patients with acute and chronic HIV-1 infection.

Recent studies indicate that there is selection bias for transmission of viral polymorphisms associated with higher viral fitness. Furthermore, after transmission and before a specific immune response is mounted in the recipient, the virus undergoes a number of reversions which allow an increase in their replicative capacity. These aspects, and others, affect the viral population characteristic of early acute infection.160 singlegag-gene amplifications were obtained by limiting-dilution RT-PCR from plasma samples of 8 ARV-naïve patients with early acute infection (<30?days, 22?days average) and 8 ARV-naive patients with approximately a year of infection (10 amplicons per patient). Sanger sequencing and NGS SMRT technology (Pacific Biosciences) were implemented to sequence the amplicons. Phylogenetic analysis was performed by using MEGA 6.06. HLA-I (A and B) typing was performed by SSOP-PCR method. The chromatograms were analyzed with Sequencher 4.10. Epitopes and immune-proteosomal cleavages prediction was performed with CBS prediction server for the 30 HLA-A and -B alleles most prevalent in our population with peptide lengths from 8 to 14 mer. Cytotoxic response prediction was performed by using IEDB Analysis Resource.After implementing epitope prediction analysis, we identified a total number of 325 possible viral epitopes present in two or more acute or chronic patients. 60.3% (n?=?196) of them were present only in acute infection (prevalent acute epitopes) while 39.7% (n?=?129) were present only in chronic infection (prevalent chronic epitopes). Within p24, the difference was equally dramatic with 59.4% (79/133) being acute epitopes (p?


September 22, 2019  |  

Hepacivirus A infection in horses defines distinct envelope hypervariable regions and elucidates potential roles of viral strain and adaptive immune status in determining envelope diversity and infection outcome.

Hepacivirus A (also known as nonprimate hepacivirus and equine hepacivirus) is a hepatotropic virus that can cause both transient and persistent infections in horses. The evolution of intrahost viral populations (quasispecies) has not been studied in detail for hepacivirus A, and its roles in immune evasion and persistence are unknown. To address these knowledge gaps, we first evaluated the envelope gene (E1 and E2) diversity of two different hepacivirus A strains (WSU and CU) in longitudinal blood samples from experimentally infected adult horses, juvenile horses (foals), and foals with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Persistent infection with the WSU strain was associated with significantly greater quasispecies diversity than that observed in horses who spontaneously cleared infection (P = 0.0002) or in SCID foals (P < 0.0001). In contrast, the CU strain was able to persist despite significantly lower (P < 0.0001) and relatively static envelope diversity. These findings indicate that envelope diversity is a poor predictor of hepacivirus A infection outcomes and could be dependent on strain-specific factors. Next, entropy analysis was performed on all E1/E2 genes entered into GenBank. This analysis defined three novel hypervariable regions (HVRs) in E2, at residues 391 to 402 (HVR1), 450 to 461 (HVR2), and 550 to 562 (HVR3). For the experimentally infected horses, entropy analysis focusing on the HVRs demonstrated that these regions were under increased selective pressure during persistent infection. Increased diversity in the HVRs was also temporally associated with seroconversion in some horses, suggesting that these regions may be targets of neutralizing antibody and may play a role in immune evasion.IMPORTANCE Hepacivirus C (hepatitis C virus) is estimated to infect 150 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. In contrast, its closest relative, hepacivirus A, causes relatively mild disease in horses and is frequently cleared. The relationship between quasispecies evolution and infection outcome has not been explored for hepacivirus A. To address this knowledge gap, we examined envelope gene diversity in horses with resolving and persistent infections. Interestingly, two strain-specific patterns of quasispecies diversity emerged. Persistence of the WSU strain was associated with increased quasispecies diversity and the accumulation of amino acid changes within three novel hypervariable regions following seroconversion. These findings provided evidence that envelope gene mutation is influenced by adaptive immune pressure and may contribute to hepacivirus persistence. However, the CU strain persisted despite relative evolutionary stasis, suggesting that some hepacivirus strains may use alternative mechanisms to persist in the host. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


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