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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Simultaneous non-contiguous deletions using large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases.

Toward achieving rapid and large scale genome modification directly in a target organism, we have developed a new genome engineering strategy that uses a combination of bioinformatics aided design, large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases. Using Cre recombinase we swapped a target 126-kb segment of the Escherichia coli genome with a 72-kb synthetic DNA cassette, thereby effectively eliminating over 54 kb of genomic DNA from three non-contiguous regions in a single recombination event. We observed complete replacement of the native sequence with the modified synthetic sequence through the action of the Cre recombinase and no competition from homologous recombination. Because…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Controlled delivery of ß-globin-targeting TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9 into mammalian cells for genome editing using microinjection.

Tal-effector nucleases (TALEN) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) with CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins are genome editing tools with unprecedented potential. However, the ability to deliver optimal amounts of these nucleases into mammalian cells with minimal toxicity poses a major challenge. Common delivery approaches are transfection- and viral-based methods; each associated with significant drawbacks. An alternative method for directly delivering genome-editing reagents into single living cells with high efficiency and controlled volume is microinjection. Here, we characterize a glass microcapillary-based injection system and demonstrate controlled co-injection of TALENs or CRISPR/Cas9 together with donor template into single K562 cells for…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Overview of the wheat genetic transformation and breeding status in China.

In the past two decades, Chinese scientists have achieved significant progress on three aspects of wheat genetic transformation. First, the wheat transformation platform has been established and optimized to improve the transformation efficiency, shorten the time required from starting of transformation procedure to the fertile transgenic wheat plants obtained as well as to overcome the problem of genotype-dependent for wheat genetic transformation in wide range of wheat elite varieties. Second, with the help of many emerging techniques such as CRISPR/cas9 function of over 100 wheat genes has been investigated. Finally, modern technology has been combined with the traditional breeding technique…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing of trinucleotide repeat expansion in myotonic dystrophy patient-derived iPS and myogenic cells.

CRISPR/Cas9 is an attractive platform to potentially correct dominant genetic diseases by gene editing with unprecedented precision. In the current proof-of-principle study, we explored the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene-editing in myotonic dystrophy type-1 (DM1), an autosomal-dominant muscle disorder, by excising the CTG-repeat expansion in the 3′-untranslated-region (UTR) of the human myotonic dystrophy protein kinase (DMPK) gene in DM1 patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (DM1-iPSC), DM1-iPSC-derived myogenic cells and DM1 patient-specific myoblasts. To eliminate the pathogenic gain-of-function mutant DMPK transcript, we designed a dual guide RNA based strategy that excises the CTG-repeat expansion with high efficiency, as confirmed by Southern blot…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Improved production of propionic acid using genome shuffling.

Traditionally derived from fossil fuels, biological production of propionic acid has recently gained interest. Propionibacterium species produce propionic acid as their main fermentation product. Production of other organic acids reduces propionic acid yield and productivity, pointing to by-products gene-knockout strategies as a logical solution to increase yield. However, removing by-product formation has seen limited success due to our inability to genetically engineer the best producing strains (i.e. Propionibacterium acidipropionici). To overcome this limitation, random mutagenesis continues to be the best path towards improving strains for biological propionic acid production. Recent advances in next generation sequencing opened new avenues to understand…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bioengineered AAV capsids with combined high human liver transduction in vivo and unique humoral seroreactivity.

Existing recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) serotypes for delivering in vivo gene therapy treatments for human liver diseases have not yielded combined high-level human hepatocyte transduction and favorable humoral neutralization properties in diverse patient groups. Yet, these combined properties are important for therapeutic efficacy. To bioengineer capsids that exhibit both unique seroreactivity profiles and functionally transduce human hepatocytes at therapeutically relevant levels, we performed multiplexed sequential directed evolution screens using diverse capsid libraries in both primary human hepatocytes in vivo and with pooled human sera from thousands of patients. AAV libraries were subjected to five rounds of in vivo selection in xenografted mice with…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The transcriptome of human pluripotent stem cells.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs) are in vitro derivatives of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and are characterized by an undifferentiated and pluripotent state that can be perpetuated in time, indefinitely. hESCs provide a unique opportunity to both dissect the molecular mechanisms that are predisposed to the maintenance of pluripotency and model the ability to initiate differentiation and cell commitment within the developing embryo. To fully understand these mechanisms, it is necessary to accurately identify the specific transcriptome of hESCs. Many distinct gene annotation methods, such as cDNA and EST sequencing and RNA-Seq, have been used to identify…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Novel syntrophic populations dominate an ammonia-tolerant methanogenic microbiome.

Biogas reactors operating with protein-rich substrates have high methane potential and industrial value; however, they are highly susceptible to process failure because of the accumulation of ammonia. High ammonia levels cause a decline in acetate-utilizing methanogens and instead promote the conversion of acetate via a two-step mechanism involving syntrophic acetate oxidation (SAO) to H2 and CO2, followed by hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. Despite the key role of syntrophic acetate-oxidizing bacteria (SAOB), only a few culturable representatives have been characterized. Here we show that the microbiome of a commercial, ammonia-tolerant biogas reactor harbors a deeply branched, uncultured phylotype (unFirm_1) accounting for approximately 5%…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Limited effects of variable-retention harvesting on fungal communities decomposing fine roots in coastal temperate rainforests.

Fine root litter is the principal source of carbon stored in forest soils and a dominant source of carbon for fungal decomposers. Differences in decomposer capacity between fungal species may be important determinants of fine-root decomposition rates. Variable-retention harvesting (VRH) provides refuge for ectomycorrhizal fungi, but its influence on fine-root decomposers is unknown, as are the effects of functional shifts in these fungal communities on carbon cycling. We compared fungal communities decomposing fine roots (in litter bags) under VRH, clear-cut, and uncut stands at two sites (6 and 13 years postharvest) and two decay stages (43 days and 1 year…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A comprehensive quality evaluation system for complex herbal medicine using PacBio sequencing, PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and several chemical approaches.

Herbal medicine is a major component of complementary and alternative medicine, contributing significantly to the health of many people and communities. Quality control of herbal medicine is crucial to ensure that it is safe and sound for use. Here, we investigated a comprehensive quality evaluation system for a classic herbal medicine, Danggui Buxue Formula, by applying genetic-based and analytical chemistry approaches to authenticate and evaluate the quality of its samples. For authenticity, we successfully applied two novel technologies, third-generation sequencing and PCR-DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis), to analyze the ingredient composition of the tested samples. For quality evaluation, we used…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Composition and pathogenic potential of a microbial bioremediation product used for crude oil degradation.

A microbial bioremediation product (MBP) used for large-scale oil degradation was investigated for microbial constituents and possible pathogenicity. Aerobic growth on various media yielded >108 colonies mL-1. Full-length 16S rDNA sequencing and fatty acid profiling from morphologically distinct colonies revealed =13 distinct genera. Full-length 16S rDNA library sequencing, by either Sanger or long-read PacBio technology, suggested that up to 21% of the MBP was composed of Arcobacter. Other high abundance microbial constituents (>6%) included the genera Proteus, Enterococcus, Dysgonomonas and several genera in the order Bacteroidales. The MBP was most susceptible to ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, gentamicin, and meropenam. MBP exposure of…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

SQANTI: extensive characterization of long-read transcript sequences for quality control in full-length transcriptome identification and quantification.

High-throughput sequencing of full-length transcripts using long reads has paved the way for the discovery of thousands of novel transcripts, even in well-annotated mammalian species. The advances in sequencing technology have created a need for studies and tools that can characterize these novel variants. Here, we present SQANTI, an automated pipeline for the classification of long-read transcripts that can assess the quality of data and the preprocessing pipeline using 47 unique descriptors. We apply SQANTI to a neuronal mouse transcriptome using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) long reads and illustrate how the tool is effective in characterizing and describing the composition of…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

High-resolution comparative analysis of great ape genomes.

Genetic studies of human evolution require high-quality contiguous ape genome assemblies that are not guided by the human reference. We coupled long-read sequence assembly and full-length complementary DNA sequencing with a multiplatform scaffolding approach to produce ab initio chimpanzee and orangutan genome assemblies. By comparing these with two long-read de novo human genome assemblies and a gorilla genome assembly, we characterized lineage-specific and shared great ape genetic variation ranging from single- to mega-base pair-sized variants. We identified ~17,000 fixed human-specific structural variants identifying genic and putative regulatory changes that have emerged in humans since divergence from nonhuman apes. Interestingly, these…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Anthropogenic N deposition alters the composition of expressed class II fungal peroxidases.

Here, we present evidence that ca. 20 years of experimental N deposition altered the composition of lignin-decaying class II peroxidases expressed by forest floor fungi, a response which has occurred concurrently with reductions in plant litter decomposition and a rapid accumulation of soil organic matter. This finding suggests that anthropogenic N deposition has induced changes in the biological mediation of lignin decay, the rate limiting step in plant litter decomposition. Thus, an altered composition of transcripts for a critical gene that is associated with terrestrial C cycling may explain the increased soil C storage under long-term increases in anthropogenic N…

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