April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

April 21, 2020  |  

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions such as when and where transcription occurs to the folding and intermolecular interactions that govern RNA function.

April 21, 2020  |  

RADAR-seq: A RAre DAmage and Repair sequencing method for detecting DNA damage on a genome-wide scale.

RAre DAmage and Repair sequencing (RADAR-seq) is a highly adaptable sequencing method that enables the identification and detection of rare DNA damage events for a wide variety of DNA lesions at single-molecule resolution on a genome-wide scale. In RADAR-seq, DNA lesions are replaced with a patch of modified bases that can be directly detected by Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing. RADAR-seq enables dynamic detection over a wide range of DNA damage frequencies, including low physiological levels. Furthermore, without the need for DNA amplification and enrichment steps, RADAR-seq provides sequencing coverage of damaged and undamaged DNA across an entire genome. Here, we use RADAR-seq to measure the frequency and map the location of ribonucleotides in wild-type and RNaseH2-deficient E. coli and Thermococcus kodakarensis strains. Additionally, by tracking ribonucleotides incorporated during in vivo lagging strand DNA synthesis, we determined the replication initiation point in E. coli, and its relation to the origin of replication (oriC). RADAR-seq was also used to map cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) in Escherichia coli (E. coli) genomic DNA exposed to UV-radiation. On a broader scale, RADAR-seq can be applied to understand formation and repair of DNA damage, the correlation between DNA damage and disease initiation and progression, and complex biological pathways, including DNA replication.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic profiles between P. bursaria with and without endosymbiotic Chlorella showed differential expression of a wide range of metabolic genes. We selected 32 most differentially expressed genes to perform RNA interference experiment in P. bursaria, and found that P. bursaria can regulate the abundance of their symbionts through glutamine supply. This study provides novel insights into Paramecium evolution and will extend our knowledge of the molecular mechanism for the induction of endosymbiosis between P. bursaria and green algae.

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