July 19, 2019  |  

New insights into dissemination and variation of the health care-associated pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii from genomic analysis.

Acinetobacter baumannii is a globally important nosocomial pathogen characterized by an increasing incidence of multidrug resistance. Routes of dissemination and gene flow among health care facilities are poorly resolved and are important for understanding the epidemiology of A. baumannii, minimizing disease transmission, and improving patient outcomes. We used whole-genome sequencing to assess diversity and genome dynamics in 49 isolates from one United States hospital system during one year from 2007 to 2008. Core single-nucleotide-variant-based phylogenetic analysis revealed multiple founder strains and multiple independent strains recovered from the same patient yet was insufficient to fully resolve strain relationships, where gene content and insertion sequence patterns added additional discriminatory power. Gene content comparisons illustrated extensive and redundant antibiotic resistance gene carriage and direct evidence of gene transfer, recombination, gene loss, and mutation. Evidence of barriers to gene flow among hospital components was not found, suggesting complex mixing of strains and a large reservoir of A. baumannii strains capable of colonizing patients.Genome sequencing was used to characterize multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii strains from one United States hospital system during a 1-year period to better understand how A. baumannii strains that cause infection are related to one another. Extensive variation in gene content was found, even among strains that were very closely related phylogenetically and epidemiologically. Several mechanisms contributed to this diversity, including transfer of mobile genetic elements, mobilization of insertion sequences, insertion sequence-mediated deletions, and genome-wide homologous recombination. Variation in gene content, however, lacked clear spatial or temporal patterns, suggesting a diverse pool of circulating strains with considerable interaction between strains and hospital locations. Widespread genetic variation among strains from the same hospital and even the same patient, particularly involving antibiotic resistance genes, reinforces the need for molecular diagnostic testing and genomic analysis to determine resistance profiles, rather than a reliance primarily on strain typing and antimicrobial resistance phenotypes for epidemiological studies.


July 19, 2019  |  

Bacteriophage orphan DNA methyltransferases: insights from their bacterial origin, function, and occurrence.

Type II DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are enzymes found ubiquitously in the prokaryotic world, where they play important roles in several cellular processes, such as host protection and epigenetic regulation. Three classes of type II MTases have been identified thus far in bacteria which function in transferring a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) to a target nucleotide base, forming N-6-methyladenine (class I), N-4-methylcytosine (class II), or C-5-methylcytosine (class III). Often, these MTases are associated with a cognate restriction endonuclease (REase) to form a restriction-modification (R-M) system protecting bacterial cells from invasion by foreign DNA. When MTases exist alone, which are then termed orphan MTases, they are believed to be mainly involved in regulatory activities in the bacterial cell. Genomes of various lytic and lysogenic phages have been shown to encode multi- and mono-specific orphan MTases that have the ability to confer protection from restriction endonucleases of their bacterial host(s). The ability of a phage to overcome R-M and other phage-targeting resistance systems can be detrimental to particular biotechnological processes such as dairy fermentations. Conversely, as phages may also be beneficial in certain areas such as phage therapy, phages with additional resistance to host defenses may prolong the effectiveness of the therapy. This minireview will focus on bacteriophage-encoded MTases, their prevalence and diversity, as well as their potential origin and function.


July 19, 2019  |  

Comprehensive methylome characterization of Mycoplasma genitalium and Mycoplasma pneumoniae at single-base resolution.

In the bacterial world, methylation is most commonly associated with restriction-modification systems that provide a defense mechanism against invading foreign genomes. In addition, it is known that methylation plays functionally important roles, including timing of DNA replication, chromosome partitioning, DNA repair, and regulation of gene expression. However, full DNA methylome analyses are scarce due to a lack of a simple methodology for rapid and sensitive detection of common epigenetic marks (ie N(6)-methyladenine (6 mA) and N(4)-methylcytosine (4 mC)), in these organisms. Here, we use Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing to determine the methylomes of two related human pathogen species, Mycoplasma genitalium G-37 and Mycoplasma pneumoniae M129, with single-base resolution. Our analysis identified two new methylation motifs not previously described in bacteria: a widespread 6 mA methylation motif common to both bacteria (5′-CTAT-3′), as well as a more complex Type I m6A sequence motif in M. pneumoniae (5′-GAN(7)TAY-3’/3′-CTN(7)ATR-5′). We identify the methyltransferase responsible for the common motif and suggest the one involved in M. pneumoniae only. Analysis of the distribution of methylation sites across the genome of M. pneumoniae suggests a potential role for methylation in regulating the cell cycle, as well as in regulation of gene expression. To our knowledge, this is one of the first direct methylome profiling studies with single-base resolution from a bacterial organism.


July 19, 2019  |  

Resistance determinants and mobile genetic elements of an NDM-1-encoding Klebsiella pneumoniae strain.

Multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae are emerging as a serious infectious disease challenge. These strains can accumulate many antibiotic resistance genes though horizontal transfer of genetic elements, those for ß-lactamases being of particular concern. Some ß-lactamases are active on a broad spectrum of ß-lactams including the last-resort carbapenems. The gene for the broad-spectrum and carbapenem-active metallo-ß-lactamase NDM-1 is rapidly spreading. We present the complete genome of Klebsiella pneumoniae ATCC BAA-2146, the first U.S. isolate found to encode NDM-1, and describe its repertoire of antibiotic-resistance genes and mutations, including genes for eight ß-lactamases and 15 additional antibiotic-resistance enzymes. To elucidate the evolution of this rich repertoire, the mobile elements of the genome were characterized, including four plasmids with varying degrees of conservation and mosaicism and eleven chromosomal genomic islands. One island was identified by a novel phylogenomic approach, that further indicated the cps-lps polysaccharide synthesis locus, where operon translocation and fusion was noted. Unique plasmid segments and mosaic junctions were identified. Plasmid-borne blaCTX-M-15 was transposed recently to the chromosome by ISEcp1. None of the eleven full copies of IS26, the most frequent IS element in the genome, had the expected 8-bp direct repeat of the integration target sequence, suggesting that each copy underwent homologous recombination subsequent to its last transposition event. Comparative analysis likewise indicates IS26 as a frequent recombinational junction between plasmid ancestors, and also indicates a resolvase site. In one novel use of high-throughput sequencing, homologously recombinant subpopulations of the bacterial culture were detected. In a second novel use, circular transposition intermediates were detected for the novel insertion sequence ISKpn21 of the ISNCY family, suggesting that it uses the two-step transposition mechanism of IS3. Robust genome-based phylogeny showed that a unified Klebsiella cluster contains Enterobacter aerogenes and Raoultella, suggesting the latter genus should be abandoned.


July 19, 2019  |  

Zero-mode waveguides for single-molecule analysis at high concentrations.

Optical approaches for observing the dynamics of single molecules have required pico- to nanomolar concentrations of fluorophore in order to isolate individual molecules. However, many biologically relevant processes occur at micromolar ligand concentrations, necessitating a reduction in the conventional observation volume by three orders of magnitude. We show that arrays of zero-mode waveguides consisting of subwavelength holes in a metal film provide a simple and highly parallel means for studying single-molecule dynamics at micromolar concentrations with microsecond temporal resolution. We present observations of DNA polymerase activity as an example of the effectiveness of zero-mode waveguides for performing single-molecule experiments at high concentrations.


July 19, 2019  |  

Polymorphic microsatellite markers for a wind-dispersed tropical tree species, Triplaris cumingiana (Polygonaceae).

Novel microsatellite markers were characterized in the wind-dispersed and dioecious neotropical tree Triplaris cumingiana (Polygonaceae) for use in understanding the ecological processes and genetic impacts of pollen- and seed-mediated gene flow in tropical forests. •Sixty-two microsatellite primer pairs were screened, from which 12 markers showing five or more alleles per locus (range 5-17) were tested on 47 individuals. Observed and expected heterozygosities averaged 0.692 and 0.731, respectively. Polymorphism information content was between 0.417 and 0.874. Linkage disequilibrium was observed in one of the 66 pairwise comparisons between loci. Two loci showed deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. An additional 14 markers exhibiting lower polymorphism were characterized on a smaller number of individuals. •These microsatellite markers have high levels of polymorphism and reproducibility and will be useful in studying gene flow and population structure in T. cumingiana.


July 19, 2019  |  

Identification of restriction-modification systems of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494 by SMRT Sequencing and associated methylome analysis.

Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494 is a component of a commercialized fermented dairy product for which beneficial effects on health has been studied by clinical and preclinical trials. To date little is known about the molecular mechanisms that could explain the beneficial effects that bifidobacteria impart to the host. Restriction-modification (R-M) systems have been identified as key obstacles in the genetic accessibility of bifidobacteria, and circumventing these is a prerequisite to attaining a fundamental understanding of bifidobacterial attributes, including the genes that are responsible for health-promoting properties of this clinically and industrially important group of bacteria. The complete genome sequence of B. animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494 is predicted to harbour the genetic determinants for two type II R-M systems, designated BanLI and BanLII. In order to investigate the functionality and specificity of these two putative R-M systems in B. animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494, we employed PacBio SMRT sequencing with associated methylome analysis. In addition, the contribution of the identified R-M systems to the genetic accessibility of this strain was assessed.


July 19, 2019  |  

Validation of ITD mutations in FLT3 as a therapeutic target in human acute myeloid leukaemia.

Effective targeted cancer therapeutic development depends upon distinguishing disease-associated ‘driver’ mutations, which have causative roles in malignancy pathogenesis, from ‘passenger’ mutations, which are dispensable for cancer initiation and maintenance. Translational studies of clinically active targeted therapeutics can definitively discriminate driver from passenger lesions and provide valuable insights into human cancer biology. Activating internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations in FLT3 (FLT3-ITD) are detected in approximately 20% of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients and are associated with a poor prognosis. Abundant scientific and clinical evidence, including the lack of convincing clinical activity of early FLT3 inhibitors, suggests that FLT3-ITD probably represents a passenger lesion. Here we report point mutations at three residues within the kinase domain of FLT3-ITD that confer substantial in vitro resistance to AC220 (quizartinib), an active investigational inhibitor of FLT3, KIT, PDGFRA, PDGFRB and RET; evolution of AC220-resistant substitutions at two of these amino acid positions was observed in eight of eight FLT3-ITD-positive AML patients with acquired resistance to AC220. Our findings demonstrate that FLT3-ITD can represent a driver lesion and valid therapeutic target in human AML. AC220-resistant FLT3 kinase domain mutants represent high-value targets for future FLT3 inhibitor development efforts.


July 19, 2019  |  

Shared signatures of parasitism and phylogenomics unite Cryptomycota and microsporidia.

Fungi grow within their food, externally digesting it and absorbing nutrients across a semirigid chitinous cell wall. Members of the new phylum Cryptomycota were proposed to represent intermediate fungal forms, lacking a chitinous cell wall during feeding and known almost exclusively from ubiquitous environmental ribosomal RNA sequences that cluster at the base of the fungal tree [1, 2]. Here, we sequence the first Cryptomycotan genome (the water mold endoparasite Rozella allomycis) and unite the Cryptomycota with another group of endoparasites, the microsporidia, based on phylogenomics and shared genomic traits. We propose that Cryptomycota and microsporidia share a common endoparasitic ancestor, with the clade unified by a chitinous cell wall used to develop turgor pressure in the infection process [3, 4]. Shared genomic elements include a nucleotide transporter that is used by microsporidia for stealing energy in the form of ATP from their hosts [5]. Rozella harbors a mitochondrion that contains a very rapidly evolving genome and lacks complex I of the respiratory chain. These degenerate features are offset by the presence of nuclear genes for alternative respiratory pathways. The Rozella proteome has not undergone major contraction like microsporidia; instead, several classes have undergone expansion, such as host-effector, signal-transduction, and folding proteins. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

The utility of PacBio circular consensus sequencing for characterizing complex gene families in non-model organisms.

Molecular characterization of highly diverse gene families can be time consuming, expensive, and difficult, especially when considering the potential for relatively large numbers of paralogs and/or pseudogenes. Here we investigate the utility of Pacific Biosciences single molecule real-time (SMRT) circular consensus sequencing (CCS) as an alternative to traditional cloning and Sanger sequencing PCR amplicons for gene family characterization. We target vomeronasal gene receptors, one of the most diverse gene families in mammals, with the goal of better understanding intra-specific V1R diversity of the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Our study compares intragenomic variation for two V1R subfamilies found in the mouse lemur. Specifically, we compare gene copy variation within and between two individuals of M. murinus as characterized by different methods for nucleotide sequencing. By including the same individual animal from which the M. murinus draft genome was derived, we are able to cross-validate gene copy estimates from Sanger sequencing versus CCS methods.We generated 34,088 high quality circular consensus sequences of two diverse V1R subfamilies (here referred to as V1RI and V1RIX) from two individuals of Microcebus murinus. Using a minimum threshold of 7× coverage, we recovered approximately 90% of V1RI sequences previously identified in the draft M. murinus genome (59% being identical at all nucleotide positions). When low coverage sequences were considered (i.e. < 7× coverage) 100% of V1RI sequences identified in the draft genome were recovered. At least 13 putatively novel V1R loci were also identified using CCS technology.Recent upgrades to the Pacific Biosciences RS instrument have improved the CCS technology and offer an alternative to traditional sequencing approaches. Our results suggest that the Microcebus murinus V1R repertoire has been underestimated in the draft genome. In addition to providing an improved understanding of V1R diversity in the mouse lemur, this study demonstrates the utility of CCS technology for characterizing complex regions of the genome. We anticipate that long-read sequencing technologies such as PacBio SMRT will allow for the assembly of multigene family clusters and serve to more accurately characterize patterns of gene copy variation in large gene families, thus revealing novel micro-evolutionary patterns within non-model organisms.


July 19, 2019  |  

Germinal center centroblasts transition to a centrocyte phenotype according to a timed program and depend on the dark zone for effective selection.

Germinal center (GC) B cells cycle between the dark zone (DZ) and light zone (LZ) during antibody affinity maturation. Whether this movement is necessary for GC function has not been tested. Here we show that CXCR4-deficient GC B cells, which are restricted to the LZ, are gradually outcompeted by WT cells indicating an essential role for DZ access. Remarkably, the transition between DZ centroblast and LZ centrocyte phenotypes occurred independently of positioning. However, CXCR4-deficient cells carried fewer mutations and were overrepresented in the CD73(+) memory compartment. These findings are consistent with a model where GC B cells change from DZ to LZ phenotype according to a timed cellular program but suggest that spatial separation of DZ cells facilitates more effective rounds of mutation and selection. Finally, we identify a network of DZ CXCL12-expressing reticular cells that likely support DZ functions. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Characterizing and measuring bias in sequence data.

DNA sequencing technologies deviate from the ideal uniform distribution of reads. These biases impair scientific and medical applications. Accordingly, we have developed computational methods for discovering, describing and measuring bias.We applied these methods to the Illumina, Ion Torrent, Pacific Biosciences and Complete Genomics sequencing platforms, using data from human and from a set of microbes with diverse base compositions. As in previous work, library construction conditions significantly influence sequencing bias. Pacific Biosciences coverage levels are the least biased, followed by Illumina, although all technologies exhibit error-rate biases in high- and low-GC regions and at long homopolymer runs. The GC-rich regions prone to low coverage include a number of human promoters, so we therefore catalog 1,000 that were exceptionally resistant to sequencing. Our results indicate that combining data from two technologies can reduce coverage bias if the biases in the component technologies are complementary and of similar magnitude. Analysis of Illumina data representing 120-fold coverage of a well-studied human sample reveals that 0.20% of the autosomal genome was covered at less than 10% of the genome-wide average. Excluding locations that were similar to known bias motifs or likely due to sample-reference variations left only 0.045% of the autosomal genome with unexplained poor coverage.The assays presented in this paper provide a comprehensive view of sequencing bias, which can be used to drive laboratory improvements and to monitor production processes. Development guided by these assays should result in improved genome assemblies and better coverage of biologically important loci.


July 19, 2019  |  

Returning to more finished genomes

Abstract Genomic data have become commonplace in most branches of the biological sciences and have fundamentally altered the way research is conducted. However, the predominance of short-read sequence data from second-generation sequencing technologies has commonly resulted in fragmented and partial genomic data characteristics. In this opinion, I will highlight how long, unbiased reads from single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing now allow for a return to more contiguous and comprehensive views of genomes.


July 19, 2019  |  

The architecture of a scrambled genome reveals massive levels of genomic rearrangement during development.

Programmed DNA rearrangements in the single-celled eukaryote Oxytricha trifallax completely rewire its germline into a somatic nucleus during development. This elaborate, RNA-mediated pathway eliminates noncoding DNA sequences that interrupt gene loci and reorganizes the remaining fragments by inversions and permutations to produce functional genes. Here, we report the Oxytricha germline genome and compare it to the somatic genome to present a global view of its massive scale of genome rearrangements. The remarkably encrypted genome architecture contains >3,500 scrambled genes, as well as >800 predicted germline-limited genes expressed, and some posttranslationally modified, during genome rearrangements. Gene segments for different somatic loci often interweave with each other. Single gene segments can contribute to multiple, distinct somatic loci. Terminal precursor segments from neighboring somatic loci map extremely close to each other, often overlapping. This genome assembly provides a draft of a scrambled genome and a powerful model for studies of genome rearrangement. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

PBHoney: identifying genomic variants via long-read discordance and interrupted mapping.

As resequencing projects become more prevalent across a larger number of species, accurate variant identification will further elucidate the nature of genetic diversity and become increasingly relevant in genomic studies. However, the identification of larger genomic variants via DNA sequencing is limited by both the incomplete information provided by sequencing reads and the nature of the genome itself. Long-read sequencing technologies provide high-resolution access to structural variants often inaccessible to shorter reads.We present PBHoney, software that considers both intra-read discordance and soft-clipped tails of long reads (>10,000 bp) to identify structural variants. As a proof of concept, we identify four structural variants and two genomic features in a strain of Escherichia coli with PBHoney and validate them via de novo assembly. PBHoney is available for download at http://sourceforge.net/projects/pb-jelly/.Implementing two variant-identification approaches that exploit the high mappability of long reads, PBHoney is demonstrated as being effective at detecting larger structural variants using whole-genome Pacific Biosciences RS II Continuous Long Reads. Furthermore, PBHoney is able to discover two genomic features: the existence of Rac-Phage in isolate; evidence of E. coli’s circular genome.


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