September 22, 2019  |  

Defining cell identity with single cell omics.

Cells are a fundamental unit of life, and the ability to study the phenotypes and behaviors of individual cells is crucial to understanding the workings of complex biological systems. Cell phenotypes (epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic) exhibit dramatic heterogeneity between and within the different cell types and states underlying cellular functional diversity. Cell genotypes can also display heterogeneity throughout an organism, in the form of somatic genetic variation-most notably in the emergence and evolution of tumors. Recent technical advances in single-cell isolation and the development of omics approaches sensitive enough to reveal these aspects of cell identity have enabled a revolution in the study of multicellular systems. In this review, we discuss the technologies available to resolve the genomes, epigenomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes of single cells from a wide variety of living systems.© 2018 The Authors. Proteomics Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


September 22, 2019  |  

Avian transcriptomics: opportunities and challenges

Recent developments in next-generation sequencing technologies have greatly facilitated the study of whole transcriptomes in model and non-model species. Studying the transcriptome and how it changes across a variety of biological conditions has had major implications for our understanding of how the genome is regulated in different contexts, and how to interpret adaptations and the phenotype of an organism. The aim of this review is to highlight the potential of these new technologies for the study of avian transcriptomics, and to summarise how transcriptomics has been applied in ornithology. A total of 81 peer-reviewed scientific articles that used transcriptomics to answer questions within a broad range of study areas in birds are used as examples throughout the review. We further provide a quick guide to highlight the most important points which need to be take into account when planning a transcriptomic study in birds, and discuss how researchers with little background in molecular biology can avoid potential pitfalls. Suggestions for further reading are supplied throughout. We also discuss possible future developments in the technology platforms used for ribonucleic acid sequencing. By summarising how these novel technologies can be used to answer questions that have long been asked by ornithologists, we hope to bridge the gap between traditional ornithology and genomics, and to stimulate more interdisciplinary research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-cell (meta-)genomics of a dimorphic Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii reveals genomic plasticity.

The genus Thiomargarita includes the world’s largest bacteria. But as uncultured organisms, their physiology, metabolism, and basis for their gigantism are not well understood. Thus, a genomics approach, applied to a single Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii cell was employed to explore the genetic potential of one of these enigmatic giant bacteria. The Thiomargarita cell was obtained from an assemblage of budding Ca. T. nelsonii attached to a provannid gastropod shell from Hydrate Ridge, a methane seep offshore of Oregon, USA. Here we present a manually curated genome of Bud S10 resulting from a hybrid assembly of long Pacific Biosciences and short Illumina sequencing reads. With respect to inorganic carbon fixation and sulfur oxidation pathways, the Ca. T. nelsonii Hydrate Ridge Bud S10 genome was similar to marine sister taxa within the family Beggiatoaceae. However, the Bud S10 genome contains genes suggestive of the genetic potential for lithotrophic growth on arsenite and perhaps hydrogen. The genome also revealed that Bud S10 likely respires nitrate via two pathways: a complete denitrification pathway and a dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia pathway. Both pathways have been predicted, but not previously fully elucidated, in the genomes of other large, vacuolated, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Surprisingly, the genome also had a high number of unusual features for a bacterium to include the largest number of metacaspases and introns ever reported in a bacterium. Also present, are a large number of other mobile genetic elements, such as insertion sequence (IS) transposable elements and miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs). In some cases, mobile genetic elements disrupted key genes in metabolic pathways. For example, a MITE interrupts hupL, which encodes the large subunit of the hydrogenase in hydrogen oxidation. Moreover, we detected a group I intron in one of the most critical genes in the sulfur oxidation pathway, dsrA. The dsrA group I intron also carried a MITE sequence that, like the hupL MITE family, occurs broadly across the genome. The presence of a high degree of mobile elements in genes central to Thiomargarita’s core metabolism has not been previously reported in free-living bacteria and suggests a highly mutable genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic insights into the acid adaptation of novel methanotrophs enriched from acidic forest soils.

Soil acidification is accelerated by anthropogenic and agricultural activities, which could significantly affect global methane cycles. However, detailed knowledge of the genomic properties of methanotrophs adapted to acidic soils remains scarce. Using metagenomic approaches, we analyzed methane-utilizing communities enriched from acidic forest soils with pH 3 and 4, and recovered near-complete genomes of proteobacterial methanotrophs. Novel methanotroph genomes designated KS32 and KS41, belonging to two representative clades of methanotrophs (Methylocystis of Alphaproteobacteria and Methylobacter of Gammaproteobacteria), were dominant. Comparative genomic analysis revealed diverse systems of membrane transporters for ensuring pH homeostasis and defense against toxic chemicals. Various potassium transporter systems, sodium/proton antiporters, and two copies of proton-translocating F1F0-type ATP synthase genes were identified, which might participate in the key pH homeostasis mechanisms in KS32. In addition, the V-type ATP synthase and urea assimilation genes might be used for pH homeostasis in KS41. Genes involved in the modification of membranes by incorporation of cyclopropane fatty acids and hopanoid lipids might be used for reducing proton influx into cells. The two methanotroph genomes possess genes for elaborate heavy metal efflux pumping systems, possibly owing to increased heavy metal toxicity in acidic conditions. Phylogenies of key genes involved in acid adaptation, methane oxidation, and antiviral defense in KS41 were incongruent with that of 16S rRNA. Thus, the detailed analysis of the genome sequences provides new insights into the ecology of methanotrophs responding to soil acidification.


September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic APP gene recombination in Alzheimer’s disease and normal neurons.

The diversity and complexity of the human brain are widely assumed to be encoded within a constant genome. Somatic gene recombination, which changes germline DNA sequences to increase molecular diversity, could theoretically alter this code but has not been documented in the brain, to our knowledge. Here we describe recombination of the Alzheimer’s disease-related gene APP, which encodes amyloid precursor protein, in human neurons, occurring mosaically as thousands of variant ‘genomic cDNAs’ (gencDNAs). gencDNAs lacked introns and ranged from full-length cDNA copies of expressed, brain-specific RNA splice variants to myriad smaller forms that contained intra-exonic junctions, insertions, deletions, and/or single nucleotide variations. DNA in situ hybridization identified gencDNAs within single neurons that were distinct from wild-type loci and absent from non-neuronal cells. Mechanistic studies supported neuronal ‘retro-insertion’ of RNA to produce gencDNAs; this process involved transcription, DNA breaks, reverse transcriptase activity, and age. Neurons from individuals with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease showed increased gencDNA diversity, including eleven mutations known to be associated with familial Alzheimer’s disease that were absent from healthy neurons. Neuronal gene recombination may allow ‘recording’ of neural activity for selective ‘playback’ of preferred gene variants whose expression bypasses splicing; this has implications for cellular diversity, learning and memory, plasticity, and diseases of the human brain.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive horizontal gene transfer in cheese-associated bacteria.

Acquisition of genes through horizontal gene transfer (HGT) allows microbes to rapidly gain new capabilities and adapt to new or changing environments. Identifying widespread HGT regions within multispecies microbiomes can pinpoint the molecular mechanisms that play key roles in microbiome assembly. We sought to identify horizontally transferred genes within a model microbiome, the cheese rind. Comparing 31 newly sequenced and 134 previously sequenced bacterial isolates from cheese rinds, we identified over 200 putative horizontally transferred genomic regions containing 4733 protein coding genes. The largest of these regions are enriched for genes involved in siderophore acquisition, and are widely distributed in cheese rinds in both Europe and the US. These results suggest that HGT is prevalent in cheese rind microbiomes, and that identification of genes that are frequently transferred in a particular environment may provide insight into the selective forces shaping microbial communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next generation sequencing data of a defined microbial mock community.

Generating sequence data of a defined community composed of organisms with complete reference genomes is indispensable for the benchmarking of new genome sequence analysis methods, including assembly and binning tools. Moreover the validation of new sequencing library protocols and platforms to assess critical components such as sequencing errors and biases relies on such datasets. We here report the next generation metagenomic sequence data of a defined mock community (Mock Bacteria ARchaea Community; MBARC-26), composed of 23 bacterial and 3 archaeal strains with finished genomes. These strains span 10 phyla and 14 classes, a range of GC contents, genome sizes, repeat content and encompass a diverse abundance profile. Short read Illumina and long-read PacBio SMRT sequences of this mock community are described. These data represent a valuable resource for the scientific community, enabling extensive benchmarking and comparative evaluation of bioinformatics tools without the need to simulate data. As such, these data can aid in improving our current sequence data analysis toolkit and spur interest in the development of new tools.


September 22, 2019  |  

The first whole transcriptomic exploration of pre-oviposited early chicken embryos using single and bulked embryonic RNA-sequencing.

The chicken is a valuable model organism, especially in evolutionary and embryology research because its embryonic development occurs in the egg. However, despite its scientific importance, no transcriptome data have been generated for deciphering the early developmental stages of the chicken because of practical and technical constraints in accessing pre-oviposited embryos.Here, we determine the entire transcriptome of pre-oviposited avian embryos, including oocyte, zygote, and intrauterine embryos from Eyal-giladi and Kochav stage I (EGK.I) to EGK.X collected using a noninvasive approach for the first time. We also compare RNA-sequencing data obtained using a bulked embryo sequencing and single embryo/cell sequencing technique. The raw sequencing data were preprocessed with two genome builds, Galgal4 and Galgal5, and the expression of 17,108 and 26,102 genes was quantified in the respective builds. There were some differences between the two techniques, as well as between the two genome builds, and these were affected by the emergence of long intergenic noncoding RNA annotations.The first transcriptome datasets of pre-oviposited early chicken embryos based on bulked and single embryo sequencing techniques will serve as a valuable resource for investigating early avian embryogenesis, for comparative studies among vertebrates, and for novel gene annotation in the chicken genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Interpreting microbial biosynthesis in the genomic age: Biological and practical considerations.

Genome mining has become an increasingly powerful, scalable, and economically accessible tool for the study of natural product biosynthesis and drug discovery. However, there remain important biological and practical problems that can complicate or obscure biosynthetic analysis in genomic and metagenomic sequencing projects. Here, we focus on limitations of available technology as well as computational and experimental strategies to overcome them. We review the unique challenges and approaches in the study of symbiotic and uncultured systems, as well as those associated with biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) assembly and product prediction. Finally, to explore sequencing parameters that affect the recovery and contiguity of large and repetitive BGCs assembled de novo, we simulate Illumina and PacBio sequencing of the Salinispora tropica genome focusing on assembly of the salinilactam (slm) BGC.


September 22, 2019  |  

Novel exons and splice variants in the human antibody heavy chain identified by single cell and single molecule sequencing.

Antibody heavy chains contain a variable and a constant region. The constant region of the antibody heavy chain is encoded by multiple groups of exons which define the isotype and therefore many functional characteristics of the antibody. We performed both single B cell RNAseq and long read single molecule sequencing of antibody heavy chain transcripts and were able to identify novel exons for IGHA1 and IGHA2 as well as novel isoforms for IGHM antibody heavy chain.


September 22, 2019  |  

Cow-to-mouse fecal transplantations suggest intestinal microbiome as one cause of mastitis.

Mastitis, which affects nearly all lactating mammals including human, is generally thought to be caused by local infection of the mammary glands. For treatment, antibiotics are commonly prescribed, which however are of concern in both treatment efficacy and neonate safety. Here, using bovine mastitis which is the most costly disease in the dairy industry as a model, we showed that intestinal microbiota alone can lead to mastitis.Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) from mastitis, but not healthy cows, to germ-free (GF) mice resulted in mastitis symptoms in mammary gland and inflammations in serum, spleen, and colon. Probiotic intake in parallel with FMT from diseased cows led to relieved mastitis symptoms in mice, by shifting the murine intestinal microbiota to a state that is functionally distinct from either healthy or diseased microbiota yet structurally similar to the latter. Despite conservation in mastitis symptoms, diseased cows and mice shared few mastitis-associated bacterial organismal or functional markers, suggesting striking divergence in mastitis-associated intestinal microbiota among lactating mammals. Moreover, an “amplification effect” of disease-health distinction in both microbiota structure and function was apparent during the cow-to-mouse FMT.Hence, dysbiosis of intestinal microbiota may be one cause of mastitis, and probiotics that restore intestinal microbiota function are an effective and safe strategy to treat mastitis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Shannon: an information-optimal de novo RNA-Seq assembler

De novo assembly of short RNA-Seq reads into transcripts is challenging due to sequence similarities in transcriptomes arising from gene duplications and alternative splicing of transcripts. We present Shannon, an RNA-Seq assembler with an optimality guarantee derived from principles of information theory: Shannon reconstructs nearly all information-theoretically reconstructable transcripts. Shannon is based on a theory we develop for de novo RNA-Seq assembly that reveals differing abundances among transcripts to be the key, rather than the barrier, to effective assembly. The assembly problem is formulated as a sparsest-flow problem on a transcript graph, and the heart of Shannon is a novel iterative flow-decomposition algorithm. This algorithm provably solves the information-theoretically reconstructable instances in linear-time even though the general sparsest-flow problem is NP-hard. Shannon also incorporates several additional new algorithmic advances: a new error-correction algorithm based on successive cancelation, a multi-bridging algorithm that carefully utilizes read information in the k-mer de Bruijn graph, and an approximate graph partitioning algorithm to split the transcriptome de Bruijn graph into smaller components. In tests on large RNA-Seq datasets, Shannon obtains significant increases in sensitivity along with improvements in specificity in comparison to state-of-the-art assemblers.


September 22, 2019  |  

A single-cell genome for Thiovulum sp.

We determined a significant fraction of the genome sequence of a representative of Thiovulum, the uncultivated genus of colorless sulfur Epsilonproteobacteria, by analyzing the genome sequences of four individual cells collected from phototrophic mats from Elkhorn Slough, California. These cells were isolated utilizing a microfluidic laser-tweezing system, and their genomes were amplified by multiple-displacement amplification prior to sequencing. Thiovulum is a gradient bacterium found at oxic-anoxic marine interfaces and noted for its distinctive morphology and rapid swimming motility. The genomic sequences of the four individual cells were assembled into a composite genome consisting of 221 contigs covering 2.083 Mb including 2,162 genes. This single-cell genome represents a genomic view of the physiological capabilities of isolated Thiovulum cells. Thiovulum is the second-fastest bacterium ever observed, swimming at 615 µm/s, and this genome shows that this rapid swimming motility is a result of a standard flagellar machinery that has been extensively characterized in other bacteria. This suggests that standard flagella are capable of propelling bacterial cells at speeds much faster than typically thought. Analysis of the genome suggests that naturally occurring Thiovulum populations are more diverse than previously recognized and that studies performed in the past probably address a wide range of unrecognized genotypic and phenotypic diversities of Thiovulum. The genome presented in this article provides a basis for future isolation-independent studies of Thiovulum, where single-cell and metagenomic tools can be used to differentiate between different Thiovulum genotypes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Direct chromosome-length haplotyping by single-cell sequencing.

Haplotypes are fundamental to fully characterize the diploid genome of an individual, yet methods to directly chart the unique genetic makeup of each parental chromosome are lacking. Here we introduce single-cell DNA template strand sequencing (Strand-seq) as a novel approach to phasing diploid genomes along the entire length of all chromosomes. We demonstrate this by building a complete haplotype for a HapMap individual (NA12878) at high accuracy (concordance 99.3%), without using generational information or statistical inference. By use of this approach, we mapped all meiotic recombination events in a family trio with high resolution (median range ~14 kb) and phased larger structural variants like deletions, indels, and balanced rearrangements like inversions. Lastly, the single-cell resolution of Strand-seq allowed us to observe loss of heterozygosity regions in a small number of cells, a significant advantage for studies of heterogeneous cell populations, such as cancer cells. We conclude that Strand-seq is a unique and powerful approach to completely phase individual genomes and map inheritance patterns in families, while preserving haplotype differences between single cells.© 2016 Porubský et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Discovery of enzymes for toluene synthesis from anoxic microbial communities.

Microbial toluene biosynthesis was reported in anoxic lake sediments more than three decades ago, but the enzyme catalyzing this biochemically challenging reaction has never been identified. Here we report the toluene-producing enzyme PhdB, a glycyl radical enzyme of bacterial origin that catalyzes phenylacetate decarboxylation, and its cognate activating enzyme PhdA, a radical S-adenosylmethionine enzyme, discovered in two distinct anoxic microbial communities that produce toluene. The unconventional process of enzyme discovery from a complex microbial community (>300,000 genes), rather than from a microbial isolate, involved metagenomics- and metaproteomics-enabled biochemistry, as well as in vitro confirmation of activity with recombinant enzymes. This work expands the known catalytic range of glycyl radical enzymes (only seven reaction types had been characterized previously) and aromatic-hydrocarbon-producing enzymes, and will enable first-time biochemical synthesis of an aromatic fuel hydrocarbon from renewable resources, such as lignocellulosic biomass, rather than from petroleum.


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