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  |  

PacBio sequencing and its applications.

Single-molecule, real-time sequencing developed by Pacific BioSciences offers longer read lengths than the second-generation sequencing (SGS) technologies, making it well-suited for unsolved problems in genome, transcriptome, and epigenetics research. The highly-contiguous de novo assemblies using PacBio sequencing can close gaps in current reference assemblies and characterize structural variation (SV) in personal genomes. With longer reads, we can sequence through extended repetitive regions and detect mutations, many of which are associated with diseases. Moreover, PacBio transcriptome sequencing is advantageous for the identification of gene isoforms and facilitates reliable discoveries of novel genes and novel isoforms of annotated genes, due to its ability to sequence full-length transcripts or fragments with significant lengths. Additionally, PacBio’s sequencing technique provides information that is useful for the direct detection of base modifications, such as methylation. In addition to using PacBio sequencing alone, many hybrid sequencing strategies have been developed to make use of more accurate short reads in conjunction with PacBio long reads. In general, hybrid sequencing strategies are more affordable and scalable especially for small-size laboratories than using PacBio Sequencing alone. The advent of PacBio sequencing has made available much information that could not be obtained via SGS alone. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Production and hosting by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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.


September 22, 2019  |  

Nearly finished genomes produced using gel microdroplet culturing reveal substantial intraspecies genomic diversity within the human microbiome.

The majority of microbial genomic diversity remains unexplored. This is largely due to our inability to culture most microorganisms in isolation, which is a prerequisite for traditional genome sequencing. Single-cell sequencing has allowed researchers to circumvent this limitation. DNA is amplified directly from a single cell using the whole-genome amplification technique of multiple displacement amplification (MDA). However, MDA from a single chromosome copy suffers from amplification bias and a large loss of specificity from even very small amounts of DNA contamination, which makes assembling a genome difficult and completely finishing a genome impossible except in extraordinary circumstances. Gel microdrop cultivation allows culturing of a diverse microbial community and provides hundreds to thousands of genetically identical cells as input for an MDA reaction. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by comparing sequencing results of gel microdroplets and single cells following MDA. Bias is reduced in the MDA reaction and genome sequencing, and assembly is greatly improved when using gel microdroplets. We acquired multiple near-complete genomes for two bacterial species from human oral and stool microbiome samples. A significant amount of genome diversity, including single nucleotide polymorphisms and genome recombination, is discovered. Gel microdroplets offer a powerful and high-throughput technology for assembling whole genomes from complex samples and for probing the pan-genome of naturally occurring populations.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomic analysis of Sulfurospirillum cavolei MES reconstructed from the metagenome of an electrosynthetic microbiome.

Sulfurospirillum spp. play an important role in sulfur and nitrogen cycling, and contain metabolic versatility that enables reduction of a wide range of electron acceptors, including thiosulfate, tetrathionate, polysulfide, nitrate, and nitrite. Here we describe the assembly of a Sulfurospirillum genome obtained from the metagenome of an electrosynthetic microbiome. The ubiquity and persistence of this organism in microbial electrosynthesis systems suggest it plays an important role in reactor stability and performance. Understanding why this organism is present and elucidating its genetic repertoire provide a genomic and ecological foundation for future studies where Sulfurospirillum are found, especially in electrode-associated communities. Metabolic comparisons and in-depth analysis of unique genes revealed potential ecological niche-specific capabilities within the Sulfurospirillum genus. The functional similarities common to all genomes, i.e., core genome, and unique gene clusters found only in a single genome were identified. Based upon 16S rRNA gene phylogenetic analysis and average nucleotide identity, the Sulfurospirillum draft genome was found to be most closely related to Sulfurospirillum cavolei. Characterization of the draft genome described herein provides pathway-specific details of the metabolic significance of the newly described Sulfurospirillum cavolei MES and, importantly, yields insight to the ecology of the genus as a whole. Comparison of eleven sequenced Sulfurospirillum genomes revealed a total of 6246 gene clusters in the pan-genome. Of the total gene clusters, 18.5% were shared among all eleven genomes and 50% were unique to a single genome. While most Sulfurospirillum spp. reduce nitrate to ammonium, five of the eleven Sulfurospirillum strains encode for a nitrous oxide reductase (nos) cluster with an atypical nitrous-oxide reductase, suggesting a utility for this genus in reduction of the nitrous oxide, and as a potential sink for this potent greenhouse gas.


September 22, 2019  |  

Metagenomic binning of a marine sponge microbiome reveals unity in defense but metabolic specialization.

Marine sponges are ancient metazoans that are populated by distinct and highly diverse microbial communities. In order to obtain deeper insights into the functional gene repertoire of the Mediterranean sponge Aplysina aerophoba, we combined Illumina short-read and PacBio long-read sequencing followed by un-targeted metagenomic binning. We identified a total of 37 high-quality bins representing 11 bacterial phyla and two candidate phyla. Statistical comparison of symbiont genomes with selected reference genomes revealed a significant enrichment of genes related to bacterial defense (restriction-modification systems, toxin-antitoxin systems) as well as genes involved in host colonization and extracellular matrix utilization in sponge symbionts. A within-symbionts genome comparison revealed a nutritional specialization of at least two symbiont guilds, where one appears to metabolize carnitine and the other sulfated polysaccharides, both of which are abundant molecules in the sponge extracellular matrix. A third guild of symbionts may be viewed as nutritional generalists that perform largely the same metabolic pathways but lack such extraordinary numbers of the relevant genes. This study characterizes the genomic repertoire of sponge symbionts at an unprecedented resolution and it provides greater insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying microbial-sponge symbiosis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Resolving the complexity of human skin metagenomes using single-molecule sequencing.

Deep metagenomic shotgun sequencing has emerged as a powerful tool to interrogate composition and function of complex microbial communities. Computational approaches to assemble genome fragments have been demonstrated to be an effective tool for de novo reconstruction of genomes from these communities. However, the resultant “genomes” are typically fragmented and incomplete due to the limited ability of short-read sequence data to assemble complex or low-coverage regions. Here, we use single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing to reconstruct a high-quality, closed genome of a previously uncharacterized Corynebacterium simulans and its companion bacteriophage from a skin metagenomic sample. Considerable improvement in assembly quality occurs in hybrid approaches incorporating short-read data, with even relatively small amounts of long-read data being sufficient to improve metagenome reconstruction. Using short-read data to evaluate strain variation of this C. simulans in its skin community at single-nucleotide resolution, we observed a dominant C. simulans strain with moderate allelic heterozygosity throughout the population. We demonstrate the utility of SMRT sequencing and hybrid approaches in metagenome quantitation, reconstruction, and annotation.The species comprising a microbial community are often difficult to deconvolute due to technical limitations inherent to most short-read sequencing technologies. Here, we leverage new advances in sequencing technology, single-molecule sequencing, to significantly improve reconstruction of a complex human skin microbial community. With this long-read technology, we were able to reconstruct and annotate a closed, high-quality genome of a previously uncharacterized skin species. We demonstrate that hybrid approaches with short-read technology are sufficiently powerful to reconstruct even single-nucleotide polymorphism level variation of species in this a community. Copyright © 2016 Tsai et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic diversity in the endosymbiotic bacterium Rhizobium leguminosarum.

Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae is a soil a-proteobacterium that establishes a diazotrophic symbiosis with different legumes of the Fabeae tribe. The number of genome sequences from rhizobial strains available in public databases is constantly increasing, although complete, fully annotated genome structures from rhizobial genomes are scarce. In this work, we report and analyse the complete genome of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae UPM791. Whole genome sequencing can provide new insights into the genetic features contributing to symbiotically relevant processes such as bacterial adaptation to the rhizosphere, mechanisms for efficient competition with other bacteria, and the ability to establish a complex signalling dialogue with legumes, to enter the root without triggering plant defenses, and, ultimately, to fix nitrogen within the host. Comparison of the complete genome sequences of two strains of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae, 3841 and UPM791, highlights the existence of different symbiotic plasmids and a common core chromosome. Specific genomic traits, such as plasmid content or a distinctive regulation, define differential physiological capabilities of these endosymbionts. Among them, strain UPM791 presents unique adaptations for recycling the hydrogen generated in the nitrogen fixation process.


September 22, 2019  |  

Translating genomics into practice for real-time surveillance and response to carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae: evidence from a complex multi-institutional KPC outbreak.

Until recently, Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing Enterobacteriaceae were rarely identified in Australia. Following an increase in the number of incident cases across the state of Victoria, we undertook a real-time combined genomic and epidemiological investigation. The scope of this study included identifying risk factors and routes of transmission, and investigating the utility of genomics to enhance traditional field epidemiology for informing management of established widespread outbreaks.All KPC-producing Enterobacteriaceae isolates referred to the state reference laboratory from 2012 onwards were included. Whole-genome sequencing was performed in parallel with a detailed descriptive epidemiological investigation of each case, using Illumina sequencing on each isolate. This was complemented with PacBio long-read sequencing on selected isolates to establish high-quality reference sequences and interrogate characteristics of KPC-encoding plasmids.Initial investigations indicated that the outbreak was widespread, with 86 KPC-producing Enterobacteriaceae isolates (K. pneumoniae 92%) identified from 35 different locations across metropolitan and rural Victoria between 2012 and 2015. Initial combined analyses of the epidemiological and genomic data resolved the outbreak into distinct nosocomial transmission networks, and identified healthcare facilities at the epicentre of KPC transmission. New cases were assigned to transmission networks in real-time, allowing focussed infection control efforts. PacBio sequencing confirmed a secondary transmission network arising from inter-species plasmid transmission. Insights from Bayesian transmission inference and analyses of within-host diversity informed the development of state-wide public health and infection control guidelines, including interventions such as an intensive approach to screening contacts following new case detection to minimise unrecognised colonisation.A real-time combined epidemiological and genomic investigation proved critical to identifying and defining multiple transmission networks of KPC Enterobacteriaceae, while data from either investigation alone were inconclusive. The investigation was fundamental to informing infection control measures in real-time and the development of state-wide public health guidelines on carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae surveillance and management.


September 22, 2019  |  

The novel phages phiCD5763 and phiCD2955 represent two groups of big plasmidial Siphoviridae phages of Clostridium difficile.

Until recently, Clostridium difficile phages were limited to Myoviruses and Siphoviruses of medium genome length (32–57 kb). Here we report the finding of phiCD5763, a Siphovirus with a large extrachromosomal circular genome (132.5 kb, 172 ORFs) and a large capsid (205.6 ± 25.6 nm in diameter) infecting MLST Clade 1 strains of C. difficile. Two subgroups of big phage genomes similar to phiCD5763 were identified in 32 NAPCR1/RT012/ST-54 C. difficile isolates from Costa Rica and in whole genome sequences (WGS) of 41 C. difficile isolates of Clades 1, 2, 3, and 4 from Canada, USA, UK, Belgium, Iraq, and China. Through comparative genomics we discovered another putative big phage genome in a non-NAPCR1 isolate from Costa Rica, phiCD2955, which represents other big phage genomes found in 130 WGS of MLST Clade 1 and 2 isolates from Canada, USA, Hungary, France, Austria, and UK. phiCD2955 (131.6 kb, 172 ORFs) is related to a previously reported C. difficile phage genome, phiCD211/phiCDIF1296T. Detailed genome analyses of phiCD5763, phiCD2955, phiCD211/phiCDIF1296T, and seven other putative C. difficile big phage genome sequences of 131–136 kb reconstructed from publicly available WGS revealed a modular gene organization and high levels of sequence heterogeneity at several hotspots, suggesting that these genomes correspond to biological entities undergoing recombination. Compared to other C. difficile phages, these big phages have unique predicted terminase, capsid, portal, neck and tail proteins, receptor binding proteins (RBPs), recombinases, resolvases, primases, helicases, ligases, and hypothetical proteins. Moreover, their predicted gene load suggests a complex regulation of both phage and host functions. Overall, our results indicate that the prevalence of C. difficile big bacteriophages is more widespread than realized and open new avenues of research aiming to decipher how these viral elements influence the biology of this emerging pathogen.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of plasmids harboring blaCTX-M and blaCMY genes in E. coli from French broilers.

Resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESC) is a global health issue. The aim of this study was to analyze and compare plasmids coding for resistance to ESC isolated from 16 avian commensal and 17 avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) strains obtained respectively at slaughterhouse or from diseased broilers in 2010-2012. Plasmid DNA was used to transform E. coli DH5alpha, and the resistances of the transformants were determined. The sequences of the ESC-resistance plasmids prepared from transformants were obtained by Illumina (33 plasmids) or PacBio (1 plasmid). Results showed that 29 of these plasmids contained the blaCTX-M-1 gene and belonged to the IncI1/ST3 type, with 27 and 20 of them carrying the sul2 or tet(A) genes respectively. Despite their diverse origins, several plasmids showed very high percentages of identity. None of the blaCTX-M-1-containing plasmid contained APEC virulence genes, although some of them were detected in the parental strains. Three plasmids had the blaCMY-2 gene, but no other resistance gene. They belonged to IncB/O/K/Z-like or IncFIA/FIB replicon types. The blaCMY-2 IncFIA/FIB plasmid was obtained from a strain isolated from a diseased broiler and also containing a blaCTX-M-1 IncI1/ST3 plasmid. Importantly APEC virulence genes (sitA-D, iucA-D, iutA, hlyF, ompT, etsA-C, iss, iroB-E, iroN, cvaA-C and cvi) were detected on the blaCMY-2 plasmid. In conclusion, our results show the dominance and high similarity of blaCTX-M-1 IncI1/ST3 plasmids, and the worrying presence of APEC virulence genes on a blaCMY-2 plasmid.


September 22, 2019  |  

In situ analyses directly in diarrheal stool reveal large variations in bacterial load and active toxin expression of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae.

The bacterial pathogens enterotoxigenicEscherichia coli(ETEC) andVibrio choleraeare major causes of diarrhea. ETEC causes diarrhea by production of the heat-labile toxin (LT) and heat-stable toxins (STh and STp), whileV. choleraeproduces cholera toxin (CT). In this study, we determined the occurrence and bacterial doses of the two pathogens and their respective toxin expression levels directly in liquid diarrheal stools of patients in Dhaka, Bangladesh. By quantitative culture and real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) detection of the toxin genes, the two pathogens were found to coexist in several of the patients, at concentrations between 102and 108bacterial gene copies per ml. Even in culture-negative samples, gene copy numbers of 102to 104of either ETEC orV. choleraetoxin genes were detected by qPCR. RNA was extracted directly from stool, and gene expression levels, quantified by reverse transcriptase qPCR (RT-qPCR), of the genes encoding CT, LT, STh, and STp showed expression of toxin genes. Toxin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) confirmed active toxin secretion directly in the liquid diarrhea. Analysis of ETEC isolates by multiplex PCR, dot blot analysis, and genome sequencing suggested that there are genetic ETEC profiles that are more commonly found as dominating single pathogens and others that are coinfectants with lower bacterial loads. The ETEC genomes, including assembled genomes of dominating ETEC isolates expressing LT/STh/CS5/CS6 and LT/CS7, are provided. In addition, this study highlights an emerging important ETEC strain expressing LT/STp and the novel colonization factor CS27b. These findings have implications for investigations of pathogenesis as well as for vaccine development. IMPORTANCEThe cause of diarrheal disease is usually determined by screening for several microorganisms by various methods, and sole detection is used to assign the agent as the cause of disease. However, it has become increasingly clear that many infections are caused by coinfections with several pathogens and that the dose of the infecting pathogen is important. We quantified the absolute numbers of enterotoxigenicE. coli(ETEC) andVibrio choleraedirectly in diarrheal fluid. We noted several events where both pathogens were found but also a large dose dependency. In three samples, we found ETEC as the only pathogen sought for. These isolates belonged to globally distributed ETEC clones and were the dominating species in stool with active toxin expression. This suggests that certain superior virulent ETEC lineages are able to outcompete the gut microbiota and be the sole cause of disease and hence need to be specifically monitored.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of completely sequenced Lactobacillus helveticus genomes provides insights into strain-specific genes and resolves metagenomics data down to the strain level.

Although complete genome sequences hold particular value for an accurate description of core genomes, the identification of strain-specific genes, and as the optimal basis for functional genomics studies, they are still largely underrepresented in public repositories. Based on an assessment of the genome assembly complexity for all lactobacilli, we used Pacific Biosciences’ long read technology to sequence and de novo assemble the genomes of three Lactobacillus helveticus starter strains, raising the number of completely sequenced strains to 12. The first comparative genomics study for L. helveticus-to our knowledge-identified a core genome of 988 genes and sets of unique, strain-specific genes ranging from about 30 to more than 200 genes. Importantly, the comparison of MiSeq- and PacBio-based assemblies uncovered that not only accessory but also core genes can be missed in incomplete genome assemblies based on short reads. Analysis of the three genomes revealed that a large number of pseudogenes were enriched for functional Gene Ontology categories such as amino acid transmembrane transport and carbohydrate metabolism, which is in line with a reductive genome evolution in the rich natural habitat of L. helveticus. Notably, the functional Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins categories “cell wall/membrane biogenesis” and “defense mechanisms” were found to be enriched among the strain-specific genes. A genome mining effort uncovered examples where an experimentally observed phenotype could be linked to the underlying genotype, such as for cell envelope proteinase PrtH3 of strain FAM8627. Another possible link identified for peptidoglycan hydrolases will require further experiments. Of note, strain FAM22155 did not harbor a CRISPR/Cas system; its loss was also observed in other L. helveticus strains and lactobacillus species, thus questioning the value of the CRISPR/Cas system for diagnostic purposes. Importantly, the complete genome sequences proved to be very useful for the analysis of natural whey starter cultures with metagenomics, as a larger percentage of the sequenced reads of these complex mixtures could be unambiguously assigned down to the strain level.


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