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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A global survey of full-length transcriptome of Ginkgo biloba reveals transcript variants involved in flavonoid biosynthesis

Ginkgo biloba, which contains flavonoids as bioactive components, is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Increasing the flavonoid production of medicinal plants through genetic engineering generally focuses on the key genes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying such biosynthesis are not yet well understood. To understand these mechanisms, a combination of second-generation sequencing (SGS) and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing was applied to G. biloba. Eight tissues were sampled for SMRT sequencing to generate a high-quality, full-length transcriptome database. From 23.36 Gb clean reads, 12,954 alternative polyadenylation events, 12,290 alternative splicing events, 929 fusion transcripts, 2,286 novel transcripts,…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Construction and characterization of metal ion-containing DNA nanowires for synthetic biology and nanotechnology.

DNA is an attractive candidate for integration into nanoelectronics as a biological nanowire due to its linear geometry, definable base sequence, easy, inexpensive and non-toxic replication and self-assembling properties. Recently we discovered that by intercalating Ag+ in polycytosine-mismatch oligonucleotides, the resulting C-Ag+-C duplexes are able to conduct charge efficiently. To map the functionality and biostability of this system, we built and characterized internally-functionalized DNA nanowires through non-canonical, Ag+-mediated base pairing in duplexes containing cytosine-cytosine mismatches. We assessed the thermal and chemical stability of ion-coordinated duplexes in aqueous solutions and conclude that the C-Ag+-C bond forms DNA duplexes with replicable geometry,…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Genome-wide systematic identification of methyltransferase recognition and modification patterns.

Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation patterns using single molecule real-time DNA sequencing has boosted the number of publicly available methylomes. However, there is a lack of tools coupling methylation patterns and the corresponding methyltransferase genes. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput method for coupling methyltransferases with their respective motifs, using automated cloning and analysing the methyltransferases in vectors carrying a strain-specific cassette containing all potential target sites. To validate the method, we analyse the genomes of the thermophile Moorella thermoacetica and the mesophile Acetobacterium woodii, two acetogenic bacteria having substantially modified genomes with 12 methylation motifs and a total of 23…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Programmable mutually exclusive alternative splicing for generating RNA and protein diversity.

Alternative splicing performs a central role in expanding genomic coding capacity and proteomic diversity. However, programming of splicing patterns in engineered biological systems remains underused. Synthetic approaches thus far have predominantly focused on controlling expression of a single protein through alternative splicing. Here, we describe a modular and extensible platform for regulating four programmable exons that undergo a mutually exclusive alternative splicing event to generate multiple functionally-distinct proteins. We present an intron framework that enforces the mutual exclusivity of two internal exons and demonstrate a graded series of consensus sequence elements of varying strengths that set the ratio of two…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Hybrid sequencing of the Gynostemma pentaphyllum transcriptome provides new insights into gypenoside biosynthesis.

Gypenosides are a group of triterpene saponins from Gynostemma pentaphyllum that are the same as or very similar to ginsenosides from the Panax species. Several enzymes involved in ginsenoside biosynthesis have been characterized, which provide important clues for elucidating the gypenoside biosynthetic pathway. We suppose that gypenosides and ginsenosides may have a similar biosynthetic mechanism and that the corresponding enzymes in the two pathways may have considerable similarity in their sequences. To further understand gypenoside biosynthesis, we sequenced the G. pentaphyllum transcriptome with a hybrid sequencing-based strategy and then determined the candidate genes involved in this pathway using phylogenetic tree…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Genomics-driven discovery of a biosynthetic gene cluster required for the synthesis of BII-Rafflesfungin from the fungus Phoma sp. F3723.

Phomafungin is a recently reported broad spectrum antifungal compound but its biosynthetic pathway is unknown. We combed publicly available Phoma genomes but failed to find any putative biosynthetic gene cluster that could account for its biosynthesis.Therefore, we sequenced the genome of one of our Phoma strains (F3723) previously identified as having antifungal activity in a high-throughput screen. We found a biosynthetic gene cluster that was predicted to synthesize a cyclic lipodepsipeptide that differs in the amino acid composition compared to Phomafungin. Antifungal activity guided isolation yielded a new compound, BII-Rafflesfungin, the structure of which was determined.We describe the NRPS-t1PKS cluster…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Development of a metabolic pathway transfer and genomic integration system for the syngas-fermenting bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii.

Clostridium spp. can synthesize valuable chemicals and fuels by utilizing diverse waste-stream substrates, including starchy biomass, lignocellulose, and industrial waste gases. However, metabolic engineering in Clostridium spp. is challenging due to the low efficiency of gene transfer and genomic integration of entire biosynthetic pathways.We have developed a reliable gene transfer and genomic integration system for the syngas-fermenting bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii based on the conjugal transfer of donor plasmids containing large transgene cassettes (>?5 kb) followed by the inducible activation of Himar1 transposase to promote integration. We established a conjugation protocol for the efficient generation of transconjugants using the Gram-positive origins of…

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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

Efficient genome editing of a facultative thermophile using mesophilic spCas9.

Well-developed genetic tools for thermophilic microorganisms are scarce, despite their industrial and scientific relevance. Whereas highly efficient CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing is on the rise in prokaryotes, it has never been employed in a thermophile. Here, we apply Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (spCas9)-based genome editing to a moderate thermophile, i.e., Bacillus smithii, including a gene deletion, gene knockout via insertion of premature stop codons, and gene insertion. We show that spCas9 is inactive in vivo above 42 °C, and we employ the wide temperature growth range of B. smithii as an induction system for spCas9 expression. Homologous recombination with plasmid-borne editing templates…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Gene editing and genetic engineering approaches for advanced probiotics: A review.

The applications of probiotics are significant and thus resulted in need of genome analysis of probiotic strains. Various omics methods and systems biology approaches enables us to understand and optimize the metabolic processes. These techniques have increased the researcher’s attention towards gut microbiome and provided a new source for the revelation of uncharacterized biosynthetic pathways which enables novel metabolic engineering approaches. In recent years, the broad and quantitative analysis of modified strains relies on systems biology tools such as in silico design which are commonly used methods for improving strain performance. The genetic manipulation of probiotic microorganisms is crucial for…

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

An online bioinformatics tool predicts zinc finger and TALE nuclease off-target cleavage.

Although engineered nucleases can efficiently cleave intracellular DNA at desired target sites, major concerns remain on potential ‘off-target’ cleavage that may occur throughout the genome. We developed an online tool: predicted report of genome-wide nuclease off-target sites (PROGNOS) that effectively identifies off-target sites. The initial bioinformatics algorithms in PROGNOS were validated by predicting 44 of 65 previously confirmed off-target sites, and by uncovering a new off-target site for the extensively studied zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) targeting C-C chemokine receptor type 5. Using PROGNOS, we rapidly interrogated 128 potential off-target sites for newly designed transcription activator-like effector nucleases containing either Asn-Asn…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Full-length transcriptome sequences and splice variants obtained by a combination of sequencing platforms applied to different root tissues of Salvia miltiorrhiza and tanshinone biosynthesis.

Danshen, Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, is one of the most widely used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, wherein its rhizome/roots are particularly valued. The corresponding bioactive components include the tanshinone diterpenoids, the biosynthesis of which is a subject of considerable interest. Previous investigations of the S. miltiorrhiza transcriptome have relied on short-read next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology, and the vast majority of the resulting isotigs do not represent full-length cDNA sequences. Moreover, these efforts have been targeted at either whole plants or hairy root cultures. Here, we demonstrate that the tanshinone pigments are produced and accumulate in the root periderm, and apply a…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A workflow for studying specialized metabolism in nonmodel eukaryotic organisms

Eukaryotes contain a diverse tapestry of specialized metabolites, many of which are of significant pharmaceutical and industrial importance to humans. Nevertheless, exploration of specialized metabolic pathways underlying specific chemical traits in nonmodel eukaryotic organisms has been technically challenging and historically lagged behind that of the bacterial systems. Recent advances in genomics, metabolomics, phylogenomics, and synthetic biology now enable a new workflow for interrogating unknown specialized metabolic systems in nonmodel eukaryotic hosts with greater efficiency and mechanistic depth. This chapter delineates such workflow by providing a collection of state-of-the-art approaches and tools, ranging from multiomics-guided candidate gene identification to in vitro…

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