October 23, 2019  |  

A knowledge-based molecular screen uncovers a broad-spectrum OsSWEET14 resistance allele to bacterial blight from wild rice.

Transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors are type III-delivered transcription factors that enhance the virulence of plant pathogenic Xanthomonas species through the activation of host susceptibility (S) genes. TAL effectors recognize their DNA target(s) via a partially degenerate code, whereby modular repeats in the TAL effector bind to nucleotide sequences in the host promoter. Although this knowledge has greatly facilitated our power to identify new S genes, it can also be easily used to screen plant genomes for variations in TAL effector target sequences and to predict for loss-of-function gene candidates in silico. In a proof-of-principle experiment, we screened a germplasm of 169 rice accessions for polymorphism in the promoter of the major bacterial blight susceptibility S gene OsSWEET14, which encodes a sugar transporter targeted by numerous strains of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. We identified a single allele with a deletion of 18 bp overlapping with the binding sites targeted by several TAL effectors known to activate the gene. We show that this allele, which we call xa41(t), confers resistance against half of the tested Xoo strains, representative of various geographic origins and genetic lineages, highlighting the selective pressure on the pathogen to accommodate OsSWEET14 polymorphism, and reciprocally the apparent limited possibilities for the host to create variability at this particular S gene. Analysis of xa41(t) conservation across the Oryza genus enabled us to hypothesize scenarios as to its evolutionary history, prior to and during domestication. Our findings demonstrate that resistance through TAL effector-dependent loss of S-gene expression can be greatly fostered upon knowledge-based molecular screening of a large collection of host plants.© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Combination of novel and public RNA-seq datasets to generate an mRNA expression atlas for the domestic chicken.

The domestic chicken (Gallus gallus) is widely used as a model in developmental biology and is also an important livestock species. We describe a novel approach to data integration to generate an mRNA expression atlas for the chicken spanning major tissue types and developmental stages, using a diverse range of publicly-archived RNA-seq datasets and new data derived from immune cells and tissues.Randomly down-sampling RNA-seq datasets to a common depth and quantifying expression against a reference transcriptome using the mRNA quantitation tool Kallisto ensured that disparate datasets explored comparable transcriptomic space. The network analysis tool Graphia was used to extract clusters of co-expressed genes from the resulting expression atlas, many of which were tissue or cell-type restricted, contained transcription factors that have previously been implicated in their regulation, or were otherwise associated with biological processes, such as the cell cycle. The atlas provides a resource for the functional annotation of genes that currently have only a locus ID. We cross-referenced the RNA-seq atlas to a publicly available embryonic Cap Analysis of Gene Expression (CAGE) dataset to infer the developmental time course of organ systems, and to identify a signature of the expansion of tissue macrophage populations during development.Expression profiles obtained from public RNA-seq datasets – despite being generated by different laboratories using different methodologies – can be made comparable to each other. This meta-analytic approach to RNA-seq can be extended with new datasets from novel tissues, and is applicable to any species.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of the Hi5 germ cell line from Trichoplusia ni, an agricultural pest and novel model for small RNA biology.

We report a draft assembly of the genome of Hi5 cells from the lepidopteran insect pest,Trichoplusia ni, assigning 90.6% of bases to one of 28 chromosomes and predicting 14,037 protein-coding genes. Chemoreception and detoxification gene families revealT. ni-specific gene expansions that may explain its widespread distribution and rapid adaptation to insecticides. Transcriptome and small RNA data from thorax, ovary, testis, and the germline-derived Hi5 cell line show distinct expression profiles for 295 microRNA- and >393 piRNA-producing loci, as well as 39 genes encoding small RNA pathway proteins. Nearly all of the W chromosome is devoted to piRNA production, andT. nisiRNAs are not 2´-O-methylated. To enable use of Hi5 cells as a model system, we have established genome editing and single-cell cloning protocols. TheT. nigenome provides insights into pest control and allows Hi5 cells to become a new tool for studying small RNAs ex vivo.© 2018, Fu et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Two ancestral genes shaped the Xanthomonas campestris TAL effector gene repertoire.

Xanthomonas transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are injected inside plant cells to promote host susceptibility by enhancing transcription of host susceptibility genes. TALE-encoding (tal) genes were thought to be absent from Brassicaceae-infecting Xanthomonas campestris (Xc) genomes based on four reference genomic sequences. We discovered tal genes in 26 of 49 Xc strains isolated worldwide and used a combination of single molecule real time (SMRT) and tal amplicon sequencing to yield a near-complete description of the TALEs found in Xc (Xc TALome). The 53 sequenced tal genes encode 21 distinct DNA binding domains that sort into seven major DNA binding specificities. In silico analysis of the Brassica rapa promoterome identified a repertoire of predicted TALE targets, five of which were experimentally validated using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. The Xc TALome shows multiple signs of DNA rearrangements that probably drove its evolution from two ancestral tal genes. We discovered that Tal12a and Tal15a of Xcc strain Xca5 contribute together in the development of disease symptoms on susceptible B. oleracea var. botrytis cv Clovis. This large and polymorphic repertoire of TALEs opens novel perspectives for elucidating TALE-mediated susceptibility of Brassicaceae to black rot disease and for understanding the molecular processes underlying TALE evolution.© 2018 The Authors New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional and genome sequence-driven characterization of tal effector gene repertoires reveals novel variants with altered specificities in closely related Malian Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae strains.

Rice bacterial leaf blight (BLB) is caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) which injects Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) into the host cell to modulate the expression of target disease susceptibility genes. Xoo major-virulence TALEs universally target susceptibility genes of the SWEET sugar transporter family. TALE-unresponsive alleles of OsSWEET genes have been identified in the rice germplasm or created by genome editing and confer resistance to BLB. In recent years, BLB has become one of the major biotic constraints to rice cultivation in Mali. To inform the deployment of alternative sources of resistance in this country, rice lines carrying alleles of OsSWEET14 unresponsive to either TalF (formerly Tal5) or TalC, two important TALEs previously identified in West African Xoo, were challenged with a panel of strains recently isolated in Mali and were found to remain susceptible to these isolates. The characterization of TALE repertoires revealed that talF and talC specific molecular markers were simultaneously present in all surveyed Malian strains, suggesting that the corresponding TALEs are broadly deployed by Malian Xoo to redundantly target the OsSWEET14 gene promoter. Consistent with this, the capacity of most Malian Xoo to induce OsSWEET14 was unaffected by either talC- or talF-unresponsive alleles of this gene. Long-read sequencing and assembly of eight Malian Xoo genomes confirmed the widespread occurrence of active TalF and TalC variants and provided a detailed insight into the diversity of TALE repertoires. All sequenced strains shared nine evolutionary related tal effector genes. Notably, a new TalF variant that is unable to induce OsSWEET14 was identified. Furthermore, two distinct TalB variants were shown to have lost the ability to simultaneously induce two susceptibility genes as previously reported for the founding members of this group from strains MAI1 and BAI3. Yet, both new TalB variants retained the ability to induce one or the other of the two susceptibility genes. These results reveal molecular and functional differences in tal repertoires and will be important for the sustainable deployment of broad-spectrum and durable resistance to BLB in West Africa.


September 22, 2019  |  

A strain of an emerging Indian Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae pathotype defeats the rice bacterial blight resistance gene xa13 without inducing a clade III SWEET gene and is nearly identical to a recent Thai isolate.

The rice bacterial blight pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) injects transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) that bind and activate host “susceptibility” (S) genes important for disease. Clade III SWEET genes are major S genes for bacterial blight. The resistance genes xa5, which reduces TALE activity generally, and xa13, a SWEET11 allele not recognized by the cognate TALE, have been effectively deployed. However, strains that defeat both resistance genes individually were recently reported in India and Thailand. To gain insight into the mechanism(s), we completely sequenced the genome of one such strain from each country and examined the encoded TALEs. Strikingly, the two strains are clones, sharing nearly identical TALE repertoires, including a TALE known to activate SWEET11 strongly enough to be effective even when diminished by xa5. We next investigated SWEET gene induction by the Indian strain. The Indian strain induced no clade III SWEET in plants harboring xa13, indicating a pathogen adaptation that relieves dependence on these genes for susceptibility. The findings open a door to mechanistic understanding of the role SWEET genes play in susceptibility and illustrate the importance of complete genome sequence-based monitoring of Xoo populations in developing varieties with effective disease resistance.


September 22, 2019  |  

Mosaicism diminishes the value of pre-implantation embryo biopsies for detecting CRISPR/Cas9 induced mutations in sheep.

The production of knock-out (KO) livestock models is both expensive and time consuming due to their long gestational interval and low number of offspring. One alternative to increase efficiency is performing a genetic screening to select pre-implantation embryos that have incorporated the desired mutation. Here we report the use of sheep embryo biopsies for detecting CRISPR/Cas9-induced mutations targeting the gene PDX1 prior to embryo transfer. PDX1 is a critical gene for pancreas development and the target gene required for the creation of pancreatogenesis-disabled sheep. We evaluated the viability of biopsied embryos in vitro and in vivo, and we determined the mutation efficiency using PCR combined with gel electrophoresis and digital droplet PCR (ddPCR). Next, we determined the presence of mosaicism in?~?50% of the recovered fetuses employing a clonal sequencing methodology. While the use of biopsies did not compromise embryo viability, the presence of mosaicism diminished the diagnostic value of the technique. If mosaicism could be overcome, pre-implantation embryo biopsies for mutation screening represents a powerful approach that will streamline the creation of KO animals.


September 21, 2019  |  

The axolotl genome and the evolution of key tissue formation regulators.

Salamanders serve as important tetrapod models for developmental, regeneration and evolutionary studies. An extensive molecular toolkit makes the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) a key representative salamander for molecular investigations. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the 32-gigabase-pair axolotl genome using an approach that combined long-read sequencing, optical mapping and development of a new genome assembler (MARVEL). We observed a size expansion of introns and intergenic regions, largely attributable to multiplication of long terminal repeat retroelements. We provide evidence that intron size in developmental genes is under constraint and that species-restricted genes may contribute to limb regeneration. The axolotl genome assembly does not contain the essential developmental gene Pax3. However, mutation of the axolotl Pax3 paralogue Pax7 resulted in an axolotl phenotype that was similar to those seen in Pax3-/- and Pax7-/- mutant mice. The axolotl genome provides a rich biological resource for developmental and evolutionary studies.


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