April 21, 2020  |  

The Modern View of B Chromosomes Under the Impact of High Scale Omics Analyses.

Supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) are extra karyotype units in addition to A chromosomes, and are found in some fungi and thousands of animals and plant species. Bs are uniquely characterized due to their non-Mendelian inheritance, and represent one of the best examples of genomic conflict. Over the last decades, their genetic composition, function and evolution have remained an unresolved query, although a few successful attempts have been made to address these phenomena. A classical concept based on cytogenetics and genetics is that Bs are selfish and abundant with DNA repeats and transposons, and in most cases, they do not carry any function. However, recently, the modern quantum development of high scale multi-omics techniques has shifted B research towards a new-born field that we call “B-omics”. We review the recent literature and add novel perspectives to the B research, discussing the role of new technologies to understand the mechanistic perspectives of the molecular evolution and function of Bs. The modern view states that B chromosomes are enriched with genes for many significant biological functions, including but not limited to the interesting set of genes related to cell cycle and chromosome structure. Furthermore, the presence of B chromosomes could favor genomic rearrangements and influence the nuclear environment affecting the function of other chromatin regions. We hypothesize that B chromosomes might play a key function in driving their transmission and maintenance inside the cell, as well as offer an extra genomic compartment for evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Critical length in long-read resequencing

Long-read sequencing has substantial advantages for structural variant discovery and phasing of vari- ants compared to short-read technologies, but the required and optimal read length has not been as- sessed. In this work, we used long reads simulated from human genomes and evaluated structural vari- ant discovery and variant phasing using current best practicebioinformaticsmethods.Wedeterminedthatoptimal discovery of structural variants from human genomes can be obtained with reads of minimally 20 kb. Haplotyping variants across genes only reaches its optimum from reads of 100 kb. These findings are important for the design of future long-read sequenc- ing projects.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid antigen diversification through mitotic recombination in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Malaria parasites possess the remarkable ability to maintain chronic infections that fail to elicit a protective immune response, characteristics that have stymied vaccine development and cause people living in endemic regions to remain at risk of malaria despite previous exposure to the disease. These traits stem from the tremendous antigenic diversity displayed by parasites circulating in the field. For Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent of the human malaria parasites, this diversity is exemplified by the variant gene family called var, which encodes the major surface antigen displayed on infected red blood cells (RBCs). This gene family exhibits virtually limitless diversity when var gene repertoires from different parasite isolates are compared. Previous studies indicated that this remarkable genome plasticity results from extensive ectopic recombination between var genes during mitotic replication; however, the molecular mechanisms that direct this process to antigen-encoding loci while the rest of the genome remains relatively stable were not determined. Using targeted DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and long-read whole-genome sequencing, we show that a single break within an antigen-encoding region of the genome can result in a cascade of recombination events leading to the generation of multiple chimeric var genes, a process that can greatly accelerate the generation of diversity within this family. We also found that recombinations did not occur randomly, but rather high-probability, specific recombination products were observed repeatedly. These results provide a molecular basis for previously described structured rearrangements that drive diversification of this highly polymorphic gene family.


April 21, 2020  |  

Effector gene reshuffling involves dispensable mini-chromosomes in the wheat blast fungus.

Newly emerged wheat blast disease is a serious threat to global wheat production. Wheat blast is caused by a distinct, exceptionally diverse lineage of the fungus causing rice blast disease. Through sequencing a recent field isolate, we report a reference genome that includes seven core chromosomes and mini-chromosome sequences that harbor effector genes normally found on ends of core chromosomes in other strains. No mini-chromosomes were observed in an early field strain, and at least two from another isolate each contain different effector genes and core chromosome end sequences. The mini-chromosome is enriched in transposons occurring most frequently at core chromosome ends. Additionally, transposons in mini-chromosomes lack the characteristic signature for inactivation by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutation genome defenses. Our results, collectively, indicate that dispensable mini-chromosomes and core chromosomes undergo divergent evolutionary trajectories, and mini-chromosomes and core chromosome ends are coupled as a mobile, fast-evolving effector compartment in the wheat pathogen genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level sequence assembly reveals the structure of the Arabidopsis thaliana Nd-1 genome and its gene set.

In addition to the BAC-based reference sequence of the accession Columbia-0 from the year 2000, several short read assemblies of THE plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana were published during the last years. Also, a SMRT-based assembly of Landsberg erecta has been generated that identified translocation and inversion polymorphisms between two genotypes of the species. Here we provide a chromosome-arm level assembly of the A. thaliana accession Niederzenz-1 (AthNd-1_v2c) based on SMRT sequencing data. The best assembly comprises 69 nucleome sequences and displays a contig length of up to 16 Mbp. Compared to an earlier Illumina short read-based NGS assembly (AthNd-1_v1), a 75 fold increase in contiguity was observed for AthNd-1_v2c. To assign contig locations independent from the Col-0 gold standard reference sequence, we used genetic anchoring to generate a de novo assembly. In addition, we assembled the chondrome and plastome sequences. Detailed analyses of AthNd-1_v2c allowed reliable identification of large genomic rearrangements between A. thaliana accessions contributing to differences in the gene sets that distinguish the genotypes. One of the differences detected identified a gene that is lacking from the Col-0 gold standard sequence. This de novo assembly extends the known proportion of the A. thaliana pan-genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diversification and collapse of a telomere elongation mechanism.

In most eukaryotes, telomerase counteracts chromosome erosion by adding repetitive sequence to terminal ends. Drosophila melanogaster instead relies on specialized retrotransposons that insert exclusively at telomeres. This exchange of goods between host and mobile element-wherein the mobile element provides an essential genome service and the host provides a hospitable niche for mobile element propagation-has been called a “genomic symbiosis.” However, these telomere-specialized, jockey family retrotransposons may actually evolve to “selfishly” overreplicate in the genomes that they ostensibly serve. Under this model, we expect rapid diversification of telomere-specialized retrotransposon lineages and, possibly, the breakdown of this ostensibly symbiotic relationship. Here we report data consistent with both predictions. Searching the raw reads of the 15-Myr-old melanogaster species group, we generated de novo jockey retrotransposon consensus sequences and used phylogenetic tree-building to delineate four distinct telomere-associated lineages. Recurrent gains, losses, and replacements account for this retrotransposon lineage diversity. In Drosophila biarmipes, telomere-specialized elements have disappeared completely. De novo assembly of long reads and cytogenetics confirmed this species-specific collapse of retrotransposon-dependent telomere elongation. Instead, telomere-restricted satellite DNA and DNA transposon fragments occupy its terminal ends. We infer that D. biarmipes relies instead on a recombination-based mechanism conserved from yeast to flies to humans. Telomeric retrotransposon diversification and disappearance suggest that persistently “selfish” machinery shapes telomere elongation across Drosophila rather than completely domesticated, symbiotic mobile elements. © 2019 Saint-Leandre et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive evaluation of non-hybrid genome assembly tools for third-generation PacBio long-read sequence data.

Long reads obtained from third-generation sequencing platforms can help overcome the long-standing challenge of the de novo assembly of sequences for the genomic analysis of non-model eukaryotic organisms. Numerous long-read-aided de novo assemblies have been published recently, which exhibited superior quality of the assembled genomes in comparison with those achieved using earlier second-generation sequencing technologies. Evaluating assemblies is important in guiding the appropriate choice for specific research needs. In this study, we evaluated 10 long-read assemblers using a variety of metrics on Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) data sets from different taxonomic categories with considerable differences in genome size. The results allowed us to narrow down the list to a few assemblers that can be effectively applied to eukaryotic assembly projects. Moreover, we highlight how best to use limited genomic resources for effectively evaluating the genome assemblies of non-model organisms. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterizing the major structural variant alleles of the human genome.

In order to provide a comprehensive resource for human structural variants (SVs), we generated long-read sequence data and analyzed SVs for fifteen human genomes. We sequence resolved 99,604 insertions, deletions, and inversions including 2,238 (1.6 Mbp) that are shared among all discovery genomes with an additional 13,053 (6.9 Mbp) present in the majority, indicating minor alleles or errors in the reference. Genotyping in 440 additional genomes confirms the most common SVs in unique euchromatin are now sequence resolved. We report a ninefold SV bias toward the last 5 Mbp of human chromosomes with nearly 55% of all VNTRs (variable number of tandem repeats) mapping to this portion of the genome. We identify SVs affecting coding and noncoding regulatory loci improving annotation and interpretation of functional variation. These data provide the framework to construct a canonical human reference and a resource for developing advanced representations capable of capturing allelic diversity. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic Variation, Comparative Genomics, and the Diagnosis of Disease.

The discovery of mutations associated with human genetic dis- ease is an exercise in comparative genomics (see Glossary). Although there are many different strategies and approaches, the central premise is that affected persons harbor a significant excess of pathogenic DNA variants as com- pared with a group of unaffected persons (controls) that is either clinically defined1 or established by surveying large swaths of the general population.2 The more exclu- sive the variant is to the disease, the greater its penetrance, the larger its effect size, and the more relevant it becomes to both disease diagnosis and future therapeutic investigation. The most popular approach used by researchers in human genetics is the case–control design, but there are others that can be used to track variants and disease in a family context or that consider the probability of different classes of mutations based on evolutionary patterns of divergence or de novo mutational change.3,4 Although the approaches may be straightforward, the discovery of patho- genic variation and its mechanism of action often is less trivial, and decades of research can be required in order to identify the variants underlying both mendelian and complex genetic traits.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic map-guided genome assembly reveals a virulence-governing minichromosome in the lentil anthracnose pathogen Colletotrichum lentis.

Colletotrichum lentis causes anthracnose, which is a serious disease on lentil and can account for up to 70% crop loss. Two pathogenic races, 0 and 1, have been described in the C. lentis population from lentil. To unravel the genetic control of virulence, an isolate of the virulent race 0 was sequenced at 1481-fold genomic coverage. The 56.10-Mb genome assembly consists of 50 scaffolds with N50 scaffold length of 4.89 Mb. A total of 11 436 protein-coding gene models was predicted in the genome with 237 coding candidate effectors, 43 secondary metabolite biosynthetic enzymes and 229 carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), suggesting a contraction of the virulence gene repertoire in C. lentis. Scaffolds were assigned to 10 core and two minichromosomes using a population (race 0 × race 1, n = 94 progeny isolates) sequencing-based, high-density (14 312 single nucleotide polymorphisms) genetic map. Composite interval mapping revealed a single quantitative trait locus (QTL), qClVIR-11, located on minichromosome 11, explaining 85% of the variability in virulence of the C. lentis population. The QTL covers a physical distance of 0.84 Mb with 98 genes, including seven candidate effector and two secondary metabolite genes. Taken together, the study provides genetic and physical evidence for the existence of a minichromosome controlling the C. lentis virulence on lentil. © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-Scale Sequence Disruption Following Biolistic Transformation in Rice and Maize.

Biolistic transformation delivers nucleic acids into plant cells by bombarding the cells with microprojectiles, which are micron-scale, typically gold particles. Despite the wide use of this technique, little is known about its effect on the cell’s genome. We biolistically transformed linear 48-kb phage lambda and two different circular plasmids into rice (Oryza sativa) and maize (Zea mays) and analyzed the results by whole genome sequencing and optical mapping. Although some transgenic events showed simple insertions, others showed extreme genome damage in the form of chromosome truncations, large deletions, partial trisomy, and evidence of chromothripsis and breakage-fusion bridge cycling. Several transgenic events contained megabase-scale arrays of introduced DNA mixed with genomic fragments assembled by nonhomologous or microhomology-mediated joining. Damaged regions of the genome, assayed by the presence of small fragments displaced elsewhere, were often repaired without a trace, presumably by homology-dependent repair (HDR). The results suggest a model whereby successful biolistic transformation relies on a combination of end joining to insert foreign DNA and HDR to repair collateral damage caused by the microprojectiles. The differing levels of genome damage observed among transgenic events may reflect the stage of the cell cycle and the availability of templates for HDR. © 2019 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

NOVA1 directs PTBP1 to hTERT pre-mRNA and promotes telomerase activity in cancer cells.

Alternative splicing is dysregulated in cancer cells, driving the production of isoforms that allow tumor cells to survive and continuously proliferate. Part of the reactivation of telomerase involves the splicing of hTERT transcripts to produce full-length (FL) TERT. Very few splicing factors to date have been described to interact with hTERT and promote the production of FL TERT. We recently described one such splicing factor, NOVA1, that acts as an enhancer of FL hTERT splicing, increases telomerase activity, and promotes telomere maintenance in cancer cells. NOVA1 is expressed primarily in neurons and is involved in neurogenesis. In the present studies, we describe that polypyrimidine-tract binding proteins (PTBPs), which are also typically involved in neurogenesis, are also participating in the splicing of hTERT to FL in cancer. Knockdown experiments of PTBP1 in cancer cells indicate that PTBP1 reduces hTERT FL splicing and telomerase activity. Stable knockdown of PTBP1 results in progressively shortened telomere length in H1299 and H920 lung cancer cells. RNA pulldown experiments reveal that PTBP1 interacts with hTERT pre-mRNA in a NOVA1 dependent fashion. Knockdown of PTBP1 increases the expression of PTBP2 which also interacts with NOVA1, potentially preventing the association of NOVA1 with hTERT pre-mRNA. These new data highlight that splicing in cancer cells is regulated by competition for splice sites and that combinations of splicing factors interact at cis regulatory sites on pre-mRNA transcripts. By employing hTERT as a model gene, we show the coordination of the splicing factors NOVA1 and PTBP1 in cancer by regulating telomerase that is expressed in the vast majority of cancer cell types.


April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative polyadenylation coordinates embryonic development, sexual dimorphism and longitudinal growth in Xenopus tropicalis.

RNA alternative polyadenylation contributes to the complexity of information transfer from genome to phenome, thus amplifying gene function. Here, we report the first X. tropicalis resource with 127,914 alternative polyadenylation (APA) sites derived from embryos and adults. Overall, APA networks play central roles in coordinating the maternal-zygotic transition (MZT) in embryos, sexual dimorphism in adults and longitudinal growth from embryos to adults. APA sites coordinate reprogramming in embryos before the MZT, but developmental events after the MZT due to zygotic genome activation. The APA transcriptomes of young adults are more variable than growing adults and male frog APA transcriptomes are more divergent than females. The APA profiles of young females were similar to embryos before the MZT. Enriched pathways in developing embryos were distinct across the MZT and noticeably segregated from adults. Briefly, our results suggest that the minimal functional units in genomes are alternative transcripts as opposed to genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Recompleting the Caenorhabditis elegans genome.

Caenorhabditis elegans was the first multicellular eukaryotic genome sequenced to apparent completion. Although this assembly employed a standard C. elegans strain (N2), it used sequence data from several laboratories, with DNA propagated in bacteria and yeast. Thus, the N2 assembly has many differences from any C. elegans available today. To provide a more accurate C. elegans genome, we performed long-read assembly of VC2010, a modern strain derived from N2. Our VC2010 assembly has 99.98% identity to N2 but with an additional 1.8 Mb including tandem repeat expansions and genome duplications. For 116 structural discrepancies between N2 and VC2010, 97 structures matching VC2010 (84%) were also found in two outgroup strains, implying deficiencies in N2. Over 98% of N2 genes encoded unchanged products in VC2010; moreover, we predicted =53 new genes in VC2010. The recompleted genome of C. elegans should be a valuable resource for genetics, genomics, and systems biology. © 2019 Yoshimura et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


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