April 21, 2020  |  

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions such as when and where transcription occurs to the folding and intermolecular interactions that govern RNA function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


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  |  

Intercellular communication is required for trap formation in the nematode-trapping fungus Duddingtonia flagrans.

Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a large and diverse group of fungi, which may switch from a saprotrophic to a predatory lifestyle if nematodes are present. Different fungi have developed different trapping devices, ranging from adhesive cells to constricting rings. After trapping, fungal hyphae penetrate the worm, secrete lytic enzymes and form a hyphal network inside the body. We sequenced the genome of Duddingtonia flagrans, a biotechnologically important NTF used to control nematode populations in fields. The 36.64 Mb genome encodes 9,927 putative proteins, among which are more than 638 predicted secreted proteins. Most secreted proteins are lytic enzymes, but more than 200 were classified as small secreted proteins (< 300 amino acids). 117 putative effector proteins were predicted, suggesting interkingdom communication during the colonization. As a first step to analyze the function of such proteins or other phenomena at the molecular level, we developed a transformation system, established the fluorescent proteins GFP and mCherry, adapted an assay to monitor protein secretion, and established gene-deletion protocols using homologous recombination or CRISPR/Cas9. One putative virulence effector protein, PefB, was transcriptionally induced during the interaction. We show that the mature protein is able to be imported into nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans cells. In addition, we studied trap formation and show that cell-to-cell communication is required for ring closure. The availability of the genome sequence and the establishment of many molecular tools will open new avenues to studying this biotechnologically relevant nematode-trapping fungus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Intragenomic heterogeneity of intergenic ribosomal DNA spacers in Cucurbita moschata is determined by DNA minisatellites with variable potential to form non-canonical DNA conformations.

The intergenic spacer (IGS) of rDNA is frequently built of long blocks of tandem repeats. To estimate the intragenomic variability of such knotty regions, we employed PacBio sequencing of the Cucurbita moschata genome, in which thousands of rDNA copies are distributed across a number of loci. The rRNA coding regions are highly conserved, indicating intensive interlocus homogenization and/or high selection pressure. However, the IGS exhibits high intragenomic structural diversity. Two repeated blocks, R1 (300-1250 bp) and R2 (290-643 bp), account for most of the IGS variation. They exhibit minisatellite-like features built of multiple periodically spaced short GC-rich sequence motifs with the potential to adopt non-canonical DNA conformations, G-quadruplex-folded and left-handed Z-DNA. The mutual arrangement of these motifs can be used to classify IGS variants into five structural families. Subtle polymorphisms exist within each family due to a variable number of repeats, suggesting the coexistence of an enormous number of IGS variants. The substantial length and structural heterogeneity of IGS minisatellites suggests that the tempo of their divergence exceeds the tempo of the homogenization of rDNA arrays. As frequently occurring among plants, we hypothesize that their instability may influence transcription regulation and/or destabilize rDNA units, possibly spreading them across the genome. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Impact of cDNA Normalization on Long-Read Sequencing of a Complex Transcriptome

Normalization of cDNA is widely used to improve the coverage of rare transcripts in analysis of transcriptomes employing next-generation sequencing. Recently, long-read technology has been emerging as a powerful tool for sequencing and construction of transcriptomes, especially for complex genomes containing highly similar transcripts and transcript-spliced isoforms. Here, we analyzed the transcriptome of sugarcane, with a highly polyploidy plant genome, by PacBio isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) of two different cDNA library preparations, with and without a normalization step. The results demonstrated that, while the two libraries included many of the same transcripts, many longer transcripts were removed and many new generally shorter transcripts were detected by normalization. For the same input cDNA and the same data yield, the normalized library recovered more total transcript isoforms, number of predicted gene families and orthologous groups, resulting in a higher representation for the sugarcane transcriptome, compared to the non-normalized library. The non-normalized library, on the other hand, included a wider transcript length range with more longer transcripts above ~1.25 kb, more transcript isoforms per gene family and gene ontology terms per transcript. A large proportion of the unique transcripts comprising ~52% of the normalized library were expressed at a lower level than the unique transcripts from the non-normalized library, across three tissue types tested including leaf, stalk and root. About 83% of the total 5,348 predicted long noncoding transcripts was derived from the normalized library, of which ~80% was derived from the lowly expressed fraction. Functional annotation of the unique transcripts suggested that each library enriched different functional transcript fractions. This demonstrated the complementation of the two approaches in obtaining a complete transcriptome of a complex genome at the sequencing depth used in this study.


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