September 22, 2019  |  

Recurrent structural variation, clustered sites of selection, and disease risk for the complement factor H (CFH) gene family.

Structural variation and single-nucleotide variation of the complement factor H (CFH) gene family underlie several complex genetic diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS). To understand its diversity and evolution, we performed high-quality sequencing of this ~360-kbp locus in six primate lineages, including multiple human haplotypes. Comparative sequence analyses reveal two distinct periods of gene duplication leading to the emergence of four CFH-related (CFHR) gene paralogs (CFHR2 and CFHR4 ~25-35 Mya and CFHR1 and CFHR3 ~7-13 Mya). Remarkably, all evolutionary breakpoints share a common ~4.8-kbp segment corresponding to an ancestral CFHR gene promoter that has expanded independently throughout primate evolution. This segment is recurrently reused and juxtaposed with a donor duplication containing exons 8 and 9 from ancestral CFH, creating four CFHR fusion genes that include lineage-specific members of the gene family. Combined analysis of >5,000 AMD cases and controls identifies a significant burden of a rare missense mutation that clusters at the N terminus of CFH [P = 5.81 × 10-8, odds ratio (OR) = 9.8 (3.67-Infinity)]. A bipolar clustering pattern of rare nonsynonymous mutations in patients with AMD (P < 10-3) and AHUS (P = 0.0079) maps to functional domains that show evidence of positive selection during primate evolution. Our structural variation analysis in >2,400 individuals reveals five recurrent rearrangement breakpoints that show variable frequency among AMD cases and controls. These data suggest a dynamic and recurrent pattern of mutation critical to the emergence of new CFHR genes but also in the predisposition to complex human genetic disease phenotypes.


September 22, 2019  |  

JAFFA: High sensitivity transcriptome-focused fusion gene detection.

Genomic instability is a hallmark of cancer and, as such, structural alterations and fusion genes are common events in the cancer landscape. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) is a powerful method for profiling cancers, but current methods for identifying fusion genes are optimised for short reads. JAFFA (https://github.com/Oshlack/JAFFA/wiki) is a sensitive fusion detection method that outperforms other methods with reads of 100 bp or greater. JAFFA compares a cancer transcriptome to the reference transcriptome, rather than the genome, where the cancer transcriptome is inferred using long reads directly or by de novo assembling short reads.


September 22, 2019  |  

SuperTranscripts: a data driven reference for analysis and visualisation of transcriptomes.

Numerous methods have been developed to analyse RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data, but most rely on the availability of a reference genome, making them unsuitable for non-model organisms. Here we present superTranscripts, a substitute for a reference genome, where each gene with multiple transcripts is represented by a single sequence. The Lace software is provided to construct superTranscripts from any set of transcripts, including de novo assemblies. We demonstrate how superTranscripts enable visualisation, variant detection and differential isoform detection in non-model organisms. We further use Lace to combine reference and assembled transcriptomes for chicken and recover hundreds of gaps in the reference genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Novel full-length major histocompatibility complex class I allele discovery and haplotype definition in pig-tailed macaques.

Pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina, Mane) are important models for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) studies. Their infectability with minimally modified HIV makes them a uniquely valuable animal model to mimic human infection with HIV and progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, variation in the pig-tailed macaque major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and the impact of individual transcripts on the pathogenesis of HIV and other infectious diseases is understudied compared to that of rhesus and cynomolgus macaques. In this study, we used Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time circular consensus sequencing to describe full-length MHC class I (MHC-I) transcripts for 194 pig-tailed macaques from three breeding centers. We then used the full-length sequences to infer Mane-A and Mane-B haplotypes containing groups of MHC-I transcripts that co-segregate due to physical linkage. In total, we characterized full-length open reading frames (ORFs) for 313 Mane-A, Mane-B, and Mane-I sequences that defined 86 Mane-A and 106 Mane-B MHC-I haplotypes. Pacific Biosciences technology allows us to resolve these Mane-A and Mane-B haplotypes to the level of synonymous allelic variants. The newly defined haplotypes and transcript sequences containing full-length ORFs provide an important resource for infectious disease researchers as certain MHC haplotypes have been shown to provide exceptional control of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication and prevention of AIDS-like disease in nonhuman primates. The increased allelic resolution provided by Pacific Biosciences sequencing also benefits transplant research by allowing researchers to more specifically match haplotypes between donors and recipients to the level of nonsynonymous allelic variation, thus reducing the risk of graft-versus-host disease.


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  |  

Convergent evolution driven by rifampin exacerbates the global burden of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Mutations in the beta-subunit of bacterial RNA polymerase (RpoB) cause resistance to rifampin (Rifr), a critical antibiotic for treatment of multidrug-resistantStaphylococcus aureus.In vitrostudies have shown that RpoB mutations confer decreased susceptibility to other antibiotics, but the clinical relevance is unknown. Here, by analyzing 7,099S. aureusgenomes, we demonstrate that the most prevalent RpoB mutations promote clinically relevant phenotypic plasticity resulting in the emergence of stableS. aureuslineages, associated with increased risk of therapeutic failure through generation of small-colony variants (SCVs) and coresistance to last-line antimicrobial agents. We found eight RpoB mutations that accounted for 93% (469/505) of the total number of Rifrmutations. The most frequently selected amino acid substitutions affecting residue 481 (H481N/Y) were associated with worldwide expansions of Rifrclones spanning decades. Recreating the H481N/Y mutations confirmed no impact onS. aureusgrowth, but the H481N mutation promoted the emergence of a subpopulation of stable RifrSCVs with reduced susceptibility to vancomycin and daptomycin. Recreating the other frequent RpoB mutations showed similar impacts on resistance to these last-line agents. We found that 86% of all Rifrisolates in our global sample carried the mutations promoting cross-resistance to vancomycin and 52% to both vancomycin and daptomycin. As four of the most frequent RpoB mutations confer only low-level Rifr, equal to or below some international breakpoints, we recommend decreasing these breakpoints and reconsidering the appropriate use of rifampin to reduce the fixation and spread of these clinically deleterious mutations. IMPORTANCE Increasing antibiotic resistance in the major human pathogenStaphylococcus aureusis threatening the ability to treat patients with these infections. Recent laboratory studies suggest that mutations in the gene commonly associated with rifampin resistance may also impact susceptibility to other last-line antibiotics inS. aureus; however, the overall frequency and clinical impact of these mutations are unknown. By mining a global collection of clinicalS. aureusgenomes and by mutagenesis experiments, this work reveals that common rifampin-inducedrpoBmutations promote phenotypic plasticity that has led to the global emergence of stable, multidrug-resistantS. aureuslineages that are associated with increased risk of therapeutic failure through coresistance to other last-line antimicrobials. We recommend decreasing susceptibility breakpoints for rifampin to allow phenotypic detection of criticalrpoBmutations conferring low resistance to rifampin and reconsidering the appropriate use of rifampin to reduce the fixation and spread of these deleterious mutations globally.


September 22, 2019  |  

Topical antibiotic use coselects for the carriage of mobile genetic elements conferring resistance to unrelated antimicrobials in Staphylococcus aureus.

Topical antibiotics, such as mupirocin and fusidic acid, are commonly used in the prevention and treatment of skin infections, particularly those caused by staphylococci. However, the widespread use of these agents is associated with increased resistance to these agents, potentially limiting their efficacy. Of particular concern is the observation that resistance to topical antibiotics is often associated with multidrug resistance, suggesting that topical antibiotics may play a role in the emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains. New Zealand (NZ) has some of the highest globally recorded rates of topical antibiotic usage and resistance. Using a combination of Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time (SMRT) whole-genome sequencing, Illumina short-read sequencing, and Bayesian phylogenomic modeling on 118 new multilocus sequence type 1 (ST1) communityStaphylococcus aureusisolates from New Zealand and 61 publically available international ST1 genome sequences, we demonstrate a strong correlation between the clinical introduction of topical antibiotics and the emergence of MDR ST1S. aureusWe also providein vitroexperimental evidence showing that exposure to topical antibiotics can lead to the rapid selection of MDRS. aureusisolates carrying plasmids that confer resistance to multiple unrelated antibiotics, from within a mixed population of competitor strains. These findings have important implications regarding the impact of the indiscriminate use of topical antibiotics. Copyright © 2018 Carter et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Blood CXCR3+CD4 T cells are enriched in inducible replication competent HIV in aviremic antiretroviral therapy-treated individuals.

We recently demonstrated that lymph nodes (LNs) PD-1+/T follicular helper (Tfh) cells from antiretroviral therapy (ART)-treated HIV-infected individuals were enriched in cells containing replication competent virus. However, the distribution of cells containing inducible replication competent virus has been only partially elucidated in blood memory CD4 T-cell populations including the Tfh cell counterpart circulating in blood (cTfh). In this context, we have investigated the distribution of (1) total HIV-infected cells and (2) cells containing replication competent and infectious virus within various blood and LN memory CD4 T-cell populations of conventional antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated HIV-infected individuals. In the present study, we show that blood CXCR3-expressing memory CD4 T cells are enriched in cells containing inducible replication competent virus and contributed the most to the total pool of cells containing replication competent and infectious virus in blood. Interestingly, subsequent proviral sequence analysis did not indicate virus compartmentalization between blood and LN CD4 T-cell populations, suggesting dynamic interchanges between the two compartments. We then investigated whether the composition of blood HIV reservoir may reflect the polarization of LN CD4 T cells at the time of reservoir seeding and showed that LN PD-1+CD4 T cells of viremic untreated HIV-infected individuals expressed significantly higher levels of CXCR3 as compared to CCR4 and/or CCR6, suggesting that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells may originate from LN PD-1+CD4 T cells. Taken together, these results indicate that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells represent the major blood compartment containing inducible replication competent virus in treated aviremic HIV-infected individuals.


September 22, 2019  |  

The FBT1 large serine recombinase catalyzes DNA integration at pseudo-attB sites in the genus Nocardia.

Plasmid vectors based on bacteriophage integrases are important tools in molecular microbiology for the introduction of foreign DNA, especially into bacterial species where other systems for genetic manipulation are limited. Site specific integrases catalyze recombination between phage and bacterial attachment sites (attP and attB, respectively) and the best studied integrases in the actinomycetes are the serine integrases from the Streptomyces bacteriophages FC31 and FBT1. As this reaction is unidirectional and highly stable, vectors containing phage integrase systems have been used in a number of genetic engineering applications. Plasmids bearing the FBT1 integrase have been used to introduce DNA into Streptomyces and Amycolatopsis strains; however, they have not been widely studied in other actinobacterial genera. Here, we show that vectors based on FBT1 integrase can stably integrate into the chromosomes of a range of Nocardia species, and that this integration occurs despite the absence of canonical attB sites in these genomes. Furthermore, we show that a FBT1 integrase-based vector can insert at multiple pseudo-attB sites within a single strain and we determine the sequence of a pseudo-attB motif. These data suggest that FBT1 integrase-based vectors can be used to readily and semi-randomly introduce foreign DNA into the genomes of a range of Nocardia species. However, the precise site of insertion will likely require empirical determination in each species to avoid unexpected off-target effects.


September 22, 2019  |  

Whole genome analysis reveals the diversity and evolutionary relationships between necrotic enteritis-causing strains of Clostridium perfringens.

Clostridium perfringens causes a range of diseases in animals and humans including necrotic enteritis in chickens and food poisoning and gas gangrene in humans. Necrotic enteritis is of concern in commercial chicken production due to the cost of the implementation of infection control measures and to productivity losses. This study has focused on the genomic analysis of a range of chicken-derived C. perfringens isolates, from around the world and from different years. The genomes were sequenced and compared with 20 genomes available from public databases, which were from a diverse collection of isolates from chickens, other animals, and humans. We used a distance based phylogeny that was constructed based on gene content rather than sequence identity. Similarity between strains was defined as the number of genes that they have in common divided by their total number of genes. In this type of phylogenetic analysis, evolutionary distance can be interpreted in terms of evolutionary events such as acquisition and loss of genes, whereas the underlying properties (the gene content) can be interpreted in terms of function. We also compared these methods to the sequence-based phylogeny of the core genome.Distinct pathogenic clades of necrotic enteritis-causing C. perfringens were identified. They were characterised by variable regions encoded on the chromosome, with predicted roles in capsule production, adhesion, inhibition of related strains, phage integration, and metabolism. Some strains have almost identical genomes, even though they were isolated from different geographic regions at various times, while other highly distant genomes appear to result in similar outcomes with regard to virulence and pathogenesis.The high level of diversity in chicken isolates suggests there is no reliable factor that defines a chicken strain of C. perfringens, however, disease-causing strains can be defined by the presence of netB-encoding plasmids. This study reveals that horizontal gene transfer appears to play a significant role in genetic variation of the C. perfringens chromosome as well as the plasmid content within strains.


September 22, 2019  |  

Evolutionary history of human Plasmodium vivax revealed by genome-wide analyses of related ape parasites.

Wild-living African apes are endemically infected with parasites that are closely related to human Plasmodium vivax, a leading cause of malaria outside Africa. This finding suggests that the origin of P. vivax was in Africa, even though the parasite is now rare in humans there. To elucidate the emergence of human P. vivax and its relationship to the ape parasites, we analyzed genome sequence data of P. vivax strains infecting six chimpanzees and one gorilla from Cameroon, Gabon, and Côte d’Ivoire. We found that ape and human parasites share nearly identical core genomes, differing by only 2% of coding sequences. However, compared with the ape parasites, human strains of P. vivax exhibit about 10-fold less diversity and have a relative excess of nonsynonymous nucleotide polymorphisms, with site-frequency spectra suggesting they are subject to greatly relaxed purifying selection. These data suggest that human P. vivax has undergone an extreme bottleneck, followed by rapid population expansion. Investigating potential host-specificity determinants, we found that ape P. vivax parasites encode intact orthologs of three reticulocyte-binding protein genes (rbp2d, rbp2e, and rbp3), which are pseudogenes in all human P. vivax strains. However, binding studies of recombinant RBP2e and RBP3 proteins to human, chimpanzee, and gorilla erythrocytes revealed no evidence of host-specific barriers to red blood cell invasion. These data suggest that, from an ancient stock of P. vivax parasites capable of infecting both humans and apes, a severely bottlenecked lineage emerged out of Africa and underwent rapid population growth as it spread globally. Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


September 22, 2019  |  

Dissemination and persistence of extended-spectrum cephalosporin-resistance encoding IncI1-blaCTXM-1 plasmid among Escherichia coli in pigs.

This study investigated the ecology, epidemiology and plasmid characteristics of extended-spectrum cephalosporin (ESC)-resistant E. coli in healthy pigs over a period of 4 years (2013-2016) following the withdrawal of ESCs. High carriage rates of ESC-resistant E. coli were demonstrated in 2013 (86.6%) and 2014 (83.3%), compared to 2015 (22%) and 2016 (8.5%). ESC resistance identified among E. coli isolates was attributed to the carriage of an IncI1 ST-3 plasmid (pCTXM1-MU2) encoding blaCTXM-1. Genomic characterisation of selected E. coli isolates (n?=?61) identified plasmid movement into multiple commensal E. coli (n?=?22 STs). Major STs included ST10, ST5440, ST453, ST2514 and ST23. A subset of the isolates belong to the atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (aEPEC) pathotype that harboured multiple LEE pathogenic islands. pCTXM1-MU2 was similar (99% nt identity) to IncI1-ST3 plasmids reported from Europe, encoded resistance to aminoglycosides, sulphonamides and trimethoprim, and carried colicin Ib. pCTXM1-MU2 appears to be highly stable and readily transferable. This study demonstrates that ESC resistance may persist for a protracted period following removal of direct selection pressure, resulting in the emergence of ESC-resistance in both commensal E. coli and aEPEC isolates of potential significance to human and animal health.


September 22, 2019  |  

Discovery of mcr-1-mediated colistin resistance in a highly virulent Escherichia coli lineage.

Resistance to last-line polymyxins mediated by the plasmid-borne mobile colistin resistance gene (mcr-1) represents a new threat to global human health. Here we present the complete genome sequence of an mcr-1-positive multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli strain (MS8345). We show that MS8345 belongs to serotype O2:K1:H4, has a large 241,164-bp IncHI2 plasmid that carries 15 other antibiotic resistance genes (including the extended-spectrum ß-lactamase blaCTX-M-1) and 3 putative multidrug efflux systems, and contains 14 chromosomally encoded antibiotic resistance genes. MS8345 also carries a large ColV-like virulence plasmid that has been associated with E. coli bacteremia. Whole-genome phylogeny revealed that MS8345 clusters within a discrete clade in the sequence type 95 (ST95) lineage, and MS8345 is very closely related to the highly virulent O45:K1:H4 clone associated with neonatal meningitis. Overall, the acquisition of a plasmid carrying resistance to colistin and multiple other antibiotics in this virulent E. coli lineage is concerning and might herald an era where the empirical treatment of ST95 infections becomes increasingly more difficult.IMPORTANCEEscherichia coli ST95 is a globally disseminated clone frequently associated with bloodstream infections and neonatal meningitis. However, the ST95 lineage is defined by low levels of drug resistance amongst clinical isolates, which normally provides for uncomplicated treatment options. Here, we provide the first detailed genomic analysis of an E. coli ST95 isolate that has both high virulence potential and resistance to multiple antibiotics. Using the genome, we predicted its virulence and antibiotic resistance mechanisms, which include resistance to last-line antibiotics mediated by the plasmid-borne mcr-1 gene. Finding an ST95 isolate resistant to nearly all antibiotics that also has a high virulence potential is of major clinical importance and underscores the need to monitor new and emerging trends in antibiotic resistance development in this important global lineage. Copyright © 2018 Forde et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic analysis of multi-resistant Staphylococcus capitis associated with neonatal sepsis.

Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS), such as Staphylococcus capitis, are major causes of bloodstream infections in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Recently, a distinct clone of S. capitis (designated S. capitis NRCS-A) has emerged as an important pathogen in NICUs internationally. Here, 122 S. capitis isolates from New Zealand (NZ) underwent whole-genome sequencing (WGS), and these data were supplemented with publicly available S. capitis sequence reads. Phylogenetic and comparative genomic analyses were performed, as were phenotypic assessments of antimicrobial resistance, biofilm formation, and plasmid segregational stability on representative isolates. A distinct lineage of S. capitis was identified in NZ associated with neonates and the NICU environment. Isolates from this lineage produced increased levels of biofilm, displayed higher levels of tolerance to chlorhexidine, and were multidrug resistant. Although similar to globally circulating NICU-associated S. capitis strains at a core-genome level, NZ NICU S. capitis isolates carried a novel stably maintained multidrug-resistant plasmid that was not present in non-NICU isolates. Neonatal blood culture isolates were indistinguishable from environmental S. capitis isolates found on fomites, such as stethoscopes and neonatal incubators, but were generally distinct from those isolates carried by NICU staff. This work implicates the NICU environment as a potential reservoir for neonatal sepsis caused by S. capitis and highlights the capacity of genomics-based tracking and surveillance to inform future hospital infection control practices aimed at containing the spread of this important neonatal pathogen. Copyright © 2018 Carter et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Streptococcus suis contains multiple phase-variable methyltransferases that show a discrete lineage distribution.

Streptococcus suis is a major pathogen of swine, responsible for a number of chronic and acute infections, and is also emerging as a major zoonotic pathogen, particularly in South-East Asia. Our study of a diverse population of S. suis shows that this organism contains both Type I and Type III phase-variable methyltransferases. In all previous examples, phase-variation of methyltransferases results in genome wide methylation differences, and results in differential regulation of multiple genes, a system known as the phasevarion (phase-variable regulon). We hypothesized that each variant in the Type I and Type III systems encoded a methyltransferase with a unique specificity, and could therefore control a distinct phasevarion, either by recombination-driven shuffling between different specificities (Type I) or by biphasic on-off switching via simple sequence repeats (Type III). Here, we present the identification of the target specificities for each Type III allelic variant from S. suis using single-molecule, real-time methylome analysis. We demonstrate phase-variation is occurring in both Type I and Type III methyltransferases, and show a distinct association between methyltransferase type and presence, and population clades. In addition, we show that the phase-variable Type I methyltransferase was likely acquired at the origin of a highly virulent zoonotic sub-population.


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