September 22, 2019  |  

Sixteen diverse laboratory mouse reference genomes define strain-specific haplotypes and novel functional loci.

We report full-length draft de novo genome assemblies for 16 widely used inbred mouse strains and find extensive strain-specific haplotype variation. We identify and characterize 2,567 regions on the current mouse reference genome exhibiting the greatest sequence diversity. These regions are enriched for genes involved in pathogen defence and immunity and exhibit enrichment of transposable elements and signatures of recent retrotransposition events. Combinations of alleles and genes unique to an individual strain are commonly observed at these loci, reflecting distinct strain phenotypes. We used these genomes to improve the mouse reference genome, resulting in the completion of 10 new gene structures. Also, 62 new coding loci were added to the reference genome annotation. These genomes identified a large, previously unannotated, gene (Efcab3-like) encoding 5,874 amino acids. Mutant Efcab3-like mice display anomalies in multiple brain regions, suggesting a possible role for this gene in the regulation of brain development.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterizing the DNA methyltransferases of Haloferax volcanii via bioinformatics, gene deletion, and SMRT Sequencing.

DNA methyltransferases (MTases), which catalyze the methylation of adenine and cytosine bases in DNA, can occur in bacteria and archaea alongside cognate restriction endonucleases (REases) in restriction-modification (RM) systems or independently as orphan MTases. Although DNA methylation and MTases have been well-characterized in bacteria, research into archaeal MTases has been limited. A previous study examined the genomic DNA methylation patterns (methylome) of the halophilic archaeonHaloferax volcanii, a model archaeal system which can be easily manipulated in laboratory settings, via single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and deletion of a putative MTase gene (HVO_A0006). In this follow-up study, we deleted other putative MTase genes inH. volcaniiand sequenced the methylomes of the resulting deletion mutants via SMRT sequencing to characterize the genes responsible for DNA methylation. The results indicate that deletion of putative RM genesHVO_0794,HVO_A0006, andHVO_A0237in a single strain abolished methylation of the sole cytosine motif in the genome (Cm4TAG). Amino acid alignments demonstrated thatHVO_0794shares homology with characterized cytosine CTAG MTases in other organisms, indicating that this MTase is responsible for Cm4TAG methylation inH. volcanii. The CTAG motif has high density at only one of the origins of replication, and there is no relative increase in CTAG motif frequency in the genome ofH. volcanii, indicating that CTAG methylation might not have effectively taken over the role of regulating DNA replication and mismatch repair in the organism as previously predicted. Deletion of the putative Type I RM operonrmeRMS(HVO_2269-2271) resulted in abolished methylation of the adenine motif in the genome (GCAm6BN6VTGC). Alignments of the MTase (HVO_2270) and site specificity subunit (HVO_2271) demonstrate homology with other characterized Type I MTases and site specificity subunits, indicating that thermeRMSoperon is responsible for adenine methylation inH. volcanii. Together with HVO_0794, these genes appear to be responsible for all detected methylation inH. volcanii, even though other putative MTases (HVO_C0040,HVO_A0079) share homology with characterized MTases in other organisms. We also report the construction of a multi-RM deletion mutant (?RM), with multiple RM genes deleted and with no methylation detected via SMRT sequencing, which we anticipate will be useful for future studies on DNA methylation inH. volcanii.


September 22, 2019  |  

The structure of a conserved telomeric region associated with variant antigen loci in the blood parasite Trypanosoma congolense

African trypanosomiasis is a vector-borne disease of humans and livestock caused by African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma spp.). Survival in the vertebrate bloodstream depends on antigenic variation of Variant Surface Glycoproteins (VSGs) coating the parasite surface. In T. brucei, a model for antigenic variation, monoallelic VSG expression originates from dedicated VSG expression sites (VES). Trypanosoma brucei VES have a conserved structure consisting of a telomeric VSG locus downstream of unique, repeat sequences, and an independent promoter. Additional protein-coding sequences, known as “Expression Site Associated Genes (ESAGs)”, are also often present and are implicated in diverse, bloodstream-stage functions. Trypanosoma congolense is a related veterinary pathogen, also displaying VSG-mediated antigenic variation. A T. congolense VES has not been described, making it unclear if regulation of VSG expression is conserved between species. Here, we describe a conserved telomeric region associated with VSG loci from long-read DNA sequencing of two T. congolense strains, which consists of a distal repeat, conserved noncoding elements and other genes besides the VSG; although these are not orthologous to T. brucei ESAGs. Most conserved telomeric regions are associated with accessory minichromosomes, but the same structure may also be associated with megabase chromosomes. We propose that this region represents the T. congolense VES, and through comparison with T. brucei, we discuss the parallel evolution of antigenic switching mechanisms, and unique adaptation of the T. brucei VES for developmental regulation of bloodstream-stage genes. Hence, we provide a basis for understanding antigenic switching in T. congolense and the origins of the African trypanosome VES.


September 22, 2019  |  

The Butanol Producing Microbe Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 14988 Manipulated Using Forward and Reverse Genetic Tools.

The solventogenic anaerobe Clostridium beijerinckii has potential for use in the sustainable bioconversion of plant-derived carbohydrates into solvents, such as butanol or acetone. However, relatively few strains have been extensively characterised either at the genomic level or through exemplification of a complete genetic toolkit. To remedy this situation, a new strain of C. beijerinckii, NCIMB 14988, is selected from among a total of 55 new clostridial isolates capable of growth on hexose and pentose sugars. Chosen on the basis of its favorable properties, the complete genome sequence of NCIMB 14988 is determined and a high-efficiency plasmid transformation protocol devised. The developed DNA transfer procedure allowed demonstration in NCIMB 14988 of the forward and reverse genetic techniques of transposon mutagenesis and gene knockout, respectively. The latter is accomplished through the successful deployment of both group II intron retargeting (ClosTron) and allelic exchange. In addition to gene inactivation, the developed allelic exchange procedure is used to create point mutations in the chromosome, allowing for the effect of amino acid changes in enzymes involved in primary metabolism to be characterized. ClosTron mediated disruption of the currently unannotated non-coding region between genes LF65_05915 and LF65_05920 is found to result in a non-sporulating phenotype.© 2018 The Authors. Biotechnology Journal Published by Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.


September 22, 2019  |  

Improved nucleic acid extraction protocols for Ganoderma boninense, G. miniatocinctum and G. tornatum.

The first and most crucial step of all molecular techniques is to isolate high quality and intact nucleic acids. However, DNA and RNA isolation from fungal samples are usually difficult due to the cell walls that are relatively unsusceptible to lysis and often resistant to traditional extraction procedures. Although there are many extraction protocols for Ganoderma species, different extraction protocols have been applied to different species to obtain high yields of good quality nucleic acids, especially for genome and transcriptome sequencing. Ganoderma species, mainly G. boninense causes the basal stem rot disease, a devastating disease that plagues the oil palm industry. Here, we describe modified DNA extraction protocols for G. boninense, G. miniatocinctum and G. tornatum, and an RNA extraction protocol for G. boninense. The modified salting out DNA extraction protocol is suitable for G. boninense and G. miniatocinctum while the modified high salt and low pH protocol is suitable for G. tornatum. The modified DNA and RNA extraction protocols were able to produce high quality genomic DNA and total RNA of?~?140 to 160 µg/g and?~?80 µg/g of mycelia respectively, for Single Molecule Real Time (PacBio Sequel® System) and Illumina sequencing. These protocols will benefit those studying the oil palm pathogens at nucleotide level.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of Haloferax volcanii H26 and identification of DNA methyltransferase related PD-(D/E)XK nuclease family protein HVO_A0006.

Restriction-modification (RM) systems have evolved to protect the cell from invading DNAs and are composed of two enzymes: a DNA methyltransferase and a restriction endonuclease. Although RM systems are present in both archaeal and bacterial genomes, DNA methylation in archaea has not been well defined. In order to characterize the function of RM systems in archaeal species, we have made use of the model haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii. A genomic DNA methylation analysis of H. volcanii strain H26 was performed using PacBio single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. This analysis was also performed on a strain of H. volcanii in which an annotated DNA methyltransferase gene HVO_A0006 was deleted from the genome. Sequence analysis of H26 revealed two motifs which are modified in the genome: C(m4)TAG and GCA(m6)BN6VTGC. Analysis of the ?HVO_A0006 strain indicated that it exhibited reduced adenine methylation compared to the parental strain and altered the detected adenine motif. However, protein domain architecture analysis and amino acid alignments revealed that HVO_A0006 is homologous only to the N-terminal endonuclease region of Type IIG RM proteins and contains a PD-(D/E)XK nuclease motif, suggesting that HVO_A0006 is a PD-(D/E)XK nuclease family protein. Further bioinformatic analysis of the HVO_A0006 gene demonstrated that the gene is rare among the Halobacteria. It is surrounded by two transposition genes suggesting that HVO_A0006 is a fragment of a Type IIG RM gene, which has likely been acquired through gene transfer, and affects restriction-modification activity by interacting with another RM system component(s). Here, we present the first genome-wide characterization of DNA methylation in an archaeal species and examine the function of a DNA methyltransferase related gene HVO_A0006.


July 19, 2019  |  

Phase variation of a Type IIG restriction-modification enzyme alters site-specific methylation patterns and gene expression in Campylobacter jejuni strain NCTC11168.

Phase-variable restriction-modification systems are a feature of a diverse range of bacterial species. Stochastic, reversible switches in expression of the methyltransferase produces variation in methylation of specific sequences. Phase-variable methylation by both Type I and Type III methyltransferases is associated with altered gene expression and phenotypic variation. One phase-variable gene of Campylobacter jejuni encodes a homologue of an unusual Type IIG restriction-modification system in which the endonuclease and methyltransferase are encoded by a single gene. Using both inhibition of restriction and PacBio-derived methylome analyses of mutants and phase-variants, the cj0031c allele in C. jejuni strain NCTC11168 was demonstrated to specifically methylate adenine in 5’CCCGA and 5’CCTGA sequences. Alterations in the levels of specific transcripts were detected using RNA-Seq in phase-variants and mutants of cj0031c but these changes did not correlate with observed differences in phenotypic behaviour. Alterations in restriction of phage growth were also associated with phase variation (PV) of cj0031c and correlated with presence of sites in the genomes of these phages. We conclude that PV of a Type IIG restriction-modification system causes changes in site-specific methylation patterns and gene expression patterns that may indirectly change adaptive traits.© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of the Clostridium difficile laboratory strain 630¿ erm reveals differences from strain 630, including translocation of the mobile element CTn 5.

Background Clostridium difficile strain 630¿erm is a spontaneous erythromycin sensitive derivative of the reference strain 630 obtained by serial passaging in antibiotic-free media. It is widely used as a defined and tractable C. difficile strain. Though largely similar to the ancestral strain, it demonstrates phenotypic differences that might be the result of underlying genetic changes. Here, we performed a de novo assembly based on single-molecule real-time sequencing and an analysis of major methylation patterns.ResultsIn addition to single nucleotide polymorphisms and various indels, we found that the mobile element CTn5 is present in the gene encoding the methyltransferase rumA rather than adhesin CD1844 where it is located in the reference strain.ConclusionsTogether, the genetic features identified in this study may help to explain at least part of the phenotypic differences. The annotated genome sequence of this lab strain, including the first analysis of major methylation patterns, will be a valuable resource for genetic research on C. difficile.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequencing of Pandoraea pnomenusa RB38 and molecular characterization of its N-acyl homoserine lactone synthase gene ppnI.

In this study, we sequenced the genome of Pandoraea pnomenusa RB38 using Pacific Biosciences RSII (PacBio) Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing technology. A pair of cognate luxI/R homologs was identified where the luxI homolog, ppnI, was found adjacent to a luxR homolog, ppnR1. An additional orphan luxR homolog, ppnR2, was also discovered. Multiple sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis revealed that ppnI is an N-acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) synthase gene that is distinct from those of the nearest phylogenetic neighbor viz. Burkholderia spp. High resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis showed that Escherichia coli BL21 harboring ppnI produced a similar AHL profile (N-octanoylhomoserine lactone, C8-HSL) as P. pnomenusa RB38, the wild-type donor strain, confirming that PpnI directed the synthesis of AHL in P. pnomenusa RB38. To our knowledge, this is the first documentation of the luxI/R homologs of the genus Pandoraea.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome sequencing of two Neorhizobium galegae strains reveals a noeT gene responsible for the unusual acetylation of the nodulation factors.

The species Neorhizobium galegae comprises two symbiovars that induce nodules on Galega plants. Strains of both symbiovars, orientalis and officinalis, induce nodules on the same plant species, but fix nitrogen only in their own host species. The mechanism behind this strict host specificity is not yet known. In this study, genome sequences of representatives of the two symbiovars were produced, providing new material for studying properties of N. galegae, with a special interest in genomic differences that may play a role in host specificity.The genome sequences confirmed that the two representative strains are much alike at a whole-genome level. Analysis of orthologous genes showed that N. galegae has a higher number of orthologs shared with Rhizobium than with Agrobacterium. The symbiosis plasmid of strain HAMBI 1141 was shown to transfer by conjugation under optimal conditions. In addition, both sequenced strains have an acetyltransferase gene which was shown to modify the Nod factor on the residue adjacent to the non-reducing-terminal residue. The working hypothesis that this gene is of major importance in directing host specificity of N. galegae could not, however, be confirmed.Strains of N. galegae have many genes differentiating them from strains of Agrobacterium, Rhizobium and Sinorhizobium. However, the mechanism behind their ecological difference is not evident. Although the final determinant for the strict host specificity of N. galegae remains to be identified, the gene responsible for the species-specific acetylation of the Nod factors was identified in this study. We propose the name noeT for this gene to reflect its role in symbiosis.


July 7, 2019  |  

Expansion of the genetic toolkit for metabolic engineering of Clostridium pasteurianum: chromosomal gene disruption of the endogenous CpaAI restriction enzyme.

Clostridium pasteurianum is one of the most promising biofuel producers within the genus Clostridium owing to its unique metabolic ability to ferment glycerol into butanol. Although an efficient means is available for introducing foreign DNA to C. pasteurianum, major genetic tools, such as gene knockout, knockdown, or genome editing, are lacking, preventing metabolic engineering of C. pasteurianum.Here we present a methodology for performing chromosomal gene disruption in C. pasteurianum using the programmable lactococcus Ll.ltrB group II intron. Gene disruption was initially found to be impeded by inefficient electrotransformation of Escherichia coli-C. pasteurianum shuttle vectors, presumably due to host restriction. By assessing the ability of various vector deletion derivatives to electrotransform C. pasteurianum and probing the microorganism’s methylome using next-generation sequence data, we identified a new C. pasteurianum Type I restriction-methylation system, CpaAII, with a predicted recognition sequence of 5′-AAGNNNNNCTCC-3′ (N?=?A, C, G, or T). Following rescue of high-level electrotransformation via mutation of the sole CpaAII site within the shuttle vectors, we retargeted the intron to the cpaAIR gene encoding the CpaAI Type II restriction endonuclease (recognition site of 5′-CGCG-3′). Intron insertion was potentially hindered by low retrohoming efficiency, yet this limitation could be overcome by a procedure for enrichment of the intron insertion. The resulting ?cpaAIR mutant strain was efficiently electrotransformed with M.FnuDII-unmethylated plasmid DNA.The markerless and plasmidless ?cpaAIR mutant strain of C. pasteurianum developed in this study can serve as a general host strain for future genetic and metabolic manipulation. Further, the associated gene disruption protocol should not only serve as a guide for chromosomal gene inactivation studies involving mobile group II introns, but also prove invaluable for applying metabolic engineering strategies to C. pasteurianum.


July 7, 2019  |  

Identification of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 DNA methyltransferase, its targets, and physiological roles.

DNA methylation is widespread among prokaryotes, and most DNA methylation reactions are catalyzed by adenine DNA methyltransferases, which are part of restriction-modification (R-M) systems. R-M systems are known for their role in the defense against foreign DNA; however, DNA methyltransferases also play functional roles in gene regulation. In this study, we used single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to uncover the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. We identified a conserved sequence motif targeted by an adenine methyltransferase of a type I R-M system and quantified the presence of N(6)-methyladenine using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Changes in the PAO1 methylation status were dependent on growth conditions and affected P. aeruginosa pathogenicity in a Galleria mellonella infection model. Furthermore, we found that methylated motifs in promoter regions led to shifts in sense and antisense gene expression, emphasizing the role of enzymatic DNA methylation as an epigenetic control of phenotypic traits in P. aeruginosa Since the DNA methylation enzymes are not encoded in the core genome, our findings illustrate how the acquisition of accessory genes can shape the global P. aeruginosa transcriptome and thus may facilitate adaptation to new and challenging habitats.IMPORTANCE With the introduction of advanced technologies, epigenetic regulation by DNA methyltransferases in bacteria has become a subject of intense studies. Here we identified an adenosine DNA methyltransferase in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1, which is responsible for DNA methylation of a conserved sequence motif. The methylation level of all target sequences throughout the PAO1 genome was approximated to be in the range of 65 to 85% and was dependent on growth conditions. Inactivation of the methyltransferase revealed an attenuated-virulence phenotype in the Galleria mellonella infection model. Furthermore, differential expression of more than 90 genes was detected, including the small regulatory RNA prrF1, which contributes to a global iron-sparing response via the repression of a set of gene targets. Our finding of a methylation-dependent repression of the antisense transcript of the prrF1 small regulatory RNA significantly expands our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms underlying active DNA methylation in bacteria. Copyright © 2017 Doberenz et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Dam and Dcm methylations prevent gene transfer into Clostridium pasteurianum NRRL B-598: development of methods for electrotransformation, conjugation, and sonoporation.

Butanol is currently one of the most discussed biofuels. Its use provides many benefits in comparison to bio-ethanol, but the price of its fermentative production is still high. Genetic improvements could help solve many problems associated with butanol production during ABE fermentation, such as its toxicity, low concentration achievable in the cultivation medium, the need for a relatively expensive substrate, and many more. Clostridium pasteurianum NRRL B-598 is non-type strain producing butanol, acetone, and a negligible amount of ethanol. Its main benefits are high oxygen tolerance, utilization of a wide range of carbon and nitrogen sources, and the availability of its whole genome sequence. However, there is no established method for the transfer of foreign DNA into this strain; this is the next step necessary for progress in its use for butanol production.We have described functional protocols for conjugation and transformation of the bio-butanol producer C. pasteurianum NRRL B-598 by foreign plasmid DNA. We show that the use of unmethylated plasmid DNA is necessary for efficient transformation or successful conjugation. Genes encoding DNA methylation and those for restriction-modification systems and antibiotic resistance were searched for in the whole genome sequence and their homologies with other clostridial bacteria were determined. Furthermore, activity of described novel type I restriction system was proved experimentally. The described electrotransformation protocol achieved an efficiency 1.2 × 10(2) cfu/µg DNA after step-by-step optimization and an efficiency of 1.6 × 10(2) cfu/µg DNA was achieved by the sonoporation technique using a standard laboratory ultrasound bath. The highest transformation efficiency was achieved using a combination of these approaches; sono/electroporation led to an increase in transformation efficiency, to 5.3 × 10(2) cfu/µg DNA.Both Dam and Dcm methylations are detrimental for transformation of C. pasteurianum NRRL B-598. Methods for conjugation, electroporation, sonoporation, and a combined method for sono/electroporation were established for this strain. The methods described could be used for genetic improvement of this strain, which is suitable for bio-butanol production.


July 7, 2019  |  

Insight into the evolution of the Solanaceae from the parental genomes of Petunia hybrida.

Petunia hybrida is a popular bedding plant that has a long history as a genetic model system. We report the whole-genome sequencing and assembly of inbred derivatives of its two wild parents, P. axillaris N and P. inflata S6. The assemblies include 91.3% and 90.2% coverage of their diploid genomes (1.4 Gb; 2n?=?14) containing 32,928 and 36,697 protein-coding genes, respectively. The genomes reveal that the Petunia lineage has experienced at least two rounds of hexaploidization: the older gamma event, which is shared with most Eudicots, and a more recent Solanaceae event that is shared with tomato and other solanaceous species. Transcription factors involved in the shift from bee to moth pollination reside in particularly dynamic regions of the genome, which may have been key to the remarkable diversity of floral colour patterns and pollination systems. The high-quality genome sequences will enhance the value of Petunia as a model system for research on unique biological phenomena such as small RNAs, symbiosis, self-incompatibility and circadian rhythms.


July 7, 2019  |  

A roadmap for gene system development in Clostridium.

Clostridium species are both heroes and villains. Some cause serious human and animal diseases, those present in the gut microbiota generally contribute to health and wellbeing, while others represent useful industrial chassis for the production of chemicals and fuels. To understand, counter or exploit, there is a fundamental requirement for effective systems that may be used for directed or random genome modifications. We have formulated a simple roadmap whereby the necessary gene systems maybe developed and deployed. At its heart is the use of ‘pseudo-suicide’ vectors and the creation of a pyrE mutant (a uracil auxotroph), initially aided by ClosTron technology, but ultimately made using a special form of allelic exchange termed ACE (Allele-Coupled Exchange). All mutants, regardless of the mutagen employed, are made in this host. This is because through the use of ACE vectors, mutants can be rapidly complemented concomitant with correction of the pyrE allele and restoration of uracil prototrophy. This avoids the phenotypic effects frequently observed with high copy number plasmids and dispenses with the need to add antibiotic to ensure plasmid retention. Once available, the pyrE host may be used to stably insert all manner of application specific modules. Examples include, a sigma factor to allow deployment of a mariner transposon, hydrolases involved in biomass deconstruction and therapeutic genes in cancer delivery vehicles. To date, provided DNA transfer is obtained, we have not encountered any clostridial species where this technology cannot be applied. These include, Clostridium difficile, Clostridium acetobutylicum, Clostridium beijerinckii, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium sporogenes, Clostridium pasteurianum, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium autoethanogenum and even Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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