June 1, 2021  |  

High-accuracy, single-base resolution of near-full-length HIV genomes.

Background: The HIV-1 proviral reservoir is incredibly stable, even while undergoing antiretroviral therapy, and is seen as the major barrier to HIV-1 eradication. Identifying and comprehensively characterizing this reservoir will be critical to achieving an HIV cure. Historically, this has been a tedious and labor intensive process, requiring high-replicate single-genome amplification reactions, or overlapping amplicons that are then reconstructed into full-length genomes by algorithmic imputation. Here, we present a deep sequencing and analysis method able to determine the exact identity and relative abundances of near-full-length HIV genomes from samples containing mixtures of genomes without shearing or complex bioinformatic reconstruction. Methods: We generated clonal near-full-length (~9 kb) amplicons derived from single genome amplification (SGA) of primary proviral isolates or PCR of well-documented control strains. These clonal products were mixed at various abundances and sequenced as near-full-length (~9 kb) amplicons without shearing. Each mixture yielded many near-full-length HIV-1 reads. Mathematical analysis techniques resolved the complex mixture of reads into estimates of distinct near-full-length viral genomes with their relative abundances. Results: Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing data contained near-full-length (~9 kb) continuous reads for each sample including some runs with greater than 10,000 near-full-length-genome reads in a three-hour sequencing run. Our methods correctly recapitulated exactly the originating genomes at a single-base resolution and their relative abundances in both mixtures of clonal controls and SGAs, and these results were validated using independent sequencing methods. Correct resolution was achieved even when genomes differed only by a single base. Minor abundances of 5% were reliably detected. Conclusions: SMRT Sequencing yields long-read sequencing results from individual DNA molecules, a rapid time-to-result. The single-molecule, full-length nature of this sequencing method allows us to estimate variant subspecies and relative abundances with single-nucleotide resolution. This method allows for reference-agnostic and cost-effective full-genome sequencing of HIV-1, which could both further our understanding of latent infection and develop novel and improved tools for quantifying HIV provirus, which will be critical to cure HIV.


April 21, 2020  |  

The replication-competent HIV-1 latent reservoir is primarily established near the time of therapy initiation.

Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective at suppressing HIV-1 replication, the virus persists as a latent reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells during therapy. This reservoir forms even when ART is initiated early after infection, but the dynamics of its formation are largely unknown. The viral reservoirs of individuals who initiate ART during chronic infection are generally larger and genetically more diverse than those of individuals who initiate therapy during acute infection, consistent with the hypothesis that the reservoir is formed continuously throughout untreated infection. To determine when viruses enter the latent reservoir, we compared sequences of replication-competent viruses from resting peripheral CD4+ T cells from nine HIV-positive women on therapy to viral sequences circulating in blood collected longitudinally before therapy. We found that, on average, 71% of the unique viruses induced from the post-therapy latent reservoir were most genetically similar to viruses replicating just before ART initiation. This proportion is far greater than would be expected if the reservoir formed continuously and was always long lived. We conclude that ART alters the host environment in a way that allows the formation or stabilization of most of the long-lived latent HIV-1 reservoir, which points to new strategies targeted at limiting the formation of the reservoir around the time of therapy initiation.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Highly Unusual V1 Region of Env in an Elite Controller of HIV Infection.

HIV elite controllers represent a remarkable minority of patients who maintain normal CD4+ T-cell counts and low or undetectable viral loads for decades in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. To examine the possible contribution of virus attenuation to elite control, we obtained a primary HIV-1 isolate from an elite controller who had been infected for 19?years, the last 10 of which were in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. Full-length sequencing of this isolate revealed a highly unusual V1 domain in Envelope (Env). The V1 domain in this HIV-1 strain was 49 amino acids, placing it in the top 1% of lengths among the 6,112 Env sequences in the Los Alamos National Laboratory online database. Furthermore, it included two additional N-glycosylation sites and a pair of cysteines suggestive of an extra disulfide loop. Virus with this Env retained good infectivity and replicative capacity; however, analysis of recombinant viruses suggested that other sequences in Env were adapted to accommodate the unusual V1 domain. While the long V1 domain did not confer resistance to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies of the V1/V2-glycan-dependent class, it did confer resistance to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies of the V3-glycan-dependent class. Our findings support results in the literature that suggest a role for long V1 regions in shielding HIV-1 from recognition by V3-directed broadly neutralizing antibodies. In the case of the elite controller described here, it seems likely that selective pressures from the humoral immune system were responsible for driving the highly unusual polymorphisms present in this HIV-1 Envelope.IMPORTANCE Elite controllers have long provided an avenue for researchers to reveal mechanisms underlying control of HIV-1. While the role of host genetic factors in facilitating elite control is well known, the possibility of infection by attenuated strains of HIV-1 has been much less studied. Here we describe an unusual viral feature found in an elite controller of HIV-1 infection and demonstrate its role in conferring escape from monoclonal antibodies of the V3-glycan class. Our results suggest that extreme variation may be needed by HIV-1 to escape neutralization by some antibody specificities. Copyright © 2019 Silver et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Consensus and variations in cell line specificity among human metapneumovirus strains.

Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) has been a notable etiological agent of acute respiratory infection in humans, but it was not discovered until 2001, because HMPV replicates only in a limited number of cell lines and the cytopathic effect (CPE) is often mild. To promote the study of HMPV, several groups have generated green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing recombinant HMPV strains (HMPVGFP). However, the growing evidence has complicated the understanding of cell line specificity of HMPV, because it seems to vary notably among HMPV strains. In addition, unique A2b clade HMPV strains with a 180-nucleotide duplication in the G gene (HMPV A2b180nt-dup strains) have recently been detected. In this study, we re-evaluated and compared the cell line specificity of clinical isolates of HMPV strains, including the novel HMPV A2b180nt-dup strains, and six recombinant HMPVGFP strains, including the newly generated recombinant HMPV A2b180nt-dup strain, MG0256-EGFP. Our data demonstrate that VeroE6 and LLC-MK2 cells generally showed the highest infectivity with any clinical isolates and recombinant HMPVGFP strains. Other human-derived cell lines (BEAS-2B, A549, HEK293, MNT-1, and HeLa cells) showed certain levels of infectivity with HMPV, but these were significantly lower than those of VeroE6 and LLC-MK2 cells. Also, the infectivity in these suboptimal cell lines varied greatly among HMPV strains. The variations were not directly related to HMPV genotypes, cell lines used for isolation and propagation, specific genome mutations, or nucleotide duplications in the G gene. Thus, these variations in suboptimal cell lines are likely intrinsic to particular HMPV strains.


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  |  

Characterization of the genome of a Nocardia strain isolated from soils in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau that specifically degrades crude oil and of this biodegradation.

A strain of Nocardia isolated from crude oil-contaminated soils in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau degrades nearly all components of crude oil. This strain was identified as Nocardia soli Y48, and its growth conditions were determined. Complete genome sequencing showed that N. soli Y48 has a 7.3?Mb genome and many genes responsible for hydrocarbon degradation, biosurfactant synthesis, emulsification and other hydrocarbon degradation-related metabolisms. Analysis of the clusters of orthologous groups (COGs) and genomic islands (GIs) revealed that Y48 has undergone significant gene transfer events to adapt to changing environmental conditions (crude oil contamination). The structural features of the genome might provide a competitive edge for the survival of N. soli Y48 in oil-polluted environments and reflect the adaptation of coexisting bacteria to distinct nutritional niches.Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

Analyses of four new Caulobacter Phicbkviruses indicate independent lineages.

Bacteriophages with genomes larger than 200 kbp are considered giant phages, and the giant Phicbkviruses are the most frequently isolated Caulobacter crescentus phages. In this study, we compare six bacteriophage genomes that differ from the genomes of the majority of Phicbkviruses. Four of these genomes are much larger than those of the rest of the Phicbkviruses, with genome sizes that are more than 250 kbp. A comparison of 16 Phicbkvirus genomes identified a ‘core genome’ of 69 genes that is present in all of these Phicbkvirus genomes, as well as shared accessory genes and genes that are unique for each phage. Most of the core genes are clustered into the regions coding for structural proteins or those involved in DNA replication. A phylogenetic analysis indicated that these 16 CaulobacterPhicbkvirus genomes are related, but they represent four distinct branches of the Phicbkvirus genomic tree with distantly related branches sharing little nucleotide homology. In contrast, pairwise comparisons within each branch of the phylogenetic tree showed that more than 80?% of the entire genome is shared among phages within a group. This conservation of the genomes within each branch indicates that horizontal gene transfer events between the groups are rare. Therefore, the Phicbkvirus genus consists of at least four different phylogenetic branches that are evolving independently from one another. One of these branches contains a 27-gene inversion relative to the other three branches. Also, an analysis of the tRNA genes showed that they are relatively mobile within the Phicbkvirus genus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Analysis of the Complete Genome Sequence of a Novel, Pseudorabies Virus Strain Isolated in Southeast Europe.

Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is the causative agent of Aujeszky’s disease giving rise to significant economic losses worldwide. Many countries have implemented national programs for the eradication of this virus. In this study, long-read sequencing was used to determine the nucleotide sequence of the genome of a novel PRV strain (PRV-MdBio) isolated in Serbia.In this study, a novel PRV strain was isolated and characterized. PRV-MdBio was found to exhibit similar growth properties to those of another wild-type PRV, the strain Kaplan. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing has revealed that the new strain differs significantly in base composition even from strain Kaplan, to which it otherwise exhibits the highest similarity. We compared the genetic composition of PRV-MdBio to strain Kaplan and the China reference strain Ea and obtained that radical base replacements were the most common point mutations preceding conservative and silent mutations. We also found that the adaptation of PRV to cell culture does not lead to any tendentious genetic alteration in the viral genome.PRV-MdBio is a wild-type virus, which differs in base composition from other PRV strains to a relatively large extent.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


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