April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-Wide Screening for Enteric Colonization Factors in Carbapenem-Resistant ST258 Klebsiella pneumoniae.

A diverse, antibiotic-naive microbiota prevents highly antibiotic-resistant microbes, including carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CR-Kp), from achieving dense colonization of the intestinal lumen. Antibiotic-mediated destruction of the microbiota leads to expansion of CR-Kp in the gut, markedly increasing the risk of bacteremia in vulnerable patients. While preventing dense colonization represents a rational approach to reduce intra- and interpatient dissemination of CR-Kp, little is known about pathogen-associated factors that enable dense growth and persistence in the intestinal lumen. To identify genetic factors essential for dense colonization of the gut by CR-Kp, we constructed a highly saturated transposon mutant library with >150,000 unique mutations in an ST258 strain of CR-Kp and screened for in vitro growth and in vivo intestinal colonization in antibiotic-treated mice. Stochastic and partially reversible fluctuations in the representation of different mutations during dense colonization revealed the dynamic nature of intestinal microbial populations. We identified genes that are crucial for early and late stages of dense gut colonization and confirmed their role by testing isogenic mutants in in vivo competition assays with wild-type CR-Kp Screening of the transposon library also identified mutations that enhanced in vivo CR-Kp growth. These newly identified colonization factors may provide novel therapeutic opportunities to reduce intestinal colonization by CR-KpIMPORTANCEKlebsiella pneumoniae is a common cause of bloodstream infections in immunocompromised and hospitalized patients, and over the last 2 decades, some strains have acquired resistance to nearly all available antibiotics, including broad-spectrum carbapenems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae (CR-Kp) as an urgent public health threat. Dense colonization of the intestine by CR-Kp and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria is associated with an increased risk of bacteremia. Reducing the density of gut colonization by CR-Kp is likely to reduce their transmission from patient to patient in health care facilities as well as systemic infections. How CR-Kp expands and persists in the gut lumen, however, is poorly understood. Herein, we generated a highly saturated mutant library in a multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae strain and identified genetic factors that are associated with dense gut colonization by K. pneumoniae This study sheds light on host colonization by K. pneumoniae and identifies potential colonization factors that contribute to high-density persistence of K. pneumoniae in the intestine. Copyright © 2019 Jung et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insights into the evolution and drug susceptibility of Babesia duncani from the sequence of its mitochondrial and apicoplast genomes.

Babesia microti and Babesia duncani are the main causative agents of human babesiosis in the United States. While significant knowledge about B. microti has been gained over the past few years, nothing is known about B. duncani biology, pathogenesis, mode of transmission or sensitivity to currently recommended therapies. Studies in immunocompetent wild type mice and hamsters have shown that unlike B. microti, infection with B. duncani results in severe pathology and ultimately death. The parasite factors involved in B. duncani virulence remain unknown. Here we report the first known completed sequence and annotation of the apicoplast and mitochondrial genomes of B. duncani. We found that the apicoplast genome of this parasite consists of a 34?kb monocistronic circular molecule encoding functions that are important for apicoplast gene transcription as well as translation and maturation of the organelle’s proteins. The mitochondrial genome of B. duncani consists of a 5.9?kb monocistronic linear molecule with two inverted repeats of 48?bp at both ends. Using the conserved cytochrome b (Cytb) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (coxI) proteins encoded by the mitochondrial genome, phylogenetic analysis revealed that B. duncani defines a new lineage among apicomplexan parasites distinct from B. microti, Babesia bovis, Theileria spp. and Plasmodium spp. Annotation of the apicoplast and mitochondrial genomes of B. duncani identified targets for development of effective therapies. Our studies set the stage for evaluation of the efficacy of these drugs alone or in combination against B. duncani in culture as well as in animal models.Copyright © 2018 Australian Society for Parasitology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


October 23, 2019  |  

Gene targeting by the TAL effector PthXo2 reveals cryptic resistance gene for bacterial blight of rice.

Bacterial blight of rice is caused by the ?-proteobacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, which utilizes a group of type III TAL (transcription activator-like) effectors to induce host gene expression and condition host susceptibility. Five SWEET genes are functionally redundant to support bacterial disease, but only two were experimentally proven targets of natural TAL effectors. Here, we report the identification of the sucrose transporter gene OsSWEET13 as the disease-susceptibility gene for PthXo2 and the existence of cryptic recessive resistance to PthXo2-dependent X. oryzae pv. oryzae due to promoter variations of OsSWEET13 in japonica rice. PthXo2-containing strains induce OsSWEET13 in indica rice IR24 due to the presence of an unpredicted and undescribed effector binding site not present in the alleles in japonica rice Nipponbare and Kitaake. The specificity of effector-associated gene induction and disease susceptibility is attributable to a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which is also found in a polymorphic allele of OsSWEET13 known as the recessive resistance gene xa25 from the rice cultivar Minghui 63. The mutation of OsSWEET13 with CRISPR/Cas9 technology further corroborates the requirement of OsSWEET13 expression for the state of PthXo2-dependent disease susceptibility to X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Gene profiling of a collection of 104 strains revealed OsSWEET13 induction by 42 isolates of X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Heterologous expression of OsSWEET13 in Nicotiana benthamiana leaf cells elevates sucrose concentrations in the apoplasm. The results corroborate a model whereby X. oryzae pv. oryzae enhances the release of sucrose from host cells in order to exploit the host resources.© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Subaerial biofilms on granitic historic buildings: microbial diversity and development of phototrophic multi-species cultures.

Microbial communities of natural subaerial biofilms developed on granitic historic buildings of a World Heritage Site (Santiago de Compostela, NW Spain) were characterized and cultured in liquid BG11 medium. Environmental barcoding through next-generation sequencing (Pacific Biosciences) revealed that the biofilms were mainly composed of species of Chlorophyta (green algae) and Ascomycota (fungi) commonly associated with rock substrata. Richness and diversity were higher for the fungal than for the algal assemblages and fungi showed higher heterogeneity among samples. Cultures derived from natural biofilms showed the establishment of stable microbial communities mainly composed of Chlorophyta and Cyanobacteria. Although most taxa found in these cultures were not common in the original biofilms, they are likely common pioneer colonizers of building stone surfaces, including granite. Stable phototrophic multi-species cultures of known microbial diversity were thus obtained and their reliability to emulate natural colonization on granite should be confirmed in further experiments.


September 22, 2019  |  

Moving beyond microbiome-wide associations to causal microbe identification.

Microbiome-wide association studies have established that numerous diseases are associated with changes in the microbiota. These studies typically generate a long list of commensals implicated as biomarkers of disease, with no clear relevance to disease pathogenesis. If the field is to move beyond correlations and begin to address causation, an effective system is needed for refining this catalogue of differentially abundant microbes and to allow subsequent mechanistic studies. Here we demonstrate that triangulation of microbe-phenotype relationships is an effective method for reducing the noise inherent in microbiota studies and enabling identification of causal microbes. We found that gnotobiotic mice harbouring different microbial communities exhibited differential survival in a colitis model. Co-housing of these mice generated animals that had hybrid microbiotas and displayed intermediate susceptibility to colitis. Mapping of microbe-phenotype relationships in parental mouse strains and in mice with hybrid microbiotas identified the bacterial family Lachnospiraceae as a correlate for protection from disease. Using directed microbial culture techniques, we discovered Clostridium immunis, a previously unknown bacterial species from this family, that-when administered to colitis-prone mice-protected them against colitis-associated death. To demonstrate the generalizability of our approach, we used it to identify several commensal organisms that induce intestinal expression of an antimicrobial peptide. Thus, we have used microbe-phenotype triangulation to move beyond the standard correlative microbiome study and identify causal microbes for two completely distinct phenotypes. Identification of disease-modulating commensals by microbe-phenotype triangulation may be more broadly applicable to human microbiome studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing of nascent RNA reveals coupling among RNA processing events.

Pre-mRNA splicing is accomplished by the spliceosome, a megadalton complex that assembles de novo on each intron. Because spliceosome assembly and catalysis occur cotranscriptionally, we hypothesized that introns are removed in the order of their transcription in genomes dominated by constitutive splicing. Remarkably little is known about splicing order and the regulatory potential of nascent transcript remodeling by splicing, due to the limitations of existing methods that focus on analysis of mature splicing products (mRNAs) rather than substrates and intermediates. Here, we overcome this obstacle through long-read RNA sequencing of nascent, multi-intron transcripts in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe Most multi-intron transcripts were fully spliced, consistent with rapid cotranscriptional splicing. However, an unexpectedly high proportion of transcripts were either fully spliced or fully unspliced, suggesting that splicing of any given intron is dependent on the splicing status of other introns in the transcript. Supporting this, mild inhibition of splicing by a temperature-sensitive mutation in prp2, the homolog of vertebrate U2AF65, increased the frequency of fully unspliced transcripts. Importantly, fully unspliced transcripts displayed transcriptional read-through at the polyA site and were degraded cotranscriptionally by the nuclear exosome. Finally, we show that cellular mRNA levels were reduced in genes with a high number of unspliced nascent transcripts during caffeine treatment, showing regulatory significance of cotranscriptional splicing. Therefore, overall splicing of individual nascent transcripts, 3′ end formation, and mRNA half-life depend on the splicing status of neighboring introns, suggesting crosstalk among spliceosomes and the polyA cleavage machinery during transcription elongation.© 2018 Herzel et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Deciphering highly similar multigene family transcripts from Iso-Seq data with IsoCon

A significant portion of genes in vertebrate genomes belongs to multigene families, with each family containing several gene copies whose presence/absence, as well as isoform structure, can be highly variable across individuals. Existing de novo techniques for assaying the sequences of such highly-similar gene families fall short of reconstructing end-to-end transcripts with nucleotide-level precision or assigning alternatively spliced transcripts to their respective gene copies. We present IsoCon, a high-precision method using long PacBio Iso-Seq reads to tackle this challenge. We apply IsoCon to nine Y chromosome ampliconic gene families and show that it outperforms existing methods on both experimental and simulated data. IsoCon has allowed us to detect an unprecedented number of novel isoforms and has opened the door for unraveling the structure of many multigene families and gaining a deeper understanding of genome evolution and human diseases.


September 22, 2019  |  

Splicing of nascent RNA coincides with intron exit from RNA Polymerase II.

Protein-coding genes in eukaryotes are transcribed by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and introns are removed from pre-mRNA by the spliceosome. Understanding the time lag between Pol II progression and splicing could provide mechanistic insights into the regulation of gene expression. Here, we present two single-molecule nascent RNA sequencing methods that directly determine the progress of splicing catalysis as a function of Pol II position. Endogenous genes were analyzed on a global scale in budding yeast. We show that splicing is 50% complete when Pol II is only 45 nt downstream of introns, with the first spliced products observed as introns emerge from Pol II. Perturbations that slow the rate of spliceosome assembly or speed up the rate of transcription caused splicing delays, showing that regulation of both processes determines in vivo splicing profiles. We propose that matched rates streamline the gene expression pathway, while allowing regulation through kinetic competition. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Origin of the plasmid-mediated fosfomycin resistance gene fosA3.

fosA3 is the most commonly reported plasmid-mediated fosfomycin resistance gene among Enterobacteriaceae.To identify the origin of fosA3.The chromosome of Kluyvera georgiana clinical strain YDC799 was fully sequenced with single-molecule real-time sequencing. Comparative genetic analysis was performed for K. georgiana YDC799, K. georgiana type strain ATCC 51603 and representative fosA3-carrying plasmids. fosA genes were cloned in Escherichia coli to confirm function.K. georgiana YDC799 harboured fosA (designated fosAKG) and blaCTX-M-8 on the chromosome. The genetic environments surrounding fosA3 and bounded by IS26 were nearly identical with the corresponding regions of K. georgiana YDC799 and ATCC 51603. The amino acid sequence of FosAKG from YDC799 and K. georgiana ATCC 51603 shared 99% and 94% identity with FosA3, respectively. Cloned FosAKG conferred fosfomycin resistance with an MIC of?>1024 mg/L for E. coli.The plasmid-mediated fosA3 gene was likely mobilized from the chromosome of K. georgiana by an IS26-mediated event.© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


September 22, 2019  |  

Haemophilus influenzae genome evolution during persistence in the human airways in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) exclusively colonize and infect humans and are critical to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In vitro and animal models do not accurately capture the complex environments encountered by NTHi during human infection. We conducted whole-genome sequencing of 269 longitudinally collected cleared and persistent NTHi from a 15-y prospective study of adults with COPD. Genome sequences were used to elucidate the phylogeny of NTHi isolates, identify genomic changes that occur with persistence in the human airways, and evaluate the effect of selective pressure on 12 candidate vaccine antigens. Strains persisted in individuals with COPD for as long as 1,422 d. Slipped-strand mispairing, mediated by changes in simple sequence repeats in multiple genes during persistence, regulates expression of critical virulence functions, including adherence, nutrient uptake, and modification of surface molecules, and is a major mechanism for survival in the hostile environment of the human airways. A subset of strains underwent a large 400-kb inversion during persistence. NTHi does not undergo significant gene gain or loss during persistence, in contrast to other persistent respiratory tract pathogens. Amino acid sequence changes occurred in 8 of 12 candidate vaccine antigens during persistence, an observation with important implications for vaccine development. These results indicate that NTHi alters its genome during persistence by regulation of critical virulence functions primarily by slipped-strand mispairing, advancing our understanding of how a bacterial pathogen that plays a critical role in COPD adapts to survival in the human respiratory tract.


September 22, 2019  |  

Inferring the minimal genome of Mesoplasma florum by comparative genomics and transposon mutagenesis.

The creation and comparison of minimal genomes will help better define the most fundamental mechanisms supporting life. Mesoplasma florum is a near-minimal, fast-growing, nonpathogenic bacterium potentially amenable to genome reduction efforts. In a comparative genomic study of 13 M. florum strains, including 11 newly sequenced genomes, we have identified the core genome and open pangenome of this species. Our results show that all of the strains have approximately 80% of their gene content in common. Of the remaining 20%, 17% of the genes were found in multiple strains and 3% were unique to any given strain. On the basis of random transposon mutagenesis, we also estimated that ~290 out of 720 genes are essential for M. florum L1 in rich medium. We next evaluated different genome reduction scenarios for M. florum L1 by using gene conservation and essentiality data, as well as comparisons with the first working approximation of a minimal organism, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn3.0. Our results suggest that 409 of the 473 M. mycoides JCVI-syn3.0 genes have orthologs in M. florum L1. Conversely, 57 putatively essential M. florum L1 genes have no homolog in M. mycoides JCVI-syn3.0. This suggests differences in minimal genome compositions, even for these evolutionarily closely related bacteria. IMPORTANCE The last years have witnessed the development of whole-genome cloning and transplantation methods and the complete synthesis of entire chromosomes. Recently, the first minimal cell, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn3.0, was created. Despite these milestone achievements, several questions remain to be answered. For example, is the composition of minimal genomes virtually identical in phylogenetically related species? On the basis of comparative genomics and transposon mutagenesis, we investigated this question by using an alternative model, Mesoplasma florum, that is also amenable to genome reduction efforts. Our results suggest that the creation of additional minimal genomes could help reveal different gene compositions and strategies that can support life, even within closely related species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of Spiraeoideae-infecting Erwinia amylovora strains provides novel insight to genetic diversity and identifies the genetic basis of a low-virulence strain.

Erwinia amylovora is the causal agent of fire blight, one of the most devastating diseases of apple and pear. Erwinia amylovora is thought to have originated in North America and has now spread to at least 50 countries worldwide. An understanding of the diversity of the pathogen population and the transmission to different geographical regions is important for the future mitigation of this disease. In this research, we performed an expanded comparative genomic study of the Spiraeoideae-infecting (SI) E. amylovora population in North America and Europe. We discovered that, although still highly homogeneous, the genetic diversity of 30 E. amylovora genomes examined was about 30 times higher than previously determined. These isolates belong to four distinct clades, three of which display geographical clustering and one of which contains strains from various geographical locations (‘Widely Prevalent’ clade). Furthermore, we revealed that strains from the Widely Prevalent clade displayed a higher level of recombination with strains from a clade strictly from the eastern USA, which suggests that the Widely Prevalent clade probably originated from the eastern USA before it spread to other locations. Finally, we detected variations in virulence in the SI E. amylovora strains on immature pear, and identified the genetic basis of one of the low-virulence strains as being caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism in hfq, a gene encoding an important virulence regulator. Our results provide insights into the population structure, distribution and evolution of SI E. amylovora in North America and Europe.© 2017 BSPP AND JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD.


September 22, 2019  |  

Two ancestral genes shaped the Xanthomonas campestris TAL effector gene repertoire.

Xanthomonas transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are injected inside plant cells to promote host susceptibility by enhancing transcription of host susceptibility genes. TALE-encoding (tal) genes were thought to be absent from Brassicaceae-infecting Xanthomonas campestris (Xc) genomes based on four reference genomic sequences. We discovered tal genes in 26 of 49 Xc strains isolated worldwide and used a combination of single molecule real time (SMRT) and tal amplicon sequencing to yield a near-complete description of the TALEs found in Xc (Xc TALome). The 53 sequenced tal genes encode 21 distinct DNA binding domains that sort into seven major DNA binding specificities. In silico analysis of the Brassica rapa promoterome identified a repertoire of predicted TALE targets, five of which were experimentally validated using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. The Xc TALome shows multiple signs of DNA rearrangements that probably drove its evolution from two ancestral tal genes. We discovered that Tal12a and Tal15a of Xcc strain Xca5 contribute together in the development of disease symptoms on susceptible B. oleracea var. botrytis cv Clovis. This large and polymorphic repertoire of TALEs opens novel perspectives for elucidating TALE-mediated susceptibility of Brassicaceae to black rot disease and for understanding the molecular processes underlying TALE evolution.© 2018 The Authors New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Population genomics of Culiseta melanura, the principal vector of Eastern equine encephalitis virus in the United States.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) (Togaviridae, Alphavirus) is a highly pathogenic mosquito-borne arbovirus that circulates in an enzootic cycle involving Culiseta melanura mosquitoes and wild Passeriformes birds in freshwater swamp habitats. Recently, the northeastern United States has experienced an intensification of virus activity with increased human involvement and northward expansion into new regions. In addition to its principal role in enzootic transmission of EEE virus among avian hosts, recent studies on the blood-feeding behavior of Cs. melanura throughout its geographic range suggest that this mosquito may also be involved in epizootic / epidemic transmission to equines and humans in certain locales. Variations in blood feeding behavior may be a function of host availability, environmental factors, and/or underlying genetic differences among regional populations. Despite the importance of Cs. melanura in transmission and maintenance of EEE virus, the genetics of this species remains largely unexplored.To investigate the occurrence of genetic variation in Cs. melanura, the genome of this mosquito vector was sequenced resulting in a draft genome assembly of 1.28 gigabases with a contig N50 of 93.36 kilobases. Populations of Cs. melanura from 10 EEE virus foci in the eastern North America were genotyped with double-digest RAD-seq. Following alignment of reads to the reference genome, variant calling, and filtering, 40,384 SNPs were retained for downstream analyses. Subsequent analyses revealed genetic differentiation between northern and southern populations of this mosquito species. Moreover, limited fine-scale population structure was detected throughout northeastern North America, suggesting local differentiation of populations but also a history of ancestral polymorphism or contemporary gene flow. Additionally, a genetically distinct cluster was identified predominantly at two northern sites.This study elucidates the first evidence of fine-scale population structure in Cs. melanura throughout its eastern range and detects evidence of gene flow between populations in northeastern North America. This investigation provides the groundwork for examining the consequences of genetic variations in the populations of this mosquito species that could influence vector-host interactions and the risk of human and equine infection with EEE virus.


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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