April 21, 2020  |  

Lateral transfers of large DNA fragments spread functional genes among grasses.

A fundamental tenet of multicellular eukaryotic evolution is that vertical inheritance is paramount, with natural selection acting on genetic variants transferred from parents to offspring. This lineal process means that an organism’s adaptive potential can be restricted by its evolutionary history, the amount of standing genetic variation, and its mutation rate. Lateral gene transfer (LGT) theoretically provides a mechanism to bypass many of these limitations, but the evolutionary importance and frequency of this process in multicellular eukaryotes, such as plants, remains debated. We address this issue by assembling a chromosome-level genome for the grass Alloteropsis semialata, a species surmised to exhibit two LGTs, and screen it for other grass-to-grass LGTs using genomic data from 146 other grass species. Through stringent phylogenomic analyses, we discovered 57 additional LGTs in the A. semialata nuclear genome, involving at least nine different donor species. The LGTs are clustered in 23 laterally acquired genomic fragments that are up to 170 kb long and have accumulated during the diversification of Alloteropsis. The majority of the 59 LGTs in A. semialata are expressed, and we show that they have added functions to the recipient genome. Functional LGTs were further detected in the genomes of five other grass species, demonstrating that this process is likely widespread in this globally important group of plants. LGT therefore appears to represent a potent evolutionary force capable of spreading functional genes among distantly related grass species. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

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.

April 21, 2020  |  

Multi-platform discovery of haplotype-resolved structural variation in human genomes.

The incomplete identification of structural variants (SVs) from whole-genome sequencing data limits studies of human genetic diversity and disease association. Here, we apply a suite of long-read, short-read, strand-specific sequencing technologies, optical mapping, and variant discovery algorithms to comprehensively analyze three trios to define the full spectrum of human genetic variation in a haplotype-resolved manner. We identify 818,054 indel variants (<50?bp) and 27,622 SVs (=50?bp) per genome. We also discover 156 inversions per genome and 58 of the inversions intersect with the critical regions of recurrent microdeletion and microduplication syndromes. Taken together, our SV callsets represent a three to sevenfold increase in SV detection compared to most standard high-throughput sequencing studies, including those from the 1000 Genomes Project. The methods and the dataset presented serve as a gold standard for the scientific community allowing us to make recommendations for maximizing structural variation sensitivity for future genome sequencing studies.

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