ResearchPad - mobile-genetic-elements Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[ArdC, a ssDNA-binding protein with a metalloprotease domain, overpasses the recipient <i>hsdRMS</i> restriction system broadening conjugation host range]]> Horizontal gene transfer is the main mechanism by which bacteria acquire and disseminate new traits, such as antibiotic resistance genes, that allow adaptation and evolution. Here we identified a gene, ardC, that enables a plasmid to increase its conjugative host range, and thus positively contributes to plasmid fitness. The crystal structure of the antirestriction protein ArdC revealed a fold different from other antirestriction proteins. Our results have wide implications for understanding how a gene enlarges the environments a plasmid can colonize and point to new targets to harness the bacterial DNA uptake control.

<![CDATA[Unusual genome expansion and transcription suppression in ectomycorrhizal Tricholoma matsutake by insertions of transposable elements]]>

Genome sequencing of Tricholoma matsutake revealed its unusually large size as 189.0 Mbp, which is a consequence of extraordinarily high transposable element (TE) content. We identified that 702 genes were surrounded by TEs, and 83.2% of these genes were not transcribed at any developmental stage. This observation indicated that the insertion of TEs alters the transcription of the genes neighboring these TEs. Repeat-induced point mutation, such as C to T hypermutation with a bias over “CpG” dinucleotides, was also recognized in this genome, representing a typical defense mechanism against TEs during evolution. Many transcription factor genes were activated in both the primordia and fruiting body stages, which indicates that many regulatory processes are shared during the developmental stages. Small secreted protein genes (<300 aa) were dominantly transcribed in the hyphae, where symbiotic interactions occur with the hosts. Comparative analysis with 37 Agaricomycetes genomes revealed that IstB-like domains (PF01695) were conserved across taxonomically diverse mycorrhizal genomes, where the T. matsutake genome contained four copies of this domain. Three of the IstB-like genes were overexpressed in the hyphae. Similar to other ectomycorrhizal genomes, the CAZyme gene set was reduced in T. matsutake, including losses in the glycoside hydrolase genes. The T. matsutake genome sequence provides insight into the causes and consequences of genome size inflation.

<![CDATA[Global survey of mobile DNA horizontal transfer in arthropods reveals Lepidoptera as a prime hotspot]]>

More than any other genome components, Transposable Elements (TEs) have the capacity to move across species barriers through Horizontal Transfer (HT), with substantial evolutionary consequences. Previous large-scale surveys, based on full-genomes comparisons, have revealed the transposition mode as an important predictor of HT rates variation across TE superfamilies. However, host biology could represent another major explanatory factor, one that needs to be investigated through extensive taxonomic sampling. Here we test this hypothesis using a field collection of 460 arthropod species from Tahiti and surrounding islands. Through targeted massive parallel sequencing, we uncover patterns of HT in three widely-distributed TE superfamilies with contrasted modes of transposition. In line with earlier findings, the DNA transposons under study (TC1-Mariner) were found to transfer horizontally at the highest frequency, closely followed by the LTR superfamily (Copia), in contrast with the non-LTR superfamily (Jockey), that mostly diversifies through vertical inheritance and persists longer within genomes. Strikingly, across all superfamilies, we observe a marked excess of HTs in Lepidoptera, an insect order that also commonly hosts baculoviruses, known for their ability to transport host TEs. These results turn the spotlight on baculoviruses as major potential vectors of TEs in arthropods, and further emphasize the importance of non-vertical TE inheritance in genome evolution.

<![CDATA[CDI/CDS system-encoding genes of Burkholderia thailandensis are located in a mobile genetic element that defines a new class of transposon]]>

Intercellular communication and self-recognition are critical for coordinating cooperative and competitive behaviors during sociomicrobiological community development. Contact-dependent growth inhibition (CDI) proteins are polymorphic toxin delivery systems that inhibit the growth of non-self neighboring bacteria that lack the appropriate immunity protein. In Burkholderia thailandensis, CDI system proteins (encoded by bcpAIOB genes) also induce cooperative behaviors among sibling (self) cells, a phenomenon called contact-dependent signaling (CDS). Here we describe a mobile genetic element (MGE) that carries the bcpAIOB genes in B. thailandensis E264. It is a ~210 kb composite transposon with insertion sequence (IS) elements at each end. Although the ISs are most similar to IS2 of Escherichia coli, the transposase-dependent intermediate molecule displays characteristics more similar to those of the IS26 translocatable unit (TU). A reaction requiring only the “left” IS-encoded transposase results in formation of an extrachromosomal circular dsDNA intermediate (“the megacircle”) composed of the left IS and the sequences intervening between the ISs. Insertion of the megacircle into the chromosome occurs next to a pre-existing copy of an IS2-like element, recreating a functional composite transposon. We found that BcpA activity is required for megacircle formation, and in turn, megacircle formation is required for CDS phenotypes. Our data support a model in which the bcpAIOB genes function as both helping and harming greenbeard genes, simultaneously enhancing the fitness of self bacteria that possess the same allele plus tightly linked genes that mediate cooperative behaviors, and killing non-self bacteria that do not possess the same bcpAIOB allele. Mobility of the megacircle between cells could allow bacteria invading a community to be converted to self, and would facilitate propagation of the bcpAIOB genes in the event that the invading strain is capable of overtaking the resident community.

<![CDATA[Integrated transcriptomic and proteomic analysis of pathogenic mycobacteria and their esx-1 mutants reveal secretion-dependent regulation of ESX-1 substrates and WhiB6 as a transcriptional regulator]]>

The mycobacterial type VII secretion system ESX-1 is responsible for the secretion of a number of proteins that play important roles during host infection. The regulation of the expression of secreted proteins is often essential to establish successful infection. Using transcriptome sequencing, we found that the abrogation of ESX-1 function in Mycobacterium marinum leads to a pronounced increase in gene expression levels of the espA operon during the infection of macrophages. In addition, the disruption of ESX-1-mediated protein secretion also leads to a specific down-regulation of the ESX-1 substrates, but not of the structural components of this system, during growth in culture medium. This effect is observed in both M. marinum and M. tuberculosis. We established that down-regulation of ESX-1 substrates is the result of a regulatory process that is influenced by the putative transcriptional regulator whib6, which is located adjacent to the esx-1 locus. In addition, the overexpression of the ESX-1-associated PE35/PPE68 protein pair resulted in a significantly increased secretion of the ESX-1 substrate EsxA, demonstrating a functional link between these proteins. Taken together, these data show that WhiB6 is required for the secretion-dependent regulation of ESX-1 substrates and that ESX-1 substrates are regulated independently from the structural components, both during infection and as a result of active secretion.

<![CDATA[A likelihood approach to testing hypotheses on the co-evolution of epigenome and genome]]>

Central questions to epigenome evolution include whether interspecies changes of histone modifications are independent of evolutionary changes of DNA, and if there is dependence whether they depend on any specific types of DNA sequence changes. Here, we present a likelihood approach for testing hypotheses on the co-evolution of genome and histone modifications. The gist of this approach is to convert evolutionary biology hypotheses into probabilistic forms, by explicitly expressing the joint probability of multispecies DNA sequences and histone modifications, which we refer to as a class of Joint Evolutionary Model for the Genome and the Epigenome (JEMGE). JEMGE can be summarized as a mixture model of four components representing four evolutionary hypotheses, namely dependence and independence of interspecies epigenomic variations to underlying sequence substitutions and to underlying sequence insertions and deletions (indels). We implemented a maximum likelihood method to fit the models to the data. Based on comparison of likelihoods, we inferred whether interspecies epigenomic variations depended on substitution or indels in local genomic sequences based on DNase hypersensitivity and spermatid H3K4me3 ChIP-seq data from human and rhesus macaque. Approximately 5.5% of homologous regions in the genomes exhibited H3K4me3 modification in either species, among which approximately 67% homologous regions exhibited local-sequence-dependent interspecies H3K4me3 variations. Substitutions accounted for less local-sequence-dependent H3K4me3 variations than indels. Among transposon-mediated indels, ERV1 insertions and L1 insertions were most strongly associated with H3K4me3 gains and losses, respectively. By initiating probabilistic formulation on the co-evolution of genomes and epigenomes, JEMGE helps to bring evolutionary biology principles to comparative epigenomic studies.

<![CDATA[Antimicrobial resistance, plasmid, virulence, multilocus sequence typing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis profiles of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium clinical and environmental isolates from India]]>

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) is a common serovar associated with non-typhoidal salmonellosis globally. However, there is insufficient data on molecular characterization of S. Typhimurium isolates from India. This study was undertaken to determine the antimicrobial resistance (AMR), plasmid, virulence profiles and molecular subtypes of S. Typhimurium Indian isolates (n = 70) of clinical and environmental origin isolated during 2010–2017. Antimicrobial susceptibility and minimum inhibitory concentrations were determined by disc diffusion and E-test methods respectively. Plasmid extraction was done following standard protocol. AMR genes, virulence genes and plasmid incompatibility types were detected by PCR; Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) were used for molecular subtyping. Majority (57%) of the study isolates was pan susceptible; five AMR profiles were observed among the resistant (43%) isolates. AMR was significantly (p = 0.004) associated with extra-intestinal isolates than intestinal isolates.The class 1 integron and plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance genes (qnrB1, qnrS1) in the resistant isolates were transferable by conjugation. Plasmids (≥1) ranging from 1.9 to 254kb size and of IncFIIS and/or FIB type were found in most isolates. A total of 39 pulsotypes by PFGE and four sequence types by MLST like ST36 (55.7%), ST19 (32.9%), ST313 (10%) and ST213 (1.4%) were observed. ST36 and ST19 were found circulating in both clinical and environmental host, while ST313 isolates had an exclusive clinical origin. All ST19 isolates (100%) were drug-resistant, while isolates belonging to ST313 (100%), ST213 (100%) and ST36 (82%) were pan susceptible. The virulence plasmid (VP) genes (spvB- spvC) were present in all genotypes except ST36. The VP was significantly (p<0.001) associated with extra-intestinal than intestinal isolates. Some environmental and clinical isolates were clonal indicating their zoonotic transmission. Knowledge on the molecular subtypes and AMR profiles of locally prevalent Salmonella serotypes is important for effective control of spread of resistant organisms. The MLST of S. Typhimurium isolates and its association with AMR, virulence profiles was not reported earlier from India.

<![CDATA[Global emergence and population dynamics of divergent serotype 3 CC180 pneumococci]]>

Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 3 remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, despite inclusion in the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). Serotype 3 increased in carriage since the implementation of PCV13 in the USA, while invasive disease rates remain unchanged. We investigated the persistence of serotype 3 in carriage and disease, through genomic analyses of a global sample of 301 serotype 3 isolates of the Netherlands3–31 (PMEN31) clone CC180, combined with associated patient data and PCV utilization among countries of isolate collection. We assessed phenotypic variation between dominant clades in capsule charge (zeta potential), capsular polysaccharide shedding, and susceptibility to opsonophagocytic killing, which have previously been associated with carriage duration, invasiveness, and vaccine escape. We identified a recent shift in the CC180 population attributed to a lineage termed Clade II, which was estimated by Bayesian coalescent analysis to have first appeared in 1968 [95% HPD: 1939–1989] and increased in prevalence and effective population size thereafter. Clade II isolates are divergent from the pre-PCV13 serotype 3 population in non-capsular antigenic composition, competence, and antibiotic susceptibility, the last of which resulting from the acquisition of a Tn916-like conjugative transposon. Differences in recombination rates among clades correlated with variations in the ATP-binding subunit of Clp protease, as well as amino acid substitutions in the comCDE operon. Opsonophagocytic killing assays elucidated the low observed efficacy of PCV13 against serotype 3. Variation in PCV13 use among sampled countries was not independently correlated with the CC180 population shift; therefore, genotypic and phenotypic differences in protein antigens and, in particular, antibiotic resistance may have contributed to the increase of Clade II. Our analysis emphasizes the need for routine, representative sampling of isolates from disperse geographic regions, including historically under-sampled areas. We also highlight the value of genomics in resolving antigenic and epidemiological variations within a serotype, which may have implications for future vaccine development.

<![CDATA[Acquisition and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in association with conjugative plasmid or class 1 integrons of Acinetobacter baumannii]]>

Conjugation is a type of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) that serves as the primary mechanism responsible for accelerating the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in Gram-negative bacteria. The present study aimed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the conjugation-mediated gene transfer from the extensively drug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (XDR-AB) and New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1-producing Acinetobacter baumannii (NDM-AB) to environmental isolates of Acinetobacter spp. Conjugation experiments demonstrated that resistance to ticarcillin and kanamycin could be transferred from four donors to two sodium azide-resistant A. baumannii strains, namely, NU013R and NU015R. No transconjugants were detected on Mueller-Hinton Agar (MHA) plates containing tetracycline. Plasmids obtained from donors as well as successful transconjugants were characterized by PCR-based replicon typing and S1-nuclease pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (S1-PFGE). Detection of antibiotic resistance genes and integrase genes (int) was performed using PCR. Results revealed that the donor AB364 strain can transfer the blaOXA-23 and blaPER-1 genes to both recipients in association with int1. A 240-kb plasmid was successfully transferred from the donor AB364 to recipients. In addition, the aphA6 and blaPER-1 genes were co-transferred with the int1 gene from the donor strains AB352 and AB405. The transfer of a 220-kb plasmid from the donors to recipient was detected. The GR6 plasmid containing the kanamycin resistance gene (aphA6) was successfully transferred from the donor strain AB140 to both recipient strains. However, the blaNDM-1 and tet(B) genes were not detected in all transconjugants. Our study is the first to demonstrate successful in vitro conjugation, which indicated that XDR-AB contained combination mechanisms of the co-transfer of antimicrobial resistance elements with integron cassettes or with the plasmid group GR6. Thus, conjugation could be responsible for the emergence of new types of antibiotic-resistant strains.

<![CDATA[Unraveling Genetic Modifiers in the Gria4 Mouse Model of Absence Epilepsy]]>

Absence epilepsy (AE) is a common type of genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE), particularly in children. AE and GGE are complex genetic diseases with few causal variants identified to date. Gria4 deficient mice provide a model of AE, one for which the common laboratory inbred strain C3H/HeJ (HeJ) harbors a natural IAP retrotransposon insertion in Gria4 that reduces its expression 8-fold. Between C3H and non-seizing strains such as C57BL/6, genetic modifiers alter disease severity. Even C3H substrains have surprising variation in the duration and incidence of spike-wave discharges (SWD), the characteristic electroencephalographic feature of absence seizures. Here we discovered extensive IAP retrotransposition in the C3H substrain, and identified a HeJ-private IAP in the Pcnxl2 gene, which encodes a putative multi-transmembrane protein of unknown function, resulting in decreased expression. By creating new Pcnxl2 frameshift alleles using TALEN mutagenesis, we show that Pcnxl2 deficiency is responsible for mitigating the seizure phenotype – making Pcnxl2 the first known modifier gene for absence seizures in any species. This finding gave us a handle on genetic complexity between strains, directing us to use another C3H substrain to map additional modifiers including validation of a Chr 15 locus that profoundly affects the severity of SWD episodes. Together these new findings expand our knowledge of how natural variation modulates seizures, and highlights the feasibility of characterizing and validating modifiers in mouse strains and substrains in the post-genome sequence era.

<![CDATA[Tanzawaic Acids, a Chemically Novel Set of Bacterial Conjugation Inhibitors]]>

Bacterial conjugation is the main mechanism for the dissemination of multiple antibiotic resistance in human pathogens. This dissemination could be controlled by molecules that interfere with the conjugation process. A search for conjugation inhibitors among a collection of 1,632 natural compounds, identified tanzawaic acids A and B as best hits. They specially inhibited IncW and IncFII conjugative systems, including plasmids mobilized by them. Plasmids belonging to IncFI, IncI, IncL/M, IncX and IncH incompatibility groups were targeted to a lesser extent, whereas IncN and IncP plasmids were unaffected. Tanzawaic acids showed reduced toxicity in bacterial, fungal or human cells, when compared to synthetic conjugation inhibitors, opening the possibility of their deployment in complex environments, including natural settings relevant for antibiotic resistance dissemination.

<![CDATA[Identification of Multiple Proteins Coupling Transcriptional Gene Silencing to Genome Stability in Arabidopsis thaliana]]>

Eukaryotic genomes are regulated by epigenetic marks that act to modulate transcriptional control as well as to regulate DNA replication and repair. In Arabidopsis thaliana, mutation of the ATXR5 and ATXR6 histone methyltransferases causes reduction in histone H3 lysine 27 monomethylation, transcriptional upregulation of transposons, and a genome instability defect in which there is an accumulation of excess DNA corresponding to pericentromeric heterochromatin. We designed a forward genetic screen to identify suppressors of the atxr5/6 phenotype that uncovered loss-of-function mutations in two components of the TREX-2 complex (AtTHP1, AtSAC3B), a SUMO-interacting E3 ubiquitin ligase (AtSTUbL2) and a methyl-binding domain protein (AtMBD9). Additionally, using a reverse genetic approach, we show that a mutation in a plant homolog of the tumor suppressor gene BRCA1 enhances the atxr5/6 phenotype. Through characterization of these mutations, our results suggest models for the production atxr5 atxr6-induced extra DNA involving conflicts between the replicative and transcriptional processes in the cell, and suggest that the atxr5 atxr6 transcriptional defects may be the cause of the genome instability defects in the mutants. These findings highlight the critical intersection of transcriptional silencing and DNA replication in the maintenance of genome stability of heterochromatin.

<![CDATA[mcr-1 identified in Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC)]]>

Antimicrobial resistance associated with colistin has emerged as a significant concern worldwide threatening the use of one of the most important antimicrobials for treating human disease.

Here, we examined a collection (n = 980) of Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) isolated from poultry with colibacillosis from the US and internationally for the presence of mcr-1 and mcr-2, genes known to encode colistin resistance. Included in the analysis was an additional set of avian fecal E. coli (AFEC) (n = 220) isolates from healthy birds for comparative analysis. The mcr-1 gene was detected in a total of 12 isolates recovered from diseased production birds from China and Egypt. No mcr genes were detected in the healthy fecal isolates. The full mcr-1 gene from positive isolates was sequenced using specifically designed primers and were compared with sequences currently described in NCBI. mcr-1 positive isolates were also assessed for phenotypic colistin resistance and extended spectrum beta lactam phenotypes and genotypes. This study has identified mcr-1 in APEC isolates dating back to at least 2010 and suggests that animal husbandry practices could result in a potential source of resistance to the human food chain in countries where application of colistin in animal health is practiced.

<![CDATA[Use of Combined MSAP and NGS Techniques to Identify Differentially Methylated Regions in Somaclones: A Case Study of Two Stable Somatic Wheat Mutants]]>

The appearance of somaclonal variability induced by in vitro cultivation is relatively frequent and can, in some cases, provide a valuable source of new genetic variation for crop improvement. The cause of this phenomenon remains unknown; however, there are a number of reports suggesting that epigenetics, including DNA methylations, are an important factor. In addition to the non-heritable DNA methylation changes caused by transient and reversible stress-responsive gene regulation, recent evidence supports the existence of mitotically and meiotically inherited changes. The induction of phenotypes via stable DNA methylation changes has occasionally great economical value; however, very little is known about the genetic or molecular basis of these phenotypes. We used a novel approach consisting of a standard MSAP analysis followed by deep amplicon sequencing to better understand this phenomenon. Our models included two wheat genotypes, and their somaclones induced using in vitro cultivation with a changed heritable phenotype (shortened stem height and silenced high molecular weight glutenin). Using this novel procedure, we obtained information on the dissimilarity of DNA methylation landscapes between the standard cultivar and its respective somaclones, and we extracted the sequences and genome regions that were differentially methylated between subjects. Transposable elements were identified as the most likely factor for producing changes in somaclone properties. In summary, the novel approach of combining MSAP and NGS is relatively easy and widely applicable, which is a rather unique feature compared with the currently available techniques in the epigenetics field.

<![CDATA[Accurate Prediction of Transposon-Derived piRNAs by Integrating Various Sequential and Physicochemical Features]]>


Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) is the largest class of small non-coding RNA molecules. The transposon-derived piRNA prediction can enrich the research contents of small ncRNAs as well as help to further understand generation mechanism of gamete.


In this paper, we attempt to differentiate transposon-derived piRNAs from non-piRNAs based on their sequential and physicochemical features by using machine learning methods. We explore six sequence-derived features, i.e. spectrum profile, mismatch profile, subsequence profile, position-specific scoring matrix, pseudo dinucleotide composition and local structure-sequence triplet elements, and systematically evaluate their performances for transposon-derived piRNA prediction. Finally, we consider two approaches: direct combination and ensemble learning to integrate useful features and achieve high-accuracy prediction models.


We construct three datasets, covering three species: Human, Mouse and Drosophila, and evaluate the performances of prediction models by 10-fold cross validation. In the computational experiments, direct combination models achieve AUC of 0.917, 0.922 and 0.992 on Human, Mouse and Drosophila, respectively; ensemble learning models achieve AUC of 0.922, 0.926 and 0.994 on the three datasets.


Compared with other state-of-the-art methods, our methods can lead to better performances. In conclusion, the proposed methods are promising for the transposon-derived piRNA prediction. The source codes and datasets are available in S1 File.

<![CDATA[Arabidopsis AtMORC4 and AtMORC7 Form Nuclear Bodies and Repress a Large Number of Protein-Coding Genes]]>

The MORC family of GHKL ATPases are an enigmatic class of proteins with diverse chromatin related functions. In Arabidopsis, AtMORC1, AtMORC2, and AtMORC6 act together in heterodimeric complexes to mediate transcriptional silencing of methylated DNA elements. Here, we studied Arabidopsis AtMORC4 and AtMORC7. We found that, in contrast to AtMORC1,2,6, they act to suppress a wide set of non-methylated protein-coding genes that are enriched for those involved in pathogen response. Furthermore, atmorc4 atmorc7 double mutants show a pathogen response phenotype. We found that AtMORC4 and AtMORC7 form homomeric complexes in vivo and are concentrated in discrete nuclear bodies adjacent to chromocenters. Analysis of an atmorc1,2,4,5,6,7 hextuple mutant demonstrates that transcriptional de-repression is largely uncoupled from changes in DNA methylation in plants devoid of MORC function. However, we also uncover a requirement for MORC in both DNA methylation and silencing at a small but distinct subset of RNA-directed DNA methylation target loci. These regions are characterized by poised transcriptional potential and a low density of sites for symmetric cytosine methylation. These results provide insight into the biological function of MORC proteins in higher eukaryotes.

<![CDATA[Apomixis frequency under stress conditions in weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula)]]>

To overcome environmental stress, plants develop physiological responses that are triggered by genetic or epigenetic changes, some of which involve DNA methylation. It has been proposed that apomixis, the formation of asexual seeds without meiosis, occurs through the temporal or spatial deregulation of the sexual process mediated by genetic and epigenetic factors influenced by the environment. Here, we explored whether there was a link between the occurrence of apomixis and various factors that generate stress, including drought stress, in vitro culture, and intraspecific hybridization. For this purpose, we monitored the embryo sacs of different weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula [Schrad.] Nees) genotypes after the plants were subjected to these stress conditions. Progeny tests based on molecular markers and genome methylation status were analyzed following the stress treatment. When grown in the greenhouse, the cultivar Tanganyika INTA generated less than 2% of its progeny by sexual reproduction. Plants of this cultivar subjected to different stresses showed an increase of sexual embryo sacs, demonstrating an increased expression of sexuality compared to control plants. Plants of the cv. Tanganyika USDA did not demonstrate the ability to generate sexual embryo sacs under any conditions and is therefore classified as a fully apomictic cultivar. We found that this change in the prevalence of sexuality was correlated with genetic and epigenetic changes analyzed by MSAP and AFLPs profiles. Our results demonstrate that different stress conditions can alter the expression of sexual reproduction in facultative tetraploid apomictic cultivars and when the stress stops the reproductive mode shift back to the apomixis original level. These data together with previous observations allow us to generate a hypothetical model of the regulation of apomixis in weeping lovegrass in which the genetic/s region/s that condition apomixis, is/are affected by ploidy, and is/are subjected to epigenetic control.

<![CDATA[The widely used Nicotiana benthamiana 16c line has an unusual T-DNA integration pattern including a transposon sequence]]>

Nicotiana benthamiana is employed around the world for many types of research and one transgenic line has been used more extensively than any other. This line, 16c, expresses the Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (GFP), highly and constitutively, and has been a major resource for visualising the mobility and actions of small RNAs. Insights into the mechanisms studied at a molecular level in N. benthamiana 16c are likely to be deeper and more accurate with a greater knowledge of the GFP gene integration site. Therefore, using next generation sequencing, genome mapping and local alignment, we identified the location and characteristics of the integrated T-DNA. As suggested from previous molecular hybridisation and inheritance data, the transgenic line contains a single GFP-expressing locus. However, the GFP coding sequence differs from that originally reported. Furthermore, a 3.2 kb portion of a transposon, appears to have co-integrated with the T-DNA. The location of the integration mapped to a region of the genome represented by Nbv0.5scaffold4905 in the assembly, and with less integrity to Niben101Scf03641 in the assembly. The transposon is not endogenous to laboratory strains of N. benthamiana or Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain GV3101 (MP90), which was reportedly used in the generation of line 16c. However, it is present in the popular LBA4404 strain. The integrated transposon sequence includes its 5’ terminal repeat and a transposase gene, and is immediately adjacent to the GFP gene. This unexpected genetic arrangement may contribute to the characteristics that have made the 16c line such a popular research tool and alerts researchers, taking transgenic plants to commercial release, to be aware of this genomic hitchhiker.

<![CDATA[Pseudomonas aeruginosa serA Gene Is Required for Bacterial Translocation through Caco-2 Cell Monolayers]]>

To specify critical factors responsible for Pseudomonas aeruginosa penetration through the Caco-2 cell epithelial barrier, we analyzed transposon insertion mutants that demonstrated a dramatic reduction in penetration activity relative to P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain. From these strains, mutations could be grouped into five classes, specifically flagellin-associated genes, pili-associated genes, heat-shock protein genes, genes related to the glycolytic pathway, and biosynthesis-related genes. Of these mutants, we here focused on the serA mutant, as the association between this gene and penetration activity is yet unknown. Inactivation of the serA gene caused significant repression of bacterial penetration through Caco-2 cell monolayers with decreased swimming and swarming motilities, bacterial adherence, and fly mortality rate, as well as repression of ExoS secretion; however, twitching motility was not affected. Furthermore, L-serine, which is known to inhibit the D-3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase activity of the SerA protein, caused significant reductions in penetration through Caco-2 cell monolayers, swarming and swimming motilities, bacterial adherence to Caco-2 cells, and virulence in flies in the wild-type P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain. Together, these results suggest that serA is associated with bacterial motility and adherence, which are mediated by flagella that play a key role in the penetration of P. aeruginosa through Caco-2 cell monolayers. Oral administration of L-serine to compromised hosts might have the potential to interfere with bacterial translocation and prevent septicemia caused by P. aeruginosa through inhibition of serA function.

<![CDATA[The Genome of Nosema sp. Isolate YNPr: A Comparative Analysis of Genome Evolution within the Nosema/Vairimorpha Clade]]>

The microsporidian parasite designated here as Nosema sp. Isolate YNPr was isolated from the cabbage butterfly Pieris rapae collected in Honghe Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. The genome was sequenced by Illumina sequencing and compared to those of two related members of the Nosema/Vairimorpha clade, Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis. Based upon assembly statistics, the Nosema sp. YNPr genome is 3.36 x 106bp with a G+C content of 23.18% and 2,075 protein coding sequences. An “ACCCTT” motif is present approximately 50-bp upstream of the start codon, as reported from other members of the clade and from Encephalitozoon cuniculi, a sister taxon. Comparative small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) analysis as well as genome-wide phylogenetic analysis confirms a closer relationship between N. ceranae and Nosema sp. YNPr than between the two honeybee parasites N. ceranae and N. apis. The more closely related N. ceranae and Nosema sp. YNPr show similarities in a number of structural characteristics such as gene synteny, gene length, gene number, transposon composition and gene reduction. Based on transposable element content of the assemblies, the transposon content of Nosema sp. YNPr is 4.8%, that of N. ceranae is 3.7%, and that of N. apis is 2.5%, with large differences in the types of transposons present among these 3 species. Gene function annotation indicates that the number of genes participating in most metabolic activities is similar in all three species. However, the number of genes in the transcription, general function, and cysteine protease categories is greater in N. apis than in the other two species. Our studies further characterize the evolution of the Nosema/Vairimorpha clade of microsporidia. These organisms maintain variable but very reduced genomes. We are interested in understanding the effects of genetic drift versus natural selection on genome size in the microsporidia and in developing a testable hypothesis for further studies on the genomic ecology of this group.