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1.  Escherichia coli Serotype O55:H7 Diversity Supports Parallel Acquisition of Bacteriophage at Shiga Toxin Phage Insertion Sites during Evolution of the O157:H7 Lineage 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(8):1885-1896.
Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) continues to be a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in children around the world. Two EPEC genomes have been fully sequenced: those of EPEC O127:H6 strain E2348/69 (United Kingdom, 1969) and EPEC O55:H7 strain CB9615 (Germany, 2003). The O55:H7 serotype is a recent precursor to the virulent enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7. To explore the diversity of O55:H7 and better understand the clonal evolution of O157:H7, we fully sequenced EPEC O55:H7 strain RM12579 (California, 1974), which was collected 1 year before the first U.S. isolate of O157:H7 was identified in California. Phage-related sequences accounted for nearly all differences between the two O55:H7 strains. Additionally, O55:H7 and O157:H7 strains were tested for the presence and insertion sites of Shiga toxin gene (stx)-containing bacteriophages. Analysis of non-phage-associated genes supported core elements of previous O157:H7 stepwise evolutionary models, whereas phage composition and insertion analyses suggested a key refinement. Specifically, the placement and presence of lambda-like bacteriophages (including those containing stx) should not be considered stable evolutionary markers or be required in placing O55:H7 and O157:H7 strains within the stepwise evolutionary models. Additionally, we suggest that a 10.9-kb region (block 172) previously believed unique to O55:H7 strains can be used to identify early O157:H7 strains. Finally, we defined two subsets of O55:H7 strains that share an as-yet-unobserved or extinct common ancestor with O157:H7 strains. Exploration of O55:H7 diversity improved our understanding of the evolution of E. coli O157:H7 and suggested a key revision to accommodate existing and future configurations of stx-containing bacteriophages into current models.
doi:10.1128/JB.00120-12
PMCID: PMC3318487  PMID: 22328665
2.  Evaluation of novel H1N1-specific primer-probe sets using commercial RT-PCR mixtures and a premixed reaction stored in a lyophilized format 
Journal of virological methods  2010;165(2):302-304.
The recent emergence of a novel H1N1 influenza A virus in humans caused the first influenza pandemic of this century. Many clinical diagnostic laboratories are overwhelmed by the testing demands related to the infection. Three novel H1N1-specific primer-probe sets reported during the early phase of the pandemic were tested in three commercial real-time RT-PCR mixtures. The amplification efficiencies and detection limits of these assays were determined. A ready-to-use premixed RT-PCR stored in a lyophilized format was developed. The detection limits of the studied assays were highly variable, ranging from 1.68E-01 to 1.68E-05 TCID50 per reaction. The detection limit of the lyophilized reaction mixture was found to be 1.68E-05 TCID50 per reaction, but the amplification efficiency of the assay was lower than those deduced from the other assays. All respiratory samples from infected patients and all control nasopharyngeal aspirates were positive and negative, respectively, in the newly developed assay. The results highlighted that, to enhance the sensitivity of an assay, it is essential to evaluate a primer-probe set with different commercial RT-PCR assays. This study also demonstrated the feasibility of using lyophilized reaction mixtures for the molecular diagnosis of novel H1N1.
doi:10.1016/j.jviromet.2010.01.024
PMCID: PMC2859313  PMID: 20138917
Influenza; Pandemic H1N1; Quantitative RT-PCR; Molecular diagnosis
3.  Comparative genomics of the bacterial genus Listeria: Genome evolution is characterized by limited gene acquisition and limited gene loss 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:688.
Background
The bacterial genus Listeria contains pathogenic and non-pathogenic species, including the pathogens L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii, both of which carry homologous virulence gene clusters such as the prfA cluster and clusters of internalin genes. Initial evidence for multiple deletions of the prfA cluster during the evolution of Listeria indicates that this genus provides an interesting model for studying the evolution of virulence and also presents practical challenges with regard to definition of pathogenic strains.
Results
To better understand genome evolution and evolution of virulence characteristics in Listeria, we used a next generation sequencing approach to generate draft genomes for seven strains representing Listeria species or clades for which genome sequences were not available. Comparative analyses of these draft genomes and six publicly available genomes, which together represent the main Listeria species, showed evidence for (i) a pangenome with 2,032 core and 2,918 accessory genes identified to date, (ii) a critical role of gene loss events in transition of Listeria species from facultative pathogen to saprotroph, even though a consistent pattern of gene loss seemed to be absent, and a number of isolates representing non-pathogenic species still carried some virulence associated genes, and (iii) divergence of modern pathogenic and non-pathogenic Listeria species and strains, most likely circa 47 million years ago, from a pathogenic common ancestor that contained key virulence genes.
Conclusions
Genome evolution in Listeria involved limited gene loss and acquisition as supported by (i) a relatively high coverage of the predicted pan-genome by the observed pan-genome, (ii) conserved genome size (between 2.8 and 3.2 Mb), and (iii) a highly syntenic genome. Limited gene loss in Listeria did include loss of virulence associated genes, likely associated with multiple transitions to a saprotrophic lifestyle. The genus Listeria thus provides an example of a group of bacteria that appears to evolve through a loss of virulence rather than acquisition of virulence characteristics. While Listeria includes a number of species-like clades, many of these putative species include clades or strains with atypical virulence associated characteristics. This information will allow for the development of genetic and genomic criteria for pathogenic strains, including development of assays that specifically detect pathogenic Listeria strains.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-688
PMCID: PMC3019230  PMID: 21126366
4.  Sensitivity and Specificity of the ViroSeq Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) Genotyping System for Detection of HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutations by Use of an ABI PRISM 3100 Genetic Analyzer 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(2):813-817.
The ViroSeq human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genotyping system is an integrated system for identification of drug resistance mutations in HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase (RT). Reagents are included for sample preparation, reverse transcription, PCR amplification, and sequencing. Software is provided to assemble and edit sequence data and to generate a drug resistance report. We determined the sensitivity and specificity of the ViroSeq system for mutation detection using an ABI PRISM 3100 genetic analyzer with a set of clinical samples and recombinant viruses. Twenty clinical plasma samples (viral loads, 1,800 to 10,500 copies/ml) were characterized by cloning and sequencing individual viral variants. Twelve recombinant-virus samples (viral loads, approximately 2,000 to 5,000 copies/ml) were also prepared. Eleven recombinant-virus samples contained drug resistance mutations as 40% mixtures. One recombinant-virus sample contained an insertion at codon 69 in RT (100% mutant). Plasma and recombinant-virus samples were analyzed using the ViroSeq system. Each sample was analyzed on three consecutive days at each of three testing laboratories. The sensitivity of mutation detection was 99.65% for the clinical plasma samples and 99.7% for the recombinant-virus preparations. The specificity of mutation detection was 99.95% for the clinical samples and 100% for the recombinant-virus mixtures. The base calling accuracy of the 3100 instrument was 99.91%. Mutations in clinical plasma samples and recombinant-virus samples were detected with high sensitivity and specificity, including mutations present as mixtures. This report supports the use of the ViroSeq system for identification of drug resistance mutations in HIV-1 protease and RT genes.
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.2.813-817.2005
PMCID: PMC548107  PMID: 15695685

Results 1-4 (4)