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1.  Full-Genome Sequence of Human Betacoronavirus 2c Jordan-N3/2012 after Serial Passage in Mammalian Cells 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(3):e00324-14.
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is the etiologic agent of a highly lethal pneumonia. Here, we report the full-genome sequence of the Jordan-N3/2012 strain after serial passage in two distinct mammalian cell lines. The genome exhibits noteworthy stability, which may inform the development of vaccines and therapeutics used to treat infection with this virus.
PMCID: PMC4038873  PMID: 24874668
2.  BLASTPLOT: a PERL module to plot next generation sequencing NCBI-BLAST results 
The development of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) during the last decade has created an unprecedented amount of sequencing data, as well as the ability to rapidly sequence specimens of interest. Read-based BLAST analysis of NGS data is a common procedure especially in the case of metagenomic samples. However, coverage is usually not enough to allow for de novo assembly. This type of read-based analysis often creates the question of how the reads that align to the same sequence are distributed. The same question applies to preparation of primers or probes for microarray experiments. Although there are several packages that allow the visualization of DNA segments in relation to a reference, in most cases they require the visualization of one reference at a time and the capture of screen shots for each segment. Such a procedure could be tedious and time consuming. The field is in need of a solution that automates the capture of coverage plots for all the segments of interest.
We have created BLASTPLOT, a PERL module to quickly plot the BLAST results from short sequences (primers, probes, reads) against reference targets.
BLASTPLOT is a simple to use PERL module that allows the generation of PNG graphs for all the reference sequences associated with a BLAST result set.
PMCID: PMC3974413  PMID: 24685334
BLAST; Plot; PERL; Package; Graph; Primer; Probe; NGS; Reads; Sequencing
3.  Comparison of three next-generation sequencing platforms for metagenomic sequencing and identification of pathogens in blood 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:96.
The introduction of benchtop sequencers has made adoption of whole genome sequencing possible for a broader community of researchers than ever before. Concurrently, metagenomic sequencing (MGS) is rapidly emerging as a tool for interrogating complex samples that defy conventional analyses. In addition, next-generation sequencers are increasingly being used in clinical or related settings, for instance to track outbreaks. However, information regarding the analytical sensitivity or limit of detection (LoD) of benchtop sequencers is currently lacking. Furthermore, the specificity of sequence information at or near the LoD is unknown.
In the present study, we assess the ability of three next-generation sequencing platforms to identify a pathogen (viral or bacterial) present in low titers in a clinically relevant sample (blood). Our results indicate that the Roche-454 Titanium platform is capable of detecting Dengue virus at titers as low as 1X102.5 pfu/mL, corresponding to an estimated 5.4X104 genome copies/ml maximum. The increased throughput of the benchtop sequencers, the Ion Torrent PGM and Illumina MiSeq platforms, enabled detection of viral genomes at concentrations as low as 1X104 genome copies/mL. Platform-specific biases were evident in sequence read distributions as well as viral genome coverage. For bacterial samples, only the MiSeq platform was able to provide sequencing reads that could be unambiguously classified as originating from Bacillus anthracis.
The analytical sensitivity of all three platforms approaches that of standard qPCR assays. Although all platforms were able to detect pathogens at the levels tested, there were several noteworthy differences. The Roche-454 Titanium platform produced consistently longer reads, even when compared with the latest chemistry updates for the PGM platform. The MiSeq platform produced consistently greater depth and breadth of coverage, while the Ion Torrent was unequaled for speed of sequencing. None of the platforms were able to verify a single nucleotide polymorphism responsible for antiviral resistance in an Influenza A strain isolated from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Overall, the benchtop platforms perform well for identification of pathogens from a representative clinical sample. However, unlike identification, characterization of pathogens is likely to require higher titers, multiple libraries and/or multiple sequencing runs.
PMCID: PMC3922542  PMID: 24495417
4.  Genomic Comparison of Escherichia coli O104:H4 Isolates from 2009 and 2011 Reveals Plasmid, and Prophage Heterogeneity, Including Shiga Toxin Encoding Phage stx2 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48228.
In May of 2011, an enteroaggregative Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain that had acquired a Shiga toxin 2-converting phage caused a large outbreak of bloody diarrhea in Europe which was notable for its high prevalence of hemolytic uremic syndrome cases. Several studies have described the genomic inventory and phylogenies of strains associated with the outbreak and a collection of historical E. coli O104:H4 isolates using draft genome assemblies. We present the complete, closed genome sequences of an isolate from the 2011 outbreak (2011C–3493) and two isolates from cases of bloody diarrhea that occurred in the Republic of Georgia in 2009 (2009EL–2050 and 2009EL–2071). Comparative genome analysis indicates that, while the Georgian strains are the nearest neighbors to the 2011 outbreak isolates sequenced to date, structural and nucleotide-level differences are evident in the Stx2 phage genomes, the mer/tet antibiotic resistance island, and in the prophage and plasmid profiles of the strains, including a previously undescribed plasmid with homology to the pMT virulence plasmid of Yersinia pestis. In addition, multiphenotype analysis showed that 2009EL–2071 possessed higher resistance to polymyxin and membrane-disrupting agents. Finally, we show evidence by electron microscopy of the presence of a common phage morphotype among the European and Georgian strains and a second phage morphotype among the Georgian strains. The presence of at least two stx2 phage genotypes in host genetic backgrounds that may derive from a recent common ancestor of the 2011 outbreak isolates indicates that the emergence of stx2 phage-containing E. coli O104:H4 strains probably occurred more than once, or that the current outbreak isolates may be the result of a recent transfer of a new stx2 phage element into a pre-existing stx2-positive genetic background.
PMCID: PMC3486847  PMID: 23133618
5.  HSV-1 Induced SOCS-1 Expression in Keratinocytes: Use of a SOCS-1 Antagonist to Block a Novel Mechanism of Viral Immune Evasion 
Keratinocytes are important for the acute phase of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infection and subsequent persistence in sensory nervous tissue. In this study, we showed that keratinocytes (HEL-30) were refractory to IFNγ induction of an antiviral state to HSV-1 infection, while IFNγ did induce an antiviral state in fibroblasts (L929). This led us to examine the possible role of suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS-1) in this refractiveness. RT-PCR analysis of SOCS-1 mRNA expression in HSV-1 infected cells showed a four-fold increase for keratinocytes while having a negligible effect on fibroblasts. A similar pattern was observed at the level of SOCS-1 protein induction. Activation of STAT1α in keratinocytes was inhibited by HSV-1 infection. A direct effect of HSV-1 on the SOCS-1 promoter was shown in a luciferase reporter gene assay. We have developed a small peptide antagonist of SOCS-1, pJAK2(1001-1013), that had both an antiviral effect in keratinocytes against HSV-1 as well as a synergistic effect on IFNγ induction of an antiviral state. HSV-1 ICP0 mutant was inhibited by IFNγ in HEL-30 cells and was less effective than wild type virus in induction of SOCS-1 promoter. We conclude that SOCS-1 plays an important role in the antiviral effect of IFNγ in keratinocytes infected with HSV-1. The use of SOCS-1 antagonist to abrogate this refractiveness could have a transformational effect on therapy against viral infections.
PMCID: PMC2706942  PMID: 19542368

Results 1-5 (5)