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1.  Combined sequence-based and genetic mapping analysis of complex traits in outbred rats 
Nature genetics  2013;45(7):10.1038/ng.2644.
Genetic mapping on fully sequenced individuals is transforming our understanding of the relationship between molecular variation and variation in complex traits. Here we report a combined sequence and genetic mapping analysis in outbred rats that maps 355 quantitative trait loci for 122 phenotypes. We identify 35 causal genes involved in 31 phenotypes, implicating novel genes in models of anxiety, heart disease and multiple sclerosis. The relation between sequence and genetic variation is unexpectedly complex: at approximately 40% of quantitative trait loci a single sequence variant cannot account for the phenotypic effect. Using comparable sequence and mapping data from mice, we show the extent and spatial pattern of variation in inbred rats differ significantly from those of inbred mice, and that the genetic variants in orthologous genes rarely contribute to the same phenotype in both species.
PMCID: PMC3821058  PMID: 23708188
2.  Sequencing and Functional Annotation of Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli Serogroup O78 Strains Reveal the Evolution of E. coli Lineages Pathogenic for Poultry via Distinct Mechanisms 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(3):838-849.
Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) causes respiratory and systemic disease in poultry. Sequencing of a multilocus sequence type 95 (ST95) serogroup O1 strain previously indicated that APEC resembles E. coli causing extraintestinal human diseases. We sequenced the genomes of two strains of another dominant APEC lineage (ST23 serogroup O78 strains χ7122 and IMT2125) and compared them to each other and to the reannotated APEC O1 sequence. For comparison, we also sequenced a human enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) strain of the same ST23 serogroup O78 lineage. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the APEC O78 strains were more closely related to human ST23 ETEC than to APEC O1, indicating that separation of pathotypes on the basis of their extraintestinal or diarrheagenic nature is not supported by their phylogeny. The accessory genome of APEC ST23 strains exhibited limited conservation of APEC O1 genomic islands and a distinct repertoire of virulence-associated loci. In light of this diversity, we surveyed the phenotype of 2,185 signature-tagged transposon mutants of χ7122 following intra-air sac inoculation of turkeys. This procedure identified novel APEC ST23 genes that play strain- and tissue-specific roles during infection. For example, genes mediating group 4 capsule synthesis were required for the virulence of χ7122 and were conserved in IMT2125 but absent from APEC O1. Our data reveal the genetic diversity of E. coli strains adapted to cause the same avian disease and indicate that the core genome of the ST23 lineage serves as a chassis for the evolution of E. coli strains adapted to cause avian or human disease via acquisition of distinct virulence genes.
PMCID: PMC3584874  PMID: 23275093
3.  Massively Parallel Sequencing Reveals the Complex Structure of an Irradiated Human Chromosome on a Mouse Background in the Tc1 Model of Down Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60482.
Down syndrome (DS) is caused by trisomy of chromosome 21 (Hsa21) and presents a complex phenotype that arises from abnormal dosage of genes on this chromosome. However, the individual dosage-sensitive genes underlying each phenotype remain largely unknown. To help dissect genotype – phenotype correlations in this complex syndrome, the first fully transchromosomic mouse model, the Tc1 mouse, which carries a copy of human chromosome 21 was produced in 2005. The Tc1 strain is trisomic for the majority of genes that cause phenotypes associated with DS, and this freely available mouse strain has become used widely to study DS, the effects of gene dosage abnormalities, and the effect on the basic biology of cells when a mouse carries a freely segregating human chromosome. Tc1 mice were created by a process that included irradiation microcell-mediated chromosome transfer of Hsa21 into recipient mouse embryonic stem cells. Here, the combination of next generation sequencing, array-CGH and fluorescence in situ hybridization technologies has enabled us to identify unsuspected rearrangements of Hsa21 in this mouse model; revealing one deletion, six duplications and more than 25 de novo structural rearrangements. Our study is not only essential for informing functional studies of the Tc1 mouse but also (1) presents for the first time a detailed sequence analysis of the effects of gamma radiation on an entire human chromosome, which gives some mechanistic insight into the effects of radiation damage on DNA, and (2) overcomes specific technical difficulties of assaying a human chromosome on a mouse background where highly conserved sequences may confound the analysis. Sequence data generated in this study is deposited in the ENA database, Study Accession number: ERP000439.
PMCID: PMC3626651  PMID: 23596509
4.  New Insights into the Bacterial Fitness-Associated Mechanisms Revealed by the Characterization of Large Plasmids of an Avian Pathogenic E. coli 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29481.
Extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC), including avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC), pose a considerable threat to both human and animal health, with illness causing substantial economic loss. APEC strain χ7122 (O78∶K80∶H9), containing three large plasmids [pChi7122-1 (IncFIB/FIIA-FIC), pChi7122-2 (IncFII), and pChi7122-3 (IncI2)]; and a small plasmid pChi7122-4 (ColE2-like), has been used for many years as a model strain to study the molecular mechanisms of ExPEC pathogenicity and zoonotic potential. We previously sequenced and characterized the plasmid pChi7122-1 and determined its importance in systemic APEC infection; however the roles of the other pChi7122 plasmids were still ambiguous. Herein we present the sequence of the remaining pChi7122 plasmids, confirming that pChi7122-2 and pChi7122-3 encode an ABC iron transport system (eitABCD) and a putative type IV fimbriae respectively, whereas pChi7122-4 is a cryptic plasmid. New features were also identified, including a gene cluster on pChi7122-2 that is not present in other E. coli strains but is found in Salmonella serovars and is predicted to encode the sugars catabolic pathways. In vitro evaluation of the APEC χ7122 derivative strains with the three large plasmids, either individually or in combinations, provided new insights into the role of plasmids in biofilm formation, bile and acid tolerance, and the interaction of E. coli strains with 3-D cultures of intestinal epithelial cells. In this study, we show that the nature and combinations of plasmids, as well as the background of the host strains, have an effect on these phenomena. Our data reveal new insights into the role of extra-chromosomal sequences in fitness and diversity of ExPEC in their phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3251573  PMID: 22238616
5.  Complete Sequence and Molecular Epidemiology of IncK Epidemic Plasmid Encoding blaCTX-M-14 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(4):645-652.
This plasmid is disseminated worldwide in Escherichia coli isolated from humans and animals.
Antimicrobial drug resistance is a global challenge for the 21st century with the emergence of resistant bacterial strains worldwide. Transferable resistance to β-lactam antimicrobial drugs, mediated by production of extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs), is of particular concern. In 2004, an ESBL-carrying IncK plasmid (pCT) was isolated from cattle in the United Kingdom. The sequence was a 93,629-bp plasmid encoding a single antimicrobial drug resistance gene, blaCTX-M-14. From this information, PCRs identifying novel features of pCT were designed and applied to isolates from several countries, showing that the plasmid has disseminated worldwide in bacteria from humans and animals. Complete DNA sequences can be used as a platform to develop rapid epidemiologic tools to identify and trace the spread of plasmids in clinically relevant pathogens, thus facilitating a better understanding of their distribution and ability to transfer between bacteria of humans and animals.
PMCID: PMC3377399  PMID: 21470454
Bacteria; Escherichia coli; antimicrobial drug resistance; extended-spectrum beta-lactamase; CTX-M; plasmid; epidemiology; research
7.  Rapid Evolution of Virulence and Drug Resistance in the Emerging Zoonotic Pathogen Streptococcus suis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6072.
Streptococcus suis is a zoonotic pathogen that infects pigs and can occasionally cause serious infections in humans. S. suis infections occur sporadically in human Europe and North America, but a recent major outbreak has been described in China with high levels of mortality. The mechanisms of S. suis pathogenesis in humans and pigs are poorly understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The sequencing of whole genomes of S. suis isolates provides opportunities to investigate the genetic basis of infection. Here we describe whole genome sequences of three S. suis strains from the same lineage: one from European pigs, and two from human cases from China and Vietnam. Comparative genomic analysis was used to investigate the variability of these strains. S. suis is phylogenetically distinct from other Streptococcus species for which genome sequences are currently available. Accordingly, ∼40% of the ∼2 Mb genome is unique in comparison to other Streptococcus species. Finer genomic comparisons within the species showed a high level of sequence conservation; virtually all of the genome is common to the S. suis strains. The only exceptions are three ∼90 kb regions, present in the two isolates from humans, composed of integrative conjugative elements and transposons. Carried in these regions are coding sequences associated with drug resistance. In addition, small-scale sequence variation has generated pseudogenes in putative virulence and colonization factors.
The genomic inventories of genetically related S. suis strains, isolated from distinct hosts and diseases, exhibit high levels of conservation. However, the genomes provide evidence that horizontal gene transfer has contributed to the evolution of drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC2705793  PMID: 19603075
8.  The Genome of Burkholderia cenocepacia J2315, an Epidemic Pathogen of Cystic Fibrosis Patients ▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;191(1):261-277.
Bacterial infections of the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients cause major complications in the treatment of this common genetic disease. Burkholderia cenocepacia infection is particularly problematic since this organism has high levels of antibiotic resistance, making it difficult to eradicate; the resulting chronic infections are associated with severe declines in lung function and increased mortality rates. B. cenocepacia strain J2315 was isolated from a CF patient and is a member of the epidemic ET12 lineage that originated in Canada or the United Kingdom and spread to Europe. The 8.06-Mb genome of this highly transmissible pathogen comprises three circular chromosomes and a plasmid and encodes a broad array of functions typical of this metabolically versatile genus, as well as numerous virulence and drug resistance functions. Although B. cenocepacia strains can be isolated from soil and can be pathogenic to both plants and man, J2315 is representative of a lineage of B. cenocepacia rarely isolated from the environment and which spreads between CF patients. Comparative analysis revealed that ca. 21% of the genome is unique in comparison to other strains of B. cenocepacia, highlighting the genomic plasticity of this species. Pseudogenes in virulence determinants suggest that the pathogenic response of J2315 may have been recently selected to promote persistence in the CF lung. The J2315 genome contains evidence that its unique and highly adapted genetic content has played a significant role in its success as an epidemic CF pathogen.
PMCID: PMC2612433  PMID: 18931103
9.  Telomeric Expression Sites Are Highly Conserved in Trypanosoma brucei 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3527.
Subtelomeric regions are often under-represented in genome sequences of eukaryotes. One of the best known examples of the use of telomere proximity for adaptive purposes are the bloodstream expression sites (BESs) of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei. To enhance our understanding of BES structure and function in host adaptation and immune evasion, the BES repertoire from the Lister 427 strain of T. brucei were independently tagged and sequenced. BESs are polymorphic in size and structure but reveal a surprisingly conserved architecture in the context of extensive recombination. Very small BESs do exist and many functioning BESs do not contain the full complement of expression site associated genes (ESAGs). The consequences of duplicated or missing ESAGs, including ESAG9, a newly named ESAG12, and additional variant surface glycoprotein genes (VSGs) were evaluated by functional assays after BESs were tagged with a drug-resistance gene. Phylogenetic analysis of constituent ESAG families suggests that BESs are sequence mosaics and that extensive recombination has shaped the evolution of the BES repertoire. This work opens important perspectives in understanding the molecular mechanisms of antigenic variation, a widely used strategy for immune evasion in pathogens, and telomere biology.
PMCID: PMC2567434  PMID: 18953401
10.  Complete Genome Sequence of Uropathogenic Proteus mirabilis, a Master of both Adherence and Motility▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(11):4027-4037.
The gram-negative enteric bacterium Proteus mirabilis is a frequent cause of urinary tract infections in individuals with long-term indwelling catheters or with complicated urinary tracts (e.g., due to spinal cord injury or anatomic abnormality). P. mirabilis bacteriuria may lead to acute pyelonephritis, fever, and bacteremia. Most notoriously, this pathogen uses urease to catalyze the formation of kidney and bladder stones or to encrust or obstruct indwelling urinary catheters. Here we report the complete genome sequence of P. mirabilis HI4320, a representative strain cultured in our laboratory from the urine of a nursing home patient with a long-term (≥30 days) indwelling urinary catheter. The genome is 4.063 Mb long and has a G+C content of 38.88%. There is a single plasmid consisting of 36,289 nucleotides. Annotation of the genome identified 3,685 coding sequences and seven rRNA loci. Analysis of the sequence confirmed the presence of previously identified virulence determinants, as well as a contiguous 54-kb flagellar regulon and 17 types of fimbriae. Genes encoding a potential type III secretion system were identified on a low-G+C-content genomic island containing 24 intact genes that appear to encode all components necessary to assemble a type III secretion system needle complex. In addition, the P. mirabilis HI4320 genome possesses four tandem copies of the zapE metalloprotease gene, genes encoding six putative autotransporters, an extension of the atf fimbrial operon to six genes, including an mrpJ homolog, and genes encoding at least five iron uptake mechanisms, two potential type IV secretion systems, and 16 two-component regulators.
PMCID: PMC2395036  PMID: 18375554
11.  The Complete Genome Sequence and Comparative Genome Analysis of the High Pathogenicity Yersinia enterocolitica Strain 8081 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(12):e206.
The human enteropathogen, Yersinia enterocolitica, is a significant link in the range of Yersinia pathologies extending from mild gastroenteritis to bubonic plague. Comparison at the genomic level is a key step in our understanding of the genetic basis for this pathogenicity spectrum. Here we report the genome of Y. enterocolitica strain 8081 (serotype 0:8; biotype 1B) and extensive microarray data relating to the genetic diversity of the Y. enterocolitica species. Our analysis reveals that the genome of Y. enterocolitica strain 8081 is a patchwork of horizontally acquired genetic loci, including a plasticity zone of 199 kb containing an extraordinarily high density of virulence genes. Microarray analysis has provided insights into species-specific Y. enterocolitica gene functions and the intraspecies differences between the high, low, and nonpathogenic Y. enterocolitica biotypes. Through comparative genome sequence analysis we provide new information on the evolution of the Yersinia. We identify numerous loci that represent ancestral clusters of genes potentially important in enteric survival and pathogenesis, which have been lost or are in the process of being lost, in the other sequenced Yersinia lineages. Our analysis also highlights large metabolic operons in Y. enterocolitica that are absent in the related enteropathogen, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, indicating major differences in niche and nutrients used within the mammalian gut. These include clusters directing, the production of hydrogenases, tetrathionate respiration, cobalamin synthesis, and propanediol utilisation. Along with ancestral gene clusters, the genome of Y. enterocolitica has revealed species-specific and enteropathogen-specific loci. This has provided important insights into the pathology of this bacterium and, more broadly, into the evolution of the genus. Moreover, wider investigations looking at the patterns of gene loss and gain in the Yersinia have highlighted common themes in the genome evolution of other human enteropathogens.
The goal of this study was to catalogue all the genes encoded within the Y. enterocolitica genome to help us better understand how this bacterium and related bacteria cause different diseases. There are currently genome sequences (complete gene catalogues) available for two other members of this bacterial lineage, which cause dramatically different diseases: Y. pseudotuberculosis, like Y. enterocolitica, is a gut pathogen (enteropathogen) causing gastroenteritis in humans and animals. Yersinia pestis mostly resides within blood (circulating or in fleas following blood meals) and lymph tissue. It causes bubonic plague in humans and animals, and is historically known as “The Black Death.” A three-way comparison of these genomes revealed a patchwork of genes we have defined as being species- or disease-specific and genes that are common to all three Yersinia species. This has provided us with important information on shared gene functions that define the two enteropathogenic yersinias and those that differentiate them. This will help us to connect what we know about the Y. enterocolitica lifestyle within the gut to the disease it causes and its genetic makeup. We have also provided further evidence of gene-loss by Y. pestis as it has evolved from Y. pseudotuberculosis into a more acute systemic pathogen. Similar patterns of gene loss are seen in other important pathogens such as Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi.
PMCID: PMC1698947  PMID: 17173484
12.  The genome of Rhizobium leguminosarum has recognizable core and accessory components 
Genome Biology  2006;7(4):R34.
The genome sequence of the α-proteobacterial N2-fixing symbiont of legumes, Rhizobium leguminosarum, is described, revealing a 'core' and an 'accessory' component.
Rhizobium leguminosarum is an α-proteobacterial N2-fixing symbiont of legumes that has been the subject of more than a thousand publications. Genes for the symbiotic interaction with plants are well studied, but the adaptations that allow survival and growth in the soil environment are poorly understood. We have sequenced the genome of R. leguminosarum biovar viciae strain 3841.
The 7.75 Mb genome comprises a circular chromosome and six circular plasmids, with 61% G+C overall. All three rRNA operons and 52 tRNA genes are on the chromosome; essential protein-encoding genes are largely chromosomal, but most functional classes occur on plasmids as well. Of the 7,263 protein-encoding genes, 2,056 had orthologs in each of three related genomes (Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Sinorhizobium meliloti, and Mesorhizobium loti), and these genes were over-represented in the chromosome and had above average G+C. Most supported the rRNA-based phylogeny, confirming A. tumefaciens to be the closest among these relatives, but 347 genes were incompatible with this phylogeny; these were scattered throughout the genome but were over-represented on the plasmids. An unexpectedly large number of genes were shared by all three rhizobia but were missing from A. tumefaciens.
Overall, the genome can be considered to have two main components: a 'core', which is higher in G+C, is mostly chromosomal, is shared with related organisms, and has a consistent phylogeny; and an 'accessory' component, which is sporadic in distribution, lower in G+C, and located on the plasmids and chromosomal islands. The accessory genome has a different nucleotide composition from the core despite a long history of coexistence.
PMCID: PMC1557990  PMID: 16640791

Results 1-12 (12)