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1.  A Gapless, Unambiguous Genome Sequence of the Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 Strain EDL933 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(4):e00821-14.
Escherichia coli EDL933 is the prototypic strain for enterohemorrhagic E. coli serotype O157:H7, associated with deadly food-borne outbreaks. Because the publicly available sequence of the EDL933 genome has gaps and >6,000 ambiguous base calls, we here present an updated high-quality, unambiguous genome sequence with no assembly gaps.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00821-14
PMCID: PMC4132626  PMID: 25125650
2.  A highly abundant bacteriophage discovered in the unknown sequences of human faecal metagenomes 
Nature communications  2014;5:4498.
Metagenomics, or sequencing of the genetic material from a complete microbial community, is a promising tool to discover novel microbes and viruses. Viral metagenomes typically contain many unknown sequences. Here we describe the discovery of a previously unidentified bacteriophage present in the majority of published human fecal metagenomes, which we refer to as crAssphage. Its ~97 kbp genome is six times more abundant in publicly available metagenomes than all other known phages together; comprises up to 90% and 22% of all reads in virus-like particle (VLP)-derived metagenomes and total community metagenomes, respectively; and totals 1.68% of all human fecal metagenomic sequencing reads in the public databases. The majority of crAssphage-encoded proteins match no known sequences in the database, which is why it was not detected before. Using a new co-occurrence profiling approach, we predict a Bacteroides host for this phage, consistent with Bacteroides-related protein homologs and a unique carbohydrate-binding domain encoded in the phage genome,.
doi:10.1038/ncomms5498
PMCID: PMC4111155  PMID: 25058116
Human virome; biological dark matter; metagenome assembly; phage-host prediction; depth profiles
3.  PhiSpy: a novel algorithm for finding prophages in bacterial genomes that combines similarity- and composition-based strategies 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(16):e126.
Prophages are phages in lysogeny that are integrated into, and replicated as part of, the host bacterial genome. These mobile elements can have tremendous impact on their bacterial hosts’ genomes and phenotypes, which may lead to strain emergence and diversification, increased virulence or antibiotic resistance. However, finding prophages in microbial genomes remains a problem with no definitive solution. The majority of existing tools rely on detecting genomic regions enriched in protein-coding genes with known phage homologs, which hinders the de novo discovery of phage regions. In this study, a weighted phage detection algorithm, PhiSpy was developed based on seven distinctive characteristics of prophages, i.e. protein length, transcription strand directionality, customized AT and GC skew, the abundance of unique phage words, phage insertion points and the similarity of phage proteins. The first five characteristics are capable of identifying prophages without any sequence similarity with known phage genes. PhiSpy locates prophages by ranking genomic regions enriched in distinctive phage traits, which leads to the successful prediction of 94% of prophages in 50 complete bacterial genomes with a 6% false-negative rate and a 0.66% false-positive rate.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks406
PMCID: PMC3439882  PMID: 22584627
4.  Mutual Exclusivity of Hyaluronan and Hyaluronidase in Invasive Group A Streptococcus* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(46):32303-32315.
Background: Serotype M4 group A Streptococcus lack hyaluronic acid (HA) capsule, but are capable of causing human disease.
Results: Encapsulation was achieved by introducing the hasABC capsule synthesis operon in the absence of HA-degrading enzyme hyaluronate lyase (HylA).
Conclusion: Capsule expression does not enhance M4 GAS virulence.
Significance: We demonstrate a mutually exclusive interaction between GAS capsule and HylA expression.
A recent analysis of group A Streptococcus (GAS) invasive infections in Australia has shown a predominance of M4 GAS, a serotype recently reported to lack the antiphagocytic hyaluronic acid (HA) capsule. Here, we use molecular genetics and bioinformatics techniques to characterize 17 clinical M4 isolates associated with invasive disease in children during this recent epidemiology. All M4 isolates lacked HA capsule, and whole genome sequence analysis of two isolates revealed the complete absence of the hasABC capsule biosynthesis operon. Conversely, M4 isolates possess a functional HA-degrading hyaluronate lyase (HylA) enzyme that is rendered nonfunctional in other GAS through a point mutation. Transformation with a plasmid expressing hasABC restored partial encapsulation in wild-type (WT) M4 GAS, and full encapsulation in an isogenic M4 mutant lacking HylA. However, partial encapsulation reduced binding to human complement regulatory protein C4BP, did not enhance survival in whole human blood, and did not increase virulence of WT M4 GAS in a mouse model of systemic infection. Bioinformatics analysis found no hasABC homologs in closely related species, suggesting that this operon was a recent acquisition. These data showcase a mutually exclusive interaction of HA capsule and active HylA among strains of this leading human pathogen.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M114.602847
PMCID: PMC4231703  PMID: 25266727
Bacterial Pathogenesis; Hyaluronan; Hyaluronate; Infectious Disease; Streptococcus Pyogenes (S. Pyogenes); Group A Streptococcus; Hyaluronate Lyase; Hyaluronic acid Capsule; Invasive Disease; Nonencapsulated
5.  Rise and Persistence of Global M1T1 Clone of Streptococcus pyogenes 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(10):1511-1517.
M1T1 strain, its diversification by phage acquisition, and the in vivo selection of more fit members of its community present an intriguing example of the emergence of hypervirulent forms of a human pathogen.
The resurgence of severe invasive group A streptococcal infections in the 1980s is a typical example of the reemergence of an infectious disease. We found that this resurgence is a consequence of the diversification of particular strains of the bacteria. Among these strains is a highly virulent subclone of serotype M1T1 that has exhibited unusual epidemiologic features and virulence, unlike all other streptococcal strains. This clonal strain, commonly isolated from both noninvasive and invasive infection cases, is most frequently associated with severe invasive diseases. Because of its unusual prevalence, global spread, and increased virulence, we investigated the unique features that likely confer its unusual properties. In doing so, we found that the increased virulence of this clonal strain can be attributed to its diversification through phage mobilization and its ability to sense and adapt to different host environments; accordingly, the fittest members of this diverse bacterial community are selected to survive and invade host tissue.
doi:10.3201/eid1410.071660
PMCID: PMC2609857  PMID: 18826812
M1T1 strain; Streptococcus pyogenes; epidemiology; strain diversification; invasive; pathogenomics; phage mobilization; horizontal gene transfer; perspective
6.  A Conserved UDP-Glucose Dehydrogenase Encoded outside the hasABC Operon Contributes to Capsule Biogenesis in Group A Streptococcus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(22):6154-6161.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a human-specific bacterial pathogen responsible for serious morbidity and mortality worldwide. The hyaluronic acid (HA) capsule of GAS is a major virulence factor, contributing to bloodstream survival through resistance to neutrophil and antimicrobial peptide killing and to in vivo pathogenicity. Capsule biosynthesis has been exclusively attributed to the ubiquitous hasABC hyaluronan synthase operon, which is highly conserved across GAS serotypes. Previous reports indicate that hasA, encoding hyaluronan synthase, and hasB, encoding UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenase, are essential for capsule production in GAS. Here, we report that precise allelic exchange mutagenesis of hasB in GAS strain 5448, a representative of the globally disseminated M1T1 serotype, did not abolish HA capsule synthesis. In silico whole-genome screening identified a putative HasB paralog, designated HasB2, with 45% amino acid identity to HasB at a distant location in the GAS chromosome. In vitro enzymatic assays demonstrated that recombinant HasB2 is a functional UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenase enzyme. Mutagenesis of hasB2 alone slightly decreased capsule abundance; however, a ΔhasB ΔhasB2 double mutant became completely acapsular. We conclude that HasB is not essential for M1T1 GAS capsule biogenesis due to the presence of a newly identified HasB paralog, HasB2, which most likely resulted from gene duplication. The identification of redundant UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenases underscores the importance of HA capsule expression for M1T1 GAS pathogenicity and survival in the human host.
doi:10.1128/JB.01317-12
PMCID: PMC3486382  PMID: 22961854
7.  Applying Shannon's information theory to bacterial and phage genomes and metagenomes 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1033.
All sequence data contain inherent information that can be measured by Shannon's uncertainty theory. Such measurement is valuable in evaluating large data sets, such as metagenomic libraries, to prioritize their analysis and annotation, thus saving computational resources. Here, Shannon's index of complete phage and bacterial genomes was examined. The information content of a genome was found to be highly dependent on the genome length, GC content, and sequence word size. In metagenomic sequences, the amount of information correlated with the number of matches found by comparison to sequence databases. A sequence with more information (higher uncertainty) has a higher probability of being significantly similar to other sequences in the database. Measuring uncertainty may be used for rapid screening for sequences with matches in available database, prioritizing computational resources, and indicating which sequences with no known similarities are likely to be important for more detailed analysis.
doi:10.1038/srep01033
PMCID: PMC3539204  PMID: 23301154
8.  Gut Pharmacomicrobiomics: the tip of an iceberg of complex interactions between drugs and gut-associated microbes 
Gut Pathogens  2012;4:16.
The influence of resident gut microbes on xenobiotic metabolism has been investigated at different levels throughout the past five decades. However, with the advance in sequencing and pyrotagging technologies, addressing the influence of microbes on xenobiotics had to evolve from assessing direct metabolic effects on toxins and botanicals by conventional culture-based techniques to elucidating the role of community composition on drugs metabolic profiles through DNA sequence-based phylogeny and metagenomics. Following the completion of the Human Genome Project, the rapid, substantial growth of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) opens new horizons for studying how microbiome compositional and functional variations affect drug action, fate, and toxicity (pharmacomicrobiomics), notably in the human gut. The HMP continues to characterize the microbial communities associated with the human gut, determine whether there is a common gut microbiome profile shared among healthy humans, and investigate the effect of its alterations on health. Here, we offer a glimpse into the known effects of the gut microbiota on xenobiotic metabolism, with emphasis on cases where microbiome variations lead to different therapeutic outcomes. We discuss a few examples representing how the microbiome interacts with human metabolic enzymes in the liver and intestine. In addition, we attempt to envisage a roadmap for the future implications of the HMP on therapeutics and personalized medicine.
doi:10.1186/1757-4749-4-16
PMCID: PMC3529681  PMID: 23194438
Human microbiome project; Xenobitoics; Liver enzymes; Metagenome; Microbiota; Metabolomics; Metabonomics; Pharmacokinetics; Pharmacodynamics; Pharmacomicrobiomics
9.  SEED Servers: High-Performance Access to the SEED Genomes, Annotations, and Metabolic Models 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48053.
The remarkable advance in sequencing technology and the rising interest in medical and environmental microbiology, biotechnology, and synthetic biology resulted in a deluge of published microbial genomes. Yet, genome annotation, comparison, and modeling remain a major bottleneck to the translation of sequence information into biological knowledge, hence computational analysis tools are continuously being developed for rapid genome annotation and interpretation. Among the earliest, most comprehensive resources for prokaryotic genome analysis, the SEED project, initiated in 2003 as an integration of genomic data and analysis tools, now contains >5,000 complete genomes, a constantly updated set of curated annotations embodied in a large and growing collection of encoded subsystems, a derived set of protein families, and hundreds of genome-scale metabolic models. Until recently, however, maintaining current copies of the SEED code and data at remote locations has been a pressing issue. To allow high-performance remote access to the SEED database, we developed the SEED Servers (http://www.theseed.org/servers): four network-based servers intended to expose the data in the underlying relational database, support basic annotation services, offer programmatic access to the capabilities of the RAST annotation server, and provide access to a growing collection of metabolic models that support flux balance analysis. The SEED servers offer open access to regularly updated data, the ability to annotate prokaryotic genomes, the ability to create metabolic reconstructions and detailed models of metabolism, and access to hundreds of existing metabolic models. This work offers and supports a framework upon which other groups can build independent research efforts. Large integrations of genomic data represent one of the major intellectual resources driving research in biology, and programmatic access to the SEED data will provide significant utility to a broad collection of potential users.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048053
PMCID: PMC3480482  PMID: 23110173
11.  Parameters Governing Invasive Disease Propensity of Non-M1 Serotype Group A Streptococci 
Journal of Innate Immunity  2010;2(6):596-606.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) causes rare but life-threatening syndromes of necrotizing fasciitis and toxic shock-like syndrome in humans. The GAS serotype M1T1 clone has globally disseminated, and mutations in the control of virulence regulatory sensor kinase (covRS) operon correlate with severe invasive disease. Here, a cohort of non-M1 GAS was screened to determine whether mutation in covRS triggers systemic dissemination in divergent M serotypes. A GAS disease model defining parameters governing invasive propensity of differing M types is proposed. The vast majority of GAS infection is benign. Nonetheless, many divergent M types possess limited capacity to cause invasive infection. M1T1 GAS readily switch to a covRS mutant form that is neutrophil resistant and frequently associated with systemic infection. Whilst non-M1 GAS are shown in this study to less frequently accumulate covRS mutations in vivo, such mutants are isolated from invasive infections and exhibit neutrophil resistance and enhanced virulence. The reduced capacity of non-M1 GAS to switch to the hypervirulent covRS mutant form provides an explanation for the comparatively less frequent isolation of non-M1 serotypes from invasive human infections.
doi:10.1159/000317640
PMCID: PMC3219504  PMID: 20814186
Animal models; Bacteriology; Immunity; Innate; Neutrophils; Streptococcus; Virulence factors; Invasive infection
14.  The novel polysaccharide deacetylase homologue Pdi contributes to virulence of the aquatic pathogen Streptococcus iniae 
Microbiology  2010;156(Pt 2):543-554.
The aquatic zoonotic pathogen Streptococcus iniae represents a threat to the worldwide aquaculture industry and poses a risk to humans who handle raw fish. Because little is known about the mechanisms of S. iniae pathogenesis or virulence factors, we established a high-throughput system combining whole-genome pyrosequencing and transposon mutagenesis that allowed us to identify virulence proteins, including Pdi, the polysaccharide deacetylase of S. iniae, that we describe here. Using bioinformatics tools, we identified a highly conserved signature motif in Pdi that is also conserved in the peptidoglycan deacetylase PgdA protein family. A Δpdi mutant was attenuated for virulence in the hybrid striped bass model and for survival in whole fish blood. Moreover, Pdi was found to promote bacterial resistance to lysozyme killing and the ability to adhere to and invade epithelial cells. On the other hand, there was no difference in the autolytic potential, resistance to oxidative killing or resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides between S. iniae wild-type and Δpdi. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that pdi is involved in S. iniae adherence and invasion, lysozyme resistance and survival in fish blood, and have shown that pdi plays a role in the pathogenesis of S. iniae. Identification of Pdi and other S. iniae virulence proteins is a necessary initial step towards the development of appropriate preventive and therapeutic measures against diseases and economic losses caused by this pathogen.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.028365-0
PMCID: PMC2890087  PMID: 19762441
16.  Microevolution of Group A Streptococci In Vivo: Capturing Regulatory Networks Engaged in Sociomicrobiology, Niche Adaptation, and Hypervirulence 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e9798.
The onset of infection and the switch from primary to secondary niches are dramatic environmental changes that not only alter bacterial transcriptional programs, but also perturb their sociomicrobiology, often driving minor subpopulations with mutant phenotypes to prevail in specific niches. Having previously reported that M1T1 Streptococcus pyogenes become hypervirulent in mice due to selection of mutants in the covRS regulatory genes, we set out to dissect the impact of these mutations in vitro and in vivo from the impact of other adaptive events. Using a murine subcutaneous chamber model to sample the bacteria prior to selection or expansion of mutants, we compared gene expression dynamics of wild type (WT) and previously isolated animal-passaged (AP) covS mutant bacteria both in vitro and in vivo, and we found extensive transcriptional alterations of pathoadaptive and metabolic gene sets associated with invasion, immune evasion, tissue-dissemination, and metabolic reprogramming. In contrast to the virulence-associated differences between WT and AP bacteria, Phenotype Microarray analysis showed minor in vitro phenotypic differences between the two isogenic variants. Additionally, our results reflect that WT bacteria's rapid host-adaptive transcriptional reprogramming was not sufficient for their survival, and they were outnumbered by hypervirulent covS mutants with SpeB−/Sdahigh phenotype, which survived up to 14 days in mice chambers. Our findings demonstrate the engagement of unique regulatory modules in niche adaptation, implicate a critical role for bacterial genetic heterogeneity that surpasses transcriptional in vivo adaptation, and portray the dynamics underlying the selection of hypervirulent covS mutants over their parental WT cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009798
PMCID: PMC2854683  PMID: 20418946
17.  Transposases are the most abundant, most ubiquitous genes in nature 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(13):4207-4217.
Genes, like organisms, struggle for existence, and the most successful genes persist and widely disseminate in nature. The unbiased determination of the most successful genes requires access to sequence data from a wide range of phylogenetic taxa and ecosystems, which has finally become achievable thanks to the deluge of genomic and metagenomic sequences. Here, we analyzed 10 million protein-encoding genes and gene tags in sequenced bacterial, archaeal, eukaryotic and viral genomes and metagenomes, and our analysis demonstrates that genes encoding transposases are the most prevalent genes in nature. The finding that these genes, classically considered as selfish genes, outnumber essential or housekeeping genes suggests that they offer selective advantage to the genomes and ecosystems they inhabit, a hypothesis in agreement with an emerging body of literature. Their mobile nature not only promotes dissemination of transposable elements within and between genomes but also leads to mutations and rearrangements that can accelerate biological diversification and—consequently—evolution. By securing their own replication and dissemination, transposases guarantee to thrive so long as nucleic acid-based life forms exist.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq140
PMCID: PMC2910039  PMID: 20215432
20.  Inactivation of DltA Modulates Virulence Factor Expression in Streptococcus pyogenes 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5366.
Background
D-alanylated lipoteichoic acid is a virtually ubiquitous component of Gram-positive cell walls. Mutations in the dltABCD operon of numerous species exhibit pleiotropic effects, including reduced virulence, which has been attributed to increased binding of cationic antimicrobial peptides to the more negatively charged cell surface. In this study, we have further investigated the effects that mutating dltA has on virulence factor expression in Streptococcus pyogenes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Isogenic ΔdltA mutants had previously been created in two distinct M1T1 isolates of S. pyogenes. Immunoblots, flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence were used to quantitate M protein levels in these strains, as well as to assess their ability to bind complement. Bacteria were tested for their ability to interact with human PMN and to grow in whole human blood. Message levels for emm, sic, and various regulatory elements were assessed by quantitative RT-PCR. Cell walls of ΔdltA mutants contained much less M protein than cell walls of parent strains and this correlated with reduced levels of emm transcripts, increased deposition of complement, increased association of bacteria with polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and reduced bacterial growth in whole human blood. Transcription of at least one other gene of the mga regulon, sic, which encodes a protein that inactivates antimicrobial peptides, was also dramatically reduced in ΔdltA mutants. Concomitantly, ccpA and rofA were unaffected, while rgg and arcA were up-regulated.
Conclusions/Significance
This study has identified a novel mechanism for the reduced virulence of dltA mutants of Streptococcus pyogenes in which gene regulatory networks somehow sense and respond to the loss of DltA and lack of D-alanine esterification of lipoteichoic acid. The mechanism remains to be determined, but the data indicate that the status of D-alanine-lipoteichoic acid can significantly influence the expression of at least some streptococcal virulence factors and provide further impetus to targeting the dlt operon of Gram-positive pathogens in the search for novel antimicrobial compounds.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005366
PMCID: PMC2671602  PMID: 19401780
21.  A Naturally Occurring Mutation in ropB Suppresses SpeB Expression and Reduces M1T1 Group A Streptococcal Systemic Virulence 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4102.
Epidemiological studies of group A streptococcus (GAS) have noted an inverse relationship between SpeB expression and invasive disease. However, the role of SpeB in the course of infection is still unclear. In this study we utilize a SpeB-negative M1T1 clinical isolate, 5628, with a naturally occurring mutation in the gene encoding the regulator RopB, to elucidate the role of RopB and SpeB in systemic virulence. Allelic exchange mutagenesis was used to replace the mutated ropB allele in 5628 with the intact allele from the well characterized isolate 5448. The inverse allelic exchange was also performed to replace the intact ropB in 5448 with the mutated allele from 5628. An intact ropB was found to be essential for SpeB expression. While the ropB mutation was shown to have no effect on hemolysis of RBC's, extracellular DNase activity or survival in the presence of neutrophils, strains with the mutated ropB allele were less virulent in murine systemic models of infection. An isogenic SpeB knockout strain containing an intact RopB showed similarly reduced virulence. Microarray analysis found genes of the SpeB operon to be the primary target of RopB regulation. These data show that an intact RopB and efficient SpeB production are necessary for systemic infection with GAS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004102
PMCID: PMC2605554  PMID: 19116661
22.  Streptococcus iniae M-Like Protein Contributes to Virulence in Fish and Is a Target for Live Attenuated Vaccine Development 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2824.
Background
Streptococcus iniae is a significant pathogen in finfish aquaculture, though knowledge of virulence determinants is lacking. Through pyrosequencing of the S. iniae genome we have identified two gene homologues to classical surface-anchored streptococcal virulence factors: M-like protein (simA) and C5a peptidase (scpI).
Methodology/Principal Findings
S. iniae possesses a Mga-like locus containing simA and a divergently transcribed putative mga-like regulatory gene, mgx. In contrast to the Mga locus of group A Streptococcus (GAS, S. pyogenes), scpI is located distally in the chromosome. Comparative sequence analysis of the Mgx locus revealed only one significant variant, a strain with an insertion frameshift mutation in simA and a deletion mutation in a region downstream of mgx, generating an ORF which may encode a second putative mga-like gene, mgx2. Allelic exchange mutagenesis of simA and scpI was employed to investigate the potential role of these genes in S. iniae virulence. Our hybrid striped bass (HSB) and zebrafish models of infection revealed that M-like protein contributes significantly to S. iniae pathogenesis whereas C5a peptidase-like protein does not. Further, in vitro cell-based analyses indicate that SiMA, like other M family proteins, contributes to cellular adherence and invasion and provides resistance to phagocytic killing. Attenuation in our virulence models was also observed in the S. iniae isolate possessing a natural simA mutation. Vaccination of HSB with the ΔsimA mutant provided 100% protection against subsequent challenge with a lethal dose of wild-type (WT) S. iniae after 1,400 degree days, and shows promise as a target for live attenuated vaccine development.
Conclusions/Significance
Analysis of M-like protein and C5a peptidase through allelic replacement revealed that M-like protein plays a significant role in S. iniae virulence, and the Mga-like locus, which may regulate expression of this gene, has an unusual arrangement. The M-like protein mutant created in this research holds promise as live-attenuated vaccine.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002824
PMCID: PMC2483786  PMID: 18665241
23.  An Unbiased Systems Genetics Approach to Mapping Genetic Loci Modulating Susceptibility to Severe Streptococcal Sepsis 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(4):e1000042.
Striking individual differences in severity of group A streptococcal (GAS) sepsis have been noted, even among patients infected with the same bacterial strain. We had provided evidence that HLA class II allelic variation contributes significantly to differences in systemic disease severity by modulating host responses to streptococcal superantigens. Inasmuch as the bacteria produce additional virulence factors that participate in the pathogenesis of this complex disease, we sought to identify additional gene networks modulating GAS sepsis. Accordingly, we applied a systems genetics approach using a panel of advanced recombinant inbred mice. By analyzing disease phenotypes in the context of mice genotypes we identified a highly significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) on Chromosome 2 between 22 and 34 Mb that strongly predicts disease severity, accounting for 25%–30% of variance. This QTL harbors several polymorphic genes known to regulate immune responses to bacterial infections. We evaluated candidate genes within this QTL using multiple parameters that included linkage, gene ontology, variation in gene expression, cocitation networks, and biological relevance, and identified interleukin1 alpha and prostaglandin E synthases pathways as key networks involved in modulating GAS sepsis severity. The association of GAS sepsis with multiple pathways underscores the complexity of traits modulating GAS sepsis and provides a powerful approach for analyzing interactive traits affecting outcomes of other infectious diseases.
Author Summary
Group A streptococci (GAS) cause a wide variety of human diseases ranging from mild pharyngitis to streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing faciitis. Our previous studies have shown that host immunogenetic variation can dictate the clinical outcome of GAS sepsis. As in most human disease, GAS sepsis is likely to be affected by complex interactions between more than one polymorphic gene. We addressed this issue in our study where we present an approach that allowed us to identify multi genetic factors that likely contribute to sepsis severity. We mapped susceptibility to severe GAS sepsis to quantitative trait loci on Chromosome 2 using a panel of genetically diverse inbred mice. The mapped regions have high single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density that harbor genes known to play an important role in innate immune response to bacteria. Several of those genes are differentially expressed between susceptible and resistant strains of mice. Our overall approach of systematic dissection of genetic and molecular basis of host susceptibility is not unique to GAS infections, but can be applied to other infectious diseases to develop better diagnostics, design effective therapeutics and predict disease severity based on a set of genetic and soluble biomarkers.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000042
PMCID: PMC2277464  PMID: 18421376
24.  The RAST Server: Rapid Annotations using Subsystems Technology 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:75.
Background
The number of prokaryotic genome sequences becoming available is growing steadily and is growing faster than our ability to accurately annotate them.
Description
We describe a fully automated service for annotating bacterial and archaeal genomes. The service identifies protein-encoding, rRNA and tRNA genes, assigns functions to the genes, predicts which subsystems are represented in the genome, uses this information to reconstruct the metabolic network and makes the output easily downloadable for the user. In addition, the annotated genome can be browsed in an environment that supports comparative analysis with the annotated genomes maintained in the SEED environment.
The service normally makes the annotated genome available within 12–24 hours of submission, but ultimately the quality of such a service will be judged in terms of accuracy, consistency, and completeness of the produced annotations. We summarize our attempts to address these issues and discuss plans for incrementally enhancing the service.
Conclusion
By providing accurate, rapid annotation freely to the community we have created an important community resource. The service has now been utilized by over 120 external users annotating over 350 distinct genomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-75
PMCID: PMC2265698  PMID: 18261238
25.  Genetic Characterization and Virulence Role of the RALP3/LSA Locus Upstream of the Streptolysin S Operon in Invasive M1T1 Group A Streptococcus▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;189(4):1322-1329.
Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a leading human pathogen associated with a wide spectrum of mucosal and invasive infections. GAS expresses a large number of virulence determinants whose expression is under the control of several transcriptional regulatory networks. Here we performed the first mutational analysis of a genetic locus immediately upstream of the streptolysin S biosynthetic operon in several GAS genome sequences, including that of the M1T1 serotype, the leading isolates associated with serious invasive disease. The locus consists of a predicted RofA-like stand-alone transcriptional regulator (RALP3) and the largest open reading frame in the GAS genome, encoding a predicted LPXSG motif cell wall-anchored protein we have named LSA (for “large surface-anchored” protein). Comparative reverse transcription-PCR analysis of wild-type M1T1 GAS and an isogenic RALP3-deficient mutant identifies RALP3 as a global transcriptional regulator affecting expression of numerous virulence factor genes, including those for strong repression of the hyaluronic acid capsule and cysteine protease production. RALP3 contributed to GAS epithelial cell invasion and bloodstream survival. LSA was found to be under negative regulation by RALP3 and to influence GAS-epithelial cell interactions and GAS antimicrobial peptide sensitivity. Isogenic M1T1 GAS mutants lacking either RALP3 or LSA were attenuated in a murine model of systemic infection, indicating that this locus plays a role in the virulence potential of the organism.
doi:10.1128/JB.01256-06
PMCID: PMC1797346  PMID: 17114267

Results 1-25 (28)