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1.  The DNA sequence of the human X chromosome 
Ross, Mark T. | Grafham, Darren V. | Coffey, Alison J. | Scherer, Steven | McLay, Kirsten | Muzny, Donna | Platzer, Matthias | Howell, Gareth R. | Burrows, Christine | Bird, Christine P. | Frankish, Adam | Lovell, Frances L. | Howe, Kevin L. | Ashurst, Jennifer L. | Fulton, Robert S. | Sudbrak, Ralf | Wen, Gaiping | Jones, Matthew C. | Hurles, Matthew E. | Andrews, T. Daniel | Scott, Carol E. | Searle, Stephen | Ramser, Juliane | Whittaker, Adam | Deadman, Rebecca | Carter, Nigel P. | Hunt, Sarah E. | Chen, Rui | Cree, Andrew | Gunaratne, Preethi | Havlak, Paul | Hodgson, Anne | Metzker, Michael L. | Richards, Stephen | Scott, Graham | Steffen, David | Sodergren, Erica | Wheeler, David A. | Worley, Kim C. | Ainscough, Rachael | Ambrose, Kerrie D. | Ansari-Lari, M. Ali | Aradhya, Swaroop | Ashwell, Robert I. S. | Babbage, Anne K. | Bagguley, Claire L. | Ballabio, Andrea | Banerjee, Ruby | Barker, Gary E. | Barlow, Karen F. | Barrett, Ian P. | Bates, Karen N. | Beare, David M. | Beasley, Helen | Beasley, Oliver | Beck, Alfred | Bethel, Graeme | Blechschmidt, Karin | Brady, Nicola | Bray-Allen, Sarah | Bridgeman, Anne M. | Brown, Andrew J. | Brown, Mary J. | Bonnin, David | Bruford, Elspeth A. | Buhay, Christian | Burch, Paula | Burford, Deborah | Burgess, Joanne | Burrill, Wayne | Burton, John | Bye, Jackie M. | Carder, Carol | Carrel, Laura | Chako, Joseph | Chapman, Joanne C. | Chavez, Dean | Chen, Ellson | Chen, Guan | Chen, Yuan | Chen, Zhijian | Chinault, Craig | Ciccodicola, Alfredo | Clark, Sue Y. | Clarke, Graham | Clee, Chris M. | Clegg, Sheila | Clerc-Blankenburg, Kerstin | Clifford, Karen | Cobley, Vicky | Cole, Charlotte G. | Conquer, Jen S. | Corby, Nicole | Connor, Richard E. | David, Robert | Davies, Joy | Davis, Clay | Davis, John | Delgado, Oliver | DeShazo, Denise | Dhami, Pawandeep | Ding, Yan | Dinh, Huyen | Dodsworth, Steve | Draper, Heather | Dugan-Rocha, Shannon | Dunham, Andrew | Dunn, Matthew | Durbin, K. James | Dutta, Ireena | Eades, Tamsin | Ellwood, Matthew | Emery-Cohen, Alexandra | Errington, Helen | Evans, Kathryn L. | Faulkner, Louisa | Francis, Fiona | Frankland, John | Fraser, Audrey E. | Galgoczy, Petra | Gilbert, James | Gill, Rachel | Glöckner, Gernot | Gregory, Simon G. | Gribble, Susan | Griffiths, Coline | Grocock, Russell | Gu, Yanghong | Gwilliam, Rhian | Hamilton, Cerissa | Hart, Elizabeth A. | Hawes, Alicia | Heath, Paul D. | Heitmann, Katja | Hennig, Steffen | Hernandez, Judith | Hinzmann, Bernd | Ho, Sarah | Hoffs, Michael | Howden, Phillip J. | Huckle, Elizabeth J. | Hume, Jennifer | Hunt, Paul J. | Hunt, Adrienne R. | Isherwood, Judith | Jacob, Leni | Johnson, David | Jones, Sally | de Jong, Pieter J. | Joseph, Shirin S. | Keenan, Stephen | Kelly, Susan | Kershaw, Joanne K. | Khan, Ziad | Kioschis, Petra | Klages, Sven | Knights, Andrew J. | Kosiura, Anna | Kovar-Smith, Christie | Laird, Gavin K. | Langford, Cordelia | Lawlor, Stephanie | Leversha, Margaret | Lewis, Lora | Liu, Wen | Lloyd, Christine | Lloyd, David M. | Loulseged, Hermela | Loveland, Jane E. | Lovell, Jamieson D. | Lozado, Ryan | Lu, Jing | Lyne, Rachael | Ma, Jie | Maheshwari, Manjula | Matthews, Lucy H. | McDowall, Jennifer | McLaren, Stuart | McMurray, Amanda | Meidl, Patrick | Meitinger, Thomas | Milne, Sarah | Miner, George | Mistry, Shailesh L. | Morgan, Margaret | Morris, Sidney | Müller, Ines | Mullikin, James C. | Nguyen, Ngoc | Nordsiek, Gabriele | Nyakatura, Gerald | O’Dell, Christopher N. | Okwuonu, Geoffery | Palmer, Sophie | Pandian, Richard | Parker, David | Parrish, Julia | Pasternak, Shiran | Patel, Dina | Pearce, Alex V. | Pearson, Danita M. | Pelan, Sarah E. | Perez, Lesette | Porter, Keith M. | Ramsey, Yvonne | Reichwald, Kathrin | Rhodes, Susan | Ridler, Kerry A. | Schlessinger, David | Schueler, Mary G. | Sehra, Harminder K. | Shaw-Smith, Charles | Shen, Hua | Sheridan, Elizabeth M. | Shownkeen, Ratna | Skuce, Carl D. | Smith, Michelle L. | Sotheran, Elizabeth C. | Steingruber, Helen E. | Steward, Charles A. | Storey, Roy | Swann, R. Mark | Swarbreck, David | Tabor, Paul E. | Taudien, Stefan | Taylor, Tineace | Teague, Brian | Thomas, Karen | Thorpe, Andrea | Timms, Kirsten | Tracey, Alan | Trevanion, Steve | Tromans, Anthony C. | d’Urso, Michele | Verduzco, Daniel | Villasana, Donna | Waldron, Lenee | Wall, Melanie | Wang, Qiaoyan | Warren, James | Warry, Georgina L. | Wei, Xuehong | West, Anthony | Whitehead, Siobhan L. | Whiteley, Mathew N. | Wilkinson, Jane E. | Willey, David L. | Williams, Gabrielle | Williams, Leanne | Williamson, Angela | Williamson, Helen | Wilming, Laurens | Woodmansey, Rebecca L. | Wray, Paul W. | Yen, Jennifer | Zhang, Jingkun | Zhou, Jianling | Zoghbi, Huda | Zorilla, Sara | Buck, David | Reinhardt, Richard | Poustka, Annemarie | Rosenthal, André | Lehrach, Hans | Meindl, Alfons | Minx, Patrick J. | Hillier, LaDeana W. | Willard, Huntington F. | Wilson, Richard K. | Waterston, Robert H. | Rice, Catherine M. | Vaudin, Mark | Coulson, Alan | Nelson, David L. | Weinstock, George | Sulston, John E. | Durbin, Richard | Hubbard, Tim | Gibbs, Richard A. | Beck, Stephan | Rogers, Jane | Bentley, David R.
Nature  2005;434(7031):325-337.
The human X chromosome has a unique biology that was shaped by its evolution as the sex chromosome shared by males and females. We have determined 99.3% of the euchromatic sequence of the X chromosome. Our analysis illustrates the autosomal origin of the mammalian sex chromosomes, the stepwise process that led to the progressive loss of recombination between X and Y, and the extent of subsequent degradation of the Y chromosome. LINE1 repeat elements cover one-third of the X chromosome, with a distribution that is consistent with their proposed role as way stations in the process of X-chromosome inactivation. We found 1,098 genes in the sequence, of which 99 encode proteins expressed in testis and in various tumour types. A disproportionately high number of mendelian diseases are documented for the X chromosome. Of this number, 168 have been explained by mutations in 113 X-linked genes, which in many cases were characterized with the aid of the DNA sequence.
doi:10.1038/nature03440
PMCID: PMC2665286  PMID: 15772651
2.  The Contribution of Viral Genotype to Plasma Viral Set-Point in HIV Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(5):e1004112.
Disease progression in HIV-infected individuals varies greatly, and while the environmental and host factors influencing this variation have been widely investigated, the viral contribution to variation in set-point viral load, a predictor of disease progression, is less clear. Previous studies, using transmission-pairs and analysis of phylogenetic signal in small numbers of individuals, have produced a wide range of viral genetic effect estimates. Here we present a novel application of a population-scale method based in quantitative genetics to estimate the viral genetic effect on set-point viral load in the UK subtype B HIV-1 epidemic, based on a very large data set. Analyzing the initial viral load and associated pol sequence, both taken before anti-retroviral therapy, of 8,483 patients, we estimate the proportion of variance in viral load explained by viral genetic effects to be 5.7% (CI 2.8–8.6%). We also estimated the change in viral load over time due to selection on the virus and environmental effects to be a decline of 0.05 log10 copies/mL/year, in contrast to recent studies which suggested a reported small increase in viral load over the last 20 years might be due to evolutionary changes in the virus. Our results suggest that in the UK epidemic, subtype B has a small but significant viral genetic effect on viral load. By allowing the analysis of large sample sizes, we expect our approach to be applicable to the estimation of the genetic contribution to traits in many organisms.
Author Summary
HIV viral load, the amount of virus in the blood, is an important predictor of rate of CD4+ cell decline, time to AIDS and onwards transmission. Plasma viral load is influenced by many environmental and host factors, but the contribution of the viral genome is not yet clear. We have adapted a method from quantitative genetics which considers the viral phylogeny as a pedigree, permitting analysis of large cohort-derived datasets for the first time. We found the viral genome contributes significantly to the level of the set point viral load, but only determines about 6% of the variation in this property in this population. Our study also suggests that the change over time in mean plasma viral load described in some recent studies has not been due to a change in the component of viral load that is contributed by viral genotype.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004112
PMCID: PMC4006911  PMID: 24789308
3.  DHCR24 associates strongly with the endoplasmic reticulum beyond predicted membrane domains: implications for the activities of this multi-functional enzyme 
Bioscience Reports  2014;34(2):e00098.
Cholesterol synthesis occurs in the ER (endoplasmic reticulum), where most of the cholesterogenic machinery resides. As membrane-bound proteins, their topology is difficult to determine, and thus their structures are largely unknown. To help resolve this, we focused on the final enzyme in cholesterol synthesis, DHCR24 (3β-hydroxysterol Δ24-reductase). Prediction programmes and previous studies have shown conflicting results regarding which regions of DHCR24 are associated with the membrane, although there was general agreement that this was limited to only the N-terminal portion. Here, we present biochemical evidence that in fact the majority of the enzyme is associated with the ER membrane. This has important consequences for the many functions attributed to DHCR24. In particular, those that suggest DHCR24 alters its localization within the cell should be reassessed in light of this new information. Moreover, we propose that the expanding database of post-translational modifications will be a valuable resource for mapping the topology of membrane-associated proteins, such as DHCR24, that is, flagging cytosolic residues accessible to modifying enzymes such as kinases and ubiquitin ligases.
We present new findings indicating that the final enzyme in cholesterol synthesis is strongly associated with the endoplasmic reticulum membrane throughout its length, contrary to previous studies that indicated only the beginning of the enzyme was associated with the membrane.
doi:10.1042/BSR20130127
PMCID: PMC3958128  PMID: 24502685
cholesterol; DHCR24; ER; membrane; peduncle; topology; CHO, Chinese-hamster ovary; DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DHCR24, 3β-hydroxysterol Δ24-reductase; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; FAD, flavin adenine dinucleotide; GRAVY, grand average of hydropathicity; HMM, hidden Markov model; MSA, multiple sequence alignment; PTM, post-translational modification; SA, signal anchor; SP, signal peptide; TM, transmembrane; TMD, transmembrane domain
4.  Reassortment patterns of avian influenza virus internal segments among different subtypes 
Background
The segmented RNA genome of avian Influenza viruses (AIV) allows genetic reassortment between co-infecting viruses, providing an evolutionary pathway to generate genetic innovation. The genetic diversity (16 haemagglutinin and 9 neuraminidase subtypes) of AIV indicates an extensive reservoir of influenza viruses exists in bird populations, but how frequently subtypes reassort with each other is still unknown. Here we quantify the reassortment patterns among subtypes in the Eurasian avian viral pool by reconstructing the ancestral states of the subtypes as discrete states on time-scaled phylogenies with respect to the internal protein coding segments. We further analyzed how host species, the inferred evolutionary rates and the dN/dS ratio varied among segments and between discrete subtypes, and whether these factors may be associated with inter-subtype reassortment rate.
Results
The general patterns of reassortment are similar among five internal segments with the exception of segment 8, encoding the Non-Structural genes, which has a more divergent phylogeny. However, significant variation in rates between subtypes was observed. In particular, hemagglutinin-encoding segments of subtypes H5 to H9 reassort at a lower rate compared to those of H1 to H4, and Neuraminidase-encoding segments of subtypes N1 and N2 reassort less frequently than N3 to N9. Both host species and dN/dS ratio were significantly associated with reassortment rate, while evolutionary rate was not associated. The dN/dS ratio was negatively correlated with reassortment rate, as was the number of negatively selected sites for all segments.
Conclusions
These results indicate that overall selective constraint and host species are both associated with reassortment rate. These results together identify the wild bird population as the major source of new reassortants, rather than domestic poultry. The lower reassortment rates observed for H5N1 and H9N2 may be explained by the large proportion of strains derived from domestic poultry populations. In contrast, the higher rates observed in the H1N1, H3N8 and H4N6 subtypes could be due to their primary origin as infections of wild birds with multiple low pathogenicity strains in the large avian reservoir.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-16
PMCID: PMC3905155  PMID: 24456010
5.  Novel HIV-1 Recombinants Spreading across Multiple Risk Groups in the United Kingdom: The Identification and Phylogeography of Circulating Recombinant Form (CRF) 50_A1D 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83337.
Background
An increase in non-B HIV-1 infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United Kingdom (UK) has created opportunities for novel recombinants to arise and become established. We used molecular mapping to characterize the importance of such recombinants to the UK HIV epidemic, in order to gain insights into transmission dynamics that can inform control strategies.
Methods and Results
A total of 55,556 pol (reverse transcriptase and protease) sequences in the UK HIV Drug Resistance Database were analyzed using Subtype Classification Using Evolutionary Algorithms (SCUEAL). Overall 72 patients shared the same A1/D recombination breakpoint in pol, comprising predominantly MSM but also heterosexuals and injecting drug users (IDUs). In six MSM, full-length single genome amplification of plasma HIV-1 RNA was performed in order to characterize the A1/D recombinant. Subtypes and recombination breakpoints were identified using sliding window and jumping profile hidden markov model approaches. Global maximum likelihood trees of gag, pol and env genes were drawn using FastTree version 2.1. Five of the six strains showed the same novel A1/D recombinant (8 breakpoints), which has been classified as CRF50_A1D. The sixth strain showed a complex CRF50_A1D/B/U structure. Divergence dates and phylogeographic inferences were determined using Bayesian Evolutionary Analysis using Sampling Trees (BEAST). This estimated that CRF50_A1D emerged in the UK around 1992 in MSM, with subsequent transmissions to heterosexuals and IDUs. Analysis of CRF50_A1D/B/U demonstrated that around the year 2000 CRF50_A1D underwent recombination with a subtype B strain.
Conclusions
We report the identification of CRF50_A1D, a novel circulating recombinant that emerged in UK MSM around 1992, with subsequent onward transmission to heterosexuals and IDUs, and more recent recombination with subtype B. These findings highlight the changing dynamics of HIV transmission in the UK and the converging of the two previously distinct MSM and heterosexual epidemics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083337
PMCID: PMC3893077  PMID: 24454702
6.  A Practical Comparison of Ligation-Independent Cloning Techniques 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83888.
The precise assembly of specific DNA sequences is a critical technique in molecular biology. Traditional cloning techniques use restriction enzymes and ligation of DNA in vitro, which can be hampered by a lack of appropriate restriction-sites and inefficient enzymatic steps. A number of ligation-independent cloning techniques have been developed, including polymerase incomplete primer extension (PIPE) cloning, sequence and ligation-independent cloning (SLIC), and overlap extension cloning (OEC). These strategies rely on the generation of complementary overhangs by DNA polymerase, without requiring specific restriction sites or ligation, and achieve high efficiencies in a fraction of the time at low cost. Here, we outline and optimise these techniques and identify important factors to guide cloning project design, including avoiding PCR artefacts such as primer-dimers and vector plasmid background. Experiments made use of a common reporter vector and a set of modular primers to clone DNA fragments of increasing size. Overall, PIPE achieved cloning efficiencies of ∼95% with few manipulations, whereas SLIC provided a much higher number of transformants, but required additional steps. Our data suggest that for small inserts (<1.5 kb), OEC is a good option, requiring only two new primers, but performs poorly for larger inserts. These ligation-independent cloning approaches constitute an essential part of the researcher's molecular-tool kit.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083888
PMCID: PMC3871625  PMID: 24376768
7.  EFFECTS OF SIMULATED INJURY ON THE ANTEROINFERIOR GLENOHUMERAL CAPSULE 
Glenohumeral dislocation results in permanent deformation (nonrecoverable strain) of the glenohumeral capsule which leads to increased range of motion and recurrent instability. Minimal research has examined the effects of injury on the biomechanical properties of the capsule which may contribute to poor patient outcome following repair procedures. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of simulated injury on the stiffness and material properties of the AB-IGHL during tensile deformation. Using a combined experimental and computational methodology, the stiffness and material properties of six AB-IGHL samples during tensile elongation were determined before and after simulated injury. The AB-IGHL was subjected to 12.7±3.2% maximum principal strain which resulted in 2.5±0.9% nonrecoverable strain. The linear region stiffness and modulus of stress-stretch curves between the normal (52.4±30.0 N/mm, 39.1±26.6 MPa) and injured (64.7±21.3N/mm, 73.5±53.8MPa) AB-IGHL increased significantly (p=0.03, p=0.04). These increases suggest that changes in the tissue microstructure exist following simulated injury. The injured tissue could contain more aligned collagen fibers and may not be able to support a normal range of joint motion. Collagen fiber kinematics during simulated injury will be examined in the future.
doi:10.1007/s11517-012-0961-1
PMCID: PMC3515711  PMID: 23054378
Shoulder; Glenohumeral Joint; Finite Element Analysis; Mechanical Properties; Soft Tissue Injury
8.  Estimating the Rate of Intersubtype Recombination in Early HIV-1 Group M Strains 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(4):1967-1973.
West Central Africa has been implicated as the epicenter of the HIV-1 epidemic, and almost all group M subtypes can be found there. Previous analysis of early HIV-1 group M sequences from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, revealed that isolates from a number of individuals fall in different positions in phylogenetic trees constructed from sequences from opposite ends of the genome as a result of recombination between viruses of different subtypes. Here, we use discrete ancestral trait mapping to develop a procedure for quantifying HIV-1 group M intersubtype recombination across phylogenies, using individuals' gag (p17) and env (gp41) subtypes. The method was applied to previously described HIV-1 group M sequences from samples obtained in Kinshasa early in the global radiation of HIV. Nine different p17 and gp41 intersubtype recombinant combinations were present in the data set. The mean number of excess ancestral subtype transitions (NEST) required to map individuals' p17 subtypes onto the gp14 phylogeny samples, compared to the number required to map them onto the p17 phylogenies, and vice versa, indicated that excess subtype transitions occurred at a rate of approximately 7 × 10−3 to 8 × 10−3 per lineage per year as a result of intersubtype recombination. Our results imply that intersubtype recombination may have occurred in approximately 20% of lineages evolving over a period of 30 years and confirm intersubtype recombination as a substantial force in generating HIV-1 group M diversity.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02478-12
PMCID: PMC3571495  PMID: 23236072
9.  Evolutionary interactions between haemagglutinin and neuraminidase in avian influenza 
Background
Reassortment between the RNA segments encoding haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), the major antigenic influenza proteins, produces viruses with novel HA and NA subtype combinations and has preceded the emergence of pandemic strains. It has been suggested that productive viral infection requires a balance in the level of functional activity of HA and NA, arising from their closely interacting roles in the viral life cycle, and that this functional balance could be mediated by genetic changes in the HA and NA. Here, we investigate how the selective pressure varies for H7 avian influenza HA on different NA subtype backgrounds.
Results
By extending Bayesian stochastic mutational mapping methods to calculate the ratio of the rate of non-synonymous change to the rate of synonymous change (dN/dS), we found the average dN/dS across the avian influenza H7 HA1 region to be significantly greater on an N2 NA subtype background than on an N1, N3 or N7 background. Observed differences in evolutionary rates of H7 HA on different NA subtype backgrounds could not be attributed to underlying differences between avian host species or virus pathogenicity. Examination of dN/dS values for each subtype on a site-by-site basis indicated that the elevated dN/dS on the N2 NA background was a result of increased selection, rather than a relaxation of selective constraint.
Conclusions
Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that reassortment exposes influenza HA to significant changes in selective pressure through genetic interactions with NA. Such epistatic effects might be explicitly accounted for in future models of influenza evolution.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-222
PMCID: PMC3854068  PMID: 24103105
Influenza; Evolution; Reassortment; Selection; Subtype
10.  Phylogeography of Japanese Encephalitis Virus: Genotype Is Associated with Climate 
The circulation of vector-borne zoonotic viruses is largely determined by the overlap in the geographical distributions of virus-competent vectors and reservoir hosts. What is less clear are the factors influencing the distribution of virus-specific lineages. Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the most important etiologic agent of epidemic encephalitis worldwide, and is primarily maintained between vertebrate reservoir hosts (avian and swine) and culicine mosquitoes. There are five genotypes of JEV: GI-V. In recent years, GI has displaced GIII as the dominant JEV genotype and GV has re-emerged after almost 60 years of undetected virus circulation. JEV is found throughout most of Asia, extending from maritime Siberia in the north to Australia in the south, and as far as Pakistan to the west and Saipan to the east. Transmission of JEV in temperate zones is epidemic with the majority of cases occurring in summer months, while transmission in tropical zones is endemic and occurs year-round at lower rates. To test the hypothesis that viruses circulating in these two geographical zones are genetically distinct, we applied Bayesian phylogeographic, categorical data analysis and phylogeny-trait association test techniques to the largest JEV dataset compiled to date, representing the envelope (E) gene of 487 isolates collected from 12 countries over 75 years. We demonstrated that GIII and the recently emerged GI-b are temperate genotypes likely maintained year-round in northern latitudes, while GI-a and GII are tropical genotypes likely maintained primarily through mosquito-avian and mosquito-swine transmission cycles. This study represents a new paradigm directly linking viral molecular evolution and climate.
Author Summary
Although Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a major cause of death and disability throughout tropical and temperate Asia, little is known about the evolution, geographical distribution and epidemiology of the five JEV genotypes (genetically distinct groups). To address this gap in our knowledge, we performed a genetic-based geographical analysis using the largest JEV sequence dataset assembled to date, including 487 viral sequences sampled from 12 countries over 75 years. We showed that both the newly and previously dominant genotypes of JEV are associated with temperate climates and are maintained throughout the cold winter months in northern Asia, likely by hibernating mosquitoes (survive throughout the winter), vertical transmission in mosquitoes (female to offspring), cold-blooded vertebrates and/or bats.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002411
PMCID: PMC3757071  PMID: 24009790
11.  Origin and fate of A/H1N1 influenza in Scotland during 2009 
The Journal of General Virology  2012;93(Pt 6):1253-1260.
The spread of influenza has usually been described by a ‘density’ model, where the largest centres of population drive the epidemic within a country. An alternative model emphasizing the role of air travel has recently been developed. We have examined the relative importance of the two in the context of the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic in Scotland. We obtained genome sequences of 70 strains representative of the geographical and temporal distribution of H1N1 influenza during the summer and winter phases of the pandemic in 2009. We analysed these strains, together with another 128 from the rest of the UK and 292 globally distributed strains, using maximum-likelihood phylogenetic and Bayesian phylogeographical methods. This revealed strikingly different epidemic patterns within Scotland in the early and late parts of 2009. The summer epidemic in Scotland was characterized by multiple independent introductions from both international and other UK sources, followed by major local expansion of a single clade that probably originated in Birmingham. The winter phase, in contrast, was more diverse genetically, with several clades of similar size in different locations, some of which had no particularly close phylogenetic affinity to strains sampled from either Scotland or England. Overall there was evidence to support both models, with significant links demonstrated between North American sequences and those from England, and between England and East Asia, indicating that major air-travel routes played an important role in the pattern of spread of the pandemic, both within the UK and globally.
doi:10.1099/vir.0.039370-0
PMCID: PMC3755513  PMID: 22337637
12.  Norovirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase Is Phosphorylated by an Important Survival Kinase, Akt▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(20):10894-10898.
Viruses commonly use host cell survival mechanisms to their own advantage. We show that Akt, an important signaling kinase involved in cell survival, phosphorylates the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from norovirus, the major cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks worldwide. The Akt phosphorylation of RdRp appears to be a feature unique to the more prevalent norovirus genotypes such as GII.4 and GII.b. This phosphorylation event occurs at a residue (Thr33) located at the interface where the RdRp finger and thumb domains interact and decreases de novo activity of the polymerase. This finding provides fresh insights into virus-host cell interactions.
doi:10.1128/JVI.05562-11
PMCID: PMC3187498  PMID: 21849454
13.  Transmission Network Parameters Estimated From HIV Sequences for a Nationwide Epidemic 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(9):1463-1469.
Background. Many studies of sexual behavior have shown that individuals vary greatly in their number of sexual partners over time, but it has proved difficult to obtain parameter estimates relating to the dynamics of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission except in small-scale contact tracing studies. Recent developments in molecular phylodynamics have provided new routes to obtain these parameter estimates, and current clinical practice provides suitable data for entire infected populations.
Methods. A phylodynamic analysis was performed on partial pol gene sequences obtained for routine clinical care from 14 560 individuals, representing approximately 60% of the HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) under care in the United Kingdom.
Results. Among individuals linked to others in the data set, 29% are linked to only 1 individual, 41% are linked to 2–10 individuals, and 29% are linked to ≥10 individuals. The right-skewed degree distribution can be approximated by a power law, but the data are best fitted by a Waring distribution for all time depths. For time depths of 5–7 years, the distribution parameter ρ lies within the range that indicates infinite variance.
Conclusions. The transmission network among UK MSM is characterized by preferential association such that a randomly distributed intervention would not be expected to stop the epidemic.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir550
PMCID: PMC3182313  PMID: 21921202
15.  GPR55 regulates cannabinoid 2 receptor-mediated responses in human neutrophils 
Cell Research  2011;21(10):1452-1469.
The directional migration of neutrophils towards inflammatory mediators, such as chemokines and cannabinoids, occurs via the activation of seven transmembrane G protein coupled receptors (7TM/GPCRs) and is a highly organized process. A crucial role for controlling neutrophil migration has been ascribed to the cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CB2R), but additional modulatory sites distinct from CB2R have recently been suggested to impact CB2R-mediated effector functions in neutrophils. Here, we provide evidence that the recently de-orphanized 7TM/GPCR GPR55 potently modulates CB2R-mediated responses. We show that GPR55 is expressed in human blood neutrophils and its activation augments the migratory response towards the CB2R agonist 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), while inhibiting neutrophil degranulation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Using HEK293 and HL60 cell lines, along with primary neutrophils, we show that GPR55 and CB2R interfere with each other's signaling pathways at the level of small GTPases, such as Rac2 and Cdc42. This ultimately leads to cellular polarization and efficient migration as well as abrogation of degranulation and ROS formation in neutrophils. Therefore, GPR55 limits the tissue-injuring inflammatory responses mediated by CB2R, while it synergizes with CB2R in recruiting neutrophils to sites of inflammation.
doi:10.1038/cr.2011.60
PMCID: PMC3132458  PMID: 21467997
GPR55; CB2R; chemotaxis; ROS production; Rac2; Cdc42
16.  The HIV Epidemic: High-Income Countries 
The HIV epidemic in higher-income nations is driven by receptive anal intercourse, injection drug use through needle/syringe sharing, and, less efficiently, vaginal intercourse. Alcohol and noninjecting drug use increase sexual HIV vulnerability. Appropriate diagnostic screening has nearly eliminated blood/blood product-related transmissions and, with antiretroviral therapy, has reduced mother-to-child transmission radically. Affected subgroups have changed over time (e.g., increasing numbers of Black and minority ethnic men who have sex with men). Molecular phylogenetic approaches have established historical links between HIV strains from central Africa to those in the United States and thence to Europe. However, Europe did not just receive virus from the United States, as it was also imported from Africa directly. Initial introductions led to epidemics in different risk groups in Western Europe distinguished by viral clades/sequences, and likewise, more recent explosive epidemics linked to injection drug use in Eastern Europe are associated with specific strains. Recent developments in phylodynamic approaches have made it possible to obtain estimates of sequence evolution rates and network parameters for epidemics.
Molecular phylogenetic approaches have traced the evolutionary history of HIV strains, showing that HIV spread from central Africa to the United States and then to Europe, as well as directly from Africa to Europe.
doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a007195
PMCID: PMC3331688  PMID: 22553497
17.  GPR55 regulates cannabinoid 2 receptor-mediated responses in human neutrophils 
Cell research  2011;21(10):1452-1469.
The directional migration of neutrophils towards inflammatory mediators, such as chemokines and cannabinoids, occurs via the activation of seven transmembrane spanning/G protein coupled receptors (7TM/GPCRs) and is a highly organized process. A crucial role for controlling neutrophil migration has been ascribed to the cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CB2R), but additional modulatory sites distinct from CB2R have recently been suggested to impact CB2R-mediated effector functions in neutrophils. Here, we provide evidence that the recently de-orphanized 7TM/GPCR GPR55 potently modulates CB2R-mediated responses. We show that GPR55 is expressed in human blood neutrophils and its activation augments the migratory response towards the CB2R agonist 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), whilst inhibiting the degranulation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Using HEK293 and HL60 cell lines, along with primary neutrophils, we show that the GPR55 and the cannabinoid 2 receptor (CB2R) interfere with each other’s signaling pathways at the level of small GTPases, such as Rac2 and Cdc42. This ultimately leads to cellular polarization and efficient migration but abrogation of degranulation and ROS formation in neutrophils. Therefore, GPR55 limits the tissue-injuring inflammatory responses mediated by CB2R, while it synergizes with CB2R in recruiting neutrophils to sites of inflammation.
doi:10.1038/cr.2011.60
PMCID: PMC3132458  PMID: 21467997
GPR55; CB2R; Chemotaxis; ROS production; Rac2; Cdc42
18.  Involvement of Akt in ER-to-Golgi Transport of SCAP/SREBP: A Link between a Key Cell Proliferative Pathway and Membrane Synthesis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(6):2735-2745.
Akt is a critical regulator of cell growth, proliferation, and survival that is activated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). We investigated the effect of PI3K inhibition on activation of sterol regulatory element binding protein-2 (SREBP-2), a master regulator of cholesterol homeostasis. SREBP-2 processing increased in response to various cholesterol depletion approaches (including statin treatment) and this increase was blunted by treatment with a potent and specific inhibitor of PI3K, LY294002, or when a plasmid encoding a dominant-negative form of Akt (DN-Akt) was expressed. LY294002 also suppressed SREBP-2 processing induced by insulin-like growth factor-1. Furthermore, LY294002 treatment down-regulated SREBP-2 or -1c gene targets and decreased cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis. Fluorescence microscopy studies indicated that LY294002 disrupts transport of the SREBP escort protein, SCAP, from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi. This disruption was also shown by immunofluorescence staining when DN-Akt was expressed. Taken together, our studies indicate that the PI3K/Akt pathway is involved in SREBP-2 transport to the Golgi, contributing to the control of SREBP-2 activation. Our results provide a crucial mechanistic link between the SREBP and PI3K/Akt pathways that may be reconciled teleologically because synthesis of new membrane is an absolute requirement for cell growth and proliferation.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E05-11-1094
PMCID: PMC1474807  PMID: 16571675
19.  A Role for Phosphatidic Acid in the Formation of “Supersized” Lipid Droplets 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002201.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are important cellular organelles that govern the storage and turnover of lipids. Little is known about how the size of LDs is controlled, although LDs of diverse sizes have been observed in different tissues and under different (patho)physiological conditions. Recent studies have indicated that the size of LDs may influence adipogenesis, the rate of lipolysis and the oxidation of fatty acids. Here, a genome-wide screen identifies ten yeast mutants producing “supersized” LDs that are up to 50 times the volume of those in wild-type cells. The mutated genes include: FLD1, which encodes a homologue of mammalian seipin; five genes (CDS1, INO2, INO4, CHO2, and OPI3) that are known to regulate phospholipid metabolism; two genes (CKB1 and CKB2) encoding subunits of the casein kinase 2; and two genes (MRPS35 and RTC2) of unknown function. Biochemical and genetic analyses reveal that a common feature of these mutants is an increase in the level of cellular phosphatidic acid (PA). Results from in vivo and in vitro analyses indicate that PA may facilitate the coalescence of contacting LDs, resulting in the formation of “supersized” LDs. In summary, our results provide important insights into how the size of LDs is determined and identify novel gene products that regulate phospholipid metabolism.
Author Summary
Lipid droplets (LD) are primary lipid storage structures that also function in membrane and lipid trafficking, protein turnover, and the reproduction of deadly viruses. Increased LD accumulation in liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue is a hallmark of the metabolic syndrome. Enlarged LDs are often found in these tissues under disease conditions. However, little is known about how the size of LDs is controlled in eukaryotic cells. In this study, we use genetic and biochemical methods to identify important gene products that regulate the size of the LDs. Notably, a common feature among these mutants with “supersized” LDs is an increased level of phosphatidic acid (PA). We also show that a small amount of PA can increase the size of artificial LDs in vitro. Overall, our study identifies important lipids and proteins in determining LD size. These results provide valuable insights into how human cells/tissues handle abnormal influx of lipids in today's obesogenic environment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002201
PMCID: PMC3145623  PMID: 21829381
20.  A role for oxysterol-binding protein–related protein 5 in endosomal cholesterol trafficking 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;192(1):121-135.
ORP5 works together with Niemann Pick C-1 to facilitate exit of cholesterol from endosomes and lysosomes.
Oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP) and its related proteins (ORPs) constitute a large and evolutionarily conserved family of lipid-binding proteins that target organelle membranes to mediate sterol signaling and/or transport. Here we characterize ORP5, a tail-anchored ORP protein that localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum. Knocking down ORP5 causes cholesterol accumulation in late endosomes and lysosomes, which is reminiscent of the cholesterol trafficking defect in Niemann Pick C (NPC) fibroblasts. Cholesterol appears to accumulate in the limiting membranes of endosomal compartments in ORP5-depleted cells, whereas depletion of NPC1 or both ORP5 and NPC1 results in luminal accumulation of cholesterol. Moreover, trans-Golgi resident proteins mislocalize to endosomal compartments upon ORP5 depletion, which depends on a functional NPC1. Our results establish the first link between NPC1 and a cytoplasmic sterol carrier, and suggest that ORP5 may cooperate with NPC1 to mediate the exit of cholesterol from endosomes/lysosomes.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201004142
PMCID: PMC3019559  PMID: 21220512
21.  HIV phylogenetics 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7618):460-461.
Criminal convictions relying solely on this to establish transmission are unsafe
doi:10.1136/bmj.39315.398843.BE
PMCID: PMC1971185  PMID: 17823148
22.  An Evolutionary Model-Based Algorithm for Accurate Phylogenetic Breakpoint Mapping and Subtype Prediction in HIV-1 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(11):e1000581.
Genetically diverse pathogens (such as Human Immunodeficiency virus type 1, HIV-1) are frequently stratified into phylogenetically or immunologically defined subtypes for classification purposes. Computational identification of such subtypes is helpful in surveillance, epidemiological analysis and detection of novel variants, e.g., circulating recombinant forms in HIV-1. A number of conceptually and technically different techniques have been proposed for determining the subtype of a query sequence, but there is not a universally optimal approach. We present a model-based phylogenetic method for automatically subtyping an HIV-1 (or other viral or bacterial) sequence, mapping the location of breakpoints and assigning parental sequences in recombinant strains as well as computing confidence levels for the inferred quantities. Our Subtype Classification Using Evolutionary ALgorithms (SCUEAL) procedure is shown to perform very well in a variety of simulation scenarios, runs in parallel when multiple sequences are being screened, and matches or exceeds the performance of existing approaches on typical empirical cases. We applied SCUEAL to all available polymerase (pol) sequences from two large databases, the Stanford Drug Resistance database and the UK HIV Drug Resistance Database. Comparing with subtypes which had previously been assigned revealed that a minor but substantial (≈5%) fraction of pure subtype sequences may in fact be within- or inter-subtype recombinants. A free implementation of SCUEAL is provided as a module for the HyPhy package and the Datamonkey web server. Our method is especially useful when an accurate automatic classification of an unknown strain is desired, and is positioned to complement and extend faster but less accurate methods. Given the increasingly frequent use of HIV subtype information in studies focusing on the effect of subtype on treatment, clinical outcome, pathogenicity and vaccine design, the importance of accurate, robust and extensible subtyping procedures is clear.
Author Summary
There are nine different subtypes of the main group of HIV-1, each originating as a distinct subepidemic of HIV-1. The distribution of subtypes is often unique to a given geographic region of the world and constitutes a useful epidemiological and surveillance resource. The effects of viral subtype on disease progression, treatment outcome and vaccine design are being actively researched, and the importance of accurate subtyping procedures is clear. In HIV-1, subtype assignment is complicated by frequent recombination among co-circulating strains, creating new genetic mosaics or recombinant forms: 43 have been characterized to date, and many more likely exist. We present an automated phylogenetic method (SCUEAL) to accurately characterize both simple and complex HIV-1 mosaics. Using computer simulations and biological data we demonstrate that SCUEAL performs very well under various conditions, especially when some of the existing classification procedures fail. Furthermore, we show that a small, but noticeable proportion of subtype characterization stored in public databases may be incomplete or incorrect. The computational technique introduced here should provide a much more accurate characterization of HIV-1 strains, especially novel recombinants, and lead to new insights into molecular history, epidemiology and geographical distribution of the virus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000581
PMCID: PMC2776870  PMID: 19956739
23.  Molecular Phylodynamics of the Heterosexual HIV Epidemic in the United Kingdom 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(9):e1000590.
The heterosexual risk group has become the largest HIV infected group in the United Kingdom during the last 10 years, but little is known of the network structure and dynamics of viral transmission in this group. The overwhelming majority of UK heterosexual infections are of non-B HIV subtypes, indicating viruses originating among immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The high rate of HIV evolution, combined with the availability of a very high density sample of viral sequences from routine clinical care has allowed the phylodynamics of the epidemic to be investigated for the first time. Sequences of the viral protease and partial reverse transcriptase coding regions from 11,071 patients infected with HIV of non-B subtypes were studied. Of these, 2774 were closely linked to at least one other sequence by nucleotide distance. Including the closest sequences from the global HIV database identified 296 individuals that were in UK-based groups of 3 or more individuals. There were a total of 8 UK-based clusters of 10 or more, comprising 143/2774 (5%) individuals, much lower than the figure of 25% obtained earlier for men who have sex with men (MSM). Sample dates were incorporated into relaxed clock phylogenetic analyses to estimate the dates of internal nodes. From the resulting time-resolved phylogenies, the internode lengths, used as estimates of maximum transmission intervals, had a median of 27 months overall, over twice as long as obtained for MSM (14 months), with only 2% of transmissions occurring in the first 6 months after infection. This phylodynamic analysis of non-B subtype HIV sequences representing over 40% of the estimated UK HIV-infected heterosexual population has revealed heterosexual HIV transmission in the UK is clustered, but on average in smaller groups and is transmitted with slower dynamics than among MSM. More effective intervention to restrict the epidemic may therefore be feasible, given effective diagnosis programmes.
Author Summary
Since 1995, HIV among heterosexuals in the UK increased to the point where the total number of heterosexuals infected with HIV, predominantly of non-B subtypes, exceeds the number of HIV-positive homosexual men. To understand the dynamics of this epidemic, we have applied the novel technique of phylodynamics to the analysis of viral sequences taken in the course of routine clinical care from approximately 40% of the HIV-infected heterosexual population in the UK. Phylodynamics reconstructs the pattern of viral sequence divergence in time, revealing the size of transmission clusters and the dynamics of transmission within them. Of 11,071 patients studied, 296 were linked to at least two others in the UK. There were 8 clusters comprising 10 or more individuals among these, yielding a total of 143 or 5% of all individuals with links, much lower than seen earlier among homosexual men (25%). Viral transmissions within clusters also occurred less rapidly, only 2% being dated to the first 6 months of infection, compared to 25% among homosexual men. Overall, transmission clusters exist in the UK heterosexual HIV epidemic but they are generally smaller than among homosexuals; onward transmission occurs less rapidly and is not associated with acute HIV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000590
PMCID: PMC2742734  PMID: 19779560
24.  A Maximum Likelihood Method for Detecting Directional Evolution in Protein Sequences and Its Application to Influenza A Virus 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2008;25(9):1809-1824.
We develop a model-based phylogenetic maximum likelihood test for evidence of preferential substitution toward a given residue at individual positions of a protein alignment—directional evolution of protein sequences (DEPS). DEPS can identify both the target residue and sites evolving toward it, help detect selective sweeps and frequency-dependent selection—scenarios that confound most existing tests for selection, and achieve good power and accuracy on simulated data. We applied DEPS to alignments representing different genomic regions of influenza A virus (IAV), sampled from avian hosts (H5N1 serotype) and human hosts (H3N2 serotype), and identified multiple directionally evolving sites in 5/8 genomic segments of H5N1 and H3N2 IAV. We propose a simple descriptive classification of directionally evolving sites into 5 groups based on the temporal distribution of residue frequencies and document known functional correlates, such as immune escape or host adaptation.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msn123
PMCID: PMC2515872  PMID: 18511426
directional selection; evolution of influenza; maximum likelihood; episodic selection
25.  Fld1p, a functional homologue of human seipin, regulates the size of lipid droplets in yeast 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;180(3):473-482.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are emerging cellular organelles that are of crucial importance in cell biology and human diseases. In this study, we present our screen of ∼4,700 Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutants for abnormalities in the number and morphology of LDs; we identify 17 fld (few LDs) and 116 mld (many LDs) mutants. One of the fld mutants (fld1) is caused by the deletion of YLR404W, a previously uncharacterized open reading frame. Cells lacking FLD1 contain strikingly enlarged (supersized) LDs, and LDs from fld1Δ cells demonstrate significantly enhanced fusion activities both in vivo and in vitro. Interestingly, the expression of human seipin, whose mutant forms are associated with Berardinelli-Seip congenital lipodystrophy and motoneuron disorders, rescues LD-associated defects in fld1Δ cells. Lipid profiling reveals alterations in acyl chain compositions of major phospholipids in fld1Δ cells. These results suggest that an evolutionally conserved function of seipin in phospholipid metabolism and LD formation may be functionally important in human adipogenesis.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200711136
PMCID: PMC2234226  PMID: 18250201

Results 1-25 (37)