Browsing by Subject "Horizontal gene transfer"

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  • Kneis, David; Hiltunen, Teppo; Hess, Stefanie (2019)
    Horizontal gene transfer is an essential component of bacterial evolution. Quantitative information on transfer rates is particularly useful to better understand and possibly predict the spread of antimicrobial resistance. A variety of methods has been proposed to estimate the rates of plasmid-mediated gene transfer all of which require substantial labor input or financial resources. A cheap but reliable method with high-throughput capabilities is yet to be developed in order to better capture the variability of plasmid transfer rates, e.g. among strains or in response to environmental cues. We explored a new approach to the culture-based estimation of plasmid transfer rates in liquid media allowing for a large number of parallel experiments. It deviates from established approaches in the fact that it exploits data on the absence/presence of transconjugant cells in the wells of a well plate observed over time. Specifically, the binary observations are compared to the probability of transconjugant detection as predicted by a dynamic model. The bulk transfer rate is found as the best-fit value of a designated model parameter. The feasibility of the approach is demonstrated on mating experiments where the RP4 plasmid is transfered from Serratia marcescens to several Escherichia coil recipients. The methods uncertainty is explored via split sampling and virtual experiments.
  • Beyer, Hannes M.; Mikula, Kornelia M.; Kudling, Tatiana V.; Iwaï, Hideo (2019)
    Self-splicing inteins are mobile genetic elements invading host genes via nested homing endonuclease (HEN) domains. All HEN domains residing within inteins are inserted at a highly conserved insertion site. A purifying selection mechanism directing the location of the HEN insertion site has not yet been identified. In this work, we solved the three-dimensional crystal structures of two inteins inserted in the cell division control protein 21 of the hyperthermophilic archaea Pyrococcus abyssi and Pyrococcus horikoshii. A comparison between the structures provides the structural basis for the thermo-stabilization mechanism of inteins that have lost the HEN domain during evolution. The presence of an entire extein domain in the intein structure from Pyrococcus horikoshii suggests the selection mechanism for the highly conserved HEN insertion point.
  • Alvarenga, Danillo O.; Franco, Maione W.; Sivonen, Kaarina; Fiore, Marli F.; Varani, Alessandro M. (2020)
    Background. Brasilonema is a cyanobacterial genus found on the surface of mineral substrates and plants such as bromeliads, orchids and eucalyptus. B. octagenarum stands out among cyanobacteria due to causing damage to the leaves of its host in an interaction not yet observed in other cyanobacteria. Previous studies revealed that B. octagenaum UFV-E1 is capable of leading eucalyptus leaves to suffer internal tissue damage and necrosis by unknown mechanisms. This work aimed to investigate the effects of B. octagenarum UFV-E1 inoculation on Eucalyptus urograndis and to uncover molecular mechanisms potentially involved in leaf damage by these cyanobacteria using a comparative genomics approach. Results. Leaves from E. urograndis saplings were exposed for 30 days to B. octagenarum UFV-E1, which was followed by the characterization of its genome and its comparison with the genomes of four other Brasilonema strains isolated from phyllosphere and the surface of mineral substrates. While UFV-E1 inoculation caused an increase in root and stem dry mass of the host plants, the sites colonized by cyanobacteria on leaves presented a significant decrease in pigmentation, showing that the cyanobacterial mats have an effect on leaf cell structure. Genomic analyses revealed that all evaluated Brasilonema genomes harbored genes encoding molecules possibly involved in plant-pathogen interactions, such as hydrolases targeting plant cell walls and proteins similar to known virulence factors from plant pathogens. However, sequences related to the type III secretory system and effectors were not detected, suggesting that, even if any virulence factors could be expressed in contact with their hosts, they would not have the structural means to actively reach plant cytoplasm. Conclusions. Leaf damage by this species is likely related to the blockage of access to sunlight by the efficient growth of cyanobacterial mats on the phyllosphere, which may hinder the photosynthetic machinery and prevent access to some essential molecules. These results reveal that the presence of cyanobacteria on leaf surfaces is not as universally beneficial as previously thought, since they may not merely provide the products of nitrogen fixation to their hosts in exchange for physical support, but in some cases also hinder regular leaf physiology leading to tissue damage.
  • Arredondo-Alonso, Sergio; Top, Janetta; Corander, Jukka; Willems, Rob J. L.; Schurch, Anita C. (2021)
    Background Enterococcus faecium is a commensal of the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans but also a causative agent of hospital-acquired infections. Resistance against glycopeptides and to vancomycin has motivated the inclusion of E. faecium in the WHO global priority list. Vancomycin resistance can be conferred by the vanA gene cluster on the transposon Tn1546, which is frequently present in plasmids. The vanA gene cluster can be disseminated clonally but also horizontally either by plasmid dissemination or by Tn1546 transposition between different genomic locations. Methods We performed a retrospective study of the genomic epidemiology of 309 vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VRE) isolates across 32 Dutch hospitals (2012-2015). Genomic information regarding clonality and Tn1546 characterization was extracted using hierBAPS sequence clusters (SC) and TETyper, respectively. Plasmids were predicted using gplas in combination with a network approach based on shared k-mer content. Next, we conducted a pairwise comparison between isolates sharing a potential epidemiological link to elucidate whether clonal, plasmid, or Tn1546 spread accounted for vanA-type resistance dissemination. Results On average, we estimated that 59% of VRE cases with a potential epidemiological link were unrelated which was defined as VRE pairs with a distinct Tn1546 variant. Clonal dissemination accounted for 32% cases in which the same SC and Tn1546 variants were identified. Horizontal plasmid dissemination accounted for 7% of VRE cases, in which we observed VRE pairs belonging to a distinct SC but carrying an identical plasmid and Tn1546 variant. In 2% of cases, we observed the same Tn1546 variant in distinct SC and plasmid types which could be explained by mixed and consecutive events of clonal and plasmid dissemination. Conclusions In related VRE cases, the dissemination of the vanA gene cluster in Dutch hospitals between 2012 and 2015 was dominated by clonal spread. However, we also identified outbreak settings with high frequencies of plasmid dissemination in which the spread of resistance was mainly driven by horizontal gene transfer (HGT). This study demonstrates the feasibility of distinguishing between modes of dissemination with short-read data and provides a novel assessment to estimate the relative contribution of nested genomic elements in the dissemination of vanA-type resistance.
  • Arredondo-Alonso, Sergio; Top, Janetta; Corander, Jukka; Willems, Rob J L; Schürch, Anita C (BioMed Central, 2021)
    Abstract Background Enterococcus faecium is a commensal of the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans but also a causative agent of hospital-acquired infections. Resistance against glycopeptides and to vancomycin has motivated the inclusion of E. faecium in the WHO global priority list. Vancomycin resistance can be conferred by the vanA gene cluster on the transposon Tn1546, which is frequently present in plasmids. The vanA gene cluster can be disseminated clonally but also horizontally either by plasmid dissemination or by Tn1546 transposition between different genomic locations. Methods We performed a retrospective study of the genomic epidemiology of 309 vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VRE) isolates across 32 Dutch hospitals (2012–2015). Genomic information regarding clonality and Tn1546 characterization was extracted using hierBAPS sequence clusters (SC) and TETyper, respectively. Plasmids were predicted using gplas in combination with a network approach based on shared k-mer content. Next, we conducted a pairwise comparison between isolates sharing a potential epidemiological link to elucidate whether clonal, plasmid, or Tn1546 spread accounted for vanA-type resistance dissemination. Results On average, we estimated that 59% of VRE cases with a potential epidemiological link were unrelated which was defined as VRE pairs with a distinct Tn1546 variant. Clonal dissemination accounted for 32% cases in which the same SC and Tn1546 variants were identified. Horizontal plasmid dissemination accounted for 7% of VRE cases, in which we observed VRE pairs belonging to a distinct SC but carrying an identical plasmid and Tn1546 variant. In 2% of cases, we observed the same Tn1546 variant in distinct SC and plasmid types which could be explained by mixed and consecutive events of clonal and plasmid dissemination. Conclusions In related VRE cases, the dissemination of the vanA gene cluster in Dutch hospitals between 2012 and 2015 was dominated by clonal spread. However, we also identified outbreak settings with high frequencies of plasmid dissemination in which the spread of resistance was mainly driven by horizontal gene transfer (HGT). This study demonstrates the feasibility of distinguishing between modes of dissemination with short-read data and provides a novel assessment to estimate the relative contribution of nested genomic elements in the dissemination of vanA-type resistance.
  • Tonkin-Hill, Gerry; MacAlasdair, Neil; Ruis, Christopher; Weimann, Aaron; Horesh, Gal; Lees, John A; Gladstone, Rebecca A; Lo, Stephanie; Beaudoin, Christopher; Floto, R. A; Frost, Simon D; Corander, Jukka; Bentley, Stephen D; Parkhill, Julian (BioMed Central, 2020)
    Abstract Population-level comparisons of prokaryotic genomes must take into account the substantial differences in gene content resulting from horizontal gene transfer, gene duplication and gene loss. However, the automated annotation of prokaryotic genomes is imperfect, and errors due to fragmented assemblies, contamination, diverse gene families and mis-assemblies accumulate over the population, leading to profound consequences when analysing the set of all genes found in a species. Here, we introduce Panaroo, a graph-based pangenome clustering tool that is able to account for many of the sources of error introduced during the annotation of prokaryotic genome assemblies. Panaroo is available at https://github.com/gtonkinhill/panaroo .
  • Tonkin-Hill, Gerry; MacAlasdair, Neil; Ruis, Christopher; Weimann, Aaron; Horesh, Gal; Lees, John A.; Gladstone, Rebecca A.; Lo, Stephanie; Beaudoin, Christopher; Floto, R. Andres; Frost, Simon D. W.; Corander, Jukka; Bentley, Stephen D.; Parkhill, Julian (2020)
    Population-level comparisons of prokaryotic genomes must take into account the substantial differences in gene content resulting from horizontal gene transfer, gene duplication and gene loss. However, the automated annotation of prokaryotic genomes is imperfect, and errors due to fragmented assemblies, contamination, diverse gene families and mis-assemblies accumulate over the population, leading to profound consequences when analysing the set of all genes found in a species. Here, we introduce Panaroo, a graph-based pangenome clustering tool that is able to account for many of the sources of error introduced during the annotation of prokaryotic genome assemblies. Panaroo is available at https://github.com/gtonkinhill/panaroo.
  • Dhaygude, Kishor; Nair, Abhilash; Johansson, Helena; Wurm, Yannick; Sundström, Liselotte (BioMed Central, 2019)
    Abstract Background Adapting to changes in the environment is the foundation of species survival, and is usually thought to be a gradual process. However, transposable elements (TEs), epigenetic modifications, and/or genetic material acquired from other organisms by means of horizontal gene transfer (HGTs), can also lead to novel adaptive traits. Social insects form dense societies, which attract and maintain extra- and intracellular accessory inhabitants, which may facilitate gene transfer between species. The wood ant Formica exsecta (Formicidae; Hymenoptera), is a common ant species throughout the Palearctic region. The species is a well-established model for studies of ecological characteristics and evolutionary conflict. Results In this study, we sequenced and assembled draft genomes for F. exsecta and its endosymbiont Wolbachia. The F. exsecta draft genome is 277.7 Mb long; we identify 13,767 protein coding genes, for which we provide gene ontology and protein domain annotations. This is also the first report of a Wolbachia genome from ants, and provides insights into the phylogenetic position of this endosymbiont. We also identified multiple horizontal gene transfer events (HGTs) from Wolbachia to F. exsecta. Some of these HGTs have also occurred in parallel in multiple other insect genomes, highlighting the extent of HGTs in eukaryotes. Conclusion We present the first draft genome of ant F. exsecta, and its endosymbiont Wolbachia (wFex), and show considerable rates of gene transfer from the symbiont to the host. We expect that especially the F. exsecta genome will be valuable resource in further exploration of the molecular basis of the evolution of social organization.