Mycobiome Sequencing and Analysis Applied to Fungal Community Profiling of the Lower Respiratory Tract During Fungal Pathogenesis

Lisa R. McTaggart, Julia K. Copeland, Anuradha Surendra, Pauline W. Wang, Shahid Husain, Bryan Coburn, David S. Guttman and Julianne V. Kus

Front Microbiol. 2019 Mar 15;10:512. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00512. eCollection 2019.

PMID: 30930884


Invasive fungal infections are an increasingly important cause of human morbidity and mortality. We generated a next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based method designed to detect a wide range of fungi and applied it to analysis of the fungal microbiome (mycobiome) of the lung during fungal infection. Internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) amplicon sequencing and a custom analysis pipeline detected 96% of species from three mock communities comprised of potential fungal lung pathogens with good recapitulation of the expected species distributions (Pearson correlation coefficients r = 0.63, p = 0.004; r = 0.71, p < 0.001; r = 0.62, p = 0.002). We used this pipeline to analyze mycobiomes of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens classified as culture-negative (n = 50) or culture-positive (n = 39) for Blastomyces dermatitidis/gilchristii, the causative agent of North America blastomycosis. Detected in 91.4% of the culture-positive samples, Blastomyces dominated (>50% relative abundance) the mycobiome in 68.6% of these culture-positive samples but was absent in culture-negative samples. To overcome any bias in relative abundance due to between-sample variation in fungal biomass, an abundance-weighting calculation was used to normalize the data by accounting for sample-specific PCR cycle number and PCR product concentration data utilized during sample preparation. After normalization, there was a statistically significant greater overall abundance of ITS1 amplicon in the Blastomyces-culture-positive samples versus culture-negative samples. Moreover, the normalization revealed a greater biomass of yeast and environmental fungi in several Blastomyces-culture-positive samples than in the culture-negative samples. Successful detection of Coccidioides, Scedosporium, Phaeoacremonium, and Aspergillus in 6 additional culture-positive BALs by ITS1 amplicon sequencing demonstrates the ability of this method to detect a broad range of fungi from clinical specimens, suggesting that it may be a potentially useful adjunct to traditional fungal microbiological testing for the diagnosis of respiratory mycoses.

Comparison of Co-housing and Littermate Methods for Microbiota Standardization in Mouse Models

Susan J Robertson, Paul Lemire, Heather Maughan, Ashleigh Goethel, Williams Turpin, Larbi Bedrani, David S Guttman, Kenneth Croitoru, Stephen E Girardin, Dana J Philpott

Cell Rep. 2019 May 7;27(6):1910-1919.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.04.023

PMID: 31067473


The intestinal microbiota is a fundamental factor that broadly influences physiology. Thus, studies using transgenic animals should be designed to limit the confounding effects of microbiota variation between strains. Here, we report the impact on intestinal microbiota of co-housed versus F2-generation littermates, two commonly used techniques to standardize microbiota in animal models. Our results establish that while fecal microbiota is partially normalized by extended co-housing, mucosal communities associated with the proximal colon and terminal ileum remain stable and distinct. In contrast, strain inter-crossing to generate F2 littermates allows robust microbiota standardization in fecal, colon, and ileum sampling locations. Using reciprocal inter-crosses of P1 parents, we identify dissymmetry in F2 community structures caused by maternal transmission, in particular of the Verrucomicrobiaceae. Thus, F2 littermate animals from a unidirectional P1 cross should be used as a standard method to minimize the influence of the microbiota in genotype-phenotype studies.

Entropy and Information within Intrinsically Disordered Protein Regions

Iva Pritišanac, Robert M. Vernon, Alan M. Moses, Julie D. Forman Kay Entropy 2019 21(7):622. 10.3390/e21070662


Bioinformatics and biophysical studies of intrinsically disordered proteins and regions (IDRs) note the high entropy at individual sequence positions and in conformations sampled in solution. This prevents application of the canonical sequence-structure-function paradigm to IDRs and motivates the development of new methods to extract information from IDR sequences. We argue that the information in IDR sequences cannot be fully revealed through positional conservation, which largely measures stable structural contacts and interaction motifs. Instead, considerations of evolutionary conservation of molecular features can reveal the full extent of information in IDRs. Experimental quantification of the large conformational entropy of IDRs is challenging but can be approximated through the extent of conformational sampling measured by a combination of NMR spectroscopy and lower-resolution structural biology techniques, which can be further interpreted with simulations. Conformational entropy and other biophysical features can be modulated by post-translational modifications that provide functional advantages to IDRs by tuning their energy landscapes and enabling a variety of functional interactions and modes of regulation. The diverse mosaic of functional states of IDRs and their conformational features within complexes demands novel metrics of information, which will reflect the complicated sequence-conformational ensemble-function relationship of IDRs.

Limiting oxidative DNA damage reduces microbe-induced colitis-associated colorectal cancer.

Irrazabal T, Thakur BK, Kang M, Malaise Y, Streutker C, Wong EOY, Copeland J, Gryfe R, Guttman DS, Navarre WW, Martin A

Nature Communications 2020 11(1):1802. 10.1038/s41467-020-15549-6 PMID:32286276


Inflammatory bowel disease patients have a greatly increased risk of developing colitis-associated colon cancer (CAC); however, the basis for inflammation-induced genetic damage requisite for neoplasia is unclear. Using three models of CAC, we find that sustained inflammation triggers 8-oxoguanine DNA lesions. Strikingly, antioxidants or iNOS inhibitors reduce 8-oxoguanine and polyps in CAC models. Because the mismatch repair (MMR) system repairs 8-oxoguanine and is frequently defective in colorectal cancer (CRC), we test whether 8-oxoguanine mediates oncogenesis in a Lynch syndrome (MMR-deficient) model. We show that microbiota generates an accumulation of 8-oxoguanine lesions in MMR-deficient colons. Accordingly, we find that 8-oxoguanine is elevated in neoplastic tissue of Lynch syndrome patients compared to matched untransformed tissue or non-Lynch syndrome neoplastic tissue. While antioxidants reduce 8-oxoguanine, they do not reduce CRC in Lynch syndrome models. Hence, microbe-induced oxidative/nitrosative DNA damage play causative roles in inflammatory CRC models, but not in Lynch syndrome models.

Tung Tree (Vernicia fordii) Genome Provides A Resource for Understanding Genome Evolution and Improved Oil Production.

Zhang L, Liu M, Long H, Dong W, Pasha A, Esteban E, Li W, Yang X, Li Z, Song A, Ran D, Zhao G, Zeng Y, Chen H, Zou M, Li J, Liang F, Xie M, Hu J, Wang D, Cao H, Provart NJ, Zhang L, Tan X.

Genomics Proteomics Bioinformatics 2020 S1672-0229(18):30216. 10.1016/j.gpb.2019.03.006 PMID:32224189


Tung tree (Vernicia fordii) is an economically important woody oil plant that produces tung oil rich in eleostearic acid. Here, we report a high-quality chromosome-scale genome sequence of tung tree. The genome sequence was assembled by combining Illumina short reads, Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time long reads, and Hi-C sequencing data. The size of tung tree genome is 1.12 Gb, with 28,422 predicted genes and over 73% repeat sequences. The V. fordii underwent an ancient genome triplication event shared by core eudicots but no further whole-genome duplication in the subsequent ca. 34.55 million years of evolutionary history of the tung tree lineage. Insertion time analysis revealed that repeat-driven genome expansion might have arisen as a result of long-standing long terminal repeat retrotransposon bursts and lack of efficient DNA deletion mechanisms. The genome harbors 88 resistance genes encoding nucleotide-binding sites; 17 of these genes may be involved in early-infection stage of Fusarium wilt resistance. Further, 651 oil-related genes were identified, 88 of which are predicted to be directly involved in tung oil biosynthesis. Relatively few phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase genes, and synergistic effects between transcription factors and oil biosynthesis-related genes might contribute to the high oil content of tung seed. The tung tree genome constitutes a valuable resource for understanding genome evolution, as well as for molecular breeding and genetic improvements for oil production.

An abscisic acid-responsive protein interaction network for sucrose non-fermenting related kinase1 in abiotic stress response

Carina Steliana Carianopol, Aaron Lorheed Chan, Shaowei Dong, Nicholas J. Provart, Shelley Lumba & Sonia Gazzarrini  

Nature Communications Biology 2020 3(1):145. 10.1038/s42003-020-0866-8 PMID:32218501


Yeast Snf1 (Sucrose non-fermenting1), mammalian AMPK (5′ AMP-activated protein kinase) and plant SnRK1 (Snf1-Related Kinase1) are conserved heterotrimeric kinase complexes that re-establish energy homeostasis following stress. The hormone abscisic acid (ABA) plays a crucial role in plant stress response. Activation of SnRK1 or ABA signaling results in overlapping transcriptional changes, suggesting these stress pathways share common targets. To investigate how SnRK1 and ABA interact during stress response in Arabidopsis thaliana, we screened the SnRK1 complex by yeast two-hybrid against a library of proteins encoded by 258 ABA-regulated genes. Here, we identify 125 SnRK1- interacting proteins (SnIPs). Network analysis indicates that a subset of SnIPs form signaling modules in response to abiotic stress. Functional studies show the involvement of SnRK1 and select SnIPs in abiotic stress responses. This targeted study uncovers the largest set of SnRK1 interactors, which can be used to further characterize SnRK1 role in plant survival under stress.

QuiC2 represents a functionally distinct class of dehydroshikimate dehydratases identified in Listeria species including Listeria monocytogenes

Kevin Xue, Stephanie M. Prezioso, Dinesh Christendat

Environmental Microbiology 2020 ():. 10.1111/1462-2920.14987 PMID:32190965


Many Listeria species including L. monocytogenes contain the pathway for the biosynthesis of protocatechuate from shikimate and quinate. The qui1 and qui2 operons within these Listeria spp. encode enzymes for this pathway. The diversion of shikimate pathway intermediates in some Listeria species to produce protocatechuate suggests an important biological role for this compound to these organisms. A total of seven ORFs, including quiC2, were identified within qui1 and qui2, however only three proteins encoded by the operons have been functionally annotated. The final step in Listeria’s protocatechuate biosynthesis involves the conversion of dehydroshikimate by a dehydroshikimate dehydratase (DSD). In this study, we demonstrate that QuiC2 functions as a DSD in Listeria spp. through biochemical and structural analyses. Moreover, we show that QuiC2 forms a phylogenetic cluster distinct from other functionally annotated DSDs. The individual phylogenetic clusters of DSD are represented by enzymes that produce protocatechuate for distinct biological processes. Similarly, QuiC2 is expected to produce protocatechuate for a novel biological process. We postulate that protocatechuate produced by DSDs found within the QuiC2 phylogenetic cluster provides an ecological niche for representative organisms.

Light-responsive expression atlas reveals the effects of light quality and intensity in Kalanchoë fedtschenkoi, a plant with crassulacean acid metabolism

Jin Zhang, Rongbin Hu, Avinash Sreedasyam, Travis M Garcia, Anna Lipzen, Mei Wang, Pradeep Yerramsetty, Degao Liu, Vivian Ng, Jeremy Schmutz, John C Cushman, Anne M Borland, Asher Pasha, Nicholas J Provart, Jin-Gui Chen, Wellington Muchero, Gerald A Tuskan, Xiaohan Yang

GigaScience 2020 9(3):giaa018. 10.1093/gigascience/giaa018 PMID:32135007


Background: Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a specialized mode of photosynthesis, enables plant adaptation to water-limited environments and improves photosynthetic efficiency via an inorganic carbon-concentrating mechanism. Kalanchoë fedtschenkoi is an obligate CAM model featuring a relatively small genome and easy stable transformation. However, the molecular responses to light quality and intensity in CAM plants remain understudied.

Results: Here we present a genome-wide expression atlas of K. fedtschenkoi plants grown under 12 h/12 h photoperiod with different light quality (blue, red, far-red, white light) and intensity (0, 150, 440, and 1,000 μmol m-2 s-1) based on RNA sequencing performed for mature leaf samples collected at dawn (2 h before the light period) and dusk (2 h before the dark period). An eFP web browser was created for easy access of the gene expression data. Based on the expression atlas, we constructed a light-responsive co-expression network to reveal the potential regulatory relationships in K. fedtschenkoi. Measurements of leaf titratable acidity, soluble sugar, and starch turnover provided metabolic indicators of the magnitude of CAM under the different light treatments and were used to provide biological context for the expression dataset. Furthermore, CAM-related subnetworks were highlighted to showcase genes relevant to CAM pathway, circadian clock, and stomatal movement. In comparison with white light, monochrome blue/red/far-red light treatments repressed the expression of several CAM-related genes at dusk, along with a major reduction in acid accumulation. Increasing light intensity from an intermediate level (440 μmol m-2 s-1) of white light to a high light treatment (1,000 μmol m-2 s-1) increased expression of several genes involved in dark CO2 fixation and malate transport at dawn, along with an increase in organic acid accumulation.

Conclusions: This study provides a useful genomics resource for investigating the molecular mechanism underlying the light regulation of physiology and metabolism in CAM plants. Our results support the hypothesis that both light intensity and light quality can modulate the CAM pathway through regulation of CAM-related genes in K. fedtschenkoi.

Transcriptomics at Maize Embryo/Endosperm Interfaces Identifies a Transcriptionally Distinct Endosperm Subdomain Adjacent to the Embryo Scutellum.

Doll NM, Just J, Brunaud V, Caïus J, Grimault A, Depège-Fargeix N, Esteban E, Pasha A, Provart NJ, Ingram GC, Rogowsky PM, Widiez T

Plant Cell 2020 32(4):833-852. 10.1105/tpc.19.00756 PMID:32086366


Seeds are complex biological systems comprising three genetically distinct tissues nested one inside another (embryo, endosperm, and maternal tissues). However, the complexity of the kernel makes it difficult to understand intercompartment interactions without access to spatially accurate information. Here, we took advantage of the large size of the maize (Zea mays) kernel to characterize genome-wide expression profiles of tissues at different embryo/endosperm interfaces. Our analysis identifies specific transcriptomic signatures in two interface tissues compared with whole seed compartments: the scutellar aleurone layer and the newly named endosperm adjacent to scutellum (EAS). The EAS, which appears around 9 d after pollination and persists for around 11 d, is confined to one to three endosperm cell layers adjacent to the embryonic scutellum. Its transcriptome is enriched in genes encoding transporters. The absence of the embryo in an embryo specific mutant can alter the expression pattern of EAS marker genes. The detection of cell death in some EAS cells together with an accumulation of crushed cell walls suggests that the EAS is a dynamic zone from which cell layers in contact with the embryo are regularly eliminated and to which additional endosperm cells are recruited as the embryo grows.

The pan-genome effector-triggered immunity landscape of a host-pathogen interaction

Bradley Laflamme, Marcus M. Dillon1, Alexandre Martel, Renan N. D. Almeida, Darrell Desveaux, David S. Guttman

Science 2020 367(6479):763-768. 10.1126/science.aax4079 PMID:32054757


Effector-triggered immunity (ETI), induced by host immune receptors in response to microbial effectors, protects plants against virulent pathogens. However, a systematic study of ETI prevalence against species-wide pathogen diversity is lacking. We constructed the Pseudomonas syringae Type III Effector Compendium (PsyTEC) to reduce the pan-genome complexity of 5127 unique effector proteins, distributed among 70 families from 494 strains, to 529 representative alleles. We screened PsyTEC on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and identified 59 ETI-eliciting alleles (11.2%) from 19 families (27.1%), with orthologs distributed among 96.8% of P. syringaestrains. We also identified two previously undescribed host immune receptors, including CAR1, which recognizes the conserved effectors AvrE and HopAA1, and found that 94.7% of strains harbor alleles predicted to be recognized by either CAR1 or ZAR1.