Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Unicycler: resolving bacterial genome assemblies from short and long sequencing reads
    Wick, R ; Judd, L ; Gorrie, C ; Holt, K ( 2016-12-22)
    The Illumina DNA sequencing platform generates accurate but short reads, which can be used to produce accurate but fragmented genome assemblies. Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies DNA sequencing platforms generate long reads that can produce more complete genome assemblies, but the sequencing is more expensive and error prone. There is significant interest in combining data from these complementary sequencing technologies to generate more accurate “hybrid” assemblies. However, few tools exist that truly leverage the benefits of both types of data, namely the accuracy of short reads and the structural resolving power of long reads. Here we present Unicycler, a new tool for assembling bacterial genomes from a combination of short and long reads, which produces assemblies that are accurate, complete and cost-effective. Unicycler builds an initial assembly graph from short reads using the de novo assembler SPAdes and then simplifies the graph using information from short and long reads. Unicycler utilises a novel semi-global aligner, which is used to align long reads to the assembly graph. Tests on both synthetic and real reads show Unicycler can assemble larger contigs with fewer misassemblies than other hybrid assemblers, even when long read depth and accuracy are low. Unicycler is open source (GPLv3) and available at github.com/rrwick/Unicycler .
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    Population genomics of hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae clonal-group 23 reveals early emergence and rapid global dissemination
    Lam, MMC ; Wyres, KL ; Duchene, S ; Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Gan, Y-H ; Hoh, C-H ; Archuleta, S ; Molton, JS ; Kalimuddin, S ; Koh, TH ; Passet, V ; Brisse, S ; Holt, KE (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2018-07-13)
    Severe liver abscess infections caused by hypervirulent clonal-group CG23 Klebsiella pneumoniae have been increasingly reported since the mid-1980s. Strains typically possess several virulence factors including an integrative, conjugative element ICEKp encoding the siderophore yersiniabactin and genotoxin colibactin. Here we investigate CG23's evolutionary history, showing several deep-branching sublineages associated with distinct ICEKp acquisitions. Over 80% of liver abscess isolates belong to sublineage CG23-I, which emerged in ~1928 following acquisition of ICEKp10 (encoding yersiniabactin and colibactin), and then disseminated globally within the human population. CG23-I's distinguishing feature is the colibactin synthesis locus, which reportedly promotes gut colonisation and metastatic infection in murine models. These data show circulation of CG23 K. pneumoniae decades before the liver abscess epidemic was first recognised, and provide a framework for future epidemiological and experimental studies of hypervirulent K. pneumoniae. To support such studies we present an open access, completely sequenced CG23-I human liver abscess isolate, SGH10.
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    Antimicrobial-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae Carriage and Infection in Specialized Geriatric Care Wards Linked to Acquisition in the Referring Hospital
    Gorrie, CL ; Mirceta, M ; Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Wyres, KL ; Thomson, NR ; Strugnell, RA ; Pratt, NF ; Garlick, JS ; Watson, KM ; Hunter, PC ; McGloughlin, SA ; Spelman, DW ; Jenney, AWJ ; Holt, KE (OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2018-07-15)
    BACKGROUND: Klebsiella pneumoniae is a leading cause of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing hospital-associated infections, for which elderly patients are at increased risk. METHODS: We conducted a 1-year prospective cohort study, in which a third of patients admitted to 2 geriatric wards in a specialized hospital were recruited and screened for carriage of K. pneumoniae by microbiological culture. Clinical isolates were monitored via the hospital laboratory. Colonizing and clinical isolates were subjected to whole-genome sequencing and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. RESULTS: K. pneumoniae throat carriage prevalence was 4.1%, rectal carriage 10.8%, and ESBL carriage 1.7%, and the incidence of K. pneumoniae infection was 1.2%. The isolates were diverse, and most patients were colonized or infected with a unique phylogenetic lineage, with no evidence of transmission in the wards. ESBL strains carried blaCTX-M-15 and belonged to clones associated with hospital-acquired ESBL infections in other countries (sequence type [ST] 29, ST323, and ST340). One also carried the carbapenemase blaIMP-26. Genomic and epidemiological data provided evidence that ESBL strains were acquired in the referring hospital. Nanopore sequencing also identified strain-to-strain transmission of a blaCTX-M-15 FIBK/FIIK plasmid in the referring hospital. CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest the major source of K. pneumoniae was the patient's own gut microbiome, but ESBL strains were acquired in the referring hospital. This highlights the importance of the wider hospital network to understanding K. pneumoniae risk and infection prevention. Rectal screening for ESBL organisms on admission to geriatric wards could help inform patient management and infection control in such facilities.
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    Airway Microbiota Dynamics Uncover a Critical Window for Interplay of Pathogenic Bacteria and Allergy in Childhood Respiratory Disease
    Teo, SM ; Tang, HHF ; Mok, D ; Judd, LM ; Watts, SC ; Pham, K ; Holt, BJ ; Kusel, M ; Serralha, M ; Troy, N ; Bochkov, YA ; Grindle, K ; Lemanske, RF ; Johnston, SL ; Gern, JE ; Sly, PD ; Holt, PG ; Holt, KE ; Inouye, M (CELL PRESS, 2018-09-12)
    Repeated cycles of infection-associated lower airway inflammation drive the pathogenesis of persistent wheezing disease in children. In this study, the occurrence of acute respiratory tract illnesses (ARIs) and the nasopharyngeal microbiome (NPM) were characterized in 244 infants through their first five years of life. Through this analysis, we demonstrate that >80% of infectious events involve viral pathogens, but are accompanied by a shift in the NPM toward dominance by a small range of pathogenic bacterial genera. Unexpectedly, this change frequently precedes the detection of viral pathogens and acute symptoms. Colonization of illness-associated bacteria coupled with early allergic sensitization is associated with persistent wheeze in school-aged children, which is the hallmark of the asthma phenotype. In contrast, these bacterial genera are associated with "transient wheeze" that resolves after age 3 years in non-sensitized children. Thus, to complement early allergic sensitization, monitoring NPM composition may enable early detection and intervention in high-risk children.
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    Deepbinner: Demultiplexing barcoded Oxford Nanopore reads with deep convolutional neural networks
    Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Holt, KE ; Pertea, M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2018-11)
    Multiplexing, the simultaneous sequencing of multiple barcoded DNA samples on a single flow cell, has made Oxford Nanopore sequencing cost-effective for small genomes. However, it depends on the ability to sort the resulting sequencing reads by barcode, and current demultiplexing tools fail to classify many reads. Here we present Deepbinner, a tool for Oxford Nanopore demultiplexing that uses a deep neural network to classify reads based on the raw electrical read signal. This 'signal-space' approach allows for greater accuracy than existing 'base-space' tools (Albacore and Porechop) for which signals must first be converted to DNA base calls, itself a complex problem that can introduce noise into the barcode sequence. To assess Deepbinner and existing tools, we performed multiplex sequencing on 12 amplicons chosen for their distinguishability. This allowed us to establish a ground truth classification for each read based on internal sequence alone. Deepbinner had the lowest rate of unclassified reads (7.8%) and the highest demultiplexing precision (98.5% of classified reads were correctly assigned). It can be used alone (to maximise the number of classified reads) or in conjunction with other demultiplexers (to maximise precision and minimise false positive classifications). We also found cross-sample chimeric reads (0.3%) and evidence of barcode switching (0.3%) in our dataset, which likely arise during library preparation and may be detrimental for quantitative studies that use multiplexing. Deepbinner is open source (GPLv3) and available at https://github.com/rrwick/Deepbinner.
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    Tracking key virulence loci encoding aerobactin and salmochelin siderophore synthesis in Klebsiella pneumoniae
    Lam, MMC ; Wyres, K ; Judd, L ; Wick, R ; Jenney, A ; Brisse, S ; Holt, K (BMC, 2018-07-25)
    Background: Klebsiella pneumoniae is a recognised agent of multidrug-resistant (MDR) healthcare-associated infections, however individual strains vary in their virulence potential due to the presence of mobile accessory genes. In particular, gene clusters encoding the biosynthesis of siderophores aerobactin (iuc) and salmochelin (iro) are associated with invasive disease and are common amongst hypervirulent K. pneumoniae clones that cause severe community-associated infections such as liver abscess and pneumonia. Concerningly iuc has also been reported in MDR strains in the hospital setting, where it was associated with increased mortality, highlighting the need to understand, detect and track the mobility of these virulence loci in the K. pneumoniae population. Methods: Here we examined the genetic diversity, distribution and mobilisation of iuc and iro loci among 2503 K. pneumoniae genomes using comparative genomics approaches, and developed tools for tracking them via genomic surveillance. Results: Iro and iuc were detected at low prevalence (<10%). Considerable genetic diversity was observed, resolving into five iro and six iuc lineages that show distinct patterns of mobilisation and dissemination in the K. pneumoniae population. The major burden of iuc and iro amongst the genomes analysed was due to two linked lineages (iuc1/iro1, 74% and iuc2/iro2, 14%), each carried by a distinct non-self-transmissible IncFIBK virulence plasmid type that we designate KpVP-1 and KpVP-2. These dominant types also carry hypermucoidy (rmpA) determinants and include all previously described virulence plasmids of K. pneumoniae. The other iuc and iro lineages were associated with diverse plasmids, including some carrying FII conjugative transfer regions and some imported from E. coli; the exceptions were iro3 (mobilised by ICEKp1), and iuc4 (fixed in the chromosome of K. pneumoniae subspecies rhinoscleromatis). Iro/iuc MGEs appear to be stably maintained at high frequency within known hypervirulent strains (ST23, ST86, etc), but were also detected at low prevalence in others such as MDR strain ST258. Conclusions: Iuc and iro are mobilised in K. pneumoniae via a limited number of MGEs. This study provides a framework for identifying and tracking these important virulence loci, which will be important for genomic surveillance efforts including monitoring for the emergence of hypervirulent MDR K. pneumoniae strains.
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    Distinct evolutionary dynamics of horizontal gene transfer in drug resistant and virulent clones of Klebsiella pneumoniae
    Wyres, K ; Wick, R ; Judd, L ; Froumine, R ; Tokolyi, A ; Gorrie, C ; Lam, M ; Duchene, S ; Jenney, A ; Holt, K ; Hughes, D (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2018-09-12)
    Klebsiella pneumoniae (Kp) has emerged as an important cause of two distinct public health threats: multi-drug resistant (MDR) healthcare-associated infections and community-acquired invasive infections, particularly pyogenic liver abscess. The majority of MDR hospital outbreaks are caused by a subset of Kp clones with a high prevalence of acquired antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes, while the majority of community-acquired invasive infections are caused by hypervirulent clones that rarely harbour acquired AMR genes but have high prevalence of key virulence loci. Worryingly, the last few years have seen increasing reports of convergence of MDR and the key virulence genes within individual Kp strains, but it is not yet clear whether these represent a transient phenomenon or a significant ongoing threat. Here we perform comparative genomic analyses for 28 distinct Kp clones, including 6 hypervirulent and 8 MDR, to better understand their evolutionary histories and the risks of convergence. We show that MDR clones are highly diverse with frequent chromosomal recombination and gene content variability that far exceeds that of the hypervirulent clones. Consequently, we predict a much greater risk of virulence gene acquisition by MDR Kp clones than of resistance gene acquisition by hypervirulent clones.
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    Unicycler: Resolving bacterial genome assemblies from short and long sequencing reads
    Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Gorrie, CL ; Holt, KE ; Phillippy, AM (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-06)
    The Illumina DNA sequencing platform generates accurate but short reads, which can be used to produce accurate but fragmented genome assemblies. Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies DNA sequencing platforms generate long reads that can produce complete genome assemblies, but the sequencing is more expensive and error-prone. There is significant interest in combining data from these complementary sequencing technologies to generate more accurate "hybrid" assemblies. However, few tools exist that truly leverage the benefits of both types of data, namely the accuracy of short reads and the structural resolving power of long reads. Here we present Unicycler, a new tool for assembling bacterial genomes from a combination of short and long reads, which produces assemblies that are accurate, complete and cost-effective. Unicycler builds an initial assembly graph from short reads using the de novo assembler SPAdes and then simplifies the graph using information from short and long reads. Unicycler uses a novel semi-global aligner to align long reads to the assembly graph. Tests on both synthetic and real reads show Unicycler can assemble larger contigs with fewer misassemblies than other hybrid assemblers, even when long-read depth and accuracy are low. Unicycler is open source (GPLv3) and available at github.com/rrwick/Unicycler.
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    Genetic diversity, mobilisation and spread of the yersiniabactin-encoding mobile element ICEKp in Klebsiella pneumoniae populations
    Lam, MMC ; Wick, RR ; Wyres, KL ; Gorrie, CL ; Judd, LM ; Jenney, AWJ ; Brisse, S ; Holt, KE (MICROBIOLOGY SOC, 2018-09)
    Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) that frequently transfer within and between bacterial species play a critical role in bacterial evolution, and often carry key accessory genes that associate with a bacteria's ability to cause disease. MGEs carrying antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and/or virulence determinants are common in the opportunistic pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is a leading cause of highly drug-resistant infections in hospitals. Well-characterised virulence determinants in K. pneumoniae include the polyketide synthesis loci ybt and clb (also known as pks), encoding the iron-scavenging siderophore yersiniabactin and genotoxin colibactin, respectively. These loci are located within an MGE called ICEKp, which is the most common virulence-associated MGE of K. pneumoniae, providing a mechanism for these virulence factors to spread within the population. Here we apply population genomics to investigate the prevalence, evolution and mobility of ybt and clb in K. pneumoniae populations through comparative analysis of 2498 whole-genome sequences. The ybt locus was detected in 40 % of K. pneumoniae genomes, particularly amongst those associated with invasive infections. We identified 17 distinct ybt lineages and 3 clb lineages, each associated with one of 14 different structural variants of ICEKp. Comparison with the wider population of the family Enterobacteriaceae revealed occasional ICEKp acquisition by other members. The clb locus was present in 14 % of all K. pneumoniae and 38.4 % of ybt+ genomes. Hundreds of independent ICEKp integration events were detected affecting hundreds of phylogenetically distinct K. pneumoniae lineages, including at least 19 in the globally-disseminated carbapenem-resistant clone CG258. A novel plasmid-encoded form of ybt was also identified, representing a new mechanism for ybt dispersal in K. pneumoniae populations. These data indicate that MGEs carrying ybt and clb circulate freely in the K. pneumoniae population, including among multidrug-resistant strains, and should be considered a target for genomic surveillance along with AMR determinants.
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    Completing bacterial genome assemblies with multiplex MinION sequencing
    Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Gorrie, CL ; Holt, KE (MICROBIOLOGY SOC, 2017-10)
    Illumina sequencing platforms have enabled widespread bacterial whole genome sequencing. While Illumina data is appropriate for many analyses, its short read length limits its ability to resolve genomic structure. This has major implications for tracking the spread of mobile genetic elements, including those which carry antimicrobial resistance determinants. Fully resolving a bacterial genome requires long-read sequencing such as those generated by Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) platforms. Here we describe our use of the ONT MinION to sequence 12 isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae on a single flow cell. We assembled each genome using a combination of ONT reads and previously available Illumina reads, and little to no manual intervention was needed to achieve fully resolved assemblies using the Unicycler hybrid assembler. Assembling only ONT reads with Canu was less effective, resulting in fewer resolved genomes and higher error rates even following error correction with Nanopolish. We demonstrate that multiplexed ONT sequencing is a valuable tool for high-throughput bacterial genome finishing. Specifically, we advocate the use of Illumina sequencing as a first analysis step, followed by ONT reads as needed to resolve genomic structure.