Horizontal transfer of DNA methylation patterns into bacterial chromosomes.
ABSTRACT: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the non-inherited acquisition of novel DNA sequences. HGT is common and important in bacteria because it enables the rapid generation of new phenotypes such as antibiotic resistance. Here we show that in vivo and in vitro DNA methylation patterns can be horizontally transferred into bacterial chromosomes to program cell phenotypes. The experiments were performed using a synthetic system in Escherichia coli where different DNA methylation patterns within the cis-regulatory sequence of the agn43 gene turn on or off a fluorescent reporter (CFP). With this system we demonstrated that DNA methylation patterns not only accompany the horizontal transfer of genes into the bacterial cytoplasm but can be transferred into chromosomes by: (i) bacteriophage P1 transduction; and (ii) transformation of extracellular synthetic DNA. We also modified the experimental system by replacing CFP with the SgrS small RNA, which regulates glucose and methyl ?-D-glucoside uptake, and showed that horizontally acquired DNA methylation patterns can increase or decrease cell fitness. That is, horizontally acquired DNA methylation patterns can result in the selection for and against cells that have HGT. Findings from these proof-of-concept experiments have applications in synthetic biology and potentially broad implications for bacterial adaptation and evolution.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Genomes of Methanosarcina spp. are among the largest archaeal genomes. One suggested reason for that is massive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from bacteria. Genes of bacterial origin may be involved in the central metabolism and solute transport, in particular sugar synthesis, sulfur metabolism, phosphate metabolism, DNA repair, transport of small molecules etc. Horizontally transferred (HT) genes are considered to play the key role in the ability of Methanosarcina spp. to inhabit diverse environments. At the moment, genomes of three Methanosarcina spp. have been sequenced, and while these genomes vary in length and number of protein-coding genes, they all have been shown to accumulate HT genes. However, previous estimates had been made when fewer archaeal genomes were known. Moreover, several Methanosarcinaceae genomes from other genera have been sequenced recently. Here, we revise the census of genes of bacterial origin in Methanosarcinaceae. RESULTS:About 5% of Methanosarcina genes have been shown to be horizontally transferred from various bacterial groups to the last common ancestor either of Methanosarcinaceae, or Methanosarcina, or later in the evolution. Simulation of the composition of the NCBI protein non-redundant database for different years demonstrates that the estimates of the HGT rate have decreased drastically since 2002, the year of publication of the first Methanosarcina genome. The phylogenetic distribution of HT gene donors is non-uniform. Most HT genes were transferred from Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, while no HGT events from Actinobacteria to the common ancestor of Methanosarcinaceae were found. About 50% of HT genes are involved in metabolism. Horizontal transfer of transcription factors is not common, while 46% of horizontally transferred genes have demonstrated differential expression in a variety of conditions. HGT of complete operons is relatively infrequent and half of HT genes do not belong to operons. CONCLUSIONS:While genes of bacterial origin are still more frequent in Methanosarcinaceae than in other Archaea, most HGT events described earlier as Methanosarcina-specific seem to have occurred before the divergence of Methanosarcinaceae. Genes horizontally transferred from bacteria to archaea neither tend to be transferred with their regulators, nor in long operons.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) involves the transmission of genetic material between distinct evolutionary lineages and can be an important source of biological innovation. Reports of interkingdom HGT to eukaryotic microbial pathogens have accumulated over recent years. Verticillium dahliae is a notorious plant pathogen that causes vascular wilt disease on hundreds of plant species, resulting in high economic losses every year. Previously, the effector gene Ave1 and a glucosyltransferase-encoding gene were identified as virulence factor-encoding genes that were proposed to be horizontally acquired from a plant and a bacterial donor, respectively. However, to what extent HGT contributed to the overall genome composition of V. dahliae remained elusive. Here, we systematically searched for evidence of interkingdom HGT events in the genome of V. dahliae and provide evidence for extensive horizontal gene acquisition from bacterial origin.
Project description:Most known examples of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) between eukaryotes are ancient. These events are identified primarily using phylogenetic methods on coding regions alone. Only rarely are there examples of HGT where noncoding DNA is also reported. The gene encoding the wheat virulence protein ToxA and the surrounding 14?kb is one of these rare examples. ToxA has been horizontally transferred between three fungal wheat pathogens (Parastagonospora nodorum, Pyrenophora tritici- repentis, and Bipolaris sorokiniana) as part of a conserved ?14 kb element which contains coding and noncoding regions. Here we used long-read sequencing to define the extent of HGT between these three fungal species. Construction of near-chromosomal-level assemblies enabled identification of terminal inverted repeats on either end of the 14 kb region, typical of a type II DNA transposon. This is the first description of ToxA with complete transposon features, which we call ToxhAT. In all three species, ToxhAT resides in a large (140-to-250 kb) transposon-rich genomic island which is absent in isolates that do not carry the gene (annotated here as toxa- ). We demonstrate that the horizontal transfer of ToxhAT between P. tritici-repentis and P. nodorum occurred as part of a large (?80 kb) HGT which is now undergoing extensive decay. In B. sorokiniana, in contrast, ToxhAT and its resident genomic island are mobile within the genome. Together, these data provide insight into the noncoding regions that facilitate HGT between eukaryotes and into the genomic processes which mask the extent of HGT between these species.IMPORTANCE This work dissects the tripartite horizontal transfer of ToxA, a gene that has a direct negative impact on global wheat yields. Defining the extent of horizontally transferred DNA is important because it can provide clues to the mechanisms that facilitate HGT. Our analysis of ToxA and its surrounding 14?kb suggests that this gene was horizontally transferred in two independent events, with one event likely facilitated by a type II DNA transposon. These horizontal transfer events are now in various processes of decay in each species due to the repeated insertion of new transposons and subsequent rounds of targeted mutation by a fungal genome defense mechanism known as repeat induced point mutation. This work highlights the role that HGT plays in the evolution of host adaptation in eukaryotic pathogens. It also increases the growing body of evidence indicating that transposons facilitate adaptive HGT events between fungi present in similar environments and hosts.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) can have profound effects on bacterial evolution by allowing individuals to rapidly acquire adaptive traits that shape their strategies for competition. One strategy for intermicrobial antagonism often used by Proteobacteria is the genetically encoded contact-dependent type VI secretion system (T6SS), a weapon used to kill heteroclonal neighbors by direct injection of toxic effectors. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that Vibrio cholerae can acquire new T6SS effector genes via horizontal transfer and utilize them to kill neighboring cells. Replacement of one or more parental alleles with novel effectors allows the recombinant strain to dramatically outcompete its parent. Using spatially explicit modeling, we examine how this process could affect the ecology and evolution of surface-attached microbial populations. HGT of T6SS effector-immunity pairs is risky: transformation brings a cell into conflict with its former clone mates but can be adaptive when superior T6SS alleles are acquired. More generally, we find that these costs and benefits are not symmetric and that high rates of HGT can act as a hedge against competitors with unpredictable T6SS efficacy. We conclude that antagonism and horizontal transfer drive successive rounds of weapon optimization and selective sweeps, dynamically shaping the composition of microbial communities.IMPORTANCE The contact-dependent type VI secretion system (T6SS) is frequently used by Proteobacteria to kill adjacent competitors. While DNA released by T6 killing can be horizontally acquired, it remains untested whether T6 genes themselves can be horizontally acquired and then utilized to compete with neighboring cells. Using naturally transformable Vibrio cholerae, we provide the first direct empirical support for the hypothesis that T6 genes are exchanged horizontally (e.g., from dead competitors) and functionally deployed to compete with neighboring cells. Using computational simulations, we also demonstrate that high rates of HGT can be adaptive, allowing V. cholerae to improve upon existing T6 weaponry and survive direct encounters with otherwise superior competitors. We anticipate that our evolutionary results are of broad microbiological relevance, applying to many bacteria capable of HGT that utilize the T6SS or similar antagonistic systems, and highlight the profound impact of HGT in shaping microbial community structure.
Project description:Horizontal acquisition of DNA by bacteria dramatically increases genetic diversity and hence successful bacterial colonization of several niches, including the human host. A relevant issue is how this newly acquired DNA interacts and integrates in the regulatory networks of the bacterial cell. The global modulator H-NS targets both core genome and HGT genes and silences gene expression in response to external stimuli such as osmolarity and temperature. Here we provide evidence that H-NS discriminates and differentially modulates core and HGT DNA. As an example of this, plasmid R27-encoded H-NS protein has evolved to selectively silence HGT genes and does not interfere with core genome regulation. In turn, differential regulation of both gene lineages by resident chromosomal H-NS requires a helper protein: the Hha protein. Tight silencing of HGT DNA is accomplished by H-NS-Hha complexes. In contrast, core genes are modulated by H-NS homoligomers. Remarkably, the presence of Hha-like proteins is restricted to the Enterobacteriaceae. In addition, conjugative plasmids encoding H-NS variants have hitherto been isolated only from members of the family. Thus, the H-NS system in enteric bacteria presents unique evolutionary features. The capacity to selectively discriminate between core and HGT DNA may help to maintain horizontally transmitted DNA in silent form and may give these bacteria a competitive advantage in adapting to new environments, including host colonization.
Project description:Acquisition of genes through horizontal gene transfer (HGT) allows microbes to rapidly gain new capabilities and adapt to new or changing environments. Identifying widespread HGT regions within multispecies microbiomes can pinpoint the molecular mechanisms that play key roles in microbiome assembly. We sought to identify horizontally transferred genes within a model microbiome, the cheese rind. Comparing 31 newly sequenced and 134 previously sequenced bacterial isolates from cheese rinds, we identified over 200 putative horizontally transferred genomic regions containing 4733 protein coding genes. The largest of these regions are enriched for genes involved in siderophore acquisition, and are widely distributed in cheese rinds in both Europe and the US. These results suggest that HGT is prevalent in cheese rind microbiomes, and that identification of genes that are frequently transferred in a particular environment may provide insight into the selective forces shaping microbial communities.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) serves as an important source of innovation for bacterial species. We used a pangenome-based approach to identify genes that were horizontally acquired by four closely related bacterial species, belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family. This enabled us to examine the extent to which such closely related species tend to share horizontally acquired genes. We find that a high percent of horizontally acquired genes are shared among these closely related species. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent of sharing of horizontally acquired genes among these four closely related species is predictive of the extent to which these genes will be found in additional bacterial species. Finally, we show that acquired genes shared by more species tend to be better optimized for expression within the genomes of their new hosts. Combined, our results demonstrate the existence of a large pool of frequently horizontally acquired genes that have distinct characteristics from horizontally acquired genes that are less frequently shared between species.
Project description:Few cases of spontaneously horizontally transferred bacterial genes into plant genomes have been described to date. The occurrence of horizontally transferred genes from the T-DNA of Agrobacterium rhizogenes into the plant genome has been reported in the genus Nicotiana and in the species Linaria vulgaris. Here we compare patterns of evolution in one of these genes (a gene encoding mikimopine synthase, mis) following three different events of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). As this gene plays an important role in Agrobacterium, and there are known cases showing that genes from pathogens can acquire plant protection function, we hypothesised that in at least some of the studied species we will find signs of selective pressures influencing mis sequence. The mikimopine synthase (mis) gene evolved in a different manner in the branch leading to Nicotiana tabacum and N. tomentosiformis, in the branch leading to N. glauca and in the genus Linaria. Our analyses of the genus Linaria suggest that the mis gene began to degenerate soon after the HGT. In contrast, in the case of N. glauca, the mis gene evolved under significant selective pressures. This suggests a possible role of mikimopine synthase in current N. glauca and its ancestor(s). In N. tabacum and N. tomentosiformis, the mis gene has a common frameshift mutation that disrupted its open reading frame. Interestingly, our results suggest that in spite of the frameshift, the mis gene could evolve under selective pressures. This sequence may still have some regulatory role at the RNA level as suggested by coverage of this sequence by small RNAs in N. tabacum.
Project description:Integration of newly acquired genes into existing regulatory networks is necessary for successful horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Ten percent of bacterial species contain at least two DNA replicons over 300 kilobases in size, with the secondary replicons derived predominately through HGT. The Sinorhizobium meliloti genome is split between a 3.7 Mb chromosome, a 1.7 Mb chromid (termed pSymB) consisting largely of genes acquired through ancient HGT, and a 1.4 Mb megaplasmid (termed pSymA) consisting primarily of recently acquired genes. Here, RNA-sequencing is used to examine the transcriptional consequences of massive, synthetic genome reduction produced through the removal of the megaplasmid and/or the chromid. Removal of the megaplasmid influenced the transcription of only six genes. In contrast, removal of the chromid influenced expression of ~ 8% of chromosomal genes and ~ 4% of megaplasmid genes. This was mediated in part by the loss of the ETR DNA region whose presence on pSymB is due to a translocation from the chromosome. No obvious functional bias among the up-regulated genes was detected, although genes with putative homologs on the chromid were enriched. Down-regulated genes were enriched in motility and sensory transduction pathways. Four transcripts were examined further, and in each case the transcriptional change could be traced to loss of specific pSymB regions. In particularly, a chromosomal transporter was induced due to deletion of bdhA likely mediated through 3-hydroxybutyrate accumulation. These data provide new insights into the evolution of the multipartite bacterial genome, and more generally into the integration of horizontally acquired genes into the transcriptome. Overall design: There was a total of 10 samples for the RNA-sequencing analysis: five strains performed in biological duplicates. Total RNA was isolated from S. meliloti RmP3496 (∆pSymAB), RmP3497 (∆pSymB), RmP3498 (∆pSymA), RmP3499 (wild-type), and RmP3500 (∆pSymB with the ETR region of S. fredii integrated into the chromosome), grown in minimal medium with 10 mM sucrose as the carbon source and ammonia as the nitrogen source. Sequencing was performed using Illumina HiSeq 1500 with 75 nt single reads.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer has been occasionally mentioned in eukaryotic genomes, but such events appear much less numerous than in prokaryotes, where they play important functional and evolutionary roles. In yeasts, few independent cases have been described, some of which corresponding to major metabolic functions, but no systematic screening of horizontally transferred genes has been attempted so far. Taking advantage of the synteny conservation among five newly sequenced and annotated genomes of Saccharomycetaceae, we carried out a systematic search for HGT candidates amidst genes present in only one species within conserved synteny blocks. Out of 255 species-specific genes, we discovered 11 candidates for HGT, based on their similarity with bacterial proteins and on reconstructed phylogenies. This corresponds to a minimum of six transfer events because some horizontally acquired genes appear to rapidly duplicate in yeast genomes (e.g. YwqG genes in Kluyveromyces thermotolerans and serine recombinase genes of the IS607 family in Saccharomyces kluyveri). We show that the resulting copies are submitted to a strong functional selective pressure. The mechanisms of DNA transfer and integration are discussed, in relation with the generally small size of HGT candidates. Our results on a limited set of species expand by 50% the number of previously published HGT cases in hemiascomycetous yeasts, suggesting that this type of event is more frequent than usually thought. Our restrictive method does not exclude the possibility that additional HGT events exist. Actually, ancestral events common to several yeast species must have been overlooked, and the absence of homologs in present databases leaves open the question of the origin of the 244 remaining species-specific genes inserted within conserved synteny blocks.