The Genomic Architecture of Novel Simulium damnosum Wolbachia Prophage Sequence Elements and Implications for Onchocerciasis Epidemiology.
ABSTRACT: Research interest in Wolbachia is growing as new discoveries and technical advancements reveal the public health importance of both naturally occurring and artificial infections. Improved understanding of the Wolbachia bacteriophages (WOs) WOcauB2 and WOcauB3 [belonging to a sub-group of four WOs encoding serine recombinases group 1 (sr1WOs)], has enhanced the prospect of novel tools for the genetic manipulation of Wolbachia. The basic biology of sr1WOs, including host range and mode of genomic integration is, however, still poorly understood. Very few sr1WOs have been described, with two such elements putatively resulting from integrations at the same Wolbachia genome loci, about 2 kb downstream from the FtsZ cell-division gene. Here, we characterize the DNA sequence flanking the FtsZ gene of wDam, a genetically distinct line of Wolbachia isolated from the West African onchocerciasis vector Simulium squamosum E. Using Roche 454 shot-gun and Sanger sequencing, we have resolved >32 kb of WO prophage sequence into three contigs representing three distinct prophage elements. Spanning ?36 distinct WO open reading frame gene sequences, these prophage elements correspond roughly to three different WO modules: a serine recombinase and replication module (sr1RRM), a head and base-plate module and a tail module. The sr1RRM module contains replication genes and a Holliday junction recombinase and is unique to the sr1 group WOs. In the extreme terminal of the tail module there is a SpvB protein homolog-believed to have insecticidal properties and proposed to have a role in how Wolbachia parasitize their insect hosts. We propose that these wDam prophage modules all derive from a single WO genome, which we have named here sr1WOdamA1. The best-match database sequence for all of our sr1WOdamA1-predicted gene sequences was annotated as of Wolbachia or Wolbachia phage sourced from an arthropod. Clear evidence of exchange between sr1WOdamA1 and other Wolbachia WO phage sequences was also detected. These findings provide insights into how Wolbachia could affect a medically important vector of onchocerciasis, with potential implications for future control methods, as well as supporting the hypothesis that Wolbachia phages do not follow the standard model of phage evolution.
Project description:The symbiosis system comprising eukaryotic hosts, intracellular bacterium <i>Wolbachia</i>, and temperate bacteriophages WO is widely spread through nearly half the number of arthropod species. The relationships between the three components of the system are extremely intricate. Even though the bacteriophage WO can have diverse influences on the ecology and evolution of <i>Wolbachia</i>, little is known about the distribution and evolution of the phages. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to report that in infected fig wasps (<i>Ceratosolen solmsi</i>, <i>Kradibia gibbosae</i>, and <i>Wiebesia pumilae</i>), the genomes of all the <i>Wolbachia</i> strains had only one cryptic WO prophage, which contained defects in the genomic structural modules. This phenomenon was contrary to the widely accepted understanding that <i>Wolbachia</i> with cryptic prophages usually possesses at least one intact WO prophage consisting of gene sequences of the head, baseplate, and tail modules, through which the prophage could form intact virions. In addition to the genetic structure features, the phylogenetic relationships of WO and <i>Wolbachia</i> also revealed that bacteriophage WO can horizontally spread among a certain genus or a group of insect hosts, nearly free from the restriction of the affiliation of <i>Wolbachia</i>. Combined with the vertical transmission along with <i>Wolbachia</i>, the wide spread of WO phages can be explained. Furthermore, the gender preference and functional module preference for transcriptional activity of the genes in cryptic WOs implied the antagonized coevolutionary pattern between WO prophages and their <i>Wolbachia</i> hosts.
Project description:Wolbachia are maternally transmitted endosymbionts that often alter their arthropod hosts' biology to favor the success of infected females, and they may also serve as a speciation microbe driving reproductive isolation. Two of these host manipulations include killing males outright and reducing offspring survival when infected males mate with uninfected females, a phenomenon known as cytoplasmic incompatibility. Little is known about the mechanisms behind these phenotypes, but interestingly either effect can be caused by the same Wolbachia strain when infecting different hosts. For instance, wRec causes cytoplasmic incompatibility in its native host Drosophila recens and male killing in D. subquinaria. The discovery of prophage WO elements in most arthropod Wolbachia has generated the hypothesis that WO may encode genes involved in these reproductive manipulations. However, PCR screens for the WO minor capsid gene indicated that wRec lacks phage WO. Thus, wRec seemed to provide an example where phage WO is not needed for Wolbachia-induced reproductive manipulation. To enable investigation of the mechanism of phenotype switching in different host backgrounds, and to examine the unexpected absence of phage WO, we sequenced the genome of wRec. Analyses reveal that wRec diverged from wMel approximately 350,000 years ago, mainly by genome reduction in the phage regions. While it lost the minor capsid gene used in standard PCR screens for phage WO, it retained two regions encompassing 33 genes, several of which have previously been associated with reproductive parasitism. Thus, WO gene involvement in reproductive manipulation cannot be excluded and reliance on single gene PCR should not be used to rule out the presence of phage WO in Wolbachia. Additionally, the genome sequence for wRec will enable transcriptomic and proteomic studies that may help elucidate the Wolbachia mechanisms of altered reproductive manipulations associated with host switching, perhaps among the 33 remaining phage genes.
Project description:Genome evolution of bacteria is usually influenced by ecology, such that bacteria with a free-living stage have large genomes and high rates of horizontal gene transfer, while obligate intracellular bacteria have small genomes with typically low amounts of gene exchange. However, recent studies indicate that obligate intracellular species that host-switch frequently harbor agents of horizontal transfer such as mobile elements. For example, the temperate double-stranded DNA bacteriophage WO in Wolbachia persistently transfers between bacterial coinfections in the same host. Here we show that despite the phage's rampant mobility between coinfections, the prophage's genome displays features of constraint related to its intracellular niche. First, there is always at least one intact prophage WO and usually several degenerate, independently-acquired WO prophages in each Wolbachia genome. Second, while the prophage genomes are modular in composition with genes of similar function grouping together, the modules are generally not interchangeable with other unrelated phages and thus do not evolve by the Modular Theory. Third, there is an unusual core genome that strictly consists of head and baseplate genes; other gene modules are frequently deleted. Fourth, the prophage recombinases are diverse and there is no conserved integration sequence. Finally, the molecular evolutionary forces acting on prophage WO are point mutation, intragenic recombination, deletion, and purifying selection. Taken together, these analyses indicate that while lateral transfer of phage WO is pervasive between Wolbachia with occasional new gene uptake, constraints of the intracellular niche obstruct extensive mixture between WO and the global phage population. Although the Modular Theory has long been considered the paradigm of temperate bacteriophage evolution in free-living bacteria, it appears irrelevant in phages of obligate intracellular bacteria.
Project description:Wolbachia are endosymbionts of numerous arthropod and some nematode species, are important for their development and if present can cause distinct phenotypes of their hosts. Prophage DNA has been frequently detected in Wolbachia, but particles of Wolbachia bacteriophages (phage WO) have been only occasionally isolated. Here, we report the characterization and isolation of a phage WO of the southern ground cricket, Allonemobius socius, and provided the first whole-genome sequence of phage WO from this arthropod family outside of Asia. We screened A. socius abdomen DNA extracts from a cricket population in eastern Missouri by quantitative PCR for Wolbachia surface protein and phage WO capsid protein and found a prevalence of 55% and 50%, respectively, with many crickets positive for both. Immunohistochemistry using antibodies against Wolbachia surface protein showed many Wolbachia clusters in the reproductive system of female crickets. Whole-genome sequencing using Oxford Nanopore MinION and Illumina technology allowed for the assembly of a high-quality, 55 kb phage genome containing 63 open reading frames (ORF) encoding for phage WO structural proteins and host lysis and transcriptional manipulation. Taxonomically important regions of the assembled phage genome were validated by Sanger sequencing of PCR amplicons. Analysis of the nucleotides sequences of the ORFs encoding the large terminase subunit (ORF2) and minor capsid (ORF7) frequently used for phage WO phylogenetics showed highest homology to phage WOAu of Drosophila simulans (94.46% identity) and WOCin2USA1 of the cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis cingulata (99.33% identity), respectively. Transmission electron microscopy examination of cricket ovaries showed a high density of phage particles within Wolbachia cells. Isolation of phage WO revealed particles characterized by 40-62 nm diameter heads and up to 190 nm long tails. This study provides the first detailed description and genomic characterization of phage WO from North America that is easily accessible in a widely distributed cricket species.
Project description:Wolbachia are the most widespread maternally-transmitted bacteria in the animal kingdom. Their global spread in arthropods and varied impacts on animal physiology, evolution, and vector control are in part due to parasitic drive systems that enhance the fitness of infected females, the transmitting sex of Wolbachia. Male killing is one common drive mechanism wherein the sons of infected females are selectively killed. Despite decades of research, the gene(s) underlying Wolbachia-induced male killing remain unknown. Here using comparative genomic, transgenic, and cytological approaches in fruit flies, we identify a candidate gene in the eukaryotic association module of Wolbachia prophage WO, termed WO-mediated killing (wmk), which transgenically causes male-specific lethality during early embryogenesis and cytological defects typical of the pathology of male killing. The discovery of wmk establishes new hypotheses for the potential role of phage genes in sex-specific lethality, including the control of arthropod pests and vectors.
Project description:Temperate bacteriophage WO is a model system for studying tripartite interactions among viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotes, especially investigations of the genomic stability of obligate intracellular bacteria. Few WO genomes exist because of the difficulty in isolating viral DNA from eukaryotic hosts, and most reports are by-products of Wolbachia sequencing. Only one partial genome of a WO phage has been determined directly from isolated particles. We determine the complete genome sequence of prophage WO (WOSol) in Wolbachia strain wSol, which infects the fig wasp Ceratosolen solmsi (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea), by high-efficiency thermal asymmetric interlaced PCR. The genome of WOSol is highly degenerated and disrupted by a large region (14,267 bp) from Wolbachia. Consistent with previous molecular studies of multiple WO genomes, the genome of WOSol appears to have evolved by single nucleotide mutations and recombinations.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The alphaproteobacterium Wolbachia pipientis, the most common endosymbiont in eukaryotes, is found predominantly in insects including many Drosophila species. Although Wolbachia is primarily vertically transmitted, analysis of its genome provides evidence for frequent horizontal transfer, extensive recombination and numerous mobile genetic elements. The genome sequence of Wolbachia in Drosophila simulans Riverside (wRi) is available along with the integrated bacteriophages, enabling a detailed examination of phage genes and the role of these genes in the biology of Wolbachia and its host organisms. Wolbachia is widely known for its ability to modify the reproductive patterns of insects. One particular modification, cytoplasmic incompatibility, has previously been shown to be dependent on Wolbachia density and inversely related to the titer of lytic phage. The wRi genome has four phage regions, two WORiBs, one WORiA and one WORiC. RESULTS:In this study specific primers were designed to distinguish between these four prophage types in wRi, and quantitative PCR was used to measure the titer of bacteriophages in testes, ovaries, embryos and adult flies. In all tissues tested, WORiA and WORiB were not found to be present in excess of their integrated prophages; WORiC, however, was found to be present extrachromosomally. WORiC is undergoing extrachromosomal replication in wRi. The density of phage particles was found to be consistent in individual larvae in a laboratory population. The WORiC genome is organized in conserved blocks of genes and aligns most closely with other known lytic WO phages, WOVitA and WOCauB. CONCLUSIONS:The results presented here suggest that WORiC is the lytic form of WO in D. simulans, is undergoing extrachromosomal replication in wRi, and belongs to a conserved family of phages in Wolbachia.
Project description:Wolbachia, an alpha-proteobacterium closely related to Rickettsia, is a maternally transmitted, intracellular symbiont of arthropods and nematodes. Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are naturally infected with Wolbachia strains wAlbA and wAlbB. Cell line Aa23 established from Ae. albopictus embryos retains only wAlbB and is a key model to study host-endosymbiont interactions. We have assembled the complete circular genome of wAlbB from the Aa23 cell line using long-read PacBio sequencing at 500× median coverage. The assembled circular chromosome is 1.48 megabases in size, an increase of more than 300 kb over the published draft wAlbB genome. The annotation of the genome identified 1,205 protein coding genes, 34 tRNA, 3 rRNA, 1 tmRNA, and 3 other ncRNA loci. The long reads enabled sequencing over complex repeat regions which are difficult to resolve with short-read sequencing. Thirteen percent of the genome comprised insertion sequence elements distributed throughout the genome, some of which cause pseudogenization. Prophage WO genes encoding some essential components of phage particle assembly are missing, while the remainder are found in five prophage regions/WO-like islands or scattered around the genome. Orthology analysis identified a core proteome of 535 orthogroups across all completed Wolbachia genomes. The majority of proteins could be annotated using Pfam and eggNOG analyses, including ankyrins and components of the Type IV secretion system. KEGG analysis revealed the absence of five genes in wAlbB which are present in other Wolbachia. The availability of a complete circular chromosome from wAlbB will enable further biochemical, molecular, and genetic analyses on this strain and related Wolbachia.
Project description:Wolbachia endosymbionts are ubiquitously found in diverse insects including many medical and hygienic pests, causing a variety of reproductive phenotypes, such as cytoplasmic incompatibility, and thereby efficiently spreading in host insect populations. Recently, Wolbachia-mediated approaches to pest control and management have been proposed, but the application of these approaches has been hindered by the lack of genetic transformation techniques for symbiotic bacteria. Here, we report the genome and structure of active bacteriophages from a Wolbachia endosymbiont. From the Wolbachia strain wCauB infecting the moth Ephestia kuehniella two closely related WO prophages, WOcauB2 of 43,016 bp with 47 open reading frames (ORFs) and WOcauB3 of 45,078 bp with 46 ORFs, were characterized. In each of the prophage genomes, an integrase gene and an attachment site core sequence were identified, which are putatively involved in integration and excision of the mobile genetic elements. The 3' region of the prophages encoded genes with sequence motifs related to bacterial virulence and protein-protein interactions, which might represent effector molecules that affect cellular processes and functions of their host bacterium and/or insect. Database searches and phylogenetic analyses revealed that the prophage genes have experienced dynamic evolutionary trajectories. Genes similar to the prophage genes were found across divergent bacterial phyla, highlighting the active and mobile nature of the genetic elements. We suggest that the active WO prophage genomes and their constituent sequence elements would provide a clue to development of a genetic transformation vector for Wolbachia endosymbionts.
Project description:The bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia manipulates arthropod reproduction to facilitate its maternal spread through host populations. The most common manipulation is cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI): Wolbachia-infected males produce modified sperm that cause embryonic mortality, unless rescued by embryos harboring the same Wolbachia. The genes underlying CI, cifA and cifB, were recently identified in the eukaryotic association module of Wolbachia's prophage WO. Here, we use transcriptomic and genomic approaches to address three important evolutionary facets of the cif genes. First, we assess whether or not cifA and cifB comprise a classic toxin-antitoxin operon in wMel and show that the two genes exhibit striking, transcriptional differences across host development. They can produce a bicistronic message despite a predicted hairpin termination element in their intergenic region. Second, cifA and cifB strongly coevolve across the diversity of phage WO. Third, we provide new domain and functional predictions across homologs within Wolbachia, and show that amino acid sequences vary substantially across the genus. Finally, we investigate conservation of cifA and cifB and find frequent degradation and loss of the genes in strains that no longer induce CI. Taken together, we demonstrate that cifA and cifB exhibit complex transcriptional regulation in wMel, provide functional annotations that broaden the potential mechanisms of CI induction, and report recurrent erosion of cifA and cifB in non-CI strains, thus expanding our understanding of the most widespread form of reproductive parasitism.