Publications by authors named "Alberto Ferrarini"

64 Publications

Whole-genome sequencing analysis of semi-supercentenarians.

Elife 2021 May 4;10. Epub 2021 May 4.

Department of Medicine, Unit of Internal Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Extreme longevity is the paradigm of healthy aging as individuals who reached the extreme decades of human life avoided or largely postponed all major age-related diseases. In this study, we sequenced at high coverage (90X) the whole genome of 81 semi-supercentenarians and supercentenarians [105+/110+] (mean age: 106.6 ± 1.6) and of 36 healthy unrelated geographically matched controls (mean age 68.0 ± 5.9) recruited in Italy. The results showed that 105+/110+ are characterized by a peculiar genetic background associated with efficient DNA repair mechanisms, as evidenced by both germline data (common and rare variants) and somatic mutations patterns (lower mutation load if compared to younger healthy controls). Results were replicated in a second independent cohort of 333 Italian centenarians and 358 geographically matched controls. The genetics of 105+/110+ identified DNA repair and clonal haematopoiesis as crucial players for healthy aging and for the protection from cardiovascular events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.57849DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096429PMC
May 2021

Genomic history of the Italian population recapitulates key evolutionary dynamics of both Continental and Southern Europeans.

BMC Biol 2020 05 22;18(1):51. Epub 2020 May 22.

Interdepartmental Centre Alma Mater Research Institute on Global Challenges and Climate Change, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Background: The cline of human genetic diversity observable across Europe is recapitulated at a micro-geographic scale by variation within the Italian population. Besides resulting from extensive gene flow, this might be ascribable also to local adaptations to diverse ecological contexts evolved by people who anciently spread along the Italian Peninsula. Dissecting the evolutionary history of the ancestors of present-day Italians may thus improve the understanding of demographic and biological processes that contributed to shape the gene pool of European populations. However, previous SNP array-based studies failed to investigate the full spectrum of Italian variation, generally neglecting low-frequency genetic variants and examining a limited set of small effect size alleles, which may represent important determinants of population structure and complex adaptive traits. To overcome these issues, we analyzed 38 high-coverage whole-genome sequences representative of population clusters at the opposite ends of the cline of Italian variation, along with a large panel of modern and ancient Euro-Mediterranean genomes.

Results: We provided evidence for the early divergence of Italian groups dating back to the Late Glacial and for Neolithic and distinct Bronze Age migrations having further differentiated their gene pools. We inferred adaptive evolution at insulin-related loci in people from Italian regions with a temperate climate, while possible adaptations to pathogens and ultraviolet radiation were observed in Mediterranean Italians. Some of these adaptive events may also have secondarily modulated population disease or longevity predisposition.

Conclusions: We disentangled the contribution of multiple migratory and adaptive events in shaping the heterogeneous Italian genomic background, which exemplify population dynamics and gene-environment interactions that played significant roles also in the formation of the Continental and Southern European genomic landscapes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12915-020-00778-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7243322PMC
May 2020

Whole-Transcriptome Analysis Unveils the Synchronized Activities of Genes for Fructans in Developing Tubers of the Jerusalem Artichoke.

Front Plant Sci 2020 21;11:101. Epub 2020 Feb 21.

Institute of Bioscience and Bioresources (IBBR), National Research Council (CNR), Perugia, Italy.

L., known as the Jerusalem artichoke, is a hexaploid plant species, adapted to low-nutrient soils, that accumulates high levels of inulin in its tubers. Inulin is a fructose-based polysaccharide used either as dietary fiber or for the production of bioethanol. Key enzymes involved in inulin biosynthesis are well known. However, the gene networks underpinning tuber development and inulin accumulation in remain elusive. To fill this gap, we selected 6,365 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from an library to set up a microarray platform and record their expression across three tuber developmental stages, when rhizomes start enlarging (T), at maximum tuber elongation rate (T), and at tuber physiological maturity (T), in "VR" and "K8-HS142"clones. The former was selected as an early tuberizing and the latter as a late-tuberizing clone. We quantified inulin and starch levels, and qRT-PCR confirmed the expression of critical genes accounting for inulin biosynthesis. The microarray analysis revealed that the differences in morphological and physiological traits between tubers of the two clones are genetically determined since T and that is relatively low the number of differentially expressed ESTs across the stages shared between the clones (93). The expression of ESTs for () and (), the two critical genes for fructans polymerization, resulted to be temporarily synchronized and mirror the progress of inulin accumulation and stretching. The expression of ESTs for starch biosynthesis was insignificant throughout the developmental stages of the clones in line with the negligible level of starch into their mature tubers, where inulin was the dominant polysaccharide. Overall, our study disclosed candidate genes underpinning the development and storage of carbohydrates in the tubers of two clones. A model according to which the steady-state levels of and transcripts are developmentally controlled and might represent a limiting factor for inulin accumulation has been provided. Our finding may have significant repercussions for breeding clones with improved levels of inulin for food and chemical industry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.00101DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7046554PMC
February 2020

A chromosome-anchored eggplant genome sequence reveals key events in Solanaceae evolution.

Sci Rep 2019 08 13;9(1):11769. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Research Centre for Genomics and Bioinformatics, 26836, Montanaso Lombardo, LO, Italy.

With approximately 450 species, spiny Solanum species constitute the largest monophyletic group in the Solanaceae family, but a high-quality genome assembly from this group is presently missing. We obtained a chromosome-anchored genome assembly of eggplant (Solanum melongena), containing 34,916 genes, confirming that the diploid gene number in the Solanaceae is around 35,000. Comparative genomic studies with tomato (S. lycopersicum), potato (S. tuberosum) and pepper (Capsicum annuum) highlighted the rapid evolution of miRNA:mRNA regulatory pairs and R-type defense genes in the Solanaceae, and provided a genomic basis for the lack of steroidal glycoalkaloid compounds in the Capsicum genus. Using parsimony methods, we reconstructed the putative chromosomal complements of the key founders of the main Solanaceae clades and the rearrangements that led to the karyotypes of extant species and their ancestors. From 10% to 15% of the genes present in the four genomes were syntenic paralogs (ohnologs) generated by the pre-γ, γ and T paleopolyploidy events, and were enriched in transcription factors. Our data suggest that the basic gene network controlling fruit ripening is conserved in different Solanaceae clades, and that climacteric fruit ripening involves a differential regulation of relatively few components of this network, including CNR and ethylene biosynthetic genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47985-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692341PMC
August 2019

MYC Amplification as a Potential Mechanism of Primary Resistance to Crizotinib in ALK-Rearranged Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Brief Report.

Transl Oncol 2019 Jan 2;12(1):116-121. Epub 2018 Oct 2.

Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine DIMES - University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138, Bologna, Italy; Medical Oncology, S.Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital and Alma Mater University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138, Bologna, Italy.

Introduction: Translocations of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) can be effectively targeted in advanced non-small cell lung cancer by ALK-TKI inhibitors including Crizotinib. However, the development of acquired resistance often limits the duration of these therapies. While several mechanisms of secondary resistance have been already identified, little is known about molecular determinants of primary resistance. In our brief report we investigated the tumor molecular profile of a patient who failed to respond to Crizotinib.

Methods: Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) were run on tumor specimen as well as search and characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood. Confirmation of clinical findings was achieved using a translational cell-line in vitro model.

Results: We identified the amplification of MYC as a potential new mechanism of primary resistance to ALK inhibition. Human EML4-ALK rearranged cells infected with a lentiviral vector carrying full-length human MYC cDNA were treated in vitro with crizotinib and alectinib. Overexpression of MYC overexpression was associated with a reduced sensitivity to both ALK-inhibitors. MYC-overexpressing clones displayed also increased levels of both cyclin D and E and their growth was reduced by using Cdk4/6 inhibitors such as Palbociclib.

Conclusions: We postulate that the MYC gene may be implicated in the mechanism of primary resistance to ALK inhibitors. We also suggest potential MYC-directed inhibition strategies to overcome primary resistance in advanced ALK-rearranged NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tranon.2018.09.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6171095PMC
January 2019

Centrosome Linker-induced Tetraploid Segregation Errors Link Rhabdoid Phenotypes and Lethal Colorectal Cancers.

Mol Cancer Res 2018 09 21;16(9):1385-1395. Epub 2018 May 21.

Department of Sciences and Technologies, University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy.

Centrosome anomalies contribute to tumorigenesis, but it remains unclear how they are generated in lethal cancer phenotypes. Here, it is demonstrated that human microsatellite instable (MSI) and BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers with a lethal rhabdoid phenotype are characterized by inactivation of centrosomal functions. A splice site mutation that causes an unbalanced dosage of rootletin (CROCC), a centrosome linker component required for centrosome cohesion and separation at the chromosome 1p36.13 locus, resulted in abnormally shaped centrosomes in rhabdoid cells from human colon tissues. Notably, deleterious deletions at 1p36.13 were recurrent in a subgroup of BRAF-mutant and microsatellite stable (MSS) rhabdoid colorectal cancers, but not in classical colorectal cancer or pediatric rhabdoid tumors. Interfering with expression in near-diploid BRAF-mutant/MSI colon cancer cells disrupts bipolar mitotic spindle architecture, promotes tetraploid segregation errors, resulting in a highly aggressive rhabdoid-like phenotype Restoring near-wild-type levels of in a metastatic model harboring 1p36.13 deletion results in correction of centrosome segregation errors and cell death, revealing a mechanism of tolerance to mitotic errors and tetraploidization promoted by deleterious 1p36.13 loss. Accordingly, cancer cells lacking 1p36.13 display far greater sensitivity to centrosome spindle pole stabilizing agents These data shed light on a previously unknown link between centrosome cohesion defects and lethal cancer phenotypes providing new insight into pathways underlying genome instability. Mis-segregation of chromosomes is a prominent feature of chromosome instability and intratumoral heterogeneity recurrent in metastatic tumors for which the molecular basis is unknown. This study provides insight into the mechanism by which defects in rootletin, a centrosome linker component causes tetraploid segregation errors and phenotypic transition to a clinically devastating form of malignant rhabdoid tumor. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-0062DOI Listing
September 2018

A streamlined workflow for single-cells genome-wide copy-number profiling by low-pass sequencing of LM-PCR whole-genome amplification products.

PLoS One 2018 1;13(3):e0193689. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Menarini Silicon Biosystems spa, Bologna, Italy.

Chromosomal instability and associated chromosomal aberrations are hallmarks of cancer and play a critical role in disease progression and development of resistance to drugs. Single-cell genome analysis has gained interest in latest years as a source of biomarkers for targeted-therapy selection and drug resistance, and several methods have been developed to amplify the genomic DNA and to produce libraries suitable for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). However, most protocols require several enzymatic and cleanup steps, thus increasing the complexity and length of protocols, while robustness and speed are key factors for clinical applications. To tackle this issue, we developed a single-tube, single-step, streamlined protocol, exploiting ligation mediated PCR (LM-PCR) Whole Genome Amplification (WGA) method, for low-pass genome sequencing with the Ion Torrent™ platform and copy number alterations (CNAs) calling from single cells. The method was evaluated on single cells isolated from 6 aberrant cell lines of the NCI-H series. In addition, to demonstrate the feasibility of the workflow on clinical samples, we analyzed single circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and white blood cells (WBCs) isolated from the blood of patients affected by prostate cancer or lung adenocarcinoma. The results obtained show that the developed workflow generates data accurately representing whole genome absolute copy number profiles of single cell and allows alterations calling at resolutions down to 100 Kbp with as few as 200,000 reads. The presented data demonstrate the feasibility of the Ampli1™ WGA-based low-pass workflow for detection of CNAs in single tumor cells which would be of particular interest for genome-driven targeted therapy selection and for monitoring of disease progression.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0193689PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832318PMC
June 2018

Apple fruit superficial scald resistance mediated by ethylene inhibition is associated with diverse metabolic processes.

Plant J 2018 01 22;93(2):270-285. Epub 2017 Dec 22.

Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, via Mach 1, 38010, San Michele all' Adige, Trento, Italy.

Fruits stored at low temperature can exhibit different types of chilling injury. In apple, one of the most serious physiological disorders is superficial scald, which is characterized by discoloration and brown necrotic patches on the fruit exocarp. Although this phenomenon is widely ascribed to the oxidation of α-farnesene, its physiology is not yet fully understood. To elucidate the mechanism of superficial scald development and possible means of prevention, we performed an integrated metabolite screen, including an analysis of volatiles, phenols and lipids, together with a large-scale transcriptome study. We also determined that prevention of superficial scald, through the use of an ethylene action inhibitor, is associated with the triggering of cold acclimation-related processes. Specifically, the inhibition of ethylene perception stimulated the production of antioxidant compounds to scavenge reactive oxygen species, the synthesis of fatty acids to stabilize plastid and vacuole membranes against cold temperature, and the accumulation of the sorbitol, which can act as a cryoprotectant. The pattern of sorbitol accumulation was consistent with the expression profile of a sorbitol 6-phosphate dehydrogenase, MdS6PDH, the overexpression of which in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants confirmed its involvement in the cold acclimation and freezing tolerance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13774DOI Listing
January 2018

De novo transcriptome of the cosmopolitan dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae to identify enzymes with biotechnological potential.

Sci Rep 2017 09 15;7(1):11701. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Integrative Marine Ecology Department, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Napoli, Italy.

Dinoflagellates are phytoplanktonic organisms found in both freshwater and marine habitats. They are often studied because related to harmful algal blooms but they are also known to produce bioactive compounds for the treatment of human pathologies. The aim of this study was to sequence the full transcriptome of the dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae in both nitrogen-starved and -replete culturing conditions (1) to evaluate the response to nitrogen starvation at the transcriptional level, (2) to look for possible polyketide synthases (PKSs) in the studied clone (genes that may be involved in the synthesis of bioactive compounds), (3) if present, to evaluate if nutrient starvation can influence PKS expression, (4) to look for other possible enzymes of biotechnological interest and (5) to test strain cytotoxicity on human cell lines. Results showed an increase in nitrogen metabolism and stress response in nitrogen-starved cells and confirmed the presence of a type I β-ketosynthase. In addition, L-asparaginase (used for the treatment of Leukemia and for acrylamide reduction in food industries) and cellulase (useful for biofuel production and other industrial applications) have been identified for the first time in this species, giving new insights into possible biotechnological applications of dinoflagellates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12092-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5601461PMC
September 2017

Interference with ethylene perception at receptor level sheds light on auxin and transcriptional circuits associated with the climacteric ripening of apple fruit (Malus x domestica Borkh.).

Plant J 2016 12 5;88(6):963-975. Epub 2016 Oct 5.

Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via Mach 1, 38010 San Michele all'Adige, Trento, Italy.

Apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.) is a model species for studying the metabolic changes that occur at the onset of ripening in fruit crops, and the physiological mechanisms that are governed by the hormone ethylene. In this study, to dissect the climacteric interplay in apple, a multidisciplinary approach was employed. To this end, a comprehensive analysis of gene expression together with the investigation of several physiological entities (texture, volatilome and content of polyphenolic compounds) was performed throughout fruit development and ripening. The transcriptomic profiling was conducted with two microarray platforms: a dedicated custom array (iRIPE) and a whole genome array specifically enriched with ripening-related genes for apple (WGAA). The transcriptomic and phenotypic changes following the application of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), an ethylene inhibitor leading to important modifications in overall fruit physiology, were also highlighted. The integrative comparative network analysis showed both negative and positive correlations between ripening-related transcripts and the accumulation of specific metabolites or texture components. The ripening distortion caused by the inhibition of ethylene perception, in addition to affecting the ethylene pathway, stimulated the de-repression of auxin-related genes, transcription factors and photosynthetic genes. Overall, the comprehensive repertoire of results obtained here advances the elucidation of the multi-layered climacteric mechanism of fruit ripening, thus suggesting a possible transcriptional circuit governed by hormones and transcription factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13306DOI Listing
December 2016

Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. radicis-lycopersici induces distinct transcriptome reprogramming in resistant and susceptible isogenic tomato lines.

BMC Plant Biol 2016 Feb 27;16:53. Epub 2016 Feb 27.

Department of Agriculture Sciences, University of Naples 'Federico II', Via Università, 100, 80055, Portici, Italy.

Background: Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. radicis-lycopersici (FORL) is one of the most destructive necrotrophic pathogens affecting tomato crops, causing considerable field and greenhouse yield losses. Despite such major economic impact, little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. radicis-lycopersici resistance in tomato.

Results: A transcriptomic experiment was carried out in order to investigate the main mechanisms of FORL response in resistant and susceptible isogenic tomato lines. Microarray analysis at 15 DPI (days post inoculum) revealed a distinct gene expression pattern between the two genotypes in the inoculated vs non-inoculated conditions. A model of plant response both for compatible and incompatible reactions was proposed. In particular, in the incompatible interaction an activation of defense genes related to secondary metabolite production and tryptophan metabolism was observed. Moreover, maintenance of the cell osmotic potential after the FORL challenging was mediated by a dehydration-induced protein. As for the compatible interaction, activation of an oxidative burst mediated by peroxidases and a cytochrome monooxygenase induced cell degeneration and necrosis.

Conclusions: Our work allowed comprehensive understanding of the molecular basis of the tomato-FORL interaction. The result obtained emphasizes a different transcriptional reaction between the resistant and the susceptible genotype to the FORL challenge. Our findings could lead to the improvement in disease control strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12870-016-0740-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769521PMC
February 2016

Deciphering bifidobacterial-mediated metabolic interactions and their impact on gut microbiota by a multi-omics approach.

ISME J 2016 07 9;10(7):1656-68. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

Laboratory of Probiogenomics, Department of Life Sciences, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

The intricacies of cooperation and competition between microorganisms are poorly investigated for particular components of the gut microbiota. In order to obtain insights into the manner by which different bifidobacterial species coexist in the mammalian gut, we investigated possible interactions between four human gut commensals, Bifidobacterium bifidum PRL2010, Bifidobacterium adolescentis 22L, Bifidobacterium breve 12L and Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis ATCC15697, in the intestine of conventional mice. The generated information revealed various ecological/metabolic strategies, including glycan-harvesting, glycan-breakdown and cross-feeding behavior, adopted by bifidobacteria in the highly competitive environment of the mammalian intestine. Introduction of two or multiple bifidobacterial strains caused a clear shift in the microbiota composition of the murine cecum. Whole-genome transcription profiling coupled with metagenomic analyses of single, dual or multiple associations of bifidobacterial strains revealed an expansion of the murine gut glycobiome toward enzymatic degradation of plant-derived carbohydrates, such as xylan, arabinoxylan, starch and host-derived glycan substrates. Furthermore, these bifidobacterial communities evoked major changes in the metabolomic profile of the microbiota as observed by shifts in short chain fatty acid production and carbohydrate availability in the murine cecum. Overall, these data support an ecological role of bifidobacteria acting directly or through cross-feeding activities in shaping the gut murine microbiome to instigate an enrichment of saccharolytic microbiota.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2015.236DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918443PMC
July 2016

Identification of novel mutations in hemochromatosis genes by targeted next generation sequencing in Italian patients with unexplained iron overload.

Am J Hematol 2016 Jun;91(4):420-5

Department of Medicine, Section of Internal Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Hereditary hemochromatosis, one of the commonest genetic disorder in Caucasians, is mainly associated to homozygosity for the C282Y mutation in the HFE gene, which is highly prevalent (allele frequency up to near 10% in Northern Europe) and easily detectable through a widely available "first level" molecular test. However, in certain geographical regions like the Mediterranean area, up to 30% of patients with a HH phenotype has a negative or non-diagnostic (i.e. simple heterozygosity) test, because of a known heterogeneity involving at least four other genes (HAMP, HJV, TFR2, and SLC40A1). Mutations in such genes are generally rare/private, making the diagnosis of atypical HH essentially a matter of exclusion in clinical practice (from here the term of "non-HFE" HH), unless cumbersome traditional sequencing is applied. We developed a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based test targeting the five HH genes, and applied it to patients with clinically relevant iron overload (IO) and a non-diagnostic first level genetic test. We identified several mutations, some of which were novel (i.e. HFE W163X, HAMP R59X, and TFR2 D555N) and allowed molecular reclassification of "non-HFE" HH clinical diagnosis, particularly in some highly selected IO patients without concurring acquired risk factors. This NGS-based "second level" genetic test may represent a useful tool for molecular diagnosis of HH in patients in whom HH phenotype remains unexplained after the search of common HFE mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.24304DOI Listing
June 2016

The Arabidopsis Class III Peroxidase AtPRX71 Negatively Regulates Growth under Physiological Conditions and in Response to Cell Wall Damage.

Plant Physiol 2015 Dec 14;169(4):2513-25. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

Institute Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti and Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie "Charles Darwin," Sapienza Università di Roma, 00185 Rome, Italy (S.R., G.D.L., F.C., S.F.);Dipartimento di Biotecnologie, Università degli Studi di Verona, 37134 Verona, Italy (A.F., M.D.);Université de Toulouse, Université Paul Sabatier, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5546, Laboratoire de Recherche en Sciences Végétales, F-31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France (C.D., P.R.); andCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5546, F-31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France (C.D., P.R.)

The structure of the cell wall has a major impact on plant growth and development, and alteration of cell wall structural components is often detrimental to biomass production. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for these negative effects are largely unknown. Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants with altered pectin composition because of either the expression of the Aspergillus niger polygalacturonase II (AnPGII; 35S:AnPGII plants) or a mutation in the QUASIMODO2 (QUA2) gene that encodes a putative pectin methyltransferase (qua2-1 plants), display severe growth defects. Here, we show that expression of Arabidopsis PEROXIDASE71 (AtPRX71), encoding a class III peroxidase, strongly increases in 35S:AnPGII and qua2-1 plants as well as in response to treatments with the cellulose synthase inhibitor isoxaben, which also impairs cell wall integrity. Analysis of atprx71 loss-of-function mutants and plants overexpressing AtPRX71 indicates that this gene negatively influences Arabidopsis growth at different stages of development, likely limiting cell expansion. The atprx71-1 mutation partially suppresses the dwarf phenotype of qua2-1, suggesting that AtPRX71 contributes to the growth defects observed in plants undergoing cell wall damage. Furthermore, AtPRX71 seems to promote the production of reactive oxygen species in qua2-1 plants as well as plants treated with isoxaben. We propose that AtPRX71 contributes to strengthen cell walls, therefore restricting cell expansion, during normal growth and in response to cell wall damage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.15.01464DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4677920PMC
December 2015

A patient with PMP22-related hereditary neuropathy and DBH-gene-related dysautonomia.

J Neurol 2015 Oct 26;262(10):2373-81. Epub 2015 Sep 26.

Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Via Ugo Foscolo 7, 40123, Bologna, Italy.

Recurrent focal neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies is a relatively frequent autosomal-dominant demyelinating neuropathy linked to peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22) gene deletions. The combination of PMP22 gene mutations with other genetic variants is known to cause a more severe phenotype than expected. We present the case of a patient with severe orthostatic hypotension since 12 years of age, who inherited a PMP22 gene deletion from his father. Genetic double trouble was suspected because of selective sympathetic autonomic disturbances. Through exome-sequencing analysis, we identified two novel mutations in the dopamine beta hydroxylase gene. Moreover, with interactome analysis, we excluded a further influence on the origin of the disease by variants in other genes. This case increases the number of unique patients presenting with dopamine-β-hydroxylase deficiency and of cases with genetically proven double trouble. Finding the right, complete diagnosis is crucial to obtain adequate medical care and appropriate genetic counseling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-015-7896-zDOI Listing
October 2015

Analysis of the Molecular Dialogue Between Gray Mold (Botrytis cinerea) and Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) Reveals a Clear Shift in Defense Mechanisms During Berry Ripening.

Mol Plant Microbe Interact 2015 Nov 3;28(11):1167-80. Epub 2015 Nov 3.

2 INRA, UMR 1290 BIOGER, Avenue Lucien Brétignières, 78850 Grignon, France;

Mature grapevine berries at the harvesting stage (MB) are very susceptible to the gray mold fungus Botrytis cinerea, while veraison berries (VB) are not. We conducted simultaneous microscopic and transcriptomic analyses of the pathogen and the host to investigate the infection process developed by B. cinerea on MB versus VB, and the plant defense mechanisms deployed to stop the fungus spreading. On the pathogen side, our genome-wide transcriptomic data revealed that B. cinerea genes upregulated during infection of MB are enriched in functional categories related to necrotrophy, such as degradation of the plant cell wall, proteolysis, membrane transport, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and detoxification. Quantitative-polymerase chain reaction on a set of representative genes related to virulence and microscopic observations further demonstrated that the infection is also initiated on VB but is stopped at the penetration stage. On the plant side, genome-wide transcriptomic analysis and metabolic data revealed a defense pathway switch during berry ripening. In response to B. cinerea inoculation, VB activated a burst of ROS, the salicylate-dependent defense pathway, the synthesis of the resveratrol phytoalexin, and cell-wall strengthening. On the contrary, in infected MB, the jasmonate-dependent pathway was activated, which did not stop the fungal necrotrophic process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/MPMI-02-15-0039-RDOI Listing
November 2015

The Use of Non-Variant Sites to Improve the Clinical Assessment of Whole-Genome Sequence Data.

PLoS One 2015 6;10(7):e0132180. Epub 2015 Jul 6.

Functional Genomics Center, Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, 37134, Verona, Italy; Personal Genomics s.r.l, Strada le Grazie 15, 37134, Verona, Italy.

Genetic testing, which is now a routine part of clinical practice and disease management protocols, is often based on the assessment of small panels of variants or genes. On the other hand, continuous improvements in the speed and per-base costs of sequencing have now made whole exome sequencing (WES) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) viable strategies for targeted or complete genetic analysis, respectively. Standard WGS/WES data analytical workflows generally rely on calling of sequence variants respect to the reference genome sequence. However, the reference genome sequence contains a large number of sites represented by rare alleles, by known pathogenic alleles and by alleles strongly associated to disease by GWAS. It's thus critical, for clinical applications of WGS and WES, to interpret whether non-variant sites are homozygous for the reference allele or if the corresponding genotype cannot be reliably called. Here we show that an alternative analytical approach based on the analysis of both variant and non-variant sites from WGS data allows to genotype more than 92% of sites corresponding to known SNPs compared to 6% genotyped by standard variant analysis. These include homozygous reference sites of clinical interest, thus leading to a broad and comprehensive characterization of variation necessary to an accurate evaluation of disease risk. Altogether, our findings indicate that characterization of both variant and non-variant clinically informative sites in the genome is necessary to allow an accurate clinical assessment of a personal genome. Finally, we propose a highly efficient extended VCF (eVCF) file format which allows to store genotype calls for sites of clinical interest while remaining compatible with current variant interpretation software.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132180PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4492948PMC
April 2016

DNA methylation and gene expression profiles show novel regulatory pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Clin Epigenetics 2015 14;7:43. Epub 2015 Apr 14.

Department of Medicine, University of Verona School of Medicine, Policlinico 'G.B. Rossi', P.le L.A. Scuro, 10, 37134 Verona, Italy.

Background: Alcohol is a well-known risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but the mechanisms underlying the alcohol-related hepatocarcinogenesis are still poorly understood. Alcohol alters the provision of methyl groups within the hepatic one-carbon metabolism, possibly inducing aberrant DNA methylation. Whether specific pathways are epigenetically regulated in alcohol-associated HCC is, however, unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the genome-wide promoter DNA methylation and gene expression profiles in non-viral, alcohol-associated HCC. From eight HCC patients undergoing curative surgery, array-based DNA methylation and gene expression data of all annotated genes were analyzed by comparing HCC tissue and homologous cancer-free liver tissue.

Results: After merging the DNA methylation with gene expression data, we identified 159 hypermethylated-repressed, 30 hypomethylated-induced, 49 hypermethylated-induced, and 56 hypomethylated-repressed genes. Notably, promoter DNA methylation emerged as a novel regulatory mechanism for the transcriptional repression of genes controlling the retinol metabolism (ADH1A, ADH1B, ADH6, CYP3A43, CYP4A22, RDH16), iron homeostasis (HAMP), one-carbon metabolism (SHMT1), and genes with a putative, newly identified function as tumor suppressors (FAM107A, IGFALS, MT1G, MT1H, RNF180).

Conclusions: A genome-wide DNA methylation approach merged with array-based gene expression profiles allowed identifying a number of novel, epigenetically regulated candidate tumor-suppressor genes in alcohol-associated hepatocarcinogenesis. Retinol metabolism genes and SHMT1 are also epigenetically regulated through promoter DNA methylation in alcohol-associated HCC. Due to the reversibility of epigenetic mechanisms by environmental/nutritional factors, these findings may open up to novel interventional strategies for hepatocarcinogenesis prevention in HCC related to alcohol, a modifiable dietary component.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-015-0077-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4419480PMC
May 2015

Early transcriptional changes in Beta vulgaris in response to low temperature.

Planta 2015 Jul 19;242(1):187-201. Epub 2015 Apr 19.

Consiglio per la ricerca e la sperimentazione in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria, Centro di ricerca per la genomica vegetale, via San Protaso 302, 29017, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Italy.

Main Conclusion: Major metabolic pathways and genes affected by low-temperature treatment were identified and a thorough picture of the early transcriptional changes in sugar beet plantlets upon cold stress was given. Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) is an important source of sugar and bioethanol production in temperate areas worldwide. In these areas, plantlet survival and sucrose yield of mature plants can be seriously limited by low temperatures, especially when plantlets are exposed to freezing temperatures (below 0 °C) at the early developmental stages. This frequently occurs when the crop is sown in early spring or even in autumn (autumn sowing) to escape drought at maturity and pathogen outbreaks. The knowledge of molecular responses induced in plantlets early upon exposure to low temperature is necessary to understand mechanisms that allow the plant to survive and to identify reactions that can influence other late-appearing traits. In this work, a wide study of sugar beet transcriptome modulation after a short exposure to a cold stress, mimicking what is experienced in vivo by young plantlets when temperature drops in the early spring nights, was carried out by high-throughput sequencing of leaves and root RNAs (RNA-Seq). A significant picture of the earliest events of temperature sensing was achieved for the first time for sugar beet: the retrieval of a great amount of transcription factors and the intensity of modulation of a large number of genes involved in several metabolic pathways suggest a fast and deep rearrangement of sugar beet plantlets metabolism as early response to cold stress, with both similarities and specificities between the two organs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00425-015-2299-zDOI Listing
July 2015

The Solanum commersonii Genome Sequence Provides Insights into Adaptation to Stress Conditions and Genome Evolution of Wild Potato Relatives.

Plant Cell 2015 Apr 14;27(4):954-68. Epub 2015 Apr 14.

Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80055 Portici, Italy

Here, we report the draft genome sequence of Solanum commersonii, which consists of ∼830 megabases with an N50 of 44,303 bp anchored to 12 chromosomes, using the potato (Solanum tuberosum) genome sequence as a reference. Compared with potato, S. commersonii shows a striking reduction in heterozygosity (1.5% versus 53 to 59%), and differences in genome sizes were mainly due to variations in intergenic sequence length. Gene annotation by ab initio prediction supported by RNA-seq data produced a catalog of 1703 predicted microRNAs, 18,882 long noncoding RNAs of which 20% are shown to target cold-responsive genes, and 39,290 protein-coding genes with a significant repertoire of nonredundant nucleotide binding site-encoding genes and 126 cold-related genes that are lacking in S. tuberosum. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that domesticated potato and S. commersonii lineages diverged ∼2.3 million years ago. Three duplication periods corresponding to genome enrichment for particular gene families related to response to salt stress, water transport, growth, and defense response were discovered. The draft genome sequence of S. commersonii substantially increases our understanding of the domesticated germplasm, facilitating translation of acquired knowledge into advances in crop stability in light of global climate and environmental changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1105/tpc.114.135954DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4558694PMC
April 2015

VDJSeq-Solver: in silico V(D)J recombination detection tool.

PLoS One 2015 23;10(3):e0118192. Epub 2015 Mar 23.

Department of Control and Computer Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy.

In this paper we present VDJSeq-Solver, a methodology and tool to identify clonal lymphocyte populations from paired-end RNA Sequencing reads derived from the sequencing of mRNA neoplastic cells. The tool detects the main clone that characterises the tissue of interest by recognizing the most abundant V(D)J rearrangement among the existing ones in the sample under study. The exact sequence of the clone identified is capable of accounting for the modifications introduced by the enzymatic processes. The proposed tool overcomes limitations of currently available lymphocyte rearrangements recognition methods, working on a single sequence at a time, that are not applicable to high-throughput sequencing data. In this work, VDJSeq-Solver has been applied to correctly detect the main clone and identify its sequence on five Mantle Cell Lymphoma samples; then the tool has been tested on twelve Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma samples. In order to comply with the privacy, ethics and intellectual property policies of the University Hospital and the University of Verona, data is available upon request to [email protected] after signing a mandatory Materials Transfer Agreement. VDJSeq-Solver JAVA/Perl/Bash software implementation is free and available at http://eda.polito.it/VDJSeq-Solver/.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118192PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4370828PMC
February 2016

Transcriptomic analysis of the late stages of grapevine (Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon) berry ripening reveals significant induction of ethylene signaling and flavor pathways in the skin.

BMC Plant Biol 2014 Dec 19;14:370. Epub 2014 Dec 19.

Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, Strada Le Grazie 15, I-37134, Verona, Italy.

Background: Grapevine berry, a nonclimacteric fruit, has three developmental stages; the last one is when berry color and sugar increase. Flavors derived from terpenoid and fatty acid metabolism develop at the very end of this ripening stage. The transcriptomic response of pulp and skin of Cabernet Sauvignon berries in the late stages of ripening between 22 and 37 °Brix was assessed using whole-genome micorarrays.

Results: The transcript abundance of approximately 18,000 genes changed with °Brix and tissue type. There were a large number of changes in many gene ontology (GO) categories involving metabolism, signaling and abiotic stress. GO categories reflecting tissue differences were overrepresented in photosynthesis, isoprenoid metabolism and pigment biosynthesis. Detailed analysis of the interaction of the skin and pulp with °Brix revealed that there were statistically significantly higher abundances of transcripts changing with °Brix in the skin that were involved in ethylene signaling, isoprenoid and fatty acid metabolism. Many transcripts were peaking around known optimal fruit stages for flavor production. The transcript abundance of approximately two-thirds of the AP2/ERF superfamily of transcription factors changed during these developmental stages. The transcript abundance of a unique clade of ERF6-type transcription factors had the largest changes in the skin and clustered with genes involved in ethylene, senescence, and fruit flavor production including ACC oxidase, terpene synthases, and lipoxygenases. The transcript abundance of important transcription factors involved in fruit ripening was also higher in the skin.

Conclusions: A detailed analysis of the transcriptome dynamics during late stages of ripening of grapevine berries revealed that these berries went through massive transcriptional changes in gene ontology categories involving chemical signaling and metabolism in both the pulp and skin, particularly in the skin. Changes in the transcript abundance of genes involved in the ethylene signaling pathway of this nonclimacteric fruit were statistically significant in the late stages of ripening when the production of transcripts for important flavor and aroma compounds were at their highest. Ethylene transcription factors known to play a role in leaf senescence also appear to play a role in fruit senescence. Ethylene may play a bigger role than previously thought in this non-climacteric fruit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12870-014-0370-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4312598PMC
December 2014

Transcriptional Reprogramming of the Mycoparasitic Fungus Ampelomyces quisqualis During the Powdery Mildew Host-Induced Germination.

Phytopathology 2015 Feb;105(2):199-209

Ampelomyces quisqualis is a mycoparasite of a diverse range of phytopathogenic fungi associated with the powdery mildew disease. Among them are several Erysiphaceae species with great economic impact on high-value crops such as grape. Due to its ability to parasitize and prevent the spread of powdery mildews, A. quisqualis has received considerable attention for its biocontrol potential. However, and in sharp contrast to the extensively studied biocontrol species belonging to the genus Trichoderma, little is known about the biology of A. quisqualis at the molecular and genetic levels. We present the first genome-wide transcription profiling in A. quisqualis during host-induced germination. A total of 1,536 putative genes showed significant changes in transcription during the germination of A. quisqualis. This finding denotes an extensive transcriptional reprogramming of A. quisqualis induced by the presence of the host. Several upregulated genes were predicted to encode for putative mycoparasitism-related proteins such as secreted proteases, virulence factors, and proteins related to toxin biosynthesis. Our data provide the most comprehensive sequence resource currently available for A. quisqualis in addition to offering valuable insights into the biology of A. quisqualis and its mycoparasitic lifestyle. Eventually, this may improve the biocontrol capacity of this mycoparasite.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/PHYTO-01-14-0013-RDOI Listing
February 2015

Functional genomic analysis of constitutive and inducible defense responses to Fusarium verticillioides infection in maize genotypes with contrasting ear rot resistance.

BMC Genomics 2014 Aug 25;15:710. Epub 2014 Aug 25.

Istituto di Agronomia, Genetica e Coltivazioni erbacee, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Via Emilia Parmense 84, 29122 Piacenza, Italy.

Background: Fusarium verticillioides causes ear rot in maize (Zea mays L.) and accumulation of mycotoxins, that affect human and animal health. Currently, chemical and agronomic measures to control Fusarium ear rot are not very effective and selection of more resistant genotypes is a desirable strategy to reduce contaminations. A deeper knowledge of molecular events and genetic basis underlying Fusarium ear rot is necessary to speed up progress in breeding for resistance.

Results: A next-generation RNA-sequencing approach was used for the first time to study transcriptional changes associated with F. verticillioides inoculation in resistant CO441 and susceptible CO354 maize genotypes at 72 hours post inoculation. More than 100 million sequence reads were generated for inoculated and uninoculated control plants and analyzed to measure gene expression levels. Comparison of expression levels between inoculated vs. uninoculated and resistant vs. susceptible transcriptomes revealed a total number of 6,951 differentially expressed genes. Differences in basal gene expression were observed in the uninoculated samples. CO441 genotype showed a higher level of expression of genes distributed over all functional classes, in particular those related to secondary metabolism category. After F. verticillioides inoculation, a similar response was observed in both genotypes, although the magnitude of induction was much greater in the resistant genotype. This response included higher activation of genes involved in pathogen perception, signaling and defense, including WRKY transcription factors and jasmonate/ethylene mediated defense responses. Interestingly, strong differences in expression between the two genotypes were observed in secondary metabolism category: pathways related to shikimate, lignin, flavonoid and terpenoid biosynthesis were strongly represented and induced in the CO441 genotype, indicating that selection to enhance these traits is an additional strategy for improving resistance against F. verticillioides infection.

Conclusions: The work demonstrates that the global transcriptional analysis provided an exhaustive view of genes involved in pathogen recognition and signaling, and controlling activities of different TFs, phytohormones and secondary metabolites, that contribute to host resistance against F. verticillioides. This work provides an important source of markers for development of disease resistance maize genotypes and may have relevance to study other pathosystems involving mycotoxin-producing fungi.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-710DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153945PMC
August 2014

Decreased Nucleotide and Expression Diversity and Modified Coexpression Patterns Characterize Domestication in the Common Bean.

Plant Cell 2014 May 21;26(5):1901-1912. Epub 2014 May 21.

Department of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, Università Politecnica delle Marche, 60131 Ancona, Italy Consiglio per la Ricerca e Sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Cereal Research Centre (CRA-CER), 71122 Foggia, Italy

Using RNA sequencing technology and de novo transcriptome assembly, we compared representative sets of wild and domesticated accessions of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) from Mesoamerica. RNA was extracted at the first true-leaf stage, and de novo assembly was used to develop a reference transcriptome; the final data set consists of ∼190,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms from 27,243 contigs in expressed genomic regions. A drastic reduction in nucleotide diversity (∼60%) is evident for the domesticated form, compared with the wild form, and almost 50% of the contigs that are polymorphic were brought to fixation by domestication. In parallel, the effects of domestication decreased the diversity of gene expression (18%). While the coexpression networks for the wild and domesticated accessions demonstrate similar seminal network properties, they show distinct community structures that are enriched for different molecular functions. After simulating the demographic dynamics during domestication, we found that 9% of the genes were actively selected during domestication. We also show that selection induced a further reduction in the diversity of gene expression (26%) and was associated with 5-fold enrichment of differentially expressed genes. While there is substantial evidence of positive selection associated with domestication, in a few cases, this selection has increased the nucleotide diversity in the domesticated pool at target loci associated with abiotic stress responses, flowering time, and morphology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1105/tpc.114.124040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4079357PMC
May 2014

Tomato genome-wide transcriptional responses to Fusarium wilt and Tomato Mosaic Virus.

PLoS One 2014 7;9(5):e94963. Epub 2014 May 7.

Department of Agriculture Sciences, University of Naples 'Federico II', Portici, Italy.

Since gene expression approaches constitute a starting point for investigating plant-pathogen systems, we performed a transcriptional analysis to identify a set of genes of interest in tomato plants infected with F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici (Fol) and Tomato Mosaic Virus (ToMV). Differentially expressed tomato genes upon inoculation with Fol and ToMV were identified at two days post-inoculation. A large overlap was found in differentially expressed genes throughout the two incompatible interactions. However, Gene Ontology enrichment analysis evidenced specific categories in both interactions. Response to ToMV seems more multifaceted, since more than 70 specific categories were enriched versus the 30 detected in Fol interaction. In particular, the virus stimulated the production of an invertase enzyme that is able to redirect the flux of carbohydrates, whereas Fol induced a homeostatic response to prevent the fungus from killing cells. Genomic mapping of transcripts suggested that specific genomic regions are involved in resistance response to pathogen. Coordinated machinery could play an important role in prompting the response, since 60% of pathogen receptor genes (NB-ARC-LRR, RLP, RLK) were differentially regulated during both interactions. Assessment of genomic gene expression patterns could help in building up models of mediated resistance responses.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0094963PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012952PMC
January 2015

De novo genome assembly of the soil-borne fungus and tomato pathogen Pyrenochaeta lycopersici.

BMC Genomics 2014 Apr 27;15:313. Epub 2014 Apr 27.

Dipartimento di Biotecnologie, Università degli Studi di Verona, Strada le Grazie, 15, 37134 Verona, Italy.

Background: Pyrenochaeta lycopersici is a soil-dwelling ascomycete pathogen that causes corky root rot disease in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and other Solanaceous crops, reducing fruit yields by up to 75%. Fungal pathogens that infect roots receive less attention than those infecting the aerial parts of crops despite their significant impact on plant growth and fruit production.

Results: We assembled a 54.9Mb P. lycopersici draft genome sequence based on Illumina short reads, and annotated approximately 17,000 genes. The P. lycopersici genome is closely related to hemibiotrophs and necrotrophs, in agreement with the phenotypic characteristics of the fungus and its lifestyle. Several gene families related to host-pathogen interactions are strongly represented, including those responsible for nutrient absorption, the detoxification of fungicides and plant cell wall degradation, the latter confirming that much of the genome is devoted to the pathogenic activity of the fungus. We did not find a MAT gene, which is consistent with the classification of P. lycopersici as an imperfect fungus, but we observed a significant expansion of the gene families associated with heterokaryon incompatibility (HI).

Conclusions: The P. lycopersici draft genome sequence provided insight into the molecular and genetic basis of the fungal lifestyle, characterizing previously unknown pathogenic behaviors and defining strategies that allow this asexual fungus to increase genetic diversity and to acquire new pathogenic traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-313DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4234444PMC
April 2014
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