tammy-lau3rd year Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences student Tammy Lau has joined us for her Biochem 3A03 (Biochemical Research Practice) course. Tammy will be collaborating with Dr. Lesley MacNeil in development of a bioinformatics pipeline for a new technology for tissue-specific expression profiling in the important model organism C. elegans. Support from this project comes from a new Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (McMaster) Research Grant. Welcome Tammy!

Read more Comments Off on Welcome Tammy Lau!

d1-coverJia B, Raphenya AR, Alcock B, Waglechner N, Guo P, Tsang KK, Lago BA, Dave BM, Pereira S, Sharma AN, Doshi S, Courtot M, Lo R, Williams LE, Frye JG, Elsayegh T, Sardar D, Westman EL, Pawlowski AC, Johnson TA, Brinkman FS, Wright GD, & McArthur AG.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jan 4;45(D1):D566-D573.

The Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD; http://arpcard.mcmaster.ca) is a manually curated resource containing high quality reference data on the molecular basis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with an emphasis on the genes, proteins and mutations involved in AMR. CARD is ontologically structured, model centric, and spans the breadth of AMR drug classes and resistance mechanisms, including intrinsic, mutation-driven and acquired resistance. It is built upon the Antibiotic Resistance Ontology (ARO), a custom built, interconnected and hierarchical controlled vocabulary allowing advanced data sharing and organization. Its design allows the development of novel genome analysis tools, such as the Resistance Gene Identifier (RGI) for resistome prediction from raw genome sequence. Recent improvements include extensive curation of additional reference sequences and mutations, development of a unique Model Ontology and accompanying AMR detection models to power sequence analysis, new visualization tools, and expansion of the RGI for detection of emergent AMR threats. CARD curation is updated monthly based on an interplay of manual literature curation, computational text mining, and genome analysis.

Read more Comments Off on CARD 2017: expansion and model-centric curation of the comprehensive antibiotic resistance database.

briony lagoThis month we say farewell to Briony Lago as she returns to her undergraduate studies in Chemical Biology at McMaster. Briony joined us as part of her Chemical Biology Co-Op program and worked on both human muscle atrophy and zebrafish toxicology transcriptome studies, as well a curation of the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database. Her publications are below, with more on the way. Briony was also awarded a 2016 IIDR Summer Student Fellowship for her work. Good luck Briony!

Read more Comments Off on Farewell Briony Lago!

header-aa7f836a57fbef4ef15c560ab4ce386fPawlowski AC, Wang W, Koteva K, Barton HA, McArthur AG, & Wright GD.

Nat Commun. 2016 Dec 8;7:13803.

Antibiotic resistance is ancient and widespread in environmental bacteria. These are therefore reservoirs of resistance elements and reflective of the natural history of antibiotics and resistance. In a previous study, we discovered that multi-drug resistance is common in bacteria isolated from Lechuguilla Cave, an underground ecosystem that has been isolated from the surface for over 4 Myr. Here we use whole-genome sequencing, functional genomics and biochemical assays to reveal the intrinsic resistome of Paenibacillus sp. LC231, a cave bacterial isolate that is resistant to most clinically used antibiotics. We systematically link resistance phenotype to genotype and in doing so, identify 18 chromosomal resistance elements, including five determinants without characterized homologues and three mechanisms not previously shown to be involved in antibiotic resistance. A resistome comparison across related surface Paenibacillus affirms the conservation of resistance over millions of years and establishes the longevity of these genes in this genus.

See more: McMaster Daily News

Read more Comments Off on A diverse intrinsic antibiotic resistome from a cave bacterium

genomecanadacolorThe McArthur lab and the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database are proud to have contributed to the Genome Canada – Canadian Food Inspection Agency Forum on Genomics and Antimicrobial Resistance. The two-day event brought together over sixty leading experts from academic, government, industry and commodities groups to address the challenge of AMR and discuss a path forward. A summary of the Forum and the Workshop Report are now online.

Read more Comments Off on Forum on Genomics and Antimicrobial Resistance – Workshop Report


Three of our undergraduate students gave poster presentations in the last month. Arjun Sharma (Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences 3rd year) outlined his work on developing the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database’s (arpcard.mcmaster.ca) CARD*Shark text mining algorithms at the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Trainee Day while Kirill Pankov (Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization 4th year) presented the results of his summer NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) research in the Laboratory of Dr. Joanna Wilson into the origin of Cnidarian P450 enzymes, work he is continuing in our lab as part of his thesis research. Mohammad Khan (Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization 4th year), a thesis student in the Laboratory of Dr. Eric Brown that collaborates with our group, also presented a poster at IIDR Trainee Day on his work on chemical-genetic interaction database design.

Sharma, A.N., S. Doshi, A.R. Raphenya, B. Alcock, B.M. Dave, B.A. Lago, K.K. Tsang, & A.G. McArthur. 2016. CARDShark: Computer-assisted biocuration of the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database. Poster presentation at the 2016 Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Trainee Day, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Pankov, K., A.G. McArthur & J.Y. Wilson. 2016. The Cytochrome P450 (CYP) superfamily in the Cnidarian phylum. Poster presentation at the 2016 Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) Poster Session, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Khan, M.A., S. French, B. Aubie, A.G McArthur & E.D. Brown. 2016. Challenging common screening filters through analysis of a chemical-genetic screening database. Poster presentation at the 2016 Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Trainee Day, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Read more Comments Off on IIDR Trainee Day & USRA Poster Session 2016

17-coverNi X, Davis JH, Jain N, Razi A, Benlekbir S, McArthur AG, Rubinstein JL, Britton RA, Williamson JR, Ortega J.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Sep 30;44(17):8442-55.

YphC and YsxC are GTPases in Bacillus subtilis that facilitate the assembly of the 50S ribosomal subunit, however their roles in this process are still uncharacterized. To explore their function, we used strains in which the only copy of the yphC or ysxC genes were under the control of an inducible promoter. Under depletion conditions, they accumulated incomplete ribosomal subunits that we named 45SYphC and 44.5SYsxC particles. Quantitative mass spectrometry analysis and the 5-6 Å resolution cryo-EM maps of the 45SYphC and 44.5SYsxC particles revealed that the two GTPases participate in the maturation of the central protuberance, GTPase associated region and key RNA helices in the A, P and E functional sites of the 50S subunit. We observed that YphC and YsxC bind specifically to the two immature particles, suggesting that they represent either on-pathway intermediates or that their structure has not significantly diverged from that of the actual substrate. These results describe the nature of these immature particles, a widely used tool to study the assembly process of the ribosome. They also provide the first insights into the function of YphC and YsxC in 50S subunit assembly and are consistent with this process occurring through multiple parallel pathways, as it has been described for the 30S subunit.

Read more Comments Off on YphC and YsxC GTPases assist the maturation of the central protuberance, GTPase associated region and functional core of the 50S ribosomal subunit

s0166445xWilliams LM, Lago BA, McArthur AG, Raphenya AR, Pray N, Saleem N, Salas S, Paulson K, Mangar RS, Liu Y, Vo AH, Shavit JA.

Aquat Toxicol. 2016 Oct 1;180:141-154.

Development is a complex and well-defined process characterized by rapid cell proliferation and apoptosis. At this stage in life, a developmentally young organism is more sensitive to toxicants as compared to an adult. In response to pro-oxidant exposure, members of the Cap’n’Collar (CNC) basic leucine zipper (b-ZIP) transcription factor family (including Nfe2 and Nfe2-related factors, Nrfs) activate the expression of genes whose protein products contribute to reduced toxicity. Here, we studied the role of the CNC protein, Nfe2, in the developmental response to pro-oxidant exposure in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Following acute waterborne exposures to diquat or tert-buytlhydroperoxide (tBOOH) at one of three developmental stages, wildtype (WT) and nfe2 knockout (KO) embryos and larvae were morphologically scored and their transcriptomes sequenced. Early in development, KO animals suffered from hypochromia that was made more severe through exposure to pro-oxidants; this phenotype in the KO may be linked to decreased expression of alas2, a gene involved in heme synthesis. WT and KO eleutheroembryos and larvae were phenotypically equally affected by exposure to pro-oxidants, where tBOOH caused more pronounced phenotypes as compared to diquat. Comparing diquat and tBOOH exposed embryos relative to the WT untreated control, a greater number of genes were up-regulated in the tBOOH condition as compared to diquat (tBOOH: 304 vs diquat: 148), including those commonly found to be differentially regulated in the vertebrate oxidative stress response (OSR) (e.g. hsp70.2, txn1, and gsr). When comparing WT and KO across all treatments and times, there were 1170 genes that were differentially expressed, of which 33 are known targets of the Nrf proteins Nrf1 and Nrf2. More specifically, in animals exposed to pro-oxidants a total of 968 genes were differentially expressed between WT and KO across developmental time, representing pathways involved in coagulation, embryonic organ development, body fluid level regulation, erythrocyte differentiation, and oxidation-reduction, amongst others. The greatest number of genes that changed in expression between WT and KO occurred in animals exposed to diquat at 2h post fertilization (hpf). Across time and treatment, there were six genes (dhx40, cfap70, dnajb9b, slc35f4, spi-c, and gpr19) that were significantly up-regulated in KO compared to WT and four genes (fhad1, cyp4v7, nlrp12, and slc16a6a) that were significantly down-regulated. None of these genes have been previously identified as targets of Nfe2 or the Nrf family. These results demonstrate that the zebrafish Nfe2 may be a regulator of both primitive erythropoiesis and the OSR during development.

Read more Comments Off on The transcription factor, Nuclear factor, erythroid 2 (Nfe2), is a regulator of the oxidative stress response during Danio rerio development

coverAuthors: Dearborn DC, Gager AB, McArthur AG, Gilmour ME, Mandzhukova E, Mauck RA.

Mol Ecol. 2016 Sep;25(17):4355-67.

Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) exhibit heterozygote advantage in immune defence, which in turn can select for MHC-disassortative mate choice. However, many species lack this expected pattern of MHC-disassortative mating. A possible explanation lies in evolutionary processes following gene duplication: if two duplicated MHC genes become functionally diverged from each other, offspring will inherit diverse multilocus genotypes even under random mating. We used locus-specific primers for high-throughput sequencing of two expressed MHC Class II B genes in Leach’s storm-petrels, Oceanodroma leucorhoa, and found that exon 2 alleles fall into two gene-specific monophyletic clades. We tested for disassortative vs. random mating at these two functionally diverged Class II B genes, using multiple metrics and different subsets of exon 2 sequence data. With good statistical power, we consistently found random assortment of mates at MHC. Despite random mating, birds had MHC genotypes with functionally diverged alleles, averaging 13 amino acid differences in pairwise comparisons of exon 2 alleles within individuals. To test whether this high MHC diversity in individuals is driven by evolutionary divergence of the two duplicated genes, we built a phylogenetic permutation model. The model showed that genotypic diversity was strongly impacted by sequence divergence between the most common allele of each gene, with a smaller additional impact of monophyly of the two genes. Divergence of allele sequences between genes may have reduced the benefits of actively seeking MHC-dissimilar mates, in which case the evolutionary history of duplicated genes is shaping the adaptive landscape of sexual selection.

Read more Comments Off on Gene duplication and divergence produce divergent MHC genotypes without disassortative mating

genome-canada-1A cross-national research consortia co-led by McMaster’s Andrew McArthur is receiving two of 16 federal grants to further develop a big data solution to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The government’s investment, totaling more than $4M, is the result of Genome Canada’s 2015 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competition, a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). McArthur and his colleagues will receive $500,000 over two years. McArthur will work closely with researchers from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Dalhousie University and the Public Health Agency of Canada to design and develop novel software and database systems that will empower public health agencies and the agri-food sector to rapidly respond to threats posed by infectious disease outbreaks and food-borne illnesses.

Full Coverage: Faculty of Health Sciences, Genome Canada, Newswire, Hamilton Spectator

Read more Comments Off on Government of Canada invests in new genomics “big data” research projects aimed at real-world challenges