[Experimental] List of manuscripts available for review volunteers
3 manuscripts available for review volunteers
February 15, 2018
Evolutionary biology has entered an era of unprecedented amounts of DNA sequence data, as new sequencing platforms such as Massive Parallel Sequencing (MPS) can generate billions of nucleotides within less than a day. The current bottleneck is how to efficiently handle, process, and analyze such large amounts of data in an automated and reproducible way. To tackle these challenges we introduce the Sequence Capture Processor (SECAPR) pipeline for processing raw sequencing data into multiple sequence alignments for downstream phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses. SECAPR is user-friendly and we provide an exhaustive empirical data tutorial intended for users with no prior experience with analyzing MPS output. SECAPR is particularly useful for the processing of sequence capture (synonyms: target or hybrid enrichment) datasets for non-model organisms, as we demonstrate using an empirical sequence capture dataset of the palm genus Geonoma (Arecaceae). Various quality control and plotting functions help the user to decide on the most suitable settings for even challenging datasets. SECAPR is an easy-to-use, free, and versatile pipeline, aimed to enable efficient and reproducible processing of MPS data for many samples in parallel.
February 10, 2018
Accurate detection of target microbial species in metagenomic datasets from environmental samples remains limited because the limit of detection of current methods is typically inaccessible and the frequency of false-positives, resulting from inadequate identification of regions of the genome that are either too highly conserved to be diagnostic (e.g., rRNA genes) or prone to frequent horizontal genetic exchange (e.g., mobile elements) remains unknown. To overcome these limitations, we introduce imGLAD, which aims to detect genomic sequences in metagenomic datasets. imGLAD achieves high accuracy because it uses the sequence-discrete population concept for discriminating between metagenomic reads originating from the target organism compared to reads from co-occurring close relatives, masks regions of the genome that are not informative using the MyTaxa engine, and models both the sequencing breadth and depth to determine relative abundance and limit of detection. We validated imGLAD by analysing metagenomic datasets derived from spinach leafs inoculated with the enteric pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 and showed that its limit of detection is comparable to that of PCR-based approaches (~1 cell/gram).
January 24, 2018

Background. Dengue fever has rapidly manifested into a serious global health concern. The emergence of various viral serotypes has prompted the urgent need for innovative drug design techniques. Of the viral non-structural enzymes, the NS5 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase has been established as a promising target due to its lack of an enzymatic counterpart in mammalian cells and its conserved structure amongst all serotypes. The onus is now on scientists to probe further into understanding this enzyme and its mechanism of action. The field of bioinformatics has evolved greatly over recent decades, with updated drug design tools now being publically available.

Methods. In this study, bioinformatics tools were used to provide a comprehensive sequence and structural analysis of the two most prominent serotypes of Dengue RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. A list of popular flavivirus inhibitors were also chosen to dock to the active site of the enzyme. The best docked compound was then used as a template to generate a pharmacophore model that may assist in the design of target-specific Dengue virus inhibitors.

Results. Comparative sequence alignment exhibited similarity between all three domains of both serotype 2 and 3.Sequence analysis revealed highly conserved regions between residues “401-441” and “782-809”. Mapping of the active site demonstrated four highly conserved residues: lysine, glutamate, serine and tyrosine. Of the active site interacting residues, TYR 451 was common amongst nine of the ten docked compounds, indicating its importance in the drug design process. Of the ten docked flavivirus inhibitors, NITD-203 showed the best binding affinity to the active site. Further pharmacophore modeling of NITD-203 depicted significant pharmacophoric elements that are neccesary for stable binding to the active site.

Discussion. This study utilized publically available bioinformatics tools to provide a comprehensive framework on Dengue RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Based on docking studies, a pharmacophore model was also designed to unveil the crucial pharmacophoric elements that are required when constructing an efficacious DENV inhibitor. We believe that this study will be a cornerstone in paving the road toward the design of target-specific inhibitors against DENV RdRp.

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