Saccharomyces strain sequencing

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchWhile many strains of S. cerevisiae are being sequenced, a single strain, YJM789, isolated from the lung of an AIDS patient was sequenced a few years ago at Stanford and published this summer. The genome was described in a paper entitled “Genome sequencing and comparative analysis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain YJM789”.

The authors find a few notable rearrangements and unique genes in this strain as compared to the lab and type strain S288C. They find examples of horizontally transferred genes or potentially genes (like RTM1) which are being exchanged among individuals in the population and just not found in first sequenced strain. There are several other genome architecture observations including numbers of indels and highly polymorphic (and thus different from S288C) ORFs. In general the chromosomes are co-linear but they find some rearrangements.

One of the main trains of a human pathogenic fungi, which some people will argue aren’t really pathogenic since the host must be severely immunocompromised to infect, is the ability to grow at high or body (37 C) temperatures. Most fungi can’t survive at this temperature, but this trait is a necessary condition for fungi like Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and the pathogenic Candida species like C. albicans to infect and potentially overwhelm a host. Previous work from many of the same authors used a QTL approach to map the high temperature phenotype in a clinical strain Saccharomyces using a new genetic technique called reciprocal-hemizygosity to dissect the QTL.

This is only the second actual publication of the genome of another strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae even though there have been several papers profiling rates of evolution in the lab and wild strains S288C, YJM789, and RM11-1A (Gu 2005, Ronald et al 2006) before the final genome paper was published. I doubt we’ll keep seeing papers about a single strain sequenced when there is already a reference strain. Instead papers about clusters of strains or closely related species such nearly complete work in other Saccharomyces strains, Coccidioides and Neurospora will probably be the norm.

This paper is available as Open Access through PNAS which I applaud the authors for. However, the paper concludes with a paragraph that starts

“Finally, we made the YJM789 genome a free-to-access resource that marks an initial step toward a more complete set of reference sequences for the S. cerevisiae species”

While I am happy to see the sequence resource freely available now, I guess I’ve come to expect this with any genome publication. The sequence has been available with some restrictions at least since 2003 before the genome was published in a journal. I am unsure why this needs to be championed in the conclusion, shouldn’t it be available as a consequence of how it was funded or am I expecting too much?

“This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants HG02052 (to R.W.D.), GM068717 (to R.W.D. and L.M.S.), and HG000205 (to R.W.D. and L.M.S.);”

There is more discussion of the project and its future at the Stanford site.

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