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Publications in peer reviewed journals

5 Publications found
  • Conserved Secondary Structures in Viral mRNAs.

    Kiening M, Ochsenreiter R, Hellinger HJ, Rattei T, Hofacker I, Frishman D
    2019 - Viruses, 5: in press


    RNA secondary structure in untranslated and protein coding regions has been shown to play an important role in regulatory processes and the viral replication cycle. While structures in non-coding regions have been investigated extensively, a thorough overview of the structural repertoire of protein coding mRNAs, especially for viruses, is lacking. Secondary structure prediction of large molecules, such as long mRNAs remains a challenging task, as the contingent of structures a sequence can theoretically fold into grows exponentially with sequence length. We applied a structure prediction pipeline to Viral Orthologous Groups that first identifies the local boundaries of potentially structured regions and subsequently predicts their functional importance. Using this procedure, the orthologous groups were split into structurally homogenous subgroups, which we call subVOGs. This is the first compilation of potentially functional conserved RNA structures in viral coding regions, covering the complete RefSeq viral database. We were able to recover structural elements from previous studies and discovered a variety of novel structured regions. The subVOGs are available through our web resource RNASIV (RNA structure in viruses;

  • The horse Y chromosome as an informative marker for tracing sire lines.

    Felkel S, Vogl C, Rigler D, Dobretsberger V, Chowdhary BP, Distl O, Fries R, Jagannathan V, Janečka JE, Leeb T, Lindgren G, McCue M, Metzger J, Neuditschko M, Rattei T, Raudsepp T, Rieder S, Rubin CJ, Schaefer R, Schlötterer C, Thaller G, Tetens J, Velie B, Brem G, Wallner B
    2019 - Sci Rep, 1: 6095


    Analysis of the Y chromosome is the best-established way to reconstruct paternal family history in humans. Here, we applied fine-scaled Y-chromosomal haplotyping in horses with biallelic markers and demonstrate the potential of our approach to address the ancestry of sire lines. We de novo assembled a draft reference of the male-specific region of the Y chromosome from Illumina short reads and then screened 5.8 million basepairs for variants in 130 specimens from intensively selected and rural breeds and nine Przewalski's horses. Among domestic horses we confirmed the predominance of a young'crown haplogroup' in Central European and North American breeds. Within the crown, we distinguished 58 haplotypes based on 211 variants, forming three major haplogroups. In addition to two previously characterised haplogroups, one observed in Arabian/Coldblooded and the other in Turkoman/Thoroughbred horses, we uncovered a third haplogroup containing Iberian lines and a North African Barb Horse. In a genealogical showcase, we distinguished the patrilines of the three English Thoroughbred founder stallions and resolved a historic controversy over the parentage of the horse 'Galopin', born in 1872. We observed two nearly instantaneous radiations in the history of Central and Northern European Y-chromosomal lineages that both occurred after domestication 5,500 years ago.

  • Man-made microbial resistances in built environments.

    Mahnert A, Moissl-Eichinger C, Zojer M, Bogumil D, Mizrahi I, Rattei T, Martinez JL, Berg G
    2019 - Nat Commun, 1: 968


    Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to global public health, but little is known about the effects of microbial control on the microbiota and its associated resistome. Here we compare the microbiota present on surfaces of clinical settings with other built environments. Using state-of-the-art metagenomics approaches and genome and plasmid reconstruction, we show that increased confinement and cleaning is associated with a loss of microbial diversity and a shift from Gram-positive bacteria, such as Actinobacteria and Firmicutes, to Gram-negative such as Proteobacteria. Moreover, the microbiome of highly maintained built environments has a different resistome when compared to other built environments, as well as a higher diversity in resistance genes. Our results highlight that the loss of microbial diversity correlates with an increase in resistance, and the need for implementing strategies to restore bacterial diversity in certain built environments.

  • Long-Term Transcriptional Activity at Zero Growth of a Cosmopolitan Rare Biosphere Member.

    Hausmann B, Pelikan C, Rattei T, Loy A, Pester M
    2019 - mBio, 1: in press


    Microbial diversity in the environment is mainly concealed within the rare biosphere (all species with <0.1% relative abundance). While dormancy explains a low-abundance state very well, the mechanisms leading to rare but active microorganisms remain elusive. We used environmental systems biology to genomically and transcriptionally characterize " Desulfosporosinus infrequens," a low-abundance sulfate-reducing microorganism cosmopolitan to freshwater wetlands, where it contributes to cryptic sulfur cycling. We obtained its near-complete genome by metagenomics of acidic peat soil. In addition, we analyzed anoxic peat soil incubated under -like conditions for 50 days by -targeted qPCR and metatranscriptomics. The population stayed at a constant low abundance under all incubation conditions, averaging 1.2 × 10 16S rRNA gene copies per cm³ soil. In contrast, transcriptional activity of " Desulfosporosinus infrequens" increased at day 36 by 56- to 188-fold when minor amendments of acetate, propionate, lactate, or butyrate were provided with sulfate, compared to the no-substrate-control. Overall transcriptional activity was driven by expression of genes encoding ribosomal proteins, energy metabolism, and stress response but not by expression of genes encoding cell growth-associated processes. Since our results did not support growth of these highly active microorganisms in terms of biomass increase or cell division, they had to invest their sole energy for maintenance, most likely counterbalancing acidic pH conditions. This finding explains how a rare biosphere member can contribute to a biogeochemically relevant process while remaining in a zero-growth state over a period of 50 days. The microbial rare biosphere represents the largest pool of biodiversity on Earth and constitutes, in sum of all its members, a considerable part of a habitat's biomass. Dormancy or starvation is typically used to explain the persistence of low-abundance microorganisms in the environment. We show that a low-abundance microorganism can be highly transcriptionally active while remaining in a zero-growth state for at least 7 weeks. Our results provide evidence that this zero growth at a high cellular activity state is driven by maintenance requirements. We show that this is true for a microbial keystone species, in particular a cosmopolitan but permanently low-abundance sulfate-reducing microorganism in wetlands that is involved in counterbalancing greenhouse gas emissions. In summary, our results provide an important step forward in understanding time-resolved activities of rare biosphere members relevant for ecosystem functions.

  • Plasmid DNA contaminant in molecular reagents.

    Wally N, Schneider M, Thannesberger J, Kastner MT, Bakonyi T, Indik S, Rattei T, Bedarf J, Hildebrand F, Law J, Jovel J, Steininger C
    2019 - Sci Rep, 1: 1652


    Background noise in metagenomic studies is often of high importance and its removal requires extensive post-analytic, bioinformatics filtering. This is relevant as significant signals may be lost due to a low signal-to-noise ratio. The presence of plasmid residues, that are frequently present in reagents as contaminants, has not been investigated so far, but may pose a substantial bias. Here we show that plasmid sequences from different sources are omnipresent in molecular biology reagents. Using a metagenomic approach, we identified the presence of the (pol) of equine infectious anemia virus in human samples and traced it back to the expression plasmid used for generation of a commercial reverse transcriptase. We found fragments of multiple other expression plasmids in human samples as well as commercial polymerase preparations. Plasmid contamination sources included production chain of molecular biology reagents as well as contamination of reagents from environment or human handling of samples and reagents. Retrospective analyses of published metagenomic studies revealed an inaccurate signal-to-noise differentiation. Hence, the plasmid sequences that seem to be omnipresent in molecular biology reagents may misguide conclusions derived from genomic/metagenomics datasets and thus also clinical interpretations. Critical appraisal of metagenomic data sets for the possibility of plasmid background noise is required to identify reliable and significant signals.

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