Catherine M Ronning

J. Craig Venter Institute, Maryland, United States

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Publications (33)254.86 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia multivorans is a Gram-negative bacterium and a member of the Burkholderia cepacia complex, which is frequently associated with respiratory infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). We are reporting the genome sequences of 4 B. multivorans strains, 2 from CF patients and 2 from CGD patients.
    Journal of bacteriology 11/2012; 194(22):6356-7. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic programs underlying multicellular morphogenesis and cellular differentiation are most often associated with eukaryotic organisms, but examples also exist in bacteria such as the formation of multicellular, spore-filled fruiting bodies in the order Myxococcales. Most members of the Myxococcales undergo a multicellular developmental program culminating in the formation of spore-filled fruiting bodies in response to starvation. To gain insight into the evolutionary history of fruiting body formation in Myxococcales, we performed a comparative analysis of the genomes and transcriptomes of five Myxococcales species, four of these undergo fruiting body formation (Myxococcus xanthus, Stigmatella aurantiaca, Sorangium cellulosum, and Haliangium ochraceum) and one does not (Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans). Our analyses show that a set of 95 known M. xanthus development-specific genes--although suffering from a sampling bias--are overrepresented and occur more frequently than an average M. xanthus gene in S. aurantiaca, whereas they occur at the same frequency as an average M. xanthus gene in S. cellulosum and in H. ochraceum and are underrepresented in A. dehalogenans. Moreover, genes for entire signal transduction pathways important for fruiting body formation in M. xanthus are conserved in S. aurantiaca, whereas only a minority of these genes are conserved in A. dehalogenans, S. cellulosum, and H. ochraceum. Likewise, global gene expression profiling of developmentally regulated genes showed that genes that upregulated during development in M. xanthus are overrepresented in S. aurantiaca and slightly underrepresented in A. dehalogenans, S. cellulosum, and H. ochraceum. These comparative analyses strongly indicate that the genetic programs for fruiting body formation in M. xanthus and S. aurantiaca are highly similar and significantly different from the genetic program directing fruiting body formation in S. cellulosum and H. ochraceum. Thus, our analyses reveal an unexpected level of plasticity in the genetic programs for fruiting body formation in the Myxococcales and strongly suggest that the genetic program underlying fruiting body formation in different Myxococcales is not conserved. The evolutionary implications of this finding are discussed.
    Molecular Biology and Evolution 10/2010; 28(2):1083-97. · 10.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia mallei (Bm), the causative agent of the predominately equine disease glanders, is a genetically uniform species that is very closely related to the much more diverse species Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), an opportunistic human pathogen and the primary cause of melioidosis. To gain insight into the relative lack of genetic diversity within Bm, we performed whole-genome comparative analysis of seven Bm strains and contrasted these with eight Bp strains. The Bm core genome (shared by all seven strains) is smaller in size than that of Bp, but the inverse is true for the variable gene sets that are distributed across strains. Interestingly, the biological roles of the Bm variable gene sets are much more homogeneous than those of Bp. The Bm variable genes are found mostly in contiguous regions flanked by insertion sequence (IS) elements, which appear to mediate excision and subsequent elimination of groups of genes that are under reduced selection in the mammalian host. The analysis suggests that the Bm genome continues to evolve through random IS-mediated recombination events, and differences in gene content may contribute to differences in virulence observed among Bm strains. The results are consistent with the view that Bm recently evolved from a single strain of Bp upon introduction into an animal host followed by expansion of IS elements, prophage elimination, and genome rearrangements and reduction mediated by homologous recombination across IS elements.
    Genome Biology and Evolution 01/2010; 2:102-16. · 4.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia species exhibit enormous phenotypic diversity, ranging from the nonpathogenic, soil- and water-inhabiting Burkholderia thailandensis to the virulent, host-adapted mammalian pathogen B. mallei. Genomic diversity is evident within Burkholderia species as well. Individual isolates of Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. thailandensis, for example, carry a variety of strain-specific genomic islands (GIs), including putative pathogenicity and metabolic islands, prophage-like islands, and prophages. These GIs may provide some strains with a competitive advantage in the environment and/or in the host relative to other strains. Here we present the results of analysis of 37 prophages, putative prophages, and prophage-like elements from six different Burkholderia species. Five of these were spontaneously induced to form bacteriophage particles from B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis strains and were isolated and fully sequenced; 24 were computationally predicted in sequenced Burkholderia genomes; and eight are previously characterized prophages or prophage-like elements. The results reveal numerous differences in both genome structure and gene content among elements derived from different species as well as from strains within species, due in part to the incorporation of additional DNA, or 'morons' into the prophage genomes. Implications for pathogenicity are also discussed. Lastly, RNAseq analysis of gene expression showed that many of the genes in varphi1026b that appear to contribute to phage and lysogen fitness were expressed independently of the phage structural and replication genes. This study provides the first estimate of the relative contribution of prophages to the vast phenotypic diversity found among the Burkholderiae.
    BMC Microbiology 01/2010; 10:202. · 3.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Plasmids are mobile genetic elements that play a key role in the evolution of bacteria by mediating genome plasticity and lateral transfer of useful genetic information. Although originally considered to be exclusively circular, linear plasmids have also been identified in certain bacterial phyla, notably the actinomycetes. In some cases, linear plasmids engage with chromosomes in an intricate evolutionary interplay, facilitating the emergence of new genome configurations by transfer and recombination or plasmid integration. Genome sequencing of Streptomyces clavuligerus ATCC 27064, a Gram-positive soil bacterium known for its production of a diverse array of biotechnologically important secondary metabolites, revealed a giant linear plasmid of 1.8 Mb in length. This megaplasmid (pSCL4) is one of the largest plasmids ever identified and the largest linear plasmid to be sequenced. It contains more than 20% of the putative protein-coding genes of the species, but none of these is predicted to be essential for primary metabolism. Instead, the plasmid is densely packed with an exceptionally large number of gene clusters for the potential production of secondary metabolites, including a large number of putative antibiotics, such as staurosporine, moenomycin, beta-lactams, and enediynes. Interestingly, cross-regulation occurs between chromosomal and plasmid-encoded genes. Several factors suggest that the megaplasmid came into existence through recombination of a smaller plasmid with the arms of the main chromosome. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that heavy traffic of genetic information between Streptomyces plasmids and chromosomes may facilitate the rapid evolution of secondary metabolite repertoires in these bacteria.
    Genome Biology and Evolution 01/2010; 2:212-24. · 4.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Certain environmental microorganisms can cause severe human infections, even in the absence of an obvious requirement for transition through an animal host for replication ("accidental virulence"). To understand this process, we compared eleven isolate genomes of Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), a tropical soil microbe and causative agent of the human and animal disease melioidosis. We found evidence for the existence of several new genes in the Bp reference genome, identifying 282 novel genes supported by at least two independent lines of supporting evidence (mRNA transcripts, database homologs, and presence of ribosomal binding sites) and 81 novel genes supported by all three lines. Within the Bp core genome, 211 genes exhibited significant levels of positive selection (4.5%), distributed across many cellular pathways including carbohydrate and secondary metabolism. Functional experiments revealed that certain positively selected genes might enhance mammalian virulence by interacting with host cellular pathways or utilizing host nutrients. Evolutionary modifications improving Bp environmental fitness may thus have indirectly facilitated the ability of Bp to colonize and survive in mammalian hosts. These findings improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of melioidosis, and establish Bp as a model system for studying the genetics of accidental virulence.
    PLoS Pathogens 01/2010; 6(4):e1000845. · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the genome sequences of a new clinical isolate of the important human pathogen, Aspergillus fumigatus, A1163, and two closely related but rarely pathogenic species, Neosartorya fischeri NRRL181 and Aspergillus clavatus NRRL1. Comparative genomic analysis of A1163 with the recently sequenced A. fumigatus isolate Af293 has identified core, variable and up to 2% unique genes in each genome. While the core genes are 99.8% identical at the nucleotide level, identity for variable genes can be as low 40%. The most divergent loci appear to contain heterokaryon incompatibility (het) genes associated with fungal programmed cell death such as developmental regulator rosA. Cross-species comparison has revealed that 8.5%, 13.5% and 12.6%, respectively, of A. fumigatus, N. fischeri and A. clavatus genes are species-specific. These genes are significantly smaller in size than core genes, contain fewer exons and exhibit a subtelomeric bias. Most of them cluster together in 13 chromosomal islands, which are enriched for pseudogenes, transposons and other repetitive elements. At least 20% of A. fumigatus-specific genes appear to be functional and involved in carbohydrate and chitin catabolism, transport, detoxification, secondary metabolism and other functions that may facilitate the adaptation to heterogeneous environments such as soil or a mammalian host. Contrary to what was suggested previously, their origin cannot be attributed to horizontal gene transfer (HGT), but instead is likely to involve duplication, diversification and differential gene loss (DDL). The role of duplication in the origin of lineage-specific genes is further underlined by the discovery of genomic islands that seem to function as designated "gene dumps" and, perhaps, simultaneously, as "gene factories".
    PLoS Genetics 05/2008; 4(4):e1000046. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia mallei is an understudied biothreat agent responsible for glanders which can be lethal in humans and animals. Research with this pathogen has been hampered in part by constraints of Select Agent regulations for safety reasons. Whole genomic sequencing (WGS) is an apt approach to characterize newly discovered or poorly understood microbial pathogens. We performed WGS on a strain of B. mallei, SAVP1, previously pathogenic, that was experimentally infected in 6 equids (4 ponies, 1 mule, 1 donkey), natural hosts, for purposes of producing antibodies. Multiple high inocula were used in some cases. Unexpectedly SAVP1 appeared to be avirulent in the ponies and mule, and attenuated in the donkey, but induced antibodies. We determined the genome sequence of SAVP1 and compared it to a strain that was virulent in horses and a human. In comparison, this phenotypic avirulent SAVP1 strain was missing multiple genes including all the animal type III secretory system (T3SS) complex of genes demonstrated to be essential for virulence in mice and hamster models. The loss of these genes in the SAVP1 strain appears to be the consequence of a multiple gene deletion across insertion sequence (IS) elements in the B. mallei genome. Therefore, the strain by itself is unlikely to revert naturally to its virulent phenotype. There were other genes present in one strain and not the other and vice-versa. The discovery that this strain of B. mallei was both avirulent in the natural host ponies, and did not possess T3SS associated genes may be fortuitous to advance biodefense research. The deleted virulence-essential T3SS is not likely to be re-acquired naturally. These findings may provide a basis for exclusion of SAVP1 from the Select Agent regulation or at least discussion of what else would be required for exclusion. This exclusion could accelerate research by investigators not possessing BSL-3 facilities and facilitate the production of reagents such as antibodies without the restraints of Select Agent regulation.
    PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(4):e2058. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Musa species (Zingiberaceae, Zingiberales) including bananas and plantains are collectively the fourth most important crop in developing countries. Knowledge concerning Musa genome structure and the origin of distinct cultivars has greatly increased over the last few years. Until now, however, no large-scale analyses of Musa genomic sequence have been conducted. This study compares genomic sequence in two Musa species with orthologous regions in the rice genome. We produced 1.4 Mb of Musa sequence from 13 BAC clones, annotated and analyzed them along with 4 previously sequenced BACs. The 443 predicted genes revealed that Zingiberales genes share GC content and distribution characteristics with eudicot and Poaceae genomes. Comparison with rice revealed microsynteny regions that have persisted since the divergence of the Commelinid orders Poales and Zingiberales at least 117 Mya. The previously hypothesized large-scale duplication event in the common ancestor of major cereal lineages within the Poaceae was verified. The divergence time distributions for Musa-Zingiber (Zingiberaceae, Zingiberales) orthologs and paralogs provide strong evidence for a large-scale duplication event in the Musa lineage after its divergence from the Zingiberaceae approximately 61 Mya. Comparisons of genomic regions from M. acuminata and M. balbisiana revealed highly conserved genome structure, and indicated that these genomes diverged circa 4.6 Mya. These results point to the utility of comparative analyses between distantly-related monocot species such as rice and Musa for improving our understanding of monocot genome evolution. Sequencing the genome of M. acuminata would provide a strong foundation for comparative genomics in the monocots. In addition a genome sequence would aid genomic and genetic analyses of cultivated Musa polyploid genotypes in research aimed at localizing and cloning genes controlling important agronomic traits for breeding purposes.
    BMC Genomics 02/2008; 9:58. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aflatoxins are toxic and carcinogenic polyketide metabolites produced by certain fungal species, including Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Many internal and external factors, such as nutrition and environment affect aflatoxin biosynthesis; therefore, we analyzed the transcriptome of A. flavus using expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from a normalized cDNA expression library constructed from mycelia harvested under several conditions. A total of 7218 unique ESTs were identified from 26,110 sequenced cDNA clones. Functional classifications were assigned to these ESTs and genes, potentially involved in the aflatoxin contamination process, were identified. Based on this EST sequence information, a genomic DNA amplicon microarray was constructed at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). To identify potential regulatory networks controlling aflatoxin contamination in food and feeds, gene expression profiles in aflatoxin-supportive media versus non-aflatoxin-supportive media were evaluated in A. flavus and A. parasiticus. Genes consistently expressed in several aflatoxin-supportive media are reported.
    Food Additives and Contaminants 11/2007; 24(10):1035-42. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Myxobacteria are single-celled, but social, eubacterial predators. Upon starvation they build multicellular fruiting bodies using a developmental program that progressively changes the pattern of cell movement and the repertoire of genes expressed. Development terminates with spore differentiation and is coordinated by both diffusible and cell-bound signals. The growth and development of Myxococcus xanthus is regulated by the integration of multiple signals from outside the cells with physiological signals from within. A collection of M. xanthus cells behaves, in many respects, like a multicellular organism. For these reasons M. xanthus offers unparalleled access to a regulatory network that controls development and that organizes cell movement on surfaces. The genome of M. xanthus is large (9.14 Mb), considerably larger than the other sequenced delta-proteobacteria. We suggest that gene duplication and divergence were major contributors to genomic expansion from its progenitor. More than 1,500 duplications specific to the myxobacterial lineage were identified, representing >15% of the total genes. Genes were not duplicated at random; rather, genes for cell-cell signaling, small molecule sensing, and integrative transcription control were amplified selectively. Families of genes encoding the production of secondary metabolites are overrepresented in the genome but may have been received by horizontal gene transfer and are likely to be important for predation.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2006; 103(41):15200-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: More than 12,000 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) have been identified in the genome of Burkholderia mallei ATCC 23344. As a demonstrated mechanism of phase variation in other pathogenic bacteria, these may function as mutable loci leading to altered protein expression or structure variation. To determine if such alterations are occurring in vivo, the genomes of various single-colony passaged B. mallei ATCC 23344 isolates, one from each source, were sequenced from culture, a mouse, a horse, and two isolates from a single human patient, and the sequence compared to the published B. mallei ATCC 23344 genome sequence. Forty-nine insertions and deletions (indels) were detected at SSRs in the five passaged strains, a majority of which (67.3%) were located within noncoding areas, suggesting that such regions are more tolerant of sequence alterations. Expression profiling of the two human passaged isolates compared to the strain before passage revealed alterations in the mRNA levels of multiple genes when grown in culture. These data support the notion that genome variability upon passage is a feature of B. mallei ATCC23344, and that within a host B. mallei generates a diverse population of clones that accumulate genome sequence variation at SSR and other loci.
    BMC Genomics 02/2006; 7:228. · 4.40 Impact Factor
  • Nature 01/2006; 439(7075):502-502. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aspergillus fumigatus is a filamentous fungal saprophyte that is ubiquitous in the environment. It is also a human pathogen and induces allergenic response, negatively impacting health care and associated costs significantly around the world. Much of the basic biology of this organism is only poorly understood, but the recent completion and publication of its genome sequence provides an excellent tool for researchers to gain insight into these processes. In this review we will summarize some of the more salient features revealed by analysis of the genome, including the search for candidate pathogenicity genes and the switch to a pathogenic lifestyle, allergen proteins, DNA repair, secondary metabolite gene clusters that produce compounds both useful and toxic, a theoretical capability of this asexual organism to reproduce sexually, signalling, and transcription. A. fumigatus was compared with the food biotechnology fungus Aspergillus oryzae and sexual fungus Aspergillus nidulans, as well as other fungi, in an attempt to discern key differences between these organisms.
    Revista Iberoamericana de Micología 01/2006; 22(4):223-8. · 1.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aspergillus fumigatus is exceptional among microorganisms in being both a primary and opportunistic pathogen as well as a major allergen. Its conidia production is prolific, and so human respiratory tract exposure is almost constant. A. fumigatus is isolated from human habitats and vegetable compost heaps. In immunocompromised individuals, the incidence of invasive infection can be as high as 50% and the mortality rate is often about 50% (ref. 2). The interaction of A. fumigatus and other airborne fungi with the immune system is increasingly linked to severe asthma and sinusitis. Although the burden of invasive disease caused by A. fumigatus is substantial, the basic biology of the organism is mostly obscure. Here we show the complete 29.4-megabase genome sequence of the clinical isolate Af293, which consists of eight chromosomes containing 9,926 predicted genes. Microarray analysis revealed temperature-dependent expression of distinct sets of genes, as well as 700 A. fumigatus genes not present or significantly diverged in the closely related sexual species Neosartorya fischeri, many of which may have roles in the pathogenicity phenotype. The Af293 genome sequence provides an unparalleled resource for the future understanding of this remarkable fungus.
    Nature 01/2006; 438(7071):1151-6. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since the initial publication of its complete genome sequence, Arabidopsis thaliana has become more important than ever as a model for plant research. However, the initial genome annotation was submitted by multiple centers using inconsistent methods, making the data difficult to use for many applications. Over the course of three years, TIGR has completed its effort to standardize the structural and functional annotation of the Arabidopsis genome. Using both manual and automated methods, Arabidopsis gene structures were refined and gene products were renamed and assigned to Gene Ontology categories. We present an overview of the methods employed, tools developed, and protocols followed, summarizing the contents of each data release with special emphasis on our final annotation release (version 5). Over the entire period, several thousand new genes and pseudogenes were added to the annotation. Approximately one third of the originally annotated gene models were significantly refined yielding improved gene structure annotations, and every protein-coding gene was manually inspected and classified using Gene Ontology terms.
    BMC Biology 02/2005; 3:7. · 7.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A large tomato expressed sequence tag (EST) dataset (152 635 total) was analyzed to gain insights into differential gene expression among diverse plant tissues representing a range of developmental programs and biological responses. These ESTs were clustered and assembled to a total of 31 012 unique gene sequences. To better understand tomato gene expression at a plant system level and to identify differentially expressed and tissue-specific genes, we developed and implemented a digital expression analysis protocol. By clustering genes according to their relative abundance in the various EST libraries, expression patterns of genes across various tissues were generated and genes with similar patterns were grouped. In addition, tissues themselves were clustered for relatedness based on relative gene expression as a means of validating the integrity of the EST data as representative of relative gene expression. Arabidopsis and grape EST collections were also characterized to facilitate cross-species comparisons where possible. Tomato fruit digital expression data was specifically compared with publicly available grape EST data to gain insight into molecular manifestation of ripening processes across diverse taxa and resulted in identification of common transcription factors not previously associated with ripening.
    The Plant Journal 11/2004; 40(1):47-59. · 6.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The complete genome sequence of Burkholderia mallei ATCC 23344 provides insight into this highly infectious bacterium's pathogenicity and evolutionary history. B. mallei, the etiologic agent of glanders, has come under renewed scientific investigation as a result of recent concerns about its past and potential future use as a biological weapon. Genome analysis identified a number of putative virulence factors whose function was supported by comparative genome hybridization and expression profiling of the bacterium in hamster liver in vivo. The genome contains numerous insertion sequence elements that have mediated extensive deletions and rearrangements of the genome relative to Burkholderia pseudomallei. The genome also contains a vast number (>12,000) of simple sequence repeats. Variation in simple sequence repeats in key genes can provide a mechanism for generating antigenic variation that may account for the mammalian host's inability to mount a durable adaptive immune response to a B. mallei infection.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2004; 101(39):14246-51. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The spliced alignment of expressed sequence data to genomic sequence has proven a key tool in the comprehensive annotation of genes in eukaryotic genomes. A novel algorithm was developed to assemble clusters of overlapping transcript alignments (ESTs and full-length cDNAs) into maximal alignment assemblies, thereby comprehensively incorporating all available transcript data and capturing subtle splicing variations. Complete and partial gene structures identified by this method were used to improve The Institute for Genomic Research Arabidopsis genome annotation (TIGR release v.4.0). The alignment assemblies permitted the automated modeling of several novel genes and >1000 alternative splicing variations as well as updates (including UTR annotations) to nearly half of the approximately 27 000 annotated protein coding genes. The algorithm of the Program to Assemble Spliced Alignments (PASA) tool is described, as well as the results of automated updates to Arabidopsis gene annotations.
    Nucleic Acids Research 10/2003; 31(19):5654-66. · 8.81 Impact Factor
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    Plant physiology 07/2003; 132(2):461-8. · 6.56 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
254.86 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2010
    • J. Craig Venter Institute
      Maryland, United States
    • Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
      Newark, New Jersey, United States
  • 2007
    • United States Department of Agriculture
      • Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 2002–2007
    • Biomedical Research Institute, Rockville
      Maryland, United States
  • 2006
    • George Washington University
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States