Media Release

Branford, CT, USA, 15 June 2011

Deadly E. Coli Strain Sequenced with Roche GS Junior System by HPA Scientists - Provides Community Most Complete Assembly to Date

The deadly E. coli O104 strain that has killed dozens and hospitalized thousands across Europe has been sequenced using 454 Life Sciences’ benchtop GS Junior sequencing system to generate the “most accurate and detailed genetic analysis to date” of this particularly virulent strain.1 The sequencing was performed by scientists at the UK’s Health Protection Agency and the data has been uploaded onto the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website for use by the scientific community.2

The results suggest that the strain has a unique combination of features containing genes from two different types of E. coli as well as its own genes. The sequencing assembly shows that the strain contains two extrachromosomal elements or plasmids which may factor into its pathogenicity. In essence, this strain of E. coli may have ‘picked up’ some extra genetic material along the way.

“Despite the availability of short read sequencing data from this E. coli outbreak strain for over a week, the short fragmented assembly has offered only limited information on gene order and gene composition,” said Chinnappa Kodira, Director of Genomics at 454 Life Sciences. “This long contiguous assembly enables much better characterization of genome structure, horizontal gene transfer and pathogenic islands which are crucial for understanding the emergence of new virulent bacterial strains.” The addition of this new long read sequence data from the GS Junior System offers the community the most contiguous sequence to date, and provides a comprehensive assembly on which subsequent genomic analysis can be performed.

The long shotgun reads generated using the 454 Sequencing System allowed the HPA scientists to assemble almost the entire genome into a comprehensive and detailed genomic map of this pathogen within hours. The sequence data will assist in on-going efforts to identify the source of the outbreak, and understand how the strain may have evolved.

“The combination of fast turnaround time and high-quality, long sequencing reads makes the GS Junior an ideal research platform for rapid and comprehensive whole genome analysis in novel pathogen outbreak situations,” said Christopher McLeod, President and CEO of 454 Life Sciences. “We are gratified that 454 Life Sciences is helping to improve health care by enabling a quick response to shed some light on potential epidemics.”

For more information on 454 Sequencing Systems, visit www.454.com

1) Health Protection Agency press release June 13, 2011: http://www.hpa.org.uk/NewsCentre/NationalPressReleases/2011PressReleases/110613Ecoligenome/
2) The sequence data can be viewed on the NCBI website http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/. The GeneBank Project ID is 67929 and the accession number is afpn00000000. The data can also be viewed on the HPA website: www.hpa-bioinformatics.org.uk/lgp/genomes.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80’000 employees worldwide and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: www.roche.com.

For life science research only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.
454, 454 LIFE SCIENCES, 454 SEQUENCING, and GS JUNIOR are trademarks of Roche.
Other brands or product names are trademarks of their respective holders.