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November 21, 2018

Somatic APP gene recombination in Alzheimer’s disease and normal neurons.

The diversity and complexity of the human brain are widely assumed to be encoded within a constant genome. Somatic gene recombination, which changes germline DNA sequences to increase molecular diversity, could theoretically alter this code but has not been documented in the brain, to our knowledge. Here we describe recombination of the Alzheimer's disease-related gene APP, which encodes amyloid precursor protein, in human neurons, occurring mosaically as thousands of variant 'genomic cDNAs' (gencDNAs). gencDNAs lacked introns and ranged from full-length cDNA copies of expressed, brain-specific RNA splice variants to myriad smaller forms that contained intra-exonic junctions, insertions, deletions, and/or single…

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February 12, 2018

Mitochondrial DNA sequencing using PacBio SMRT technology

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a compact, double-stranded circular genome of 16,569 bp with a cytosine-rich light (L) chain and a guanine-rich heavy (H) chain. mtDNA mutations have been increasingly recognized as important contributors to an array of human diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and Kearns–Sayre syndrome. mtDNA mutations can affect all of the 1000-10,000 copies of the mitochondrial genome present in a cell (homoplasmic mutation) or only a subset of copies (heteroplasmic mutation). The ratio of normal to mutant mtDNAs within cells is a significant factor in whether mutations will result in disease, as well as…

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September 9, 2017

Identification of low allele frequency mosaic mutations in Alzheimer disease

Germline mutations ofAPP,PSEN1, andPSEN2 genes cause autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (AD). Somatic variants of the same genes may underlie pathogenesis in sporadic AD, which is the most prevalent form of the disease. Importantly, such somatic variants may be present at very low allelic frequency, confined to the brain, and are thus very difficult or impossible to detect in blood-derived DNA. Ever-refined methodologies to identify mutations present in a fraction of the DNA of the original tissue are rapidly transforming our understanding of DNA mutation and their role in complex pathologies such as tumors. These methods stand poised to test to…

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July 19, 2017

Gut microbiota, nitric oxide, and microglia as prerequisites for neurodegenerative disorders.

Regulating fluctuating endogenous nitric oxide (NO) levels is necessary for proper physiological functions. Aberrant NO pathways are implicated in a number of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease. The mechanism of NO in oxidative and nitrosative stress with pathological consequences involves reactions with reactive oxygen species (e.g., superoxide) to form the highly reactive peroxynitrite, hydrogen peroxide, hypochloride ions and hydroxyl radical. NO levels are typically regulated by endogenous nitric oxide synthases (NOS), and inflammatory iNOS is implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, in which elevated NO mediates axonal degeneration and activates cyclooxygenases to provoke neuroinflammation. NO…

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May 27, 2017

Screening for causative structural variants in neurological disorders using long-read sequencing

Over the past decades neurological disorders have been extensively studied producing a large number of candidate genomic regions and candidate genes. The SNPs identified in these studies rarely represent the true disease-related functional variants. However, more recently a shift in focus from SNPs to larger structural variants has yielded breakthroughs in our understanding of neurological disorders.Here we have developed candidate gene screening methods that combine enrichment of long DNA fragments with long-read sequencing that is optimized for structural variation discovery. We have also developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique using the CRISPR/Cas9 system to target genomic regions.We sequenced gDNA and…

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May 11, 2017

Webinar: PacBio targeted sequencing of long amplicons using PCR or hybrid capture

Targeted sequencing experiments commonly rely on either PCR or hybrid capture to enrich for targets of interest. When using short read sequencing platforms, these amplicons or fragments are frequently targeted to a few hundred base pairs to accommodate the read lengths of the platform. Given PacBio’s long readlength, it is straightforward to sequence amplicons or captured fragments that are multiple kilobases in length. These long sequences are useful for easily visualizing variants that include SNPs, CNVs and other structural variants, often without assembly. We will review methods for the sequencing of long amplicons and provide examples using amplicons that range…

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February 14, 2017

A method for the identification of variants in Alzheimer’s disease candidate genes and transcripts using hybridization capture combined with long-read sequencing

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that is genetically complex. Although great progress has been made in identifying fully penetrant mutations in genes such as APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 that cause early-onset AD, these still represent a very small percentage of AD cases. Large-scale, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified at least 20 additional genetic risk loci for the more common form of late-onset AD. However, the identified SNPs are typically not the actual causal variants, but are in linkage disequilibrium with the presumed causative variant (Van Cauwenberghe C, et al., The genetic landscape of Alzheimer disease: clinical…

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October 20, 2016

ASHG PacBio Workshop: Identification and characterization of informative genetic structural variants for neurodegenerative diseases

Michael Lutz, from the Duke University Medical Center, discussed a recently published software tool that can now be used in a pipeline with SMRT Sequencing data to find structural variant biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and Lewy body dementia. His team is particularly interested in short sequence repeats and short tandem repeats, which have already been implicated in neurodegenerative disease.

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October 19, 2016

A method for the identification of variants in Alzheimer’s disease candidate genes and transcripts using hybridization capture combined with long-read sequencing

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that is genetically complex. Although great progress has been made in identifying fully penetrant mutations in genes such as APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 that cause early-onset AD, these still represent a very small percentage of AD cases. Large-scale, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified at least 20 additional genetic risk loci for the more common form of late-onset AD. However, the identified SNPs are typically not the actual risk variants, but are in linkage disequilibrium with the presumed causative variant (Van Cauwenberghe C, et al., The genetic landscape of Alzheimer disease: clinical…

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October 19, 2016

Characterization of the Poly-T variants in the TOMM40 gene using PacBio long reads

Genes associated with several neurological disorders have been shown to be highly polymorphic. Targeted sequencing of these genes using NGS technologies is a powerful way to increase the cost-effectiveness of variant discovery and detection. However, for a comprehensive view of these target genes, it is necessary to have complete and uniform coverage across regions of interest. Unfortunately, short-read sequencing technologies are not ideal for these types of studies as they are prone to mis-mapping and often fail to span repetitive regions. Targeted sequencing with PacBio long reads provides the unique advantage of single-molecule observations of complex genomic regions. PacBio long…

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June 1, 2016

Understanding the genetics of APOE and TOMM40 and role of mitochondrial structure and function in clinical pharmacology of Alzheimer’s disease.

The methodology of Genome-Wide Association Screening (GWAS) has been applied for more than a decade. Translation to clinical utility has been limited, especially in Alzheimer's Disease (AD). It has become standard practice in the analyses of more than two dozen AD GWAS studies to exclude the apolipoprotein E (APOE) region because of its extraordinary statistical support, unique thus far in complex human diseases. New genes associated with AD are proposed frequently based on SNPs associated with odds ratio (OR) 

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April 24, 2016

Candidate gene screening using long-read sequencing

We have developed several candidate gene screening applications for both Neuromuscular and Neurological disorders. The power behind these applications comes from the use of long-read sequencing. It allows us to access previously unresolvable and even unsequencable genomic regions. SMRT Sequencing offers uniform coverage, a lack of sequence context bias, and very high accuracy. In addition, it is also possible to directly detect epigenetic signatures and characterize full-length gene transcripts through assembly-free isoform sequencing. In addition to calling the bases, SMRT Sequencing uses the kinetic information from each nucleotide to distinguish between modified and native bases.

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