June 1, 2021  |  

HLA sequencing using SMRT Technology – High resolution and high throughput HLA genotyping in a clinical setting

Sequence based typing (SBT) is considered the gold standard method for HLA typing. Current SBT methods are rather laborious and are prone to phase ambiguity problems and genotyping uncertainties. As a result, the NGS community is rapidly seeking to remedy these challenges, to produce high resolution and high throughput HLA sequencing conducive to a clinical setting. Today, second generation NGS technologies are limited in their ability to yield full length HLA sequences required for adequate phasing and identification of novel alleles. Here we present the use of single molecule real time (SMRT) sequencing as a means of determining full length/long HLA sequences. Moreover we reveal the scalability of this method through multiplexing approches and determine HLA genotyping calls through the use of third party Gendx NGSengine® software.


June 1, 2021  |  

Evaluation of multiplexing strategies for HLA genotyping using PacBio Sequencing technology.

Fully phased allele-level sequencing of highly polymorphic HLA genes is greatly facilitated by SMRT Sequencing technology. In the present work, we have evaluated multiple DNA barcoding strategies for multiplexing several loci from multiple individuals, using three different tagging methods. Specifically MHC class I genes HLA-A, -B, and –C were indexed via DNA Barcodes by either tailed primers or barcoded SMRTbell adapters. Eight different 16-bp barcode sequences were used in symmetric & asymmetric pairing. Eight DNA barcoded adapters in symmetric pairing were independently ligated to a pool of HLA-A, -B and –C for eight different individuals, one at a time and pooled for sequencing on a single SMRT Cell. Amplicons generated from barcoded primers were pooled upfront for library generation. Eight symmetric barcoded primers were generated for HLA class I genes. These primers facilitated multiplexing of 8 samples and also allowed generation of unique asymmetric pairings for simultaneous amplification from 28 reference genomic DNA samples. The data generated from all 3 methods was analyzed using LAA protocol in SMRT analysis V2.3. Consensus sequences generated were typed using GenDx NGS engine HLA-typing software.


June 1, 2021  |  

Multiplexing human HLA class I & II genotyping with DNA barcode adapters for high throughput research.

Human MHC class I genes HLA-A, -B, -C, and class II genes HLA-DR, -DP and -DQ, play a critical role in the immune system as major factors responsible for organ transplant rejection. The have a direct or linkage-based association with several diseases, including cancer and autoimmune diseases, and are important targets for clinical and drug sensitivity research. HLA genes are also highly polymorphic and their diversity originates from exonic combinations as well as recombination events. A large number of new alleles are expected to be encountered if these genes are sequenced through the UTRs. Thus allele-level resolution is strongly preferred when sequencing HLA genes. Pacific Biosciences has developed a method to sequence the HLA genes in their entirety within the span of a single read taking advantage of long read lengths (average >10 kb) facilitated by SMRT technology. A highly accurate consensus sequence (=99.999 or QV50 demonstrated) is generated for each allele in a de novo fashion by our SMRT Analysis software. In the present work, we have combined this imputation-free, fully phased, allele-specific consensus sequence generation workflow and a newly developed DNA-barcode-tagged SMRTbell sample preparation approach to multiplex 96 individual samples for sequencing all of the HLA class I and II genes. Commercially available NGS-go reagents for full-length HLA class I and relevant exons of class II genes were amplified for hi-resolution HLA sequencing. The 96 samples included 72 that are part of UCLA reference panel and had pre-typing information available for 2 fields, based on gold standard SBT methods. SMRTbell adapters with 16 bp barcode tags were ligated to long amplicons in symmetric pairing. PacBio sequencing was highly effective in generating accurate, phased sequences of full-length alleles of HLA genes. In this work we demonstrate scalability of HLA sequencing using off the shelf assays for research applications to find biological significance in full-length sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Access full spectrum of polymorphisms in HLA class I & II genes, without imputation for disease association and evolutionary research.

MHC class I and II genes are critically monitored by high-resolution sequencing for organ transplant decisions due to their role in GVHD. Their direct or linkage-based causal association, have increased their prominence as targets for drug sensitivity, autoimmune, cancer and infectious disease research. Monitoring HLA genes can however be tricky due to their highly polymorphic nature. Allele-level resolution is thus strongly preferred. However, most studies were historically focused on peptide binding domains of the HLA genes, due to technological challenges. As a result knowledge about the functional role of polymorphisms outside of exons 2 and 3 of HLA genes was rather limited. There are also relatively few full-length gene references currently available in the IMGT HLA database. This made it difficult to quickly adopt high-throughput reference-reliant methods for allele-level HLA sequencing. Increasing awareness regarding role of regulatory region polymorphisms of HLA genes in disease association1, nonetheless have brought about a revolution in full-length HLA gene sequencing. Researchers are now exploring ways to obtain complete information for HLA genes and integrate it with the current HLA database so it can be interpreted used by clinical researchers. We have explored advantages of SMRT Sequencing to obtain fully phased, allele-specific sequences of HLA class I and II genes for 96 samples using completely De novo consensus generation approach for imputation-free 4-field typing. With long read lengths (average >10 kb) and consensus accuracy exceeding 99.999% (Q50), a comprehensive snapshot of variants in exons, introns and UTRs could be obtained for spectrum of polymorphisms in phase across SNP-poor regions. Such information can provide invaluable insights in future causality association and population diversity research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Predicting an HLA-DPB1 expression marker based on standard DPB1 genotyping: Linkage analysis of over 32,000 samples.

The risk of acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is increased with donor-recipient HLA-DPB1 allele mismatching. The single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs9277534 within the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) correlates with HLA-DPB1 allotype expression and serves as a marker for permissive HLA-DPB1 mismatches. Since rs9277534 is not routinely typed, we analyzed 32,681 samples of mostly European ancestry to investigate if the rs9277534 allele can be reliably imputed from standard DPB1 genotyping. We confirmed the previously-defined linkages between rs9277534 and 18 DPB1 alleles and established additional linkages for 46 DPB1 alleles. Based on these linkages, the rs9277534 allele could be predicted for 99.6% of the samples based on DPB1 genotypes (99.99% concordance). We demonstrate that 100% prediction accuracy could be achieved if the prediction utilized exon 3 sequence information. DPB1 genotyping based on exon 2 data alone allows no unambiguous rs9277534 allele prediction but was estimated to maintain 99% accuracy for samples of European descent. We conclude that DPB1 genotyping is sufficient to infer the DPB1 expression marker rs9277534 with high accuracy. This information could be used to select donors with permissive HLA-DPB1 mismatches without directly screening for rs9277534. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Comprehensive analysis of cancer-associated somatic mutations in class I HLA genes.

Detection of somatic mutations in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes using whole-exome sequencing (WES) is hampered by the high polymorphism of the HLA loci, which prevents alignment of sequencing reads to the human reference genome. We describe a computational pipeline that enables accurate inference of germline alleles of class I HLA-A, B and C genes and subsequent detection of mutations in these genes using the inferred alleles as a reference. Analysis of WES data from 7,930 pairs of tumor and healthy tissue from the same patient revealed 298 nonsilent HLA mutations in tumors from 266 patients. These 298 mutations are enriched for likely functional mutations, including putative loss-of-function events. Recurrence of mutations suggested that these ‘hotspot’ sites were positively selected. Cancers with recurrent somatic HLA mutations were associated with upregulation of signatures of cytolytic activity characteristic of tumor infiltration by effector lymphocytes, supporting immune evasion by altered HLA function as a contributory mechanism in cancer.


July 19, 2019  |  

Comparative analyses of low, medium and high-resolution HLA typing technologies for human populations

Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) encoding genes are part of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on human chromosome 6. This region is one of the most polymorphic regions in the human genome. Prior knowledge of HLA allelic polymorphisms is clinically important for matching donor and recipient during organ/tissue transplantation. HLA allelic information is also useful in predicting immune responses to various infectious diseases, genetic disorders and autoimmune conditions. India harbors over a billion people and its population is untapped for HLA allelic diversity. In this study, we explored and compared three HLA typing methods for South Indian population, using Sequence-Specific Primers (SSP), NGS (Roche/454) and single- molecule sequencing (PacBio RS II) platforms. Over 1020 DNA samples were typed at low resolution using SSP method to determine the major HLA alleles within the South Indian population. These studies were followed up with medium resolution HLA typing of 80 samples based on exonic sequences on the Roche/454 sequencing system and high-resolution (6-8 digit) typing of 8 samples for HLA alleles of class I genes (HLA-A, B and C) and class II genes (HLA-DRB1 and DQB1) using PacBio RS II platform. The long reads delivered by SMRT technology, covered the full-length class I and class II genes/alleles in contiguous reads including untranslated regions, exons and introns, which provided phased SNP information. We have identified three novel alleles from PacBio data that were verified by Roche 454 sequencing. This is the first case study of HLA typing using second and third generation NGS technologies for an Indian population. The PacBio platform is a promising platform for large-scale HLA typing for establishing an HLA database for the untapped ethnic populations of India.


July 19, 2019  |  

Dual redundant sequencing strategy: Full-length gene characterisation of 1056 novel and confirmatory HLA alleles.

The high-throughput department of DKMS Life Science Lab encounters novel human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles on a daily basis. To characterise these alleles, we have developed a system to sequence the whole gene from 5′- to 3′-UTR for the HLA loci A, B, C, DQB1 and DPB1 for submission to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – European Nucleotide Archive (EMBL-ENA) and the IPD-IMGT/HLA Database. Our workflow is based on a dual redundant sequencing strategy. Using shotgun sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq instrument and single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing on a PacBio RS II instrument, we are able to achieve highly accurate HLA full-length consensus sequences. Remaining conflicts are resolved using the R package DR2S (Dual Redundant Reference Sequencing). Given the relatively high throughput of this strategy, we have developed the semi-automated web service TypeLoader, to aid in the submission of sequences to the EMBL-ENA and the IPD-IMGT/HLA Database. In the IPD-IMGT/HLA Database release 3.24.0 (April 2016; prior to the submission of the sequences described here), only 5.2% of all known HLA alleles have been fully characterised together with intronic and UTR sequences. So far, we have applied our strategy to characterise and submit 1056 HLA alleles, thereby more than doubling the number of fully characterised alleles. Given the increasing application of next generation sequencing (NGS) for full gene characterisation in clinical practice, extending the HLA database concomitantly is highly desirable. Therefore, we propose this dual redundant sequencing strategy as a workflow for submission of novel full-length alleles and characterisation of sequences that are as yet incomplete. This would help to mitigate the predominance of partially known alleles in the database.© 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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