June 1, 2021  |  

Targeted enrichment without amplification and SMRT Sequencing of repeat-expansion disease causative genomic regions

Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification. Amplification removes the epigenetic marks present in native DNA, and some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, a large number of genetic disorders are caused by expansions of repeat sequences. Furthermore, for some disorders, methylation status has been shown to be a key factor in the mechanism of disease. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system for specific targeting of individual human genes. This method, in conjunction with SMRT Sequencing’s long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage, allows the sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies. Using human genomic DNA samples and this strategy, we have successfully targeted the loci of a number of repeat expansion disorders (HTT, FMR1, ATXN10, C9orf72). With this data, we demonstrate the ability to isolate hundreds of individual on-target molecules and accurately sequence through long repeat stretches, regardless of the extreme GC-content, followed by accurate sequencing on a single PacBio RS II SMRT Cell or Sequel SMRT Cell 1M. The method is compatible with multiplexing of multiple targets and multiple samples in a single reaction. Furthermore, this technique also preserves native DNA molecules for sequencing, allowing for the possibility of direct detection and characterization of epigenetic signatures. We demonstrate detection of 5-mC in human promoter sequences and CpG islands.


June 1, 2021  |  

Detecting pathogenic structural variants with long-read PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Most of the base pairs that differ between two human genomes are in intermediate-sized structural variants (50 bp to 5 kb), which are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization or optical mapping but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Long-read sequencing with PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing platforms fills this technology gap. PacBio SMRT Sequencing detects tens of thousands of structural variants in a human genome with approximately five times the sensitivity of short-read DNA sequencing. Effective application of PacBio SMRT Sequencing to detect structural variants requires quality bioinformatics tools that account for the characteristics of PacBio reads. To provide such a solution, we developed pbsv, a structural variant caller for PacBio reads that works as a chain of simple stages: 1) map reads to the reference genome, 2) identify reads with signatures of structural variation, 3) cluster nearby reads with similar signatures, 4) summarize each cluster into a consensus variant, and 5) filter for variants with sufficient read support. To evaluate the baseline performance of pbsv, we generated high coverage of a diploid human genome on the PacBio Sequel System, established a target set of structural variants, and then titrated to lower coverage levels. The false discovery rate for pbsv is low at all coverage levels. Sensitivity is high even at modest coverage: above 85% at 10-fold coverage and above 95% at 20-fold coverage. To assess the potential for PacBio SMRT Sequencing to identify pathogenic variants, we evaluated an individual with clinical symptoms suggestive of Carney complex for whom short-read whole genome sequencing was uninformative. The individual was sequenced to 9-fold coverage on the PacBio Sequel System, and structural variants were called with pbsv. Filtering for rare, genic structural variants left six candidates, including a heterozygous 2,184 bp deletion that removes the first coding exon of PRKAR1A. Null mutations in PRKAR1Acause autosomal dominant Carney complex, type 1. The variant was determined to be de novo, and it was classified as likely pathogenic based on ACMG standards and guidelines for variant interpretation. These case studies demonstrate the ability of pbsv to detect structural variants in low-coverage PacBio SMRT Sequencing and suggest the importance of considering structural variants in any study of human genetic variation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fusion of TTYH1 with the C19MC microRNA cluster drives expression of a brain-specific DNMT3B isoform in the embryonal brain tumor ETMR.

Embryonal tumors with multilayered rosettes (ETMRs) are rare, deadly pediatric brain tumors characterized by high-level amplification of the microRNA cluster C19MC. We performed integrated genetic and epigenetic analyses of 12 ETMR samples and identified, in all cases, C19MC fusions to TTYH1 driving expression of the microRNAs. ETMR tumors, cell lines and xenografts showed a specific DNA methylation pattern distinct from those of other tumors and normal tissues. We detected extreme overexpression of a previously uncharacterized isoform of DNMT3B originating at an alternative promoter that is active only in the first weeks of neural tube development. Transcriptional and immunohistochemical analyses suggest that C19MC-dependent DNMT3B deregulation is mediated by RBL2, a known repressor of DNMT3B. Transfection with individual C19MC microRNAs resulted in DNMT3B upregulation and RBL2 downregulation in cultured cells. Our data suggest a potential oncogenic re-engagement of an early developmental program in ETMR via epigenetic alteration mediated by an embryonic, brain-specific DNMT3B isoform.


July 19, 2019  |  

The somatic genomic landscape of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma.

We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Resolving complex tandem repeats with long reads.

Resolving tandemly repeated genomic sequences is a necessary step in improving our understanding of the human genome. Short tandem repeats (TRs), or microsatellites, are often used as molecular markers in genetics, and clinically, variation in microsatellites can lead to genetic disorders like Huntington’s diseases. Accurately resolving repeats, and in particular TRs, remains a challenging task in genome alignment, assembly and variation calling. Though tools have been developed for detecting microsatellites in short-read sequencing data, these are limited in the size and types of events they can resolve. Single-molecule sequencing technologies may potentially resolve a broader spectrum of TRs given their increased length, but require new approaches given their significantly higher raw error profiles. However, due to inherent error profiles of the single-molecule technologies, these reads presents a unique challenge in terms of accurately identifying and estimating the TRs.Here we present PacmonSTR, a reference-based probabilistic approach, to identify the TR region and estimate the number of these TR elements in long DNA reads. We present a multistep approach that requires as input, a reference region and the reference TR element. Initially, the TR region is identified from the long DNA reads via a 3-stage modified Smith-Waterman approach and then, expected number of TR elements is calculated using a pair-Hidden Markov Models-based method. Finally, TR-based genotype selection (or clustering: homozygous/heterozygous) is performed with Gaussian mixture models, using the Akaike information criteria, and coverage expectations. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


July 7, 2019  |  

Dubowitz syndrome is a complex comprised of multiple, genetically distinct and phenotypically overlapping disorders.

Dubowitz syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by multiple congenital anomalies, cognitive delay, growth failure, an immune defect, and an increased risk of blood dyscrasia and malignancy. There is considerable phenotypic variability, suggesting genetic heterogeneity. We clinically characterized and performed exome sequencing and high-density array SNP genotyping on three individuals with Dubowitz syndrome, including a pair of previously-described siblings (Patients 1 and 2, brother and sister) and an unpublished patient (Patient 3). Given the siblings’ history of bone marrow abnormalities, we also evaluated telomere length and performed radiosensitivity assays. In the siblings, exome sequencing identified compound heterozygosity for a known rare nonsense substitution in the nuclear ligase gene LIG4 (rs104894419, NM_002312.3:c.2440C>T) that predicts p.Arg814X (MAF:0.0002) and an NM_002312.3:c.613delT variant that predicts a p.Ser205Leufs*29 frameshift. The frameshift mutation has not been reported in 1000 Genomes, ESP, or ClinSeq. These LIG4 mutations were previously reported in the sibling sister; her brother had not been previously tested. Western blotting showed an absence of a ligase IV band in both siblings. In the third patient, array SNP genotyping revealed a de novo ~ 3.89 Mb interstitial deletion at chromosome 17q24.2 (chr 17:62,068,463-65,963,102, hg18), which spanned the known Carney complex gene PRKAR1A. In all three patients, a median lymphocyte telomere length of = 1st centile was observed and radiosensitivity assays showed increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation. Our work suggests that, in addition to dyskeratosis congenita, LIG4 and 17q24.2 syndromes also feature shortened telomeres; to confirm this, telomere length testing should be considered in both disorders. Taken together, our work and other reports on Dubowitz syndrome, as currently recognized, suggest that it is not a unitary entity but instead a collection of phenotypically similar disorders. As a clinical entity, Dubowitz syndrome will need continual re-evaluation and re-definition as its constituent phenotypes are determined.


July 7, 2019  |  

Pseudoautosomal region 1 length polymorphism in the human population.

The human sex chromosomes differ in sequence, except for the pseudoautosomal regions (PAR) at the terminus of the short and the long arms, denoted as PAR1 and PAR2. The boundary between PAR1 and the unique X and Y sequences was established during the divergence of the great apes. During a copy number variation screen, we noted a paternally inherited chromosome X duplication in 15 independent families. Subsequent genomic analysis demonstrated that an insertional translocation of X chromosomal sequence into theMa Y chromosome generates an extended PAR. The insertion is generated by non-allelic homologous recombination between a 548 bp LTR6B repeat within the Y chromosome PAR1 and a second LTR6B repeat located 105 kb from the PAR boundary on the X chromosome. The identification of the reciprocal deletion on the X chromosome in one family and the occurrence of the variant in different chromosome Y haplogroups demonstrate this is a recurrent genomic rearrangement in the human population. This finding represents a novel mechanism shaping sex chromosomal evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

The haplotype-resolved genome and epigenome of the aneuploid HeLa cancer cell line.

The HeLa cell line was established in 1951 from cervical cancer cells taken from a patient, Henrietta Lacks. This was the first successful attempt to immortalize human-derived cells in vitro. The robust growth and unrestricted distribution of HeLa cells resulted in its broad adoption–both intentionally and through widespread cross-contamination–and for the past 60?years it has served a role analogous to that of a model organism. The cumulative impact of the HeLa cell line on research is demonstrated by its occurrence in more than 74,000 PubMed abstracts (approximately 0.3%). The genomic architecture of HeLa remains largely unexplored beyond its karyotype, partly because like many cancers, its extensive aneuploidy renders such analyses challenging. We carried out haplotype-resolved whole-genome sequencing of the HeLa CCL-2 strain, examined point- and indel-mutation variations, mapped copy-number variations and loss of heterozygosity regions, and phased variants across full chromosome arms. We also investigated variation and copy-number profiles for HeLa S3 and eight additional strains. We find that HeLa is relatively stable in terms of point variation, with few new mutations accumulating after early passaging. Haplotype resolution facilitated reconstruction of an amplified, highly rearranged region of chromosome 8q24.21 at which integration of the human papilloma virus type 18 (HPV-18) genome occurred and that is likely to be the event that initiated tumorigenesis. We combined these maps with RNA-seq and ENCODE Project data sets to phase the HeLa epigenome. This revealed strong, haplotype-specific activation of the proto-oncogene MYC by the integrated HPV-18 genome approximately 500?kilobases upstream, and enabled global analyses of the relationship between gene dosage and expression. These data provide an extensively phased, high-quality reference genome for past and future experiments relying on HeLa, and demonstrate the value of haplotype resolution for characterizing cancer genomes and epigenomes.


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