July 19, 2019  |  

ARTISAN PCR: rapid identification of full-length immunoglobulin rearrangements without primer binding bias.

B cells recognize specific antigens by their membrane-bound B-cell receptor (BCR). Functional BCR genes are assembled in pre-B cells by recombination of the variable (V), diversity (D) and joining (J) genes [V(D)J recombination]. When B cells participate in germinal centre reactions, non-templated point mutations are introduced into BCR genes by somatic hypermutation (SHM) (Rajewsky, 1996). V(D)J recombination and SHM create virtually unlimited BCR repertoires.

July 7, 2019  |  

Structural variation offers new home for disease associations and gene discovery

Following completion of the Human Genome Project, most studies of human genetic variation have centered on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). SNPs are numerous in individual genomes and serve as useful genetic markers in association studies across a population. These markers have been leveraged to identify genetic loci for disease risk and draw associations with numerous traits of interest. Despite their usefulness, SNPs do not tell the whole story. For example, most SNPs are associated with only a small increased risk of disease, and they usually cannot identify on their own which genes are causal. This has resulted in what many researchers have referred to as missing or hidden heritability.

July 7, 2019  |  

Variant review with the Integrative Genomics Viewer.

Manual review of aligned reads for confirmation and interpretation of variant calls is an important step in many variant calling pipelines for next-generation sequencing (NGS) data. Visual inspection can greatly increase the confidence in calls, reduce the risk of false positives, and help characterize complex events. The Integrative Genomics Viewer (IGV) was one of the first tools to provide NGS data visualization, and it currently provides a rich set of tools for inspection, validation, and interpretation of NGS datasets, as well as other types of genomic data. Here, we present a short overview of IGV’s variant review features for both single-nucleotide variants and structural variants, with examples from both cancer and germline datasets. IGV is freely available at https://www.igv.org Cancer Res; 77(21); e31-34. ©2017 AACR.©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.

July 7, 2019  |  

Hunting structural variants: Population by population

Until recently, most population-scale genome sequencing studies have focused on identifying single nucleotide variants (SNVs) to explore genetic differences between individuals. Like so many SNV-based genome-wide association studies, however, these efforts have had difficulty identifying causative genetic mechanisms underlying most complex functions. More and more, the genomics community has realised that structural variation is likely responsible for many of the traits and phenotypes that scientists have not been able to attribute to SNVs. This class of variants, defined as genetic differences of 50 bp or larger, accounts for most of the DNA sequence differences between any two people. Structural variants (SVs) are also already known to cause many common and rare diseases including ALS, schizophrenia, leukemia, Carney complex, and Huntington’s disease. Despite the importance of SVs, these larger variants have been understudied and underreported compared to their single-nucleotide counterparts. One reason is that they remain difficult to detect. Their length often means they cannot be fully spanned using short sequencing reads. They also often occur in highly repetitive or GC-rich regions of the genome, making them challenging targets. As such, this class of human genetic variation has remained vastly under-explored in global populations and is now ripe for discovery.

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