September 22, 2019  |  

MHC class I diversity of olive baboons (Papio anubis) unravelled by next-generation sequencing.

The olive baboon represents an important model system to study various aspects of human biology and health, including the origin and diversity of the major histocompatibility complex. After screening of a group of related animals for polymorphisms associated with a well-defined microsatellite marker, subsequent MHC class I typing of a selected population of 24 animals was performed on two distinct next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms. A substantial number of 21 A and 80 B transcripts were discovered, about half of which had not been previously reported. Per animal, from one to four highly transcribed A alleles (majors) were observed, in addition to ones characterised by low transcripion levels (minors), such as members of the A*14 lineage. Furthermore, in one animal, up to 13 B alleles with differential transcription level profiles may be present. Based on segregation profiles, 16 Paan-AB haplotypes were defined. A haplotype encodes in general one or two major A and three to seven B transcripts, respectively. A further peculiarity is the presence of at least one copy of a B*02 lineage on nearly every haplotype, which indicates that B*02 represents a separate locus with probably a specialistic function. Haplotypes appear to be generated by recombination-like events, and the breakpoints map not only between the A and B regions but also within the B region itself. Therefore, the genetic makeup of the olive baboon MHC class I region appears to have been subject to a similar or even more complex expansion process than the one documented for macaque species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing uncovers a widespread coupling between transcription initiation and mRNA processing.

The multifaceted control of gene expression requires tight coordination of regulatory mechanisms at transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. Here, we studied the interdependence of transcription initiation, splicing and polyadenylation events on single mRNA molecules by full-length mRNA sequencing.In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, we find 2700 genes with interdependent alternative transcription initiation, splicing and polyadenylation events, both in proximal and distant parts of mRNA molecules, including examples of coupling between transcription start sites and polyadenylation sites. The analysis of three human primary tissues (brain, heart and liver) reveals similar patterns of interdependency between transcription initiation and mRNA processing events. We predict thousands of novel open reading frames from full-length mRNA sequences and obtained evidence for their translation by shotgun proteomics. The mapping database rescues 358 previously unassigned peptides and improves the assignment of others. By recognizing sample-specific amino-acid changes and novel splicing patterns, full-length mRNA sequencing improves proteogenomics analysis of MCF-7 cells.Our findings demonstrate that our understanding of transcriptome complexity is far from complete and provides a basis to reveal largely unresolved mechanisms that coordinate transcription initiation and mRNA processing.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next generation sequencing technology: Advances and applications.

Impressive progress has been made in the field of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). Through advancements in the fields of molecular biology and technical engineering, parallelization of the sequencing reaction has profoundly increased the total number of produced sequence reads per run. Current sequencing platforms allow for a previously unprecedented view into complex mixtures of RNA and DNA samples. NGS is currently evolving into a molecular microscope finding its way into virtually every fields of biomedical research. In this chapter we review the technical background of the different commercially available NGS platforms with respect to template generation and the sequencing reaction and take a small step towards what the upcoming NGS technologies will bring. We close with an overview of different implementations of NGS into biomedical research. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: From Genome to Function. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Human and rhesus macaque KIR haplotypes defined by their transcriptomes.

The killer-cell Ig-like receptors (KIRs) play a central role in the immune recognition in infection, pregnancy, and transplantation through their interactions with MHC class I molecules. KIR genes display abundant copy number variation as well as high levels of polymorphism. As a result, it is challenging to characterize this structurally dynamic region. KIR haplotypes have been analyzed in different species using conventional characterization methods, such as Sanger sequencing and Roche/454 pyrosequencing. However, these methods are time-consuming and often failed to define complete haplotypes, or do not reach allele-level resolution. In addition, most analyses were performed on genomic DNA, and thus were lacking substantial information about transcription and its corresponding modifications. In this paper, we present a single-molecule real-time sequencing approach, using Pacific Biosciences Sequel platform to characterize the KIR transcriptomes in human and rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) families. This high-resolution approach allowed the identification of novel Mamu-KIR alleles, the extension of reported allele sequences, and the determination of human and macaque KIR haplotypes. In addition, multiple recombinant KIR genes were discovered, all located on contracted haplotypes, which were likely the result of chromosomal rearrangements. The relatively high number of contracted haplotypes discovered might be indicative of selection on small KIR repertoires and/or novel fusion gene products. This next-generation method provides an improved high-resolution characterization of the KIR cluster in humans and macaques, which eventually may aid in a better understanding and interpretation of KIR allele-associated diseases, as well as the immune response in transplantation and reproduction. Copyright © 2018 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Tumor-specific mitochondrial DNA variants are rarely detected in cell-free DNA.

The use of blood-circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) as a “liquid biopsy” in oncology is being explored for its potential as a cancer biomarker. Mitochondria contain their own circular genomic entity (mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA), up to even thousands of copies per cell. The mutation rate of mtDNA is several orders of magnitude higher than that of the nuclear DNA. Tumor-specific variants have been identified in tumors along the entire mtDNA, and their number varies among and within tumors. The high mtDNA copy number per cell and the high mtDNA mutation rate make it worthwhile to explore the potential of tumor-specific cf-mtDNA variants as cancer marker in the blood of cancer patients. We used single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to profile the entire mtDNA of 19 tissue specimens (primary tumor and/or metastatic sites, and tumor-adjacent normal tissue) and 9 cfDNA samples, originating from 8 cancer patients (5 breast, 3 colon). For each patient, tumor-specific mtDNA variants were detected and traced in cfDNA by SMRT sequencing and/or digital PCR to explore their feasibility as cancer biomarker. As a reference, we measured other blood-circulating biomarkers for these patients, including driver mutations in nuclear-encoded cfDNA and cancer-antigen levels or circulating tumor cells. Four of the 24 (17%) tumor-specific mtDNA variants were detected in cfDNA, however at much lower allele frequencies compared to mutations in nuclear-encoded driver genes in the same samples. Also, extensive heterogeneity was observed among the heteroplasmic mtDNA variants present in an individual. We conclude that there is limited value in tracing tumor-specific mtDNA variants in blood-circulating cfDNA with the current methods available. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Involvement of Burkholderiaceae and sulfurous volatiles in disease-suppressive soils.

Disease-suppressive soils are ecosystems in which plants suffer less from root infections due to the activities of specific microbial consortia. The characteristics of soils suppressive to specific fungal root pathogens are comparable to those of adaptive immunity in animals, as reported by Raaijmakers and Mazzola (Science 352:1392-3, 2016), but the mechanisms and microbial species involved in the soil suppressiveness are largely unknown. Previous taxonomic and metatranscriptome analyses of a soil suppressive to the fungal root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani revealed that members of the Burkholderiaceae family were more abundant and more active in suppressive than in non-suppressive soils. Here, isolation, phylogeny, and soil bioassays revealed a significant disease-suppressive activity for representative isolates of Burkholderia pyrrocinia, Paraburkholderia caledonica, P. graminis, P. hospita, and P. terricola. In vitro antifungal activity was only observed for P. graminis. Comparative genomics and metabolite profiling further showed that the antifungal activity of P. graminis PHS1 was associated with the production of sulfurous volatile compounds encoded by genes not found in the other four genera. Site-directed mutagenesis of two of these genes, encoding a dimethyl sulfoxide reductase and a cysteine desulfurase, resulted in a loss of antifungal activity both in vitro and in situ. These results indicate that specific members of the Burkholderiaceae family contribute to soil suppressiveness via the production of sulfurous volatile compounds.


July 19, 2019  |  

The complete genome sequence of the murine pathobiont Helicobacter typhlonius.

Immuno-compromised mice infected with Helicobacter typhlonius are used to model microbially inducted inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The specific mechanism through which H. typhlonius induces and promotes IBD is not fully understood. Access to the genome sequence is essential to examine emergent properties of this organism, such as its pathogenicity. To this end, we present the complete genome sequence of H. typhlonius MIT 97-6810, obtained through single-molecule real-time sequencing.The genome was assembled into a single circularized contig measuring 1.92 Mbp with an average GC content of 38.8%. In total 2,117 protein-encoding genes and 43 RNA genes were identified. Numerous pathogenic features were found, including a putative pathogenicity island (PAIs) containing components of type IV secretion system, virulence-associated proteins and cag PAI protein. We compared the genome of H. typhlonius to those of the murine pathobiont H. hepaticus and human pathobiont H. pylori. H. typhlonius resembles H. hepaticus most with 1,594 (75.3%) of its genes being orthologous to genes in H. hepaticus. Determination of the global methylation state revealed eight distinct recognition motifs for adenine and cytosine methylation. H. typhlonius shares four of its recognition motifs with H. pylori.The complete genome sequence of H. typhlonius MIT 97-6810 enabled us to identify many pathogenic features suggesting that H. typhlonius can act as a pathogen. Follow-up studies are necessary to evaluate the true nature of its pathogenic capabilities. We found many methylated sites and a plethora of restriction-modification systems. The genome, together with the methylome, will provide an essential resource for future studies investigating gene regulation, host interaction and pathogenicity of H. typhlonius. In turn, this work can contribute to unraveling the role of Helicobacter in enteric disease.


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 19, 2019  |  

Detecting PKD1 variants in polycystic kidney disease patients by single-molecule long-read sequencing.

A genetic diagnosis of autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is challenging due to allelic heterogeneity, high GC content, and homology of the PKD1 gene with six pseudogenes. Short-read next-generation sequencing approaches, such as whole-genome sequencing and whole-exome sequencing, often fail at reliably characterizing complex regions such as PKD1. However, long-read single-molecule sequencing has been shown to be an alternative strategy that could overcome PKD1 complexities and discriminate between homologous regions of PKD1 and its pseudogenes. In this study, we present the increased power of resolution for complex regions using long-read sequencing to characterize a cohort of 19 patients with ADPKD. Our approach provided high sensitivity in identifying PKD1 pathogenic variants, diagnosing 94.7% of the patients. We show that reliable screening of ADPKD patients in a single test without interference of PKD1 homologous sequences, commonly introduced by residual amplification of PKD1 pseudogenes, by direct long-read sequencing is now possible. This strategy can be implemented in diagnostics and is highly suitable to sequence and resolve complex genomic regions that are of clinical relevance. © 2017 The Authors. Human Mutation published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


July 19, 2019  |  

Selective graft-versus-leukemia depends on magnitude and diversity of the alloreactive T cell response.

Patients with leukemia who receive a T cell-depleted allogeneic stem cell graft followed by postponed donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) can experience graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) reactivity, with a lower risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Here, we have investigated the magnitude, diversity, and specificity of alloreactive CD8 T cells in patients who developed GVL reactivity after DLI in the absence or presence of GVHD. We observed a lower magnitude and diversity of CD8 T cells for minor histocompatibility antigens (MiHAs) in patients with selective GVL reactivity without GVHD. Furthermore, we demonstrated that MiHA-specific T cell clones from patients with selective GVL reactivity showed lower reactivity against nonhematopoietic cells, even when pretreated with inflammatory cytokines. Expression analysis of MiHA-encoding genes showed that similar types of antigens were recognized in both patient groups, but in patients who developed GVHD, T cell reactivity was skewed to target broadly expressed MiHAs. As an inflammatory environment can render nonhematopoietic cells susceptible to T cell recognition, prevention of such circumstances favors induction of selective GVL reactivity without development of GVHD.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quasispecies composition and evolution of a typical Zika virus clinical isolate from Suriname.

The arthropod-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) is currently causing a major international public health threat in the Americas. This study describes the isolation of ZIKV from the plasma of a 29-year-old female traveler that developed typical symptoms, like rash, fever and headache upon return from Suriname. The complete genome sequence including the 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions was determined and phylogenetic analysis showed the isolate clustering within the Asian lineage, close to other viruses that have recently been isolated in the Americas. In addition, the viral quasispecies composition was analyzed by single molecule real time sequencing, which suggested a mutation frequency of 1.4?×?10(-4) for this ZIKV isolate. Continued passaging of the virus in cell culture led to the selection of variants with mutations in NS1 and the E protein. The latter might influence virus binding to cell surface heparan sulfate.


July 19, 2019  |  

Exonization of an intronic LINE-1 element causing Becker muscular dystrophy as a novel mutational mechanism in dystrophin gene.

A broad mutational spectrum in the dystrophin (DMD) gene, from large deletions/duplications to point mutations, causes Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy (D/BMD). Comprehensive genotyping is particularly relevant considering the mutation-centered therapies for dystrophinopathies. We report the genetic characterization of a patient with disease onset at age 13 years, elevated creatine kinase levels and reduced dystrophin labeling, where multiplex-ligation probe amplification (MLPA) and genomic sequencing failed to detect pathogenic variants. Bioinformatic, transcriptomic (real time PCR, RT-PCR), and genomic approaches (Southern blot, long-range PCR, and single molecule real-time sequencing) were used to characterize the mutation. An aberrant transcript was identified, containing a 103-nucleotide insertion between exons 51 and 52, with no similarity with the DMD gene. This corresponded to the partial exonization of a long interspersed nuclear element (LINE-1), disrupting the open reading frame. Further characterization identified a complete LINE-1 (~6 kb with typical hallmarks) deeply inserted in intron 51. Haplotyping and segregation analysis demonstrated that the mutation had a de novo origin. Besides underscoring the importance of mRNA studies in genetically unsolved cases, this is the first report of a disease-causing fully intronic LINE-1 element in DMD, adding to the diversity of mutational events that give rise to D/BMD.


July 19, 2019  |  

Sensitive detection of mitochondrial DNA variants for analysis of mitochondrial DNA-enriched extracts from frozen tumor tissue.

Large variation exists in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) not only between but also within individuals. Also in human cancer, tumor-specific mtDNA variation exists. In this work, we describe the comparison of four methods to extract mtDNA as pure as possible from frozen tumor tissue. Also, three state-of-the-art methods for sensitive detection of mtDNA variants were evaluated. The main aim was to develop a procedure to detect low-frequent single-nucleotide mtDNA-specific variants in frozen tumor tissue. We show that of the methods evaluated, DNA extracted from cytosol fractions following exonuclease treatment results in highest mtDNA yield and purity from frozen tumor tissue (270-fold mtDNA enrichment). Next, we demonstrate the sensitivity of detection of low-frequent single-nucleotide mtDNA variants (=1% allele frequency) in breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 by single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, UltraSEEK chemistry based mass spectrometry, and digital PCR. We also show de novo detection and allelic phasing of variants by SMRT sequencing. We conclude that our sensitive procedure to detect low-frequent single-nucleotide mtDNA variants from frozen tumor tissue is based on extraction of DNA from cytosol fractions followed by exonuclease treatment to obtain high mtDNA purity, and subsequent SMRT sequencing for (de novo) detection and allelic phasing of variants.


July 19, 2019  |  

Resolving the complete genome of Kuenenia stuttgartiensis from a membrane bioreactor enrichment using Single-Molecule Real-Time sequencing.

Anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria are a group of strictly anaerobic chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms. They are capable of oxidizing ammonium to nitrogen gas using nitrite as a terminal electron acceptor, thereby facilitating the release of fixed nitrogen into the atmosphere. The anammox process is thought to exert a profound impact on the global nitrogen cycle and has been harnessed as an environment-friendly method for nitrogen removal from wastewater. In this study, we present the first closed genome sequence of an anammox bacterium, Kuenenia stuttgartiensis MBR1. It was obtained through Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing of an enrichment culture constituting a mixture of at least two highly similar Kuenenia strains. The genome of the novel MBR1 strain is different from the previously reported Kuenenia KUST reference genome as it contains numerous structural variations and unique genomic regions. We find new proteins, such as a type 3b (sulf)hydrogenase and an additional copy of the hydrazine synthase gene cluster. Moreover, multiple copies of ammonium transporters and proteins regulating nitrogen uptake were identified, suggesting functional differences in metabolism. This assembly, including the genome-wide methylation profile, provides a new foundation for comparative and functional studies aiming to elucidate the biochemical and metabolic processes of these organisms.


July 19, 2019  |  

Loss of maternal EED results in postnatal overgrowth.

Investigating how epigenetic information is transmitted through the mammalian germline is the key to understanding how this information impacts on health and disease susceptibility in offspring. EED is essential for regulating the repressive histone modification, histone 3 lysine 27 tri-methylation (H3K27me3) at many developmental genes.In this study, we used oocyte-specific Zp3-Cre recombinase (Zp3Cre) to delete Eed specifically in mouse growing oocytes, permitting the study of EED function in oocytes and the impact of depleting EED in oocytes on outcomes in offspring. As EED deletion occurred only in growing oocytes and females were mated to normal wild type males, this model allowed the study of oocyte programming without confounding factors such as altered in utero environment. Loss of EED from growing oocytes resulted in a significant overgrowth phenotype that persisted into adult life. Significantly, this involved increased adiposity (total fat) and bone mineral density in offspring. Similar overgrowth occurs in humans with Cohen-Gibson (OMIM 617561) and Weaver (OMIM 277590) syndromes, that result from de novo germline mutations in EED or its co-factor EZH2, respectively. Consistent with a role for EZH2 in human oocytes, we demonstrate that de novo germline mutations in EZH2 occurred in the maternal germline in some cases of Weaver syndrome. However, deletion of Ezh2 in mouse oocytes resulted in a distinct phenotype compared to that resulting from oocyte-specific deletion of Eed.This study provides novel evidence that altering EED-dependent oocyte programming leads to compromised offspring growth and development in the next generation.


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