July 19, 2019  |  

Birth of a new gene on the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster.

Contrary to the pattern seen in mammalian sex chromosomes, where most Y-linked genes have X-linked homologs, the Drosophila X and Y chromosomes appear to be unrelated. Most of the Y-linked genes have autosomal paralogs, so autosome-to-Y transposition must be the main source of Drosophila Y-linked genes. Here we show how these genes were acquired. We found a previously unidentified gene (flagrante delicto Y, FDY) that originated from a recent duplication of the autosomal gene vig2 to the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster. Four contiguous genes were duplicated along with vig2, but they became pseudogenes through the accumulation of deletions and transposable element insertions, whereas FDY remained functional, acquired testis-specific expression, and now accounts for ~20% of the vig2-like mRNA in testis. FDY is absent in the closest relatives of D. melanogaster, and DNA sequence divergence indicates that the duplication to the Y chromosome occurred ~2 million years ago. Thus, FDY provides a snapshot of the early stages of the establishment of a Y-linked gene and demonstrates how the Drosophila Y has been accumulating autosomal genes.

July 19, 2019  |  

Single-molecule sequencing resolves the detailed structure of complex satellite DNA loci in Drosophila melanogaster.

Highly repetitive satellite DNA (satDNA) repeats are found in most eukaryotic genomes. SatDNAs are rapidly evolving and have roles in genome stability and chromosome segregation. Their repetitive nature poses a challenge for genome assembly and makes progress on the detailed study of satDNA structure difficult. Here, we use single-molecule sequencing long reads from Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) to determine the detailed structure of all major autosomal complex satDNA loci in Drosophila melanogaster, with a particular focus on the 260-bp and Responder satellites. We determine the optimal de novo assembly methods and parameter combinations required to produce a high-quality assembly of these previously unassembled satDNA loci and validate this assembly using molecular and computational approaches. We determined that the computationally intensive PBcR-BLASR assembly pipeline yielded better assemblies than the faster and more efficient pipelines based on the MHAP hashing algorithm, and it is essential to validate assemblies of repetitive loci. The assemblies reveal that satDNA repeats are organized into large arrays interrupted by transposable elements. The repeats in the center of the array tend to be homogenized in sequence, suggesting that gene conversion and unequal crossovers lead to repeat homogenization through concerted evolution, although the degree of unequal crossing over may differ among complex satellite loci. We find evidence for higher-order structure within satDNA arrays that suggest recent structural rearrangements. These assemblies provide a platform for the evolutionary and functional genomics of satDNAs in pericentric heterochromatin. © 2017 Khost et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

July 19, 2019  |  

A new chicken genome assembly provides insight into avian genome structure.

The importance of the Gallus gallus (chicken) as a model organism and agricultural animal merits a continuation of sequence assembly improvement efforts. We present a new version of the chicken genome assembly (Gallus_gallus-5.0; GCA_000002315.3), built from combined long single molecule sequencing technology, finished BACs, and improved physical maps. In overall assembled bases, we see a gain of 183 Mb, including 16.4 Mb in placed chromosomes with a corresponding gain in the percentage of intact repeat elements characterized. Of the 1.21 Gb genome, we include three previously missing autosomes, GGA30, 31, and 33, and improve sequence contig length 10-fold over the previous Gallus_gallus-4.0. Despite the significant base representation improvements made, 138 Mb of sequence is not yet located to chromosomes. When annotated for gene content, Gallus_gallus-5.0 shows an increase of 4679 annotated genes (2768 noncoding and 1911 protein-coding) over those in Gallus_gallus-4.0. We also revisited the question of what genes are missing in the avian lineage, as assessed by the highest quality avian genome assembly to date, and found that a large fraction of the original set of missing genes are still absent in sequenced bird species. Finally, our new data support a detailed map of MHC-B, encompassing two segments: one with a highly stable gene copy number and another in which the gene copy number is highly variable. The chicken model has been a critical resource for many other fields of study, and this new reference assembly will substantially further these efforts. Copyright © 2017 Warren et al.

July 7, 2019  |  

Whole-genome sequencing recommendations

Recent technological developments have revolutionized the way we perform genetic analyses. In particular whole-genome sequencing provides access to the entire genetic makeup of an individual, and it is now an affordable approach for many research groups. As a consequence genome sequencing is pervading many fields of biological research. Sequencing technologies are evolving rapidly and so do their applications. Here we provide a first primer on whole-genome sequencing, focusing on two of the most popular applications: (1) de novo genome sequencing, in which the objective is obtaining a high-quality genome assembly that can serve as a reference for a species or variety, and (2) genome resequencing, when there is an available reference genome and the objective is to map sequence variation of an individual or a set of individuals. It is not our intention to provide a comprehensive overview of current methodologies that will likely soon become obsolete, but rather focus on general principles that will have a more general applicability.

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