October 23, 2019  |  

Function-based identification of mammalian enhancers using site-specific integration.

The accurate and comprehensive identification of functional regulatory sequences in mammalian genomes remains a major challenge. Here we describe site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing (SIF-seq), an unbiased, medium-throughput functional assay for the discovery of distant-acting enhancers. Targeted single-copy genomic integration into pluripotent cells, reporter assays and flow cytometry are coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing to enable parallel screening of large numbers of DNA sequences. By functionally interrogating >500 kilobases (kb) of mouse and human sequence in mouse embryonic stem cells for enhancer activity we identified enhancers at pluripotency loci including NANOG. In in vitro-differentiated cardiomyocytes and neural progenitor cells, we identified cardiac enhancers and neuronal enhancers, respectively. SIF-seq is a powerful and flexible method for de novo functional identification of mammalian enhancers in a potentially wide variety of cell types.


September 22, 2019  |  

Searching for convergent pathways in autism spectrum disorders: insights from human brain transcriptome studies.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most heritable neuropsychiatric conditions. The complex genetic landscape of the disorder includes both common and rare variants at hundreds of genetic loci. This marked heterogeneity has thus far hampered efforts to develop genetic diagnostic panels and targeted pharmacological therapies. Here, we give an overview of the current literature on the genetic basis of ASD, and review recent human brain transcriptome studies and their role in identifying convergent pathways downstream of the heterogeneous genetic variants. We also discuss emerging evidence on the involvement of non-coding genomic regions and non-coding RNAs in ASD.


September 22, 2019  |  

Alternative TSSs are co-regulated in single cells in the mouse brain.

Alternative transcription start sites (TSSs) have been extensively studied genome-wide for many cell types and have been shown to be important during development and to regulate transcript abundance between cell types. Likewise, single-cell gene expression has been extensively studied for many cell types. However, how single cells use TSSs has not yet been examined. In particular, it is unknown whether alternative TSSs are independently expressed, or whether they are co-activated or even mutually exclusive in single cells. Here, we use a previously published single-cell RNA-seq dataset, comprising thousands of cells, to study alternative TSS usage. We find that alternative TSS usage is a regulated process, and the correlation between two TSSs expressed in single cells of the same cell type is surprisingly high. Our findings indicate that TSSs generally are regulated by common factors rather than being independently regulated or stochastically expressed.© 2017 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.


September 22, 2019  |  

Neural circular RNAs are derived from synaptic genes and regulated by development and plasticity.

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have re-emerged as an interesting RNA species. Using deep RNA profiling in different mouse tissues, we observed that circRNAs were substantially enriched in brain and a disproportionate fraction of them were derived from host genes that encode synaptic proteins. Moreover, on the basis of separate profiling of the RNAs localized in neuronal cell bodies and neuropil, circRNAs were, on average, more enriched in the neuropil than their host gene mRNA isoforms. Using high-resolution in situ hybridization, we visualized circRNA punctae in the dendrites of neurons. Consistent with the idea that circRNAs might regulate synaptic function during development, many circRNAs changed their abundance abruptly at a time corresponding to synaptogenesis. In addition, following a homeostatic downscaling of neuronal activity many circRNAs exhibited substantial up- or downregulation. Together, our data indicate that brain circRNAs are positioned to respond to and regulate synaptic function.


September 22, 2019  |  

Sixteen diverse laboratory mouse reference genomes define strain-specific haplotypes and novel functional loci.

We report full-length draft de novo genome assemblies for 16 widely used inbred mouse strains and find extensive strain-specific haplotype variation. We identify and characterize 2,567 regions on the current mouse reference genome exhibiting the greatest sequence diversity. These regions are enriched for genes involved in pathogen defence and immunity and exhibit enrichment of transposable elements and signatures of recent retrotransposition events. Combinations of alleles and genes unique to an individual strain are commonly observed at these loci, reflecting distinct strain phenotypes. We used these genomes to improve the mouse reference genome, resulting in the completion of 10 new gene structures. Also, 62 new coding loci were added to the reference genome annotation. These genomes identified a large, previously unannotated, gene (Efcab3-like) encoding 5,874 amino acids. Mutant Efcab3-like mice display anomalies in multiple brain regions, suggesting a possible role for this gene in the regulation of brain development.


September 22, 2019  |  

SQANTI: extensive characterization of long-read transcript sequences for quality control in full-length transcriptome identification and quantification.

High-throughput sequencing of full-length transcripts using long reads has paved the way for the discovery of thousands of novel transcripts, even in well-annotated mammalian species. The advances in sequencing technology have created a need for studies and tools that can characterize these novel variants. Here, we present SQANTI, an automated pipeline for the classification of long-read transcripts that can assess the quality of data and the preprocessing pipeline using 47 unique descriptors. We apply SQANTI to a neuronal mouse transcriptome using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) long reads and illustrate how the tool is effective in characterizing and describing the composition of the full-length transcriptome. We perform extensive evaluation of ToFU PacBio transcripts by PCR to reveal that an important number of the novel transcripts are technical artifacts of the sequencing approach and that SQANTI quality descriptors can be used to engineer a filtering strategy to remove them. Most novel transcripts in this curated transcriptome are novel combinations of existing splice sites, resulting more frequently in novel ORFs than novel UTRs, and are enriched in both general metabolic and neural-specific functions. We show that these new transcripts have a major impact in the correct quantification of transcript levels by state-of-the-art short-read-based quantification algorithms. By comparing our iso-transcriptome with public proteomics databases, we find that alternative isoforms are elusive to proteogenomics detection. SQANTI allows the user to maximize the analytical outcome of long-read technologies by providing the tools to deliver quality-evaluated and curated full-length transcriptomes.© 2018 Tardaguila et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive allele-specific translational regulation in hybrid mice.

Translational regulation is mediated through the interaction between diffusible trans-factors and cis-elements residing within mRNA transcripts. In contrast to extensively studied transcriptional regulation, cis-regulation on translation remains underexplored. Using deep sequencing-based transcriptome and polysome profiling, we globally profiled allele-specific translational efficiency for the first time in an F1 hybrid mouse. Out of 7,156 genes with reliable quantification of both alleles, we found 1,008 (14.1%) exhibiting significant allelic divergence in translational efficiency. Systematic analysis of sequence features of the genes with biased allelic translation revealed that local RNA secondary structure surrounding the start codon and proximal out-of-frame upstream AUGs could affect translational efficiency. Finally, we observed that the cis-effect was quantitatively comparable between transcriptional and translational regulation. Such effects in the two regulatory processes were more frequently compensatory, suggesting that the regulation at the two levels could be coordinated in maintaining robustness of protein expression. © 2015 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.


September 22, 2019  |  

Meeting report: 31st International Mammalian Genome Conference, Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: From Molecular Mechanisms to Translational Applications.

High on the Heidelberg hills, inside the Advanced Training Centre of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) campus with its unique double-helix staircase, scientists gathered for the EMBL conference “Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: From Molecular Mechanisms to Translational Applications,” organized in cooperation with the International Mammalian Genome Society (IMGS) and the Mouse Molecular Genetics (MMG) group. The conference attracted 205 participants from 30 countries, representing 6 of the 7 continents-all except Antarctica. It was a richly diverse group of geneticists, clinicians, and bioinformaticians, with presentations by established and junior investigators, including many trainees. From the 24th-27th of October 2017, they shared exciting advances in mammalian genetics and genomics research, from the introduction of cutting-edge technologies to descriptions of translational studies involving highly relevant models of human disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

Targeted combinatorial alternative splicing generates brain region-specific repertoires of neurexins.

Molecular diversity of surface receptors has been hypothesized to provide a mechanism for selective synaptic connectivity. Neurexins are highly diversified receptors that drive the morphological and functional differentiation of synapses. Using a single cDNA sequencing approach, we detected 1,364 unique neurexin-a and 37 neurexin-ß mRNAs produced by alternative splicing of neurexin pre-mRNAs. This molecular diversity results from near-exhaustive combinatorial use of alternative splice insertions in Nrxn1a and Nrxn2a. By contrast, Nrxn3a exhibits several highly stereotyped exon selections that incorporate novel elements for posttranscriptional regulation of a subset of transcripts. Complexity of Nrxn1a repertoires correlates with the cellular complexity of neuronal tissues, and a specific subset of isoforms is enriched in a purified cell type. Our analysis defines the molecular diversity of a critical synaptic receptor and provides evidence that neurexin diversity is linked to cellular diversity in the nervous system. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-cell mRNA isoform diversity in the mouse brain.

Alternative mRNA isoform usage is an important source of protein diversity in mammalian cells. This phenomenon has been extensively studied in bulk tissues, however, it remains unclear how this diversity is reflected in single cells.Here we use long-read sequencing technology combined with unique molecular identifiers (UMIs) to reveal patterns of alternative full-length isoform expression in single cells from the mouse brain. We found a surprising amount of isoform diversity, even after applying a conservative definition of what constitutes an isoform. Genes tend to have one or a few isoforms highly expressed and a larger number of isoforms expressed at a low level. However, for many genes, nearly every sequenced mRNA molecule was unique, and many events affected coding regions suggesting previously unknown protein diversity in single cells. Exon junctions in coding regions were less prone to splicing errors than those in non-coding regions, indicating purifying selection on splice donor and acceptor efficiency.Our findings indicate that mRNA isoform diversity is an important source of biological variability also in single cells.


September 22, 2019  |  

The full transcription map of mouse papillomavirus type 1 (MmuPV1) in mouse wart tissues.

Mouse papillomavirus type 1 (MmuPV1) provides, for the first time, the opportunity to study infection and pathogenesis of papillomaviruses in the context of laboratory mice. In this report, we define the transcriptome of MmuPV1 genome present in papillomas arising in experimentally infected mice using a combination of RNA-seq, PacBio Iso-seq, 5′ RACE, 3′ RACE, primer-walking RT-PCR, RNase protection, Northern blot and in situ hybridization analyses. We demonstrate that the MmuPV1 genome is transcribed unidirectionally from five major promoters (P) or transcription start sites (TSS) and polyadenylates its transcripts at two major polyadenylation (pA) sites. We designate the P7503, P360 and P859 as “early” promoters because they give rise to transcripts mostly utilizing the polyadenylation signal at nt 3844 and therefore can only encode early genes, and P7107 and P533 as “late” promoters because they give rise to transcripts utilizing polyadenylation signals at either nt 3844 or nt 7047, the latter being able to encode late, capsid proteins. MmuPV1 genome contains five splice donor sites and three acceptor sites that produce thirty-six RNA isoforms deduced to express seven predicted early gene products (E6, E7, E1, E1^M1, E1^M2, E2 and E8^E2) and three predicted late gene products (E1^E4, L2 and L1). The majority of the viral early transcripts are spliced once from nt 757 to 3139, while viral late transcripts, which are predicted to encode L1, are spliced twice, first from nt 7243 to either nt 3139 (P7107) or nt 757 to 3139 (P533) and second from nt 3431 to nt 5372. Thirteen of these viral transcripts were detectable by Northern blot analysis, with the P533-derived late E1^E4 transcripts being the most abundant. The late transcripts could be detected in highly differentiated keratinocytes of MmuPV1-infected tissues as early as ten days after MmuPV1 inoculation and correlated with detection of L1 protein and viral DNA amplification. In mature warts, detection of L1 was also found in more poorly differentiated cells, as previously reported. Subclinical infections were also observed. The comprehensive transcription map of MmuPV1 generated in this study provides further evidence that MmuPV1 is similar to high-risk cutaneous beta human papillomaviruses. The knowledge revealed will facilitate the use of MmuPV1 as an animal virus model for understanding of human papillomavirus gene expression, pathogenesis and immunology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Predominant contribution of cis-regulatory divergence in the evolution of mouse alternative splicing.

Divergence of alternative splicing represents one of the major driving forces to shape phenotypic diversity during evolution. However, the extent to which these divergences could be explained by the evolving cis-regulatory versus trans-acting factors remains unresolved. To globally investigate the relative contributions of the two factors for the first time in mammals, we measured splicing difference between C57BL/6J and SPRET/EiJ mouse strains and allele-specific splicing pattern in their F1 hybrid. Out of 11,818 alternative splicing events expressed in the cultured fibroblast cells, we identified 796 with significant difference between the parental strains. After integrating allele-specific data from F1 hybrid, we demonstrated that these events could be predominately attributed to cis-regulatory variants, including those residing at and beyond canonical splicing sites. Contrary to previous observations in Drosophila, such predominant contribution was consistently observed across different types of alternative splicing. Further analysis of liver tissues from the same mouse strains and reanalysis of published datasets on other strains showed similar trends, implying in general the predominant contribution of cis-regulatory changes in the evolution of mouse alternative splicing. © 2015 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.


July 19, 2019  |  

Reconstructing complex regions of genomes using long-read sequencing technology.

Obtaining high-quality sequence continuity of complex regions of recent segmental duplication remains one of the major challenges of finishing genome assemblies. In the human and mouse genomes, this was achieved by targeting large-insert clones using costly and laborious capillary-based sequencing approaches. Sanger shotgun sequencing of clone inserts, however, has now been largely abandoned, leaving most of these regions unresolved in newer genome assemblies generated primarily by next-generation sequencing hybrid approaches. Here we show that it is possible to resolve regions that are complex in a genome-wide context but simple in isolation for a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods using long-read single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing and assembly technology from Pacific Biosciences (PacBio). We sequenced and assembled BAC clones corresponding to a 1.3-Mbp complex region of chromosome 17q21.31, demonstrating 99.994% identity to Sanger assemblies of the same clones. We targeted 44 differences using Illumina sequencing and find that PacBio and Sanger assemblies share a comparable number of validated variants, albeit with different sequence context biases. Finally, we targeted a poorly assembled 766-kbp duplicated region of the chimpanzee genome and resolved the structure and organization for a fraction of the cost and time of traditional finishing approaches. Our data suggest a straightforward path for upgrading genomes to a higher quality finished state.


July 19, 2019  |  

ATM kinase is required for telomere elongation in mouse and human cells.

Short telomeres induce a DNA damage response, senescence, and apoptosis, thus maintaining telomere length equilibrium is essential for cell viability. Telomerase addition of telomere repeats is tightly regulated in cells. To probe pathways that regulate telomere addition, we developed the ADDIT assay to measure new telomere addition at a single telomere in vivo. Sequence analysis showed telomerase-specific addition of repeats onto a new telomere occurred in just 48 hr. Using the ADDIT assay, we found that ATM is required for addition of new repeats onto telomeres in mouse cells. Evaluation of bulk telomeres, in both human and mouse cells, showed that blocking ATM inhibited telomere elongation. Finally, the activation of ATM through the inhibition of PARP1 resulted in increased telomere elongation, supporting the central role of the ATM pathway in regulating telomere addition. Understanding this role of ATM may yield new areas for possible therapeutic intervention in telomere-mediated disease. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Tandem repeats in rodents genome and their mapping.

Tandemly-repeated sequences represent a unique class of eukaryotic DNA. Their content in the genome of higher eukaryotes mounts to tens of percents. However, the evolution of this class of sequences is poorly-studied. In our paper, 62 families of Mus musculus tandem repeats are analyzed by bioinformatic methods, and 7 of them are analyzed by fluorescence in situ hybridization. It is shown that the same tandem repeat sets co-occure only in closely related species of mice. But even in such species we observe differences in localization on the chromosomes and the number of individual tandem repeats. With increasing evolutionary distance only some of the tandem repeat families remain common for different species. It is shown, that the use of a combination of bioinformatics and molecular biology techniques is very perspective for further studies of the evolution of tandem repeats.


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