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 7, 2019  |  

Filling in the gap of human chromosome 4: Single Molecule Real Time sequencing of macrosatellite repeats in the facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy locus.

A majority of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by contraction of macrosatellite repeats called D4Z4 that are located in the subtelomeric region of human chromosome 4q35. Sequencing the FSHD locus has been technically challenging due to its long size and nearly identical nature of repeat elements. Here we report sequencing and partial assembly of a BAC clone carrying an entire FSHD locus by a single molecule real time (SMRT) sequencing technology which could produce long reads up to about 18 kb containing D4Z4 repeats. De novo assembly by Hierarchical Genome Assembly Process 1 (HGAP.1) yielded a contig of 41 kb containing all but a part of the most distal D4Z4 element. The validity of the sequence model was confirmed by an independent approach employing anchored multiple sequence alignment by Kalign using reads containing unique flanking sequences. Our data will provide a basis for further optimization of sequencing and assembly conditions of D4Z4.

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