June 1, 2021  |  

Genomic Architecture of the KIR and MHC-B and -C Regions in Orangutan

PacBio 2013 User Group Meeting Presentation Slides: Lisbeth Guethlein from Stanford University School of Medicine looked at highly repetitive and variable immune regions of the orangutan genome. Guethlein reported that “PacBio managed to accomplish in a week what I have been working on for a couple years” (with Sanger sequencing), and the results were concordant. “Long story short, I was a happy customer.”


June 1, 2021  |  

Immune regions are no longer incomprehensible with SMRT Sequencing

The complex immune regions of the genome, including MHC and KIR, contain large copy number variants (CNVs), a high density of genes, hyper-polymorphic gene alleles, and conserved extended haplotypes (CEH) with enormous linkage disequilibrium (LDs). This level of complexity and inherent biases of short-read sequencing make it challenging for extracting immune region haplotype information from reference-reliant, shotgun sequencing and GWAS methods. As NGS based genome and exome sequencing and SNP arrays have become a routine for population studies, numerous efforts are being made for developing software to extract and or impute the immune gene information from these datasets. Despite these efforts, the fine mapping of causal variants of immune genes for their well-documented association with cancer, drug-induced hypersensitivity and immune-related diseases, has been slower than expected. This has in many ways limited our understanding of the mechanisms leading to immune disease. In the present work, we demonstrate the advantages of long reads delivered by SMRT Sequencing for assembling complete haplotypes of MHC and KIR gene clusters, as well as calling correct genotypes of genes comprised within them. All the genotype information is detected at allele- level with full phasing information across SNP-poor regions. Genotypes were called correctly from targeted gene amplicons, haplotypes, as well as from a completely assembled 5 Mb contig of the MHC region from a de novo assembly of whole genome shotgun data. De novo analysis pipeline used in all these approaches allowed for reference-free analysis without imputation, a key for interrogation without prior knowledge about ethnic backgrounds. These methods are thus easily adoptable for previously uncharacterized human or non-human species.


April 21, 2020  |  

High satellite repeat turnover in great apes studied with short- and long-read technologies.

Satellite repeats are a structural component of centromeres and telomeres, and in some instances their divergence is known to drive speciation. Due to their highly repetitive nature, satellite sequences have been understudied and underrepresented in genome assemblies. To investigate their turnover in great apes, we studied satellite repeats of unit sizes up to 50?bp in human, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, using unassembled short and long sequencing reads. The density of satellite repeats, as identified from accurate short reads (Illumina), varied greatly among great ape genomes. These were dominated by a handful of abundant repeated motifs, frequently shared among species, which formed two groups: (1) the (AATGG)n repeat (critical for heat shock response) and its derivatives; and (2) subtelomeric 32-mers involved in telomeric metabolism. Using the densities of abundant repeats, individuals could be classified into species. However clustering did not reproduce the accepted species phylogeny, suggesting rapid repeat evolution. Several abundant repeats were enriched in males vs. females; using Y chromosome assemblies or FIuorescent In Situ Hybridization, we validated their location on the Y. Finally, applying a novel computational tool, we identified many satellite repeats completely embedded within long Oxford Nanopore and Pacific Biosciences reads. Such repeats were up to 59?kb in length and consisted of perfect repeats interspersed with other similar sequences. Our results based on sequencing reads generated with three different technologies provide the first detailed characterization of great ape satellite repeats, and open new avenues for exploring their functions. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

The comparative genomics and complex population history of Papio baboons.

Recent studies suggest that closely related species can accumulate substantial genetic and phenotypic differences despite ongoing gene flow, thus challenging traditional ideas regarding the genetics of speciation. Baboons (genus Papio) are Old World monkeys consisting of six readily distinguishable species. Baboon species hybridize in the wild, and prior data imply a complex history of differentiation and introgression. We produced a reference genome assembly for the olive baboon (Papio anubis) and whole-genome sequence data for all six extant species. We document multiple episodes of admixture and introgression during the radiation of Papio baboons, thus demonstrating their value as a model of complex evolutionary divergence, hybridization, and reticulation. These results help inform our understanding of similar cases, including modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other ancient hominins.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic inversions and GOLGA core duplicons underlie disease instability at the 15q25 locus.

Human chromosome 15q25 is involved in several disease-associated structural rearrangements, including microdeletions and chromosomal markers with inverted duplications. Using comparative fluorescence in situ hybridization, strand-sequencing, single-molecule, real-time sequencing and Bionano optical mapping analyses, we investigated the organization of the 15q25 region in human and nonhuman primates. We found that two independent inversions occurred in this region after the fission event that gave rise to phylogenetic chromosomes XIV and XV in humans and great apes. One of these inversions is still polymorphic in the human population today and may confer differential susceptibility to 15q25 microdeletions and inverted duplications. The inversion breakpoints map within segmental duplications containing core duplicons of the GOLGA gene family and correspond to the site of an ancestral centromere, which became inactivated about 25 million years ago. The inactivation of this centromere likely released segmental duplications from recombination repression typical of centromeric regions. We hypothesize that this increased the frequency of ectopic recombination creating a hotspot of hominid inversions where dispersed GOLGA core elements now predispose this region to recurrent genomic rearrangements associated with disease.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of Mauritian cynomolgus macaque Fc?R alleles using long-read sequencing.

The Fc?Rs are immune cell surface proteins that bind IgG and facilitate cytokine production, phagocytosis, and Ab-dependent, cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Fc?Rs play a critical role in immunity; variation in these genes is implicated in autoimmunity and other diseases. Cynomolgus macaques are an excellent animal model for many human diseases, and Mauritian cynomolgus macaques (MCMs) are particularly useful because of their restricted genetic diversity. Previous studies of MCM immune gene diversity have focused on the MHC and killer cell Ig-like receptor. In this study, we characterize Fc?R diversity in 48 MCMs using PacBio long-read sequencing to identify novel alleles of each of the four expressed MCM Fc?R genes. We also developed a high-throughput Fc?R genotyping assay, which we used to determine allele frequencies and identify Fc?R haplotypes in more than 500 additional MCMs. We found three alleles for Fc?R1A, seven each for Fc?R2A and Fc?R2B, and four for Fc?R3A; these segregate into eight haplotypes. We also assessed whether different Fc?R alleles confer different Ab-binding affinities by surface plasmon resonance and found minimal difference in binding affinities across alleles for a panel of wild type and Fc-engineered human IgG. This work suggests that although MCMs may not fully represent the diversity of Fc?R responses in humans, they may offer highly reproducible results for mAb therapy and toxicity studies. Copyright © 2018 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read assembly of the Chinese rhesus macaque genome and identification of ape-specific structural variants.

We present a high-quality de novo genome assembly (rheMacS) of the Chinese rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) using long-read sequencing and multiplatform scaffolding approaches. Compared to the current Indian rhesus macaque reference genome (rheMac8), rheMacS increases sequence contiguity 75-fold, closing 21,940 of the remaining assembly gaps (60.8 Mbp). We improve gene annotation by generating more than two million full-length transcripts from ten different tissues by long-read RNA sequencing. We sequence resolve 53,916 structural variants (96% novel) and identify 17,000 ape-specific structural variants (ASSVs) based on comparison to ape genomes. Many ASSVs map within ChIP-seq predicted enhancer regions where apes and macaque show diverged enhancer activity and gene expression. We further characterize a subset that may contribute to ape- or great-ape-specific phenotypic traits, including taillessness, brain volume expansion, improved manual dexterity, and large body size. The rheMacS genome assembly serves as an ideal reference for future biomedical and evolutionary studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

The role of MHC-E in T cell immunity is conserved among humans, rhesus macaques, and cynomolgus macaques.

MHC-E is a highly conserved nonclassical MHC class Ib molecule that predominantly binds and presents MHC class Ia leader sequence-derived peptides for NK cell regulation. However, MHC-E also binds pathogen-derived peptide Ags for presentation to CD8+ T cells. Given this role in adaptive immunity and its highly monomorphic nature in the human population, HLA-E is an attractive target for novel vaccine and immunotherapeutic modalities. Development of HLA-E-targeted therapies will require a physiologically relevant animal model that recapitulates HLA-E-restricted T cell biology. In this study, we investigated MHC-E immunobiology in two common nonhuman primate species, Indian-origin rhesus macaques (RM) and Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques (MCM). Compared to humans and MCM, RM expressed a greater number of MHC-E alleles at both the population and individual level. Despite this difference, human, RM, and MCM MHC-E molecules were expressed at similar levels across immune cell subsets, equivalently upregulated by viral pathogens, and bound and presented identical peptides to CD8+ T cells. Indeed, SIV-specific, Mamu-E-restricted CD8+ T cells from RM recognized antigenic peptides presented by all MHC-E molecules tested, including cross-species recognition of human and MCM SIV-infected CD4+ T cells. Thus, MHC-E is functionally conserved among humans, RM, and MCM, and both RM and MCM represent physiologically relevant animal models of HLA-E-restricted T cell immunobiology. Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Recurrent structural variation, clustered sites of selection, and disease risk for the complement factor H (CFH) gene family.

Structural variation and single-nucleotide variation of the complement factor H (CFH) gene family underlie several complex genetic diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS). To understand its diversity and evolution, we performed high-quality sequencing of this ~360-kbp locus in six primate lineages, including multiple human haplotypes. Comparative sequence analyses reveal two distinct periods of gene duplication leading to the emergence of four CFH-related (CFHR) gene paralogs (CFHR2 and CFHR4 ~25-35 Mya and CFHR1 and CFHR3 ~7-13 Mya). Remarkably, all evolutionary breakpoints share a common ~4.8-kbp segment corresponding to an ancestral CFHR gene promoter that has expanded independently throughout primate evolution. This segment is recurrently reused and juxtaposed with a donor duplication containing exons 8 and 9 from ancestral CFH, creating four CFHR fusion genes that include lineage-specific members of the gene family. Combined analysis of >5,000 AMD cases and controls identifies a significant burden of a rare missense mutation that clusters at the N terminus of CFH [P = 5.81 × 10-8, odds ratio (OR) = 9.8 (3.67-Infinity)]. A bipolar clustering pattern of rare nonsynonymous mutations in patients with AMD (P < 10-3) and AHUS (P = 0.0079) maps to functional domains that show evidence of positive selection during primate evolution. Our structural variation analysis in >2,400 individuals reveals five recurrent rearrangement breakpoints that show variable frequency among AMD cases and controls. These data suggest a dynamic and recurrent pattern of mutation critical to the emergence of new CFHR genes but also in the predisposition to complex human genetic disease phenotypes.


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  |  

Next-generation approaches to advancing eco-immunogenomic research in critically endangered primates.

High-throughput sequencing platforms are generating massive amounts of genomic data from nonmodel species, and these data sets are valuable resources that can be mined to advance a number of research areas. An example is the growing amount of transcriptome data that allow for examination of gene expression in nonmodel species. Here, we show how publicly available transcriptome data from nonmodel primates can be used to design novel research focused on immunogenomics. We mined transcriptome data from the world’s most endangered group of primates, the lemurs of Madagascar, for sequences corresponding to immunoglobulins. Our results confirmed homology between strepsirrhine and haplorrhine primate immunoglobulins and allowed for high-throughput sequencing of expressed antibodies (Ig-seq) in Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli). Using both Pacific Biosciences RS and Ion Torrent PGM sequencing, we performed Ig-seq on two individuals of Coquerel’s sifaka. We generated over 150 000 sequences of expressed antibodies, allowing for molecular characterization of the antigen-binding region. Our analyses suggest that similar VDJ expression patterns exist across all primates, with sequences closely related to the human VH 3 immunoglobulin family being heavily represented in sifaka antibodies. Moreover, the antigen-binding region of sifaka antibodies exhibited similar amino acid variation with respect to haplorrhine primates. Our study represents the first attempt to characterize sequence diversity of the expressed antibody repertoire in a species of lemur. We anticipate that methods similar to ours will provide the framework for investigating the adaptive immune response in wild populations of other nonmodel organisms and can be used to advance the burgeoning field of eco-immunology. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution comparative analysis of great ape genomes.

Genetic studies of human evolution require high-quality contiguous ape genome assemblies that are not guided by the human reference. We coupled long-read sequence assembly and full-length complementary DNA sequencing with a multiplatform scaffolding approach to produce ab initio chimpanzee and orangutan genome assemblies. By comparing these with two long-read de novo human genome assemblies and a gorilla genome assembly, we characterized lineage-specific and shared great ape genetic variation ranging from single- to mega-base pair-sized variants. We identified ~17,000 fixed human-specific structural variants identifying genic and putative regulatory changes that have emerged in humans since divergence from nonhuman apes. Interestingly, these variants are enriched near genes that are down-regulated in human compared to chimpanzee cerebral organoids, particularly in cells analogous to radial glial neural progenitors. Copyright © 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


September 22, 2019  |  

No assembly required: Full-length MHC class I allele discovery by PacBio circular consensus sequencing.

Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology with the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RS II platform offers the potential to obtain full-length coding regions (~1100-bp) from MHC class I cDNAs. Despite the relatively high error rate associated with SMRT technology, high quality sequences can be obtained by circular consensus sequencing (CCS) due to the random nature of the error profile. In the present study we first validated the ability of SMRT-CCS to accurately identify class I transcripts in Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) that have been characterized previously by cloning and Sanger-based sequencing as well as pyrosequencing approaches. We then applied this SMRT-CCS method to characterize 60 novel full-length class I transcript sequences expressed by a cohort of cynomolgus macaques from China. The SMRT-CCS method described here provides a straightforward protocol for characterization of unfragmented single-molecule cDNA transcripts that will potentially revolutionize MHC class I allele discovery in nonhuman primates and other species. Published by Elsevier Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Major histocompatibility complex haplotyping and long-amplicon allele discovery in cynomolgus macaques from Chinese breeding facilities.

Very little is currently known about the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region of cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis; Mafa) from Chinese breeding centers. We performed comprehensive MHC class I haplotype analysis of 100 cynomolgus macaques from two different centers, with animals from different reported original geographic origins (Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Cambodian/Indonesian mixed-origin). Many of the samples were of known relation to each other (sire, dam, and progeny sets), making it possible to characterize lineage-level haplotypes in these animals. We identified 52 Mafa-A and 74 Mafa-B haplotypes in this cohort, many of which were restricted to specific sample origins. We also characterized full-length MHC class I transcripts using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RS II single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. This technology allows for complete read-through of unfragmented MHC class I transcripts (~1100 bp in length), so no assembly is required to unambiguously resolve novel full-length sequences. Overall, we identified 311 total full-length transcripts in a subset of 72 cynomolgus macaques from these Chinese breeding facilities; 130 of these sequences were novel and an additional 115 extended existing short database sequences to span the complete open reading frame. This significantly expands the number of Mafa-A, Mafa-B, and Mafa-I full-length alleles in the official cynomolgus macaque MHC class I database. The PacBio technique described here represents a general method for full-length allele discovery and genotyping that can be extended to other complex immune loci such as MHC class II, killer immunoglobulin-like receptors, and Fc gamma receptors.


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