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January 1, 2019

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…

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January 1, 2019

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…

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November 1, 2018

High inter- and intraspecific turnover of satellite repeats in great apes

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 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…

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July 1, 2018

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…

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June 1, 2018

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…

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May 1, 2018

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…

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March 1, 2018

Coupling of single molecule, long read sequencing with IMGT/HighV-QUEST analysis expedites identification of SIV gp140-specific antibodies from scFv phage display libraries.

The simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/macaque model of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pathogenesis is critical for furthering our understanding of the role of antibody responses in the prevention of HIV infection, and will only increase in importance as macaque immunoglobulin (IG) gene databases are expanded. We have previously reported the construction of a phage display library from a SIV-infected rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) using oligonucleotide primers based on human IG gene sequences. Our previous screening relied on Sanger sequencing, which was inefficient and generated only a few dozen sequences. Here, we re-analyzed this library using single molecule, real-time (SMRT)…

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January 1, 2018

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…

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November 13, 2017

Novel full-length major histocompatibility complex class I allele discovery and haplotype definition in pig-tailed macaques.

Pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina, Mane) are important models for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) studies. Their infectability with minimally modified HIV makes them a uniquely valuable animal model to mimic human infection with HIV and progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, variation in the pig-tailed macaque major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and the impact of individual transcripts on the pathogenesis of HIV and other infectious diseases is understudied compared to that of rhesus and cynomolgus macaques. In this study, we used Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time circular consensus sequencing to describe full-length MHC class I (MHC-I) transcripts for 194 pig-tailed macaques from…

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November 1, 2017

A 3-way hybrid approach to generate a new high-quality chimpanzee reference genome (Pan_tro_3.0).

The chimpanzee is arguably the most important species for the study of human origins. A key resource for these studies is a high-quality reference genome assembly; however, as with most mammalian genomes, the current iteration of the chimpanzee reference genome assembly is highly fragmented. In the current iteration of the chimpanzee reference genome assembly (Pan_tro_2.1.4), the sequence is scattered across more then 183 000 contigs, incorporating more than 159 000 gaps, with a genome-wide contig N50 of 51 Kbp. In this work, we produce an extensive and diverse array of sequencing datasets to rapidly assemble a new chimpanzee reference that…

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October 1, 2017

Isoform evolution in primates through independent combination of alternative RNA processing events.

Recent RNA-seq technology revealed thousands of splicing events that are under rapid evolution in primates, whereas the reliability of these events, as well as their combination on the isoform level, have not been adequately addressed due to its limited sequencing length. Here, we performed comparative transcriptome analyses in human and rhesus macaque cerebellum using single molecule long-read sequencing (Iso-seq) and matched RNA-seq. Besides 359 million RNA-seq reads, 4,165,527 Iso-seq reads were generated with a mean length of 14,875?bp, covering 11,466 human genes, and 10,159 macaque genes. With Iso-seq data, we substantially expanded the repertoire of alternative RNA processing events in…

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October 1, 2017

MHC class I diversity in chimpanzees and bonobos.

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes are critically involved in the defense against intracellular pathogens. MHC diversity comparisons among samples of closely related taxa may reveal traces of past or ongoing selective processes. The bonobo and chimpanzee are the closest living evolutionary relatives of humans and last shared a common ancestor some 1 mya. However, little is known concerning MHC class I diversity in bonobos or in central chimpanzees, the most numerous and genetically diverse chimpanzee subspecies. Here, we used a long-read sequencing technology (PacBio) to sequence the classical MHC class I genes A, B, C, and A-like in…

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September 27, 2017

RNAi-based treatment of chronically infected patients and chimpanzees reveals that integrated hepatitis B virus DNA is a source of HBsAg.

Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major health concern worldwide, frequently leading to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Evidence suggests that high viral antigen load may play a role in chronicity. Production of viral proteins is thought to depend on transcription of viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). In a human clinical trial with an RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapeutic targeting HBV transcripts, ARC-520, HBV S antigen (HBsAg) was strongly reduced in treatment-naïve patients positive for HBV e antigen (HBeAg) but was reduced significantly less in patients who were HBeAg-negative or had received long-term therapy with nucleos(t)ide…

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July 1, 2017

Whole genome sequencing predicts novel human disease models in rhesus macaques.

Rhesus macaques are an important pre-clinical model of human disease. To advance our understanding of genomic variation that may influence disease, we surveyed genome-wide variation in 21 rhesus macaques. We employed best-practice variant calling, validated with Mendelian inheritance. Next, we used alignment data from our cohort to detect genomic regions likely to produce inaccurate genotypes, potentially due to either gene duplication or structural variation between individuals. We generated a final dataset of >16 million high confidence variants, including 13 million in Chinese-origin rhesus macaques, an increasingly important disease model. We detected an average of 131 mutations predicted to severely alter…

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