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June 22, 2017

Case Study: SMRT sequencing brings clarity to HIV vaccine and transplant research at the Wisconsin national primate research center

The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) is a leading Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) typing lab that focuses on monkeys. While many scientists are familiar with the importance of characterizing the histocompatibility region of the human genome for applications like disease research or tissue typing before organ transplantation, fewer are aware of the need to accurately type this region in non-human primates. At the primate research lab, part of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, scientists are analyzing immune regions to help test potential HIV vaccines and AIDS therapies. Their work is essential for understanding the effects of treatment ahead of…

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June 17, 2017

An improved Plasmodium cynomolgi genome assembly reveals an unexpected methyltransferase gene expansion.

Plasmodium cynomolgi, a non-human primate malaria parasite species, has been an important model parasite since its discovery in 1907. Similarities in the biology of P. cynomolgi to the closely related, but less tractable, human malaria parasite P. vivax make it the model parasite of choice for liver biology and vaccine studies pertinent to P. vivax malaria. Molecular and genome-scale studies of P. cynomolgi have relied on the current reference genome sequence, which remains highly fragmented with 1,649 unassigned scaffolds and little representation of the subtelomeres.  Methods: Using long-read sequence data (Pacific Biosciences SMRT technology), we assembled and annotated a new…

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May 1, 2017

Improved full-length killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor transcript discovery in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques.

Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) modulate disease progression of pathogens including HIV, malaria, and hepatitis C. Cynomolgus and rhesus macaques are widely used as nonhuman primate models to study human pathogens, and so, considerable effort has been put into characterizing their KIR genetics. However, previous studies have relied on cDNA cloning and Sanger sequencing that lack the throughput of current sequencing platforms. In this study, we present a high throughput, full-length allele discovery method utilizing Pacific Biosciences circular consensus sequencing (CCS). We also describe a new approach to Macaque Exome Sequencing (MES) and the development of the Rhexome1.0, an adapted…

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April 15, 2017

Two orangutan species have evolved different KIR alleles and haplotypes.

The immune and reproductive functions of human NK cells are regulated by interactions of the C1 and C2 epitopes of HLA-C with C1-specific and C2-specific lineage III killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR). This rapidly evolving and diverse system of ligands and receptors is restricted to humans and great apes. In this context, the orangutan has particular relevance because it represents an evolutionary intermediate, one having the C1 epitope and corresponding KIR but lacking the C2 epitope. Through a combination of direct sequencing, KIR genotyping, and data mining from the Great Ape Genome Project, we characterized the KIR alleles and haplotypes…

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April 1, 2017

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…

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January 12, 2017

Characterization of multi-drug resistant Enterococcus faecalis isolated from cephalic recording chambers in research macaques (Macaca spp.).

Nonhuman primates are commonly used for cognitive neuroscience research and often surgically implanted with cephalic recording chambers for electrophysiological recording. Aerobic bacterial cultures from 25 macaques identified 72 bacterial isolates, including 15 Enterococcus faecalis isolates. The E. faecalis isolates displayed multi-drug resistant phenotypes, with resistance to ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, bacitracin, and erythromycin, as well as high-level aminoglycoside resistance. Multi-locus sequence typing showed that most belonged to two E. faecalis sequence types (ST): ST 4 and ST 55. The genomes of three representative isolates were sequenced to identify genes encoding antimicrobial resistances and other traits. Antimicrobial resistance genes identified…

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January 11, 2017

Structure and evolution of the filaggrin gene repeated region in primates

The evolutionary dynamics of repeat sequences is quite complex, with some duplicates never having differentiated from each other. Two models can explain the complex evolutionary process for repeated genes---concerted and birth-and-death, of which the latter is driven by duplications maintained by selection. Copy number variations caused by random duplications and losses in repeat regions may modulate molecular pathways and therefore affect phenotypic characteristics in a population, resulting in individuals that are able to adapt to new environments. In this study, we investigated the filaggrin gene (FLG), which codes for filaggrin---an important component of the outer layers of mammalian skin---and contains…

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September 1, 2016

High-quality genome assembly and annotation for Plasmodium coatneyi, generated using single-molecule real-time PacBio technology.

Plasmodium coatneyi is a protozoan parasite species that causes simian malaria and is an excellent model for studying disease caused by the human malaria parasite, P. falciparum Here we report the complete (nontelomeric) genome sequence of P. coatneyi Hackeri generated by the application of only Pacific Biosciences RS II (PacBio RS II) single-molecule real-time (SMRT) high-resolution sequence technology and assembly using the Hierarchical Genome Assembly Process (HGAP). This is the first Plasmodium genome sequence reported to use only PacBio technology. This approach has proven to be superior to short-read only approaches for this species. Copyright © 2016 Chien et al.

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August 3, 2016

Emergence of a Homo sapiens-specific gene family and chromosome 16p11.2 CNV susceptibility.

Genetic differences that specify unique aspects of human evolution have typically been identified by comparative analyses between the genomes of humans and closely related primates, including more recently the genomes of archaic hominins. Not all regions of the genome, however, are equally amenable to such study. Recurrent copy number variation (CNV) at chromosome 16p11.2 accounts for approximately 1% of cases of autism and is mediated by a complex set of segmental duplications, many of which arose recently during human evolution. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of the locus and identify bolA family member 2 (BOLA2) as a gene duplicated…

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May 10, 2016

Next-generation sequencing-based detection of germline L1-mediated transductions.

While active LINE-1 (L1) elements possess the ability to mobilize flanking sequences to different genomic loci through a process termed transduction influencing genomic content and structure, an approach for detecting polymorphic germline non-reference transductions in massively-parallel sequencing data has been lacking.Here we present the computational approach TIGER (Transduction Inference in GERmline genomes), enabling the discovery of non-reference L1-mediated transductions by combining L1 discovery with detection of unique insertion sequences and detailed characterization of insertion sites. We employed TIGER to characterize polymorphic transductions in fifteen genomes from non-human primate species (chimpanzee, orangutan and rhesus macaque), as well as in a human…

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April 1, 2016

Long-read sequence assembly of the gorilla genome.

Accurate sequence and assembly of genomes is a critical first step for studies of genetic variation. We generated a high-quality assembly of the gorilla genome using single-molecule, real-time sequence technology and a string graph de novo assembly algorithm. The new assembly improves contiguity by two to three orders of magnitude with respect to previously released assemblies, recovering 87% of missing reference exons and incomplete gene models. Although regions of large, high-identity segmental duplications remain largely unresolved, this comprehensive assembly provides new biological insight into genetic diversity, structural variation, gene loss, and representation of repeat structures within the gorilla genome. The…

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February 12, 2016

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…

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February 12, 2016

AGBT Conference: Long-read sequence of the gorilla genome

Christopher Hill presents data from efforts to produce reference-grade assemblies for the great ape species. Using SMRT Sequencing, Hill and his colleagues are generating assemblies with much higher contiguity to resolve repetitive and other particularly complex regions. In this talk, he focuses on data from their new high-quality gorilla assembly.

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December 1, 2015

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…

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