June 1, 2021  |  

Epigenome characterization of human genomes using the PacBio platform

In addition to the genome and transcriptome, epigenetic information is essential to understand biological processes and their regulation, and their misregulation underlying disease. Traditionally, epigenetic DNA modifications are detected using upfront sample preparation steps such as bisulfite conversion, followed by sequencing. Bisulfite sequencing has provided a wealth of knowledge about human epigenetics, however it does not access the entire genome due to limitations in read length and GC- bias of the sequencing technologies used. In contrast, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) DNA Sequencing is unique in that it can detect DNA base modifications as part of the sequencing process. It can thereby leverage the long read lengths and lack of GC bias for more comprehensive views of the human epigenome. I will highlight several examples of this capability towards the generation of new biological insights, including the resolution of methylation states in repetitive and GC-rich regions of the genome, and large-scale changes in the methylation status across a cancer genome as a function of drug sensitivity.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome in a Bottle: You’ve sequenced. How well did you do?

Purpose: Clinical laboratories, research laboratories and technology developers all need DNA samples with reliably known genotypes in order to help validate and improve their methods. The Genome in a Bottle Consortium (genomeinabottle.org) has been developing Reference Materials with high-accuracy whole genome sequences to support these efforts.Methodology: Our pilot reference material is based on Coriell sample NA12878 and was released in May 2015 as NIST RM 8398 (tinyurl.com/giabpilot). To minimize bias and improve accuracy, 11 whole-genome and 3 exome data sets produced using 5 different technologies were integrated using a systematic arbitration method [1]. The Genome in a Bottle Analysis Group is adapting these methods and developing new methods to characterize 2 families, one Asian and one Ashkenazi Jewish from the Personal Genome Project, which are consented for public release of sequencing and phenotype data. We have generated a larger and even more diverse data set on these samples, including high-depth Illumina paired-end and mate-pair, Complete Genomics, and Ion Torrent short-read data, as well as Moleculo, 10X, Oxford Nanopore, PacBio, and BioNano Genomics long-read data. We are analyzing these data to provide an accurate assessment of not just small variants but also large structural variants (SVs) in both “easy” regions of the genome and in some “hard” repetitive regions. We have also made all of the input data sources publicly available for download, analysis, and publication.Results: Our arbitration method produced a reference data set of 2,787,291 single nucleotide variants (SNVs), 365,135 indels, 2744 SVs, and 2.2 billion homozygous reference calls for our pilot genome. We found that our call set is highly sensitive and specific in comparison to independent reference data sets. We have also generated preliminary assemblies and structural variant calls for the next 2 trios from long read data and are currently integrating and validating these.Discussion: We combined the strengths of each of our input datasets to develop a comprehensive and accurate benchmark call set. In the short time it has been available, over 20 published or submitted papers have used our data. Many challenges exist in comparing to our benchmark calls, and thus we have worked with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health to develop standardized methods, performance metrics, and software to assist in its use.[1] Zook et al, Nat Biotech. 2014.


July 19, 2019  |  

Characterization of DNA methyltransferase specificities using single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing.

DNA methylation is the most common form of DNA modification in prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. We have applied the method of single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing that is capable of direct detection of modified bases at single-nucleotide resolution to characterize the specificity of several bacterial DNA methyltransferases (MTases). In addition to previously described SMRT sequencing of N6-methyladenine and 5-methylcytosine, we show that N4-methylcytosine also has a specific kinetic signature and is therefore identifiable using this approach. We demonstrate for all three prokaryotic methylation types that SMRT sequencing confirms the identity and position of the methylated base in cases where the MTase specificity was previously established by other methods. We then applied the method to determine the sequence context and methylated base identity for three MTases with unknown specificities. In addition, we also find evidence of unanticipated MTase promiscuity with some enzymes apparently also modifying sequences that are related, but not identical, to the cognate site.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantitative and multiplexed DNA methylation analysis using long-read single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing (SMRT-BS).

DNA methylation has essential roles in transcriptional regulation, imprinting, X chromosome inactivation and other cellular processes, and aberrant CpG methylation is directly involved in the pathogenesis of human imprinting disorders and many cancers. To address the need for a quantitative and highly multiplexed bisulfite sequencing method with long read lengths for targeted CpG methylation analysis, we developed single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing (SMRT-BS).Optimized bisulfite conversion and PCR conditions enabled the amplification of DNA fragments up to ~1.5 kb, and subjecting overlapping 625-1491 bp amplicons to SMRT-BS indicated high reproducibility across all amplicon lengths (r?=?0.972) and low standard deviations (=0.10) between individual CpG sites sequenced in triplicate. Higher variability in CpG methylation quantitation was correlated with reduced sequencing depth, particularly for intermediately methylated regions. SMRT-BS was validated by orthogonal bisulfite-based microarray (r?=?0.906; 42 CpG sites) and second generation sequencing (r?=?0.933; 174 CpG sites); however, longer SMRT-BS amplicons (>1.0 kb) had reduced, but very acceptable, correlation with both orthogonal methods (r?=?0.836-0.897 and r?=?0.892-0.927, respectively) compared to amplicons less than ~1.0 kb (r?=?0.940-0.951 and r?=?0.948-0.963, respectively). Multiplexing utility was assessed by simultaneously subjecting four distinct CpG island amplicons (702-866 bp; 325 CpGs) and 30 hematological malignancy cell lines to SMRT-BS (average depth of 110X), which identified a spectrum of highly quantitative methylation levels across all interrogated CpG sites and cell lines.SMRT-BS is a novel, accurate and cost-effective targeted CpG methylation method that is amenable to a high degree of multiplexing with minimal clonal PCR artifacts. Increased sequencing depth is necessary when interrogating longer amplicons (>1.0 kb) and the previously reported bisulfite sequencing PCR bias towards unmethylated DNA should be considered when measuring intermediately methylated regions. Coupled with an optimized bisulfite PCR protocol, SMRT-BS is capable of interrogating ~1.5 kb amplicons, which theoretically can cover ~91% of CpG islands in the human genome.


July 19, 2019  |  

CGGBP1 mitigates cytosine methylation at repetitive DNA sequences.

CGGBP1 is a repetitive DNA-binding transcription regulator with target sites at CpG-rich sequences such as CGG repeats and Alu-SINEs and L1-LINEs. The role of CGGBP1 as a possible mediator of CpG methylation however remains unknown. At CpG-rich sequences cytosine methylation is a major mechanism of transcriptional repression. Concordantly, gene-rich regions typically carry lower levels of CpG methylation than the repetitive elements. It is well known that at interspersed repeats Alu-SINEs and L1-LINEs high levels of CpG methylation constitute a transcriptional silencing and retrotransposon inactivating mechanism.Here, we have studied genome-wide CpG methylation with or without CGGBP1-depletion. By high throughput sequencing of bisulfite-treated genomic DNA we have identified CGGBP1 to be a negative regulator of CpG methylation at repetitive DNA sequences. In addition, we have studied CpG methylation alterations on Alu and L1 retrotransposons in CGGBP1-depleted cells using a novel bisulfite-treatment and high throughput sequencing approach.The results clearly show that CGGBP1 is a possible bidirectional regulator of CpG methylation at Alus, and acts as a repressor of methylation at L1 retrotransposons.


July 19, 2019  |  

Single molecule-level detection and long read-based phasing of epigenetic variations in bacterial methylomes.

Beyond its role in host defense, bacterial DNA methylation also plays important roles in the regulation of gene expression, virulence and antibiotic resistance. Bacterial cells in a clonal population can generate epigenetic heterogeneity to increase population-level phenotypic plasticity. Single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing enables the detection of N6-methyladenine and N4-methylcytosine, two major types of DNA modifications comprising the bacterial methylome. However, existing SMRT sequencing-based methods for studying bacterial methylomes rely on a population-level consensus that lacks the single-cell resolution required to observe epigenetic heterogeneity. Here, we present SMALR (single-molecule modification analysis of long reads), a novel framework for single molecule-level detection and phasing of DNA methylation. Using seven bacterial strains, we show that SMALR yields significantly improved resolution and reveals distinct types of epigenetic heterogeneity. SMALR is a powerful new tool that enables de novo detection of epigenetic heterogeneity and empowers investigation of its functions in bacterial populations.


July 19, 2019  |  

Detection and screening of chromosomal rearrangements in uterine leiomyomas by long-distance inverse PCR.

Genome instability is a hallmark of many tumors and recently, next-generation sequencing methods have enabled analyses of tumor genomes at an unprecedented level. Studying rearrangement-prone chromosomal regions (putative “breakpoint hotspots”) in detail, however, necessitates molecular assays that can detect de novo DNA fusions arising from these hotspots. Here we demonstrate the utility of a long-distance inverse PCR-based method for the detection and screening of de novo DNA rearrangements in uterine leiomyomas, one of the most common types of human neoplasm. This assay allows in principle any genomic region suspected of instability to be queried for DNA rearrangements originating there. No prior knowledge of the identity of the fusion partner chromosome is needed. We used this method to screen uterine leiomyomas for rearrangements at genomic locations known to be rearrangement-prone in this tumor type: upstream HMGA2 and within RAD51B. We identified a novel DNA rearrangement upstream of HMGA2 that had gone undetected in an earlier whole-genome sequencing study. In more than 30 additional uterine leiomyoma samples, not analyzed by whole-genome sequencing previously, no rearrangements were observed within the 1,107 bp and 1,996 bp assayed in the RAD51B and HMGA2 rearrangement hotspots. Our findings show that long-distance inverse PCR is a robust, sensitive, and cost-effective method for the detection and screening of DNA rearrangements from solid tumors that should be useful for many diagnostic applications. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


July 19, 2019  |  

AgIn: Measuring the landscape of CpG methylation of individual repetitive elements.

Determining the methylation state of regions with high copy numbers is challenging for second-generation sequencing, because the read length is insufficient to map reads uniquely, especially when repetitive regions are long and nearly identical to each other. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing is a promising method for observing such regions, because it is not vulnerable to GC bias, it produces long read lengths, and its kinetic information is sensitive to DNA modifications.We propose a novel linear-time algorithm that combines the kinetic information for neighboring CpG sites and increases the confidence in identifying the methylation states of those sites. Using a practical read coverage of ~30-fold from an inbred strain medaka (Oryzias latipes), we observed that both the sensitivity and precision of our method on individual CpG sites were ~93.7%. We also observed a high correlation coefficient (R?=?0.884) between our method and bisulfite sequencing, and for 92.0% of CpG sites, methylation levels ranging over [0, 1] were in concordance within an acceptable difference 0.25. Using this method, we characterized the landscape of the methylation status of repetitive elements, such as LINEs, in the human genome, thereby revealing the strong correlation between CpG density and hypomethylation and detecting hypomethylation hot spots of LTRs and LINEs. We uncovered the methylation states for nearly identical active transposons, two novel LINE insertions of identity ~99% and length 6050 base pairs (bp) in the human genome, and 16 Tol2 elements of identity >99.8% and length 4682?bp in the medaka genome.AgIn (Aggregate on Intervals) is available at: https://github.com/hacone/AgIn CONTACT: ysuzuki@cb.k.u-tokyo.ac.jp, moris@cb.k.u-tokyo.ac.jp SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. © The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press.


July 19, 2019  |  

Centromere evolution and CpG methylation during vertebrate speciation.

Centromeres and large-scale structural variants evolve and contribute to genome diversity during vertebrate speciation. Here, we perform de novo long-read genome assembly of three inbred medaka strains that are derived from geographically isolated subpopulations and undergo speciation. Using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, we obtain three chromosome-mapped genomes of length ~734, ~678, and ~744Mbp with a resource of twenty-two centromeric regions of length 20-345kbp. Centromeres are positionally conserved among the three strains and even between four pairs of chromosomes that were duplicated by the teleost-specific whole-genome duplication 320-350 million years ago. The centromeres do not all evolve at a similar pace; rather, centromeric monomers in non-acrocentric chromosomes evolve significantly faster than those in acrocentric chromosomes. Using methylation sensitive SMRT reads, we uncover centromeres are mostly hypermethylated but have hypomethylated sub-regions that acquire unique sequence compositions independently. These findings reveal the potential of non-acrocentric centromere evolution to contribute to speciation.


July 7, 2019  |  

The genome and methylome of a beetle with complex social behavior, Nicrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera: Silphidae).

Testing for conserved and novel mechanisms underlying phenotypic evolution requires a diversity of genomes available for comparison spanning multiple independent lineages. For example, complex social behavior in insects has been investigated primarily with eusocial lineages, nearly all of which are Hymenoptera. If conserved genomic influences on sociality do exist, we need data from a wider range of taxa that also vary in their levels of sociality. Here, we present the assembled and annotated genome of the subsocial beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, a species long used to investigate evolutionary questions of complex social behavior. We used this genome to address two questions. First, do aspects of life history, such as using a carcass to breed, predict overlap in gene models more strongly than phylogeny? We found that the overlap in gene models was similar between N. vespilloides and all other insect groups regardless of life history. Second, like other insects with highly developed social behavior but unlike other beetles, does N. vespilloides have DNA methylation? We found strong evidence for an active DNA methylation system. The distribution of methylation was similar to other insects with exons having the most methylated CpGs. Methylation status appears highly conserved; 85% of the methylated genes in N. vespilloides are also methylated in the hymentopteran Nasonia vitripennis. The addition of this genome adds a coleopteran resource to answer questions about the evolution and mechanistic basis of sociality and to address questions about the potential role of methylation in social behavior. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

Dam and Dcm methylations prevent gene transfer into Clostridium pasteurianum NRRL B-598: development of methods for electrotransformation, conjugation, and sonoporation.

Butanol is currently one of the most discussed biofuels. Its use provides many benefits in comparison to bio-ethanol, but the price of its fermentative production is still high. Genetic improvements could help solve many problems associated with butanol production during ABE fermentation, such as its toxicity, low concentration achievable in the cultivation medium, the need for a relatively expensive substrate, and many more. Clostridium pasteurianum NRRL B-598 is non-type strain producing butanol, acetone, and a negligible amount of ethanol. Its main benefits are high oxygen tolerance, utilization of a wide range of carbon and nitrogen sources, and the availability of its whole genome sequence. However, there is no established method for the transfer of foreign DNA into this strain; this is the next step necessary for progress in its use for butanol production.We have described functional protocols for conjugation and transformation of the bio-butanol producer C. pasteurianum NRRL B-598 by foreign plasmid DNA. We show that the use of unmethylated plasmid DNA is necessary for efficient transformation or successful conjugation. Genes encoding DNA methylation and those for restriction-modification systems and antibiotic resistance were searched for in the whole genome sequence and their homologies with other clostridial bacteria were determined. Furthermore, activity of described novel type I restriction system was proved experimentally. The described electrotransformation protocol achieved an efficiency 1.2 × 10(2) cfu/µg DNA after step-by-step optimization and an efficiency of 1.6 × 10(2) cfu/µg DNA was achieved by the sonoporation technique using a standard laboratory ultrasound bath. The highest transformation efficiency was achieved using a combination of these approaches; sono/electroporation led to an increase in transformation efficiency, to 5.3 × 10(2) cfu/µg DNA.Both Dam and Dcm methylations are detrimental for transformation of C. pasteurianum NRRL B-598. Methods for conjugation, electroporation, sonoporation, and a combined method for sono/electroporation were established for this strain. The methods described could be used for genetic improvement of this strain, which is suitable for bio-butanol production.


July 7, 2019  |  

Single-locus enrichment without amplification for sequencing and direct detection of epigenetic modifications.

A gene-level targeted enrichment method for direct detection of epigenetic modifications is described. The approach is demonstrated on the CGG-repeat region of the FMR1 gene, for which large repeat expansions, hitherto refractory to sequencing, are known to cause fragile X syndrome. In addition to achieving a single-locus enrichment of nearly 700,000-fold, the elimination of all amplification steps removes PCR-induced bias in the repeat count and preserves the native epigenetic modifications of the DNA. In conjunction with the single-molecule real-time sequencing approach, this enrichment method enables direct readout of the methylation status and the CGG repeat number of the FMR1 allele(s) for a clonally derived cell line. The current method avoids potential biases introduced through chemical modification and/or amplification methods for indirect detection of CpG methylation events.


July 7, 2019  |  

A viral immunity chromosome in the marine picoeukaryote, Ostreococcus tauri.

Micro-algae of the genus Ostreococcus and related species of the order Mamiellales are globally distributed in the photic zone of world’s oceans where they contribute to fixation of atmospheric carbon and production of oxygen, besides providing a primary source of nutrition in the food web. Their tiny size, simple cells, ease of culture, compact genomes and susceptibility to the most abundant large DNA viruses in the sea render them attractive as models for integrative marine biology. In culture, spontaneous resistance to viruses occurs frequently. Here, we show that virus-producing resistant cell lines arise in many independent cell lines during lytic infections, but over two years, more and more of these lines stop producing viruses. We observed sweeping over-expression of all genes in more than half of chromosome 19 in resistant lines, and karyotypic analyses showed physical rearrangements of this chromosome. Chromosome 19 has an unusual genetic structure whose equivalent is found in all of the sequenced genomes in this ecologically important group of green algae.


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