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July 1, 2019

Genetic Variation, Comparative Genomics, and the Diagnosis of Disease.

The discovery of mutations associated with human genetic dis- ease is an exercise in comparative genomics (see Glossary). Although there are many different strategies and approaches, the central premise is that affected persons harbor a significant excess of pathogenic DNA variants as com- pared with a group of unaffected persons (controls) that is either clinically defined1 or established by surveying large swaths of the general population.2 The more exclu- sive the variant is to the disease, the greater its penetrance, the larger its effect size, and the more relevant it becomes to both disease diagnosis and future therapeutic investigation. The…

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July 1, 2019

Long-Read Sequencing – A Powerful Tool in Viral Transcriptome Research.

Long-read sequencing (LRS) has become increasingly popular due to its strengths in de novo assembly and in resolving complex DNA regions as well as in determining full-length RNA molecules. Two important LRS technologies have been developed during the past few years, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing by Pacific Biosciences, and nanopore sequencing by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Although current LRS methods produce lower coverage, and are more error prone than short-read sequencing, these methods continue to be superior in identifying transcript isoforms including multispliced RNAs and transcript-length variants as well as overlapping transcripts and alternative polycistronic RNA molecules. Viruses have small, compact…

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June 1, 2019

Current advances in HIV vaccine preclinical studies using Macaque models.

The macaque simian or simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) challenge model has been widely used to inform and guide human vaccine trials. Substantial advances have been made recently in the application of repeated-low-dose challenge (RLD) approach to assess SIV/SHIV vaccine efficacies (VE). Some candidate HIV vaccines have shown protective effects in preclinical studies using the macaque SIV/SHIV model but the model's true predictive value for screening potential HIV vaccine candidates needs to be evaluated further. Here, we review key parameters used in the RLD approach and discuss their relevance for evaluating VE to improve preclinical studies of candidate HIV vaccines.Crown Copyright…

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May 1, 2019

The rising tide of high-quality genomic resources.

Few images are more iconic of coral reef ecosystems than an orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula) nestled among the tentacles of its mutualistic partner, the sea anemone (Figure 1a). Popularized as the Disney character, “Nemo,” clownfish are more than a charismatic on- screen presence. Among biologists, they are an ecological and evolutionary research model, shedding light on everything from social organization (Wong, Uppaluri, Medina, Seymour, & Buston, 2016) to mutualisms (Schmiege, D'Aloia, & Buston, 2017). Now, clownfish have yet another reason to be in the spotlight.

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May 1, 2019

Long-Read Sequencing Emerging in Medical Genetics

The wide implementation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the field of medical genetics. However, the short read lengths of currently used sequencing approaches pose a limitation for identification of structural variants, sequencing repetitive regions, phasing alleles and distinguishing highly homologous genomic regions. These limitations may significantly contribute to the diagnostic gap in patients with genetic disorders who have undergone standard NGS, like whole exome or even genome sequencing. Now, the emerging long-read sequencing (LRS) technologies may offer improvements in the characterization of genetic variation and regions that are difficult to assess with the currently prevailing NGS approaches. LRS…

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May 1, 2019

Next-Generation Sequencing and Emerging Technologies.

Genetic sequencing technologies are evolving at a rapid pace with major implications for research and clinical practice. In this review, the authors provide an updated overview of next-generation sequencing (NGS) and emerging methodologies. NGS has tremendously improved sequencing output while being more time and cost-efficient in comparison to Sanger sequencing. The authors describe short-read sequencing approaches, such as sequencing by synthesis, ion semiconductor sequencing, and nanoball sequencing. Third-generation long-read sequencing now promises to overcome many of the limitations of short-read sequencing, such as the ability to reliably resolve repeat sequences and large genomic rearrangements. By combining complementary methods with massively…

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May 1, 2019

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a…

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May 1, 2019

Centromeric Satellite DNAs: Hidden Sequence Variation in the Human Population.

The central goal of medical genomics is to understand the inherited basis of sequence variation that underlies human physiology, evolution, and disease. Functional association studies currently ignore millions of bases that span each centromeric region and acrocentric short arm. These regions are enriched in long arrays of tandem repeats, or satellite DNAs, that are known to vary extensively in copy number and repeat structure in the human population. Satellite sequence variation in the human genome is often so large that it is detected cytogenetically, yet due to the lack of a reference assembly and informatics tools to measure this variability,…

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April 1, 2019

The role of genomic structural variation in the genetic improvement of polyploid crops

Many of our major crop species are polyploids, containing more than one genome or set of chromosomes. Polyploid crops present unique challenges, including difficulties in genome assembly, in discriminating between multiple gene and sequence copies, and in genetic mapping, hindering use of genomic data for genetics and breeding. Polyploid genomes may also be more prone to containing structural variation, such as loss of gene copies or sequences (presence–absence variation) and the presence of genes or sequences in multiple copies (copy-number variation). Although the two main types of genomic structural variation commonly identified are presence–absence variation and copy-number variation, we propose…

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April 1, 2019

Prunus genetics and applications after de novo genome sequencing: achievements and prospects.

Prior to the availability of whole-genome sequences, our understanding of the structural and functional aspects of Prunus tree genomes was limited mostly to molecular genetic mapping of important traits and development of EST resources. With public release of the peach genome and others that followed, significant advances in our knowledge of Prunus genomes and the genetic underpinnings of important traits ensued. In this review, we highlight key achievements in Prunus genetics and breeding driven by the availability of these whole-genome sequences. Within the structural and evolutionary contexts, we summarize: (1) the current status of Prunus whole-genome sequences; (2) preliminary and…

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April 1, 2019

Reviving the Transcriptome Studies: An Insight into the Emergence of Single-molecule Transcriptome Sequencing

Advances in transcriptomics have provided an exceptional opportunity to study functional implications of the genetic variability. Technologies such as RNA-Seq have emerged as state-of-the-art techniques for transcriptome analysis that take advantage of high-throughput next-generation sequencing. However, similar to their predecessors, these approaches continue to impose major challenges on full-length transcript structure identification, primarily due to inherent limitations of read length. With the development of single-molecule sequencing (SMS) from PacBio, a growing number of studies on the transcriptome of different organisms have been reported. SMS has emerged as advantageous for comprehensive genome annotation including identification of novel genes/isoforms, long non-coding RNAs…

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April 1, 2019

Informatics for PacBio Long Reads.

In this article, we review the development of a wide variety of bioinformatics software implementing state-of-the-art algorithms since the introduction of SMRT sequencing technology into the field. We focus on the three major categories of development: read mapping (aligning to reference genomes), de novo assembly, and detection of structural variants. The long SMRT reads benefit all the applications, but they are achievable only through considering the nature of the long reads technology properly.

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April 1, 2019

Functional Genomics of Aspergillus oryzae: Strategies and Progress.

Aspergillus oryzae has been used for the production of traditional fermentation and has promising potential to produce primary and secondary metabolites. Due to the tough cell walls and high drug resistance of A. oryzae, functional genomic characterization studies are relatively limited. The exploitation of selection markers and genetic transformation methods are critical for improving A. oryzae fermentative strains. In this review, we describe the genome sequencing of various A. oryzae strains. Recently developed selection markers and transformation strategies are also described in detail, and the advantages and disadvantages of transformation methods are presented. Lastly, we introduce the recent progress on…

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April 1, 2019

Uncovering Missing Heritability in Rare Diseases.

The problem of 'missing heritability' affects both common and rare diseases hindering: discovery, diagnosis, and patient care. The 'missing heritability' concept has been mainly associated with common and complex diseases where promising modern technological advances, like genome-wide association studies (GWAS), were unable to uncover the complete genetic mechanism of the disease/trait. Although rare diseases (RDs) have low prevalence individually, collectively they are common. Furthermore, multi-level genetic and phenotypic complexity when combined with the individual rarity of these conditions poses an important challenge in the quest to identify causative genetic changes in RD patients. In recent years, high throughput sequencing has…

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