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November 1, 2015

The impact of next-generation sequencing technologies on HLA research.

In the past decade, the development of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has paved the way for whole-genome analysis in individuals. Research on the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), an extensively studied molecule involved in immunity, has benefitted from NGS technologies. The HLA region, a 3.6-Mb segment of the human genome at 6p21, has been associated with more than 100 different diseases, primarily autoimmune diseases. Recently, the HLA region has received much attention because severe adverse effects of various drugs are associated with particular HLA alleles. Owing to the complex nature of the HLA genes, classical direct sequencing methods cannot comprehensively elucidate the…

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November 1, 2015

Genetic variation and the de novo assembly of human genomes.

The discovery of genetic variation and the assembly of genome sequences are both inextricably linked to advances in DNA-sequencing technology. Short-read massively parallel sequencing has revolutionized our ability to discover genetic variation but is insufficient to generate high-quality genome assemblies or resolve most structural variation. Full resolution of variation is only guaranteed by complete de novo assembly of a genome. Here, we review approaches to genome assembly, the nature of gaps or missing sequences, and biases in the assembly process. We describe the challenges of generating a complete de novo genome assembly using current technologies and the impact that being…

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November 1, 2015

Bordetella pertussis evolution in the (functional) genomics era.

The incidence of whooping cough caused by Bordetella pertussis in many developed countries has risen dramatically in recent years. This has been linked to the use of an acellular pertussis vaccine. In addition, it is thought that B. pertussis is adapting under acellular vaccine mediated immune selection pressure, towards vaccine escape. Genomics-based approaches have revolutionized the ability to resolve the fine structure of the global B. pertussis population and its evolution during the era of vaccination. Here, we discuss the current picture of B. pertussis evolution and diversity in the light of the current resurgence, highlight import questions raised by…

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November 1, 2015

Fc? receptors: genetic variation, function, and disease.

Fc? receptors (Fc?Rs) are key immune receptors responsible for the effective control of both humoral and innate immunity and are central to maintaining the balance between generating appropriate responses to infection and preventing autoimmunity. When this balance is lost, pathology results in increased susceptibility to cancer, autoimmunity, and infection. In contrast, optimal Fc?R engagement facilitates effective disease resolution and response to monoclonal antibody immunotherapy. The underlying genetics of the Fc?R gene family are a central component of this careful balance. Complex in humans and generated through ancestral duplication events, here we review the evolution of the gene family in mammals,…

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October 15, 2015

Characterization of fusion genes and the significantly expressed fusion isoforms in breast cancer by hybrid sequencing.

We developed an innovative hybrid sequencing approach, IDP-fusion, to detect fusion genes, determine fusion sites and identify and quantify fusion isoforms. IDP-fusion is the first method to study gene fusion events by integrating Third Generation Sequencing long reads and Second Generation Sequencing short reads. We applied IDP-fusion to PacBio data and Illumina data from the MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Compared with the existing tools, IDP-fusion detects fusion genes at higher precision and a very low false positive rate. The results show that IDP-fusion will be useful for unraveling the complexity of multiple fusion splices and fusion isoforms within tumorigenesis-relevant fusion…

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October 2, 2015

The Brachypodium distachyon reference genome

Grasses provide the bulk of human calories but improvement in grass yields is hindered by the characteristically large and complex genomes of these species; the genomes of wheat, maize, and sugar cane are 17,000, 2300, and 10,000 Mb, respectively. Brachypodium distachyon has one of the smallest genomes of all grasses at 272 Mb, and a number of key traits that make it a good model grass. Brachypodium was the fourth sequenced grass genome, after rice, Sorghum, and maize, and was the first sequenced in the Pooideae subfamily, a diverse group that includes wheat, barley, oat, and rye. The Brachypodium genome…

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October 1, 2015

Role of restriction-modification systems in prokaryotic evolution and ecology

Restriction–modification (R-M) systems are able to methylate or cleave DNA depending on methylation status of their recognition site. It allows them to protect bacterial cells from invasion by foreign DNA. Comparative analysis of a large number of available bacterial genomes and methylomes clearly demonstrates that the role of R-M systems in bacteria is wider than only defense. R-M systems maintain heterogeneity of a bacterial population and are involved in adaptation of bacteria to change in their environmental conditions. R-M systems can be essential for host colonization by pathogenic bacteria. Phase variation and intragenomic recombinations are sources of the fast evolution…

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October 1, 2015

The genus Brachypodium as a model for perenniality and polyploidy

The genus Brachypodium contains annual and perennial species with both diploid and polyploid genomes. Like the annual species B. distachyon, some of the perennial and polyploid species have traits compatible with use as a model system (e.g. small genomes, rapid generation time, self-fertile and easy to grow). Thus, there is an opportunity to leverage the resources and knowledge developed for B. distachyon to use other Brachypodium species as models for perenniality and the regulation and evolution of polyploid genomes. There are two factors driving an increased interest in perenniality. First, several perennial grasses are being developed as biomass crops for…

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October 1, 2015

PacBio sequencing and its applications.

Single-molecule, real-time sequencing developed by Pacific BioSciences offers longer read lengths than the second-generation sequencing (SGS) technologies, making it well-suited for unsolved problems in genome, transcriptome, and epigenetics research. The highly-contiguous de novo assemblies using PacBio sequencing can close gaps in current reference assemblies and characterize structural variation (SV) in personal genomes. With longer reads, we can sequence through extended repetitive regions and detect mutations, many of which are associated with diseases. Moreover, PacBio transcriptome sequencing is advantageous for the identification of gene isoforms and facilitates reliable discoveries of novel genes and novel isoforms of annotated genes, due to its…

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September 1, 2015

Completing the human genome: the progress and challenge of satellite DNA assembly.

Genomic studies rely on accurate chromosome assemblies to explore sequence-based models of cell biology, evolution and biomedical disease. However, even the extensively studied human genome has not yet reached a complete, 'telomere-to-telomere', chromosome assembly. The largest assembly gaps remain in centromeric regions and acrocentric short arms, sites known to contain megabase-sized arrays of tandem repeats, or satellite DNAs. This review aims to briefly address the progress and challenges of generating correct assemblies of satellite DNA arrays. Although the focus is placed on the human genome, many concepts presented here are applicable to other genomes.

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August 31, 2015

Analyses of intestinal microbiota: culture versus sequencing.

Analyzing human as well as animal microbiota composition has gained growing interest because structural components and metabolites of microorganisms fundamentally influence all aspects of host physiology. Originally dominated by culture-dependent methods for exploring these ecosystems, the development of molecular techniques such as high throughput sequencing has dramatically increased our knowledge. Because many studies of the microbiota are based on the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene targets, they can, at least in principle, be compared to determine the role of the microbiome composition for developmental processes, host metabolism, and physiology as well as different diseases. In our review, we will…

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August 1, 2015

Do echinoderm genomes measure up?

Echinoderm genome sequences are a corpus of useful information about a clade of animals that serve as research models in fields ranging from marine ecology to cell and developmental biology. Genomic information from echinoids has contributed to insights into the gene interactions that drive the developmental process at the molecular level. Such insights often rely heavily on genomic information and the kinds of questions that can be asked thus depend on the quality of the sequence information. Here we describe the history of echinoderm genomic sequence assembly and present details about the quality of the data obtained. All of the…

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August 1, 2015

Discovery of microbial natural products by activation of silent biosynthetic gene clusters.

Microorganisms produce a wealth of structurally diverse specialized metabolites with a remarkable range of biological activities and a wide variety of applications in medicine and agriculture, such as the treatment of infectious diseases and cancer, and the prevention of crop damage. Genomics has revealed that many microorganisms have far greater potential to produce specialized metabolites than was thought from classic bioactivity screens; however, realizing this potential has been hampered by the fact that many specialized metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) are not expressed in laboratory cultures. In this Review, we discuss the strategies that have been developed in bacteria and…

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