June 1, 2021  |  

Enrichment of unamplified DNA and long-read SMRT Sequencing in unlocking the underlying biological disease mechanisms of repeat expansion disorders

For many of the repeat expansion disorders, the disease gene has been discovered, however the underlying biological mechanisms have not yet been fully understood. This is mainly due to technological limitations that do not allow for the needed base-pair resolution of the long, repetitive genomic regions. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that uses the CRISPR/Cas9 system to target large repeat expansions. This method, in conjunction with PacBio’s long reads and uniform coverage, enables sequencing of these complex genomic regions. By using a PCR-free amplification method, we are able to access not only the repetitive elements and interruption sequences accurately, but also the epigenetic information.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 19, 2019  |  

SMRT Sequencing of long tandem nucleotide repeats in SCA10 reveals unique insight of repeat expansion structure.

A large, non-coding ATTCT repeat expansion causes the neurodegenerative disorder, spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10). In a subset of SCA10 patients, interruption motifs are present at the 5′ end of the expansion and strongly correlate with epileptic seizures. Thus, interruption motifs are a predictor of the epileptic phenotype and are hypothesized to act as a phenotypic modifier in SCA10. Yet, the exact internal sequence structure of SCA10 expansions remains unknown due to limitations in current technologies for sequencing across long extended tracts of tandem nucleotide repeats. We used the third generation sequencing technology, Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing, to obtain full-length contiguous expansion sequences, ranging from 2.5 to 4.4 kb in length, from three SCA10 patients with different clinical presentations. We obtained sequence spanning the entire length of the expansion and identified the structure of known and novel interruption motifs within the SCA10 expansion. The exact interruption patterns in expanded SCA10 alleles will allow us to further investigate the potential contributions of these interrupting sequences to the pathogenic modification leading to the epilepsy phenotype in SCA10. Our results also demonstrate that SMRT sequencing is useful for deciphering long tandem repeats that pose as “gaps” in the human genome sequence.


July 19, 2019  |  

Parkinson’s disease associated with pure ATXN10 repeat

Large, non-coding pentanucleotide repeat expansions of ATTCT in intron 9 of the ATXN10 gene typically cause progressive spinocerebellar ataxia with or without seizures and present neuropathologically with Purkinje cell loss resulting in symmetrical cerebellar atrophy. These ATXN10 repeat expansions can be interrupted by sequence motifs which have been attributed to seizures and are likely to act as genetic modifiers. We identified a Mexican kindred with multiple affected family members with ATXN10 expansions. Four affected family members showed clinical features of spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10). However, one affected individual presented with early-onset levodopa-responsive parkinsonism, and one family member carried a large repeat ATXN10 expansion, but was clinically unaffected. To characterize the ATXN10 repeat, we used a novel technology of single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9-based capture. We sequenced the entire span of ~5.3–7.0kb repeat expansions. The Parkinson’s patient carried an ATXN10 expansion with no repeat interruption motifs as well as an unaffected sister. In the siblings with typical SCA10, we found a repeat pattern of ATTCC repeat motifs that have not been associated with seizures previously. Our data suggest that the absence of repeat interruptions is likely a genetic modifier for the clinical presentation of L-Dopa responsive parkinsonism, whereas repeat interruption motifs contribute clinically to epilepsy. Repeat interruptions are important genetic modifiers of the clinical phenotype in SCA10. Advanced sequencing techniques now allow to better characterize the underlying genetic architecture for determining accurate phenotype–genotype correlations.


July 7, 2019  |  

Interrogating the “unsequenceable” genomic trinucleotide repeat disorders by long-read sequencing.

Microsatellite expansion, such as trinucleotide repeat expansion (TRE), is known to cause a number of genetic diseases. Sanger sequencing and next-generation short-read sequencing are unable to interrogate TRE reliably. We developed a novel algorithm called RepeatHMM to estimate repeat counts from long-read sequencing data. Evaluation on simulation data, real amplicon sequencing data on two repeat expansion disorders, and whole-genome sequencing data generated by PacBio and Oxford Nanopore technologies showed superior performance over competing approaches. We concluded that long-read sequencing coupled with RepeatHMM can estimate repeat counts on microsatellites and can interrogate the “unsequenceable” genomic trinucleotide repeat disorders.


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