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April 1, 2014

Dissecting a hidden gene duplication: the Arabidopsis thaliana SEC10 locus.

Repetitive sequences present a challenge for genome sequence assembly, and highly similar segmental duplications may disappear from assembled genome sequences. Having found a surprising lack of observable phenotypic deviations and non-Mendelian segregation in Arabidopsis thaliana mutants in SEC10, a gene encoding a core subunit of the exocyst tethering complex, we examined whether this could be explained by a hidden gene duplication. Re-sequencing and manual assembly of the Arabidopsis thaliana SEC10 (At5g12370) locus revealed that this locus, comprising a single gene in the reference genome assembly, indeed contains two paralogous genes in tandem, SEC10a and SEC10b, and that a sequence segment…

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April 1, 2014

Methylome diversification through changes in DNA methyltransferase sequence specificity.

Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation have large effects on gene expression and genome maintenance. Helicobacter pylori, a human gastric pathogen, has a large number of DNA methyltransferase genes, with different strains having unique repertoires. Previous genome comparisons suggested that these methyltransferases often change DNA sequence specificity through domain movement--the movement between and within genes of coding sequences of target recognition domains. Using single-molecule real-time sequencing technology, which detects N6-methyladenines and N4-methylcytosines with single-base resolution, we studied methylated DNA sites throughout the H. pylori genome for several closely related strains. Overall, the methylome was highly variable among closely related strains.…

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March 22, 2014

A novel analytical pipeline for de novo haplotype phasing and amplicon analysis using SMRT Sequencing technology.

While the identification of individual SNPs has been readily available for some time, the ability to accurately phase SNPs and structural variation across a haplotype has been a challenge. With individual reads of an average length of 9 kb (P5-C3), and individual reads beyond 30 kb in length, SMRT Sequencing technology allows the identification of mutation combinations such as microdeletions, insertions, and substitutions without any predetermined reference sequence. Long- amplicon analysis is a novel protocol that identifies and reports the abundance of differing clusters of sequencing reads within a single library. Graphs generated via hierarchical clustering of individual sequencing reads…

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March 15, 2014

Rapid detection of expanded short tandem repeats in personal genomics using hybrid sequencing.

Long expansions of short tandem repeats (STRs), i.e. DNA repeats of 2-6 nt, are associated with some genetic diseases. Cost-efficient high-throughput sequencing can quickly produce billions of short reads that would be useful for uncovering disease-associated STRs. However, enumerating STRs in short reads remains largely unexplored because of the difficulty in elucidating STRs much longer than 100 bp, the typical length of short reads.We propose ab initio procedures for sensing and locating long STRs promptly by using the frequency distribution of all STRs and paired-end read information. We validated the reproducibility of this method using biological replicates and used it…

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March 1, 2014

Technology: SMRT move?

One of the major challenges of de novo mammalian genome assembly arises from the presence of large, interspersed segmental duplications with high levels of sequence identity. These regions are particularly difficult to assemble using current short-read high-throughput sequencing methods. Combining long-read single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing with a hierarchical genome-assembly process (HGAP), as well as the consensus and variant caller Quiver, enabled these complex genomic regions to be resolved in a more cost-and time-effective manner than previously possible.

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February 24, 2014

Amplification and thrifty single-molecule sequencing of recurrent somatic structural variations.

Deletion of tumor-suppressor genes as well as other genomic rearrangements pervade cancer genomes across numerous types of solid tumor and hematologic malignancies. However, even for a specific rearrangement, the breakpoints may vary between individuals, such as the recurrent CDKN2A deletion. Characterizing the exact breakpoints for structural variants (SVs) is useful for designating patient-specific tumor biomarkers. We propose AmBre (Amplification of Breakpoints), a method to target SV breakpoints occurring in samples composed of heterogeneous tumor and germline DNA. Additionally, AmBre validates SVs called by whole-exome/genome sequencing and hybridization arrays. AmBre involves a PCR-based approach to amplify the DNA segment containing an…

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February 1, 2014

The challenges and importance of structural variation detection in livestock.

Recent studies in humans and other model organisms have demonstrated that structural variants (SVs) comprise a substantial proportion of variation among individuals of each species. Many of these variants have been linked to debilitating diseases in humans, thereby cementing the importance of refining methods for their detection. Despite progress in the field, reliable detection of SVs still remains a problem even for human subjects. Many of the underlying problems that make SVs difficult to detect in humans are amplified in livestock species, whose lower quality genome assemblies and incomplete gene annotation can often give rise to false positive SV discoveries.…

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January 1, 2014

Genome reference and sequence variation in the large repetitive central exon of human MUC5AC.

Despite modern sequencing efforts, the difficulty in assembly of highly repetitive sequences has prevented resolution of human genome gaps, including some in the coding regions of genes with important biological functions. One such gene, MUC5AC, encodes a large, secreted mucin, which is one of the two major secreted mucins in human airways. The MUC5AC region contains a gap in the human genome reference (hg19) across the large, highly repetitive, and complex central exon. This exon is predicted to contain imperfect tandem repeat sequences and multiple conserved cysteine-rich (CysD) domains. To resolve the MUC5AC genomic gap, we used high-fidelity long PCR…

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January 1, 2014

Reconstructing complex regions of genomes using long-read sequencing technology.

Obtaining high-quality sequence continuity of complex regions of recent segmental duplication remains one of the major challenges of finishing genome assemblies. In the human and mouse genomes, this was achieved by targeting large-insert clones using costly and laborious capillary-based sequencing approaches. Sanger shotgun sequencing of clone inserts, however, has now been largely abandoned, leaving most of these regions unresolved in newer genome assemblies generated primarily by next-generation sequencing hybrid approaches. Here we show that it is possible to resolve regions that are complex in a genome-wide context but simple in isolation for a fraction of the time and cost of…

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October 23, 2013

ASHG PacBio Workshop: Highlighting unexplored genomic regions with SMRT Sequencing – informatics for structural event detection in PacBio

Ali Bashir from the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai describes a tool to detect tandem repeats (PACMonSTR), which he believes are dramatically underrepresented in the human genome reference but that can be discovered with PacBio sequencing. In a collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Cornell, Bashir and his team generated shotgun, whole-genome sequence data from human genomic DNA using PacBio sequencing. Their goal was to find structural variation features that are not present in the existing reference. He shows numerous examples wherein the long PacBio reads were able to resolve inversions in the sample,…

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July 1, 2013

Evolution and diversity of copy number variation in the great ape lineage.

Copy number variation (CNV) contributes to disease and has restructured the genomes of great apes. The diversity and rate of this process, however, have not been extensively explored among great ape lineages. We analyzed 97 deeply sequenced great ape and human genomes and estimate 16% (469 Mb) of the hominid genome has been affected by recent CNV. We identify a comprehensive set of fixed gene deletions (n = 340) and duplications (n = 405) as well as >13.5 Mb of sequence that has been specifically lost on the human lineage. We compared the diversity and rates of copy number and…

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