June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing haplotype diversity at the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus across human populations using novel long-read sequencing and assembly approaches

The human immunoglobulin heavy chain locus (IGH) remains among the most understudied regions of the human genome. Recent efforts have shown that haplotype diversity within IGH is elevated and exhibits population specific patterns; for example, our re-sequencing of the locus from only a single chromosome uncovered >100 Kb of novel sequence, including descriptions of six novel alleles, and four previously unmapped genes. Historically, this complex locus architecture has hindered the characterization of IGH germline single nucleotide, copy number, and structural variants (SNVs; CNVs; SVs), and as a result, there remains little known about the role of IGH polymorphisms in inter-individual antibody repertoire variability and disease. To remedy this, we are taking a multi-faceted approach to improving existing genomic resources in the human IGH region. First, from whole-genome and fosmid-based datasets, we are building the largest and most ethnically diverse set of IGH reference assemblies to date, by employing PacBio long-read sequencing combined with novel algorithms for phased haplotype assembly. In total, our effort will result in the characterization of >15 phased haplotypes from individuals of Asian, African, and European descent, to be used as a representative reference set by the genomics and immunogenetics community. Second, we are utilizing this more comprehensive sequence catalogue to inform the design and analysis of novel targeted IGH genotyping assays. Standard targeted DNA enrichment methods (e.g., exome capture) are currently optimized for the capture of only very short (100’s of bp) DNA segments. Our platform uses a modified bench protocol to pair existing capture-array technologies with the enrichment of longer fragments of DNA, enabling the use of PacBio sequencing of DNA segments up to 7 Kb. This substantial increase in contiguity disambiguates many of the complex repeated structures inherent to the locus, while yielding the base pair fidelity required to call SNVs. Together these resources will establish a stronger framework for further characterizing IGH genetic diversity and facilitate IGH genomic profiling in the clinical and research settings, which will be key to fully understanding the role of IGH germline variation in antibody repertoire development and disease.


April 9, 2021  |  

Creating Core Demand with HiFi Sequencing

In this video, Dave Miller from PacBio and Alvaro Hernandez PhD from the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign discuss how to create Core Lab demand using PacBio highly accurate long-read,…


July 19, 2019  |  

Iterative optimization of xylose catabolism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using combinatorial expression tuning.

A common challenge in metabolic engineering is rapidly identifying rate-controlling enzymes in heterologous pathways for subsequent production improvement. We demonstrate a workflow to address this challenge and apply it to improving xylose utilization in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. For eight reactions required for conversion of xylose to ethanol, we screened enzymes for functional expression in S. cerevisiae, followed by a combinatorial expression analysis to achieve pathway flux balancing and identification of limiting enzymatic activities. In the next round of strain engineering, we increased the copy number of these limiting enzymes and again tested the eight-enzyme combinatorial expression library in this new background. This workflow yielded a strain that has a ~70% increase in biomass yield and ~240% increase in xylose utilization. Finally, we chromosomally integrated the expression library. This library enriched for strains with multiple integrations of the pathway, which likely were the result of tandem integrations mediated by promoter homology. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 1301-1309. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


July 7, 2019  |  

Hybrid assembly with long and short reads improves discovery of gene family expansions.

Long-read and short-read sequencing technologies offer competing advantages for eukaryotic genome sequencing projects. Combinations of both may be appropriate for surveys of within-species genomic variation.We developed a hybrid assembly pipeline called “Alpaca” that can operate on 20X long-read coverage plus about 50X short-insert and 50X long-insert short-read coverage. To preclude collapse of tandem repeats, Alpaca relies on base-call-corrected long reads for contig formation.Compared to two other assembly protocols, Alpaca demonstrated the most reference agreement and repeat capture on the rice genome. On three accessions of the model legume Medicago truncatula, Alpaca generated the most agreement to a conspecific reference and predicted tandemly repeated genes absent from the other assemblies.Our results suggest Alpaca is a useful tool for investigating structural and copy number variation within de novo assemblies of sampled populations.


July 7, 2019  |  

Tandem duplications lead to novel expression patterns through exon shuffling in Drosophila yakuba.

One common hypothesis to explain the impacts of tandem duplications is that whole gene duplications commonly produce additive changes in gene expression due to copy number changes. Here, we use genome wide RNA-seq data from a population sample of Drosophila yakuba to test this ‘gene dosage’ hypothesis. We observe little evidence of expression changes in response to whole transcript duplication capturing 5′ and 3′ UTRs. Among whole gene duplications, we observe evidence that dosage sharing across copies is likely to be common. The lack of expression changes after whole gene duplication suggests that the majority of genes are subject to tight regulatory control and therefore not sensitive to changes in gene copy number. Rather, we observe changes in expression level due to both shuffling of regulatory elements and the creation of chimeric structures via tandem duplication. Additionally, we observe 30 de novo gene structures arising from tandem duplications, 23 of which form with expression in the testes. Thus, the value of tandem duplications is likely to be more intricate than simple changes in gene dosage. The common regulatory effects from chimeric gene formation after tandem duplication may explain their contribution to genome evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

Copy number variation and expression analysis reveals a nonorthologous pinta gene family member involved in butterfly vision.

Vertebrate (cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein) and Drosophila (prolonged depolarization afterpotential is not apparent [PINTA]) proteins with a CRAL-TRIO domain transport retinal-based chromophores that bind to opsin proteins and are necessary for phototransduction. The CRAL-TRIO domain gene family is composed of genes that encode proteins with a common N-terminal structural domain. Although there is an expansion of this gene family in Lepidoptera, there is no lepidopteran ortholog of pinta. Further, the function of these genes in lepidopterans has not yet been established. Here, we explored the molecular evolution and expression of CRAL-TRIO domain genes in the butterfly Heliconius melpomene in order to identify a member of this gene family as a candidate chromophore transporter. We generated and searched a four tissue transcriptome and searched a reference genome for CRAL-TRIO domain genes. We expanded an insect CRAL-TRIO domain gene phylogeny to include H. melpomene and used 18 genomes from 4 subspecies to assess copy number variation. A transcriptome-wide differential expression analysis comparing four tissue types identified a CRAL-TRIO domain gene, Hme CTD31, upregulated in heads suggesting a potential role in vision for this CRAL-TRIO domain gene. RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry confirmed that Hme CTD31 and its protein product are expressed in the retina, specifically in primary and secondary pigment cells and in tracheal cells. Sequencing of eye protein extracts that fluoresce in the ultraviolet identified Hme CTD31 as a possible chromophore binding protein. Although we found several recent duplications and numerous copy number variants in CRAL-TRIO domain genes, we identified a single copy pinta paralog that likely binds the chromophore in butterflies.© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genetic basis of priority effects: insights from nectar yeast.

Priority effects, in which the order of species arrival dictates community assembly, can have a major influence on species diversity, but the genetic basis of priority effects remains unknown. Here, we suggest that nitrogen scavenging genes previously considered responsible for starvation avoidance may drive priority effects by causing rapid resource depletion. Using single-molecule sequencing, we de novo assembled the genome of the nectar-colonizing yeast, Metschnikowia reukaufii, across eight scaffolds and complete mitochondrion, with gap-free coverage over gene spaces. We found a high rate of tandem gene duplication in this genome, enriched for nitrogen metabolism and transport. Both high-capacity amino acid importers, GAP1 and PUT4, present as tandem gene arrays, were highly expressed in synthetic nectar and regulated by the availability and quality of amino acids. In experiments with competitive nectar yeast, Candida rancensis, amino acid addition alleviated suppression of C. rancensis by early arrival of M. reukaufii, corroborating that amino acid scavenging may contribute to priority effects. Because niche pre-emption via rapid resource depletion may underlie priority effects in a broad range of microbial, plant and animal communities, nutrient scavenging genes like the ones we considered here may be broadly relevant to understanding priority effects.© 2016 The Author(s).


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