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Friday, February 26, 2021

Old school/new school genome sequencing: One step backward — a quantum leap forward.

As the costs for genome sequencing have decreased the number of “genome” sequences have increased at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the quality and completeness of these so–called “genome” sequences have suffered enormously. We prefer to call such genome assemblies as “gene assembly space” (GAS). We believe it is important to distinguish GAS assemblies from reference genome assemblies (RGAs) as all subsequent research that depends on accurate genome assemblies can be highly compromised if the only assembly available is a GAS assembly.

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Friday, February 26, 2021

HLA variant identification techniques

The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genes located on chromosome 6 are responsible for regulating immune function via antigen presentation and are one of the determining factors for stem cell and organ transplantation compatibility. Additionally various alleles within this region have been implicated in autoimmune disorders, cancer, vaccine response and both non-infectious and infectious disease risk. The HLA region is highly variable; containing repetitive regions; and co-dominantly expressed genes. This complicates short read mapping and means that assessing the effect of variation within a gene requires full phase information to resolve haplotypes.One solution to the problem of HLA identification is the…

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Friday, February 26, 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…

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Friday, February 26, 2021

The MHC Diversity in Africa Project (MDAP) pilot – 125 African high resolution HLA types from 5 populations

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC), or human leukocyte antigen (HLA) in humans, is a highly diverse gene family with a key role in immune response to disease; and has been implicated in auto-immune disease, cancer, infectious disease susceptibility, and vaccine response. It has clinical importance in the field of solid organ and bone marrow transplantation, where donors and recipient matching of HLA types is key to transplanted organ outcomes. The Sanger based typing (SBT) methods currently used in clinical practice do not capture the full diversity across this region, and require specific reference sequences to deconvolute ambiguity in HLA types.…

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Friday, February 26, 2021

Improving the reference with a diversity panel of sequence-resolved structural variation

Although the accuracy of the human reference genome is critical for basic and clinical research, structural variants (SVs) have been difficult to assess because data capable of resolving them have been limited. To address potential bias, we sequenced a diversity panel of nine human genomes to high depth using long-read, single-molecule, real-time sequencing data. Systematically identifying and merging SVs =50 bp in length for these nine and one public genome yielded 83,909 sequence-resolved insertions, deletions, and inversions. Among these, 2,839 (2.0 Mbp) are shared among all discovery genomes with an additional 13,349 (6.9 Mbp) present in the majority of humans,…

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Friday, February 5, 2021

ASHG Virtual Poster: The MHC Diversity in Africa Project (MDAP) pilot – 125 African high resolution HLA types from 5 populations

In this ASHG 2016 poster video, Martin Pollard from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge describes an ambitious project to better represent natural variation in the complex MHC region by sequencing the locus in thousands of people from various populations in Africa. A pilot project in five populations has already revealed a lot of diversity in the region, which is important for human disease, vaccine response, and organ transplantation. Pollard says SMRT Sequencing is the only technology that can deliver the full-length haplotypes necessary to identify complete variation in this highly polymorphic complex. Plus: plans to…

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Friday, February 5, 2021

i5K Webinar: High-quality de novo insect genome assemblies using PacBio sequencing

PacBio Sequencing is characterized by very long sequence reads (averaging > 10,000 bases), lack of GC-bias, and high consensus accuracy. These features have allowed the method to provide a new gold standard in de novo genome assemblies, producing highly contiguous (contig N50 > 1 Mb) and accurate (> QV 50) genome assemblies. We will briefly describe the technology and then highlight the full workflow, from sample preparation through sequencing to data analysis, on examples of insect genome assemblies, and illustrate the difference these high-quality genomes represent with regard to biological insights, compared to fragmented draft assemblies generated by short-read sequencing.

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Podcast: We’re over halfway there: Baylor’s Richard Gibbs on clinical genetics

In this podcast, Gibbs shares his perspective on the complementary roles genomics and genetics plays in driving our understanding of human biology. Richard says that the Human genome project was actually a departure from had been typical in the field of human genetics. He notes, “there really was this departure between human genetics and genomics for a decade and a half or more, really because of the demands of doing the genome project there was too much to do to stop and think about some of these more fundamental problems in genetics.” Gibbs observes that we have now entered a…

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Podcast: Reference genome making major strides in ethnic diversity, says Valerie Schneider, NCBI

Valerie Schneider of the National Center for Biotechnology Information discuss how the Genome Reference Consortium (GRC) is bringing more ethnic diversity to the latest human reference assembly (GRCh38) by adding patches and alternate loci scaffolds. Scientists working with population graphs are among the early adopters of these new alternate loci scaffolds. She also discusses work underway at the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University to generate a set of high-quality, de novo whole genomes from a wide variety of populations. The new ethnic genomes “are also intended to stand on their own as complements to the reference so users can…

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Webinar: A paradigm shift in HLA sequencing: from exons to high-resolution allele-level HLA yyping

Human MHC class I genes HLA-A, -B, -C, and class II genes HLA -DR, -DQ, and -DP play a critical role in the immune system as primary factors responsible for organ transplant rejection. Additionally, the HLA genes are important targets for clinical and drug sensitivity research because of their direct or linkage-based association with several diseases, including cancer, and autoimmune diseases. HLA genes are highly polymorphic, and their diversity originates from exonic combinations as well as recombination events. With full-length gene sequencing, a significant increase of new alleles in the HLA database is expected, stressing the need for high-resolution sequencing.…

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Friday, February 5, 2021

AGBT Presentation: Generating high quality human reference assemblies with PacBio sequencing

Tina Graves-Lindsay from the McDonnell Genome Institute reports at AGBT 2020 on how her team is using PacBio sequencing to produce reference-grade human genome assemblies. With highly accurate HiFi reads, no error correction step is needed during the sequencing and analysis process, and they can produce reference-grade assemblies with half the sequence coverage needed before. They are now generating diploid assemblies and will be contributing to the human pangenome reference project.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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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