June 1, 2021  |  

Allele-level sequencing and phasing of full-length HLA class I and II genes using SMRT Sequencing technology

The three classes of genes that comprise the MHC gene family are actively involved in determining donor-recipient compatibility for organ transplant, as well as susceptibility to autoimmune diseases via cross-reacting immunization. Specifically, Class I genes HLA-A, -B, -C, and class II genes HLA-DR, -DQ and -DP are considered medically important for genetic analysis to determine histocompatibility. They are highly polymorphic and have thousands of alleles implicated in disease resistance and susceptibility. The importance of full-length HLA gene sequencing for genotyping, detection of null alleles, and phasing is now widely acknowledged. While DNA-sequencing-based HLA genotyping has become routine, only 7% of the HLA genes have been characterized by allele-level sequencing, while 93% are still defined by partial sequences. The gold-standard Sanger sequencing technology is being quickly replaced by second-generation, high- throughput sequencing methods due to its inability to generate unambiguous phased reads from heterozygous alleles. However, although these short, high-throughput, clonal sequencing methods are better at heterozygous allele detection, they are inadequate at generating full-length haploid gene sequences. Thus, full-length gene sequencing from an enhancer-promoter region to a 3’UTR that includes phasing information without the need for imputation still remains a technological challenge. The best way to overcome these challenges is to sequence these genes with a technology that is clonal in nature and has the longest possible read lengths. We have employed Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences for sequencing full-length HLA class I and II genes.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genomic DNA sequences of HLA class I alleles generated using multiplexed barcodes and SMRT DNA Sequencing technology.

Allelic-level resolution HLA typing is known to improve survival prognoses post Unrelated Donor (UD) Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT). Currently, many commonly used HLA typing methodologies are limited either due to the fact that ambiguity cannot be resolved or that they are not amenable to high-throughput laboratories. Pacific Biosciences’ Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing technology enables sequencing of single molecules in isolation and has read-length capabilities to enable whole gene sequencing for HLA. DNA barcode technology labels samples with unique identifiers that can be traced throughout the sequencing process. The use of DNA barcodes means that multiple samples can be sequenced in a single experiment but data can still be attributed to the correct sample. Here we describe the results of experiments that use DNA barcodes to facilitate sequencing of multiple samples for full-length HLA class I genes (known as multiplexing).


June 1, 2021  |  

HLA sequencing using SMRT Technology – High resolution and high throughput HLA genotyping in a clinical setting

Sequence based typing (SBT) is considered the gold standard method for HLA typing. Current SBT methods are rather laborious and are prone to phase ambiguity problems and genotyping uncertainties. As a result, the NGS community is rapidly seeking to remedy these challenges, to produce high resolution and high throughput HLA sequencing conducive to a clinical setting. Today, second generation NGS technologies are limited in their ability to yield full length HLA sequences required for adequate phasing and identification of novel alleles. Here we present the use of single molecule real time (SMRT) sequencing as a means of determining full length/long HLA sequences. Moreover we reveal the scalability of this method through multiplexing approches and determine HLA genotyping calls through the use of third party Gendx NGSengine® software.


June 1, 2021  |  

Long Amplicon Analysis: Highly accurate, full-length, phased, allele-resolved gene sequences from multiplexed SMRT Sequencing data.

The correct phasing of genetic variations is a key challenge for many applications of DNA sequencing. Allele-level resolution is strongly preferred for histocompatibility sequencing where recombined genes can exhibit different compatibilities than their parents. In other contexts, gene complementation can provide protection if deleterious mutations are found on only one allele of a gene. These problems are especially pronounced in immunological domains given the high levels of genetic diversity and recombination seen in regions like the Major Histocompatibility Complex. A new tool for analyzing Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing data – Long Amplicon Analysis (LAA) – can generate highly accurate, phased and full-length consensus sequences for multiple genes in a single sequencing run.


June 1, 2021  |  

Evaluation of multiplexing strategies for HLA genotyping using PacBio Sequencing technology.

Fully phased allele-level sequencing of highly polymorphic HLA genes is greatly facilitated by SMRT Sequencing technology. In the present work, we have evaluated multiple DNA barcoding strategies for multiplexing several loci from multiple individuals, using three different tagging methods. Specifically MHC class I genes HLA-A, -B, and –C were indexed via DNA Barcodes by either tailed primers or barcoded SMRTbell adapters. Eight different 16-bp barcode sequences were used in symmetric & asymmetric pairing. Eight DNA barcoded adapters in symmetric pairing were independently ligated to a pool of HLA-A, -B and –C for eight different individuals, one at a time and pooled for sequencing on a single SMRT Cell. Amplicons generated from barcoded primers were pooled upfront for library generation. Eight symmetric barcoded primers were generated for HLA class I genes. These primers facilitated multiplexing of 8 samples and also allowed generation of unique asymmetric pairings for simultaneous amplification from 28 reference genomic DNA samples. The data generated from all 3 methods was analyzed using LAA protocol in SMRT analysis V2.3. Consensus sequences generated were typed using GenDx NGS engine HLA-typing software.


June 1, 2021  |  

Multiplexing human HLA class I & II genotyping with DNA barcode adapters for high throughput research.

Human MHC class I genes HLA-A, -B, -C, and class II genes HLA-DR, -DP and -DQ, play a critical role in the immune system as major factors responsible for organ transplant rejection. The have a direct or linkage-based association with several diseases, including cancer and autoimmune diseases, and are important targets for clinical and drug sensitivity research. HLA genes are also highly polymorphic and their diversity originates from exonic combinations as well as recombination events. A large number of new alleles are expected to be encountered if these genes are sequenced through the UTRs. Thus allele-level resolution is strongly preferred when sequencing HLA genes. Pacific Biosciences has developed a method to sequence the HLA genes in their entirety within the span of a single read taking advantage of long read lengths (average >10 kb) facilitated by SMRT technology. A highly accurate consensus sequence (=99.999 or QV50 demonstrated) is generated for each allele in a de novo fashion by our SMRT Analysis software. In the present work, we have combined this imputation-free, fully phased, allele-specific consensus sequence generation workflow and a newly developed DNA-barcode-tagged SMRTbell sample preparation approach to multiplex 96 individual samples for sequencing all of the HLA class I and II genes. Commercially available NGS-go reagents for full-length HLA class I and relevant exons of class II genes were amplified for hi-resolution HLA sequencing. The 96 samples included 72 that are part of UCLA reference panel and had pre-typing information available for 2 fields, based on gold standard SBT methods. SMRTbell adapters with 16 bp barcode tags were ligated to long amplicons in symmetric pairing. PacBio sequencing was highly effective in generating accurate, phased sequences of full-length alleles of HLA genes. In this work we demonstrate scalability of HLA sequencing using off the shelf assays for research applications to find biological significance in full-length sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Access full spectrum of polymorphisms in HLA class I & II genes, without imputation for disease association and evolutionary research.

MHC class I and II genes are critically monitored by high-resolution sequencing for organ transplant decisions due to their role in GVHD. Their direct or linkage-based causal association, have increased their prominence as targets for drug sensitivity, autoimmune, cancer and infectious disease research. Monitoring HLA genes can however be tricky due to their highly polymorphic nature. Allele-level resolution is thus strongly preferred. However, most studies were historically focused on peptide binding domains of the HLA genes, due to technological challenges. As a result knowledge about the functional role of polymorphisms outside of exons 2 and 3 of HLA genes was rather limited. There are also relatively few full-length gene references currently available in the IMGT HLA database. This made it difficult to quickly adopt high-throughput reference-reliant methods for allele-level HLA sequencing. Increasing awareness regarding role of regulatory region polymorphisms of HLA genes in disease association1, nonetheless have brought about a revolution in full-length HLA gene sequencing. Researchers are now exploring ways to obtain complete information for HLA genes and integrate it with the current HLA database so it can be interpreted used by clinical researchers. We have explored advantages of SMRT Sequencing to obtain fully phased, allele-specific sequences of HLA class I and II genes for 96 samples using completely De novo consensus generation approach for imputation-free 4-field typing. With long read lengths (average >10 kb) and consensus accuracy exceeding 99.999% (Q50), a comprehensive snapshot of variants in exons, introns and UTRs could be obtained for spectrum of polymorphisms in phase across SNP-poor regions. Such information can provide invaluable insights in future causality association and population diversity research.


June 1, 2021  |  

Immune regions are no longer incomprehensible with SMRT Sequencing

The complex immune regions of the genome, including MHC and KIR, contain large copy number variants (CNVs), a high density of genes, hyper-polymorphic gene alleles, and conserved extended haplotypes (CEH) with enormous linkage disequilibrium (LDs). This level of complexity and inherent biases of short-read sequencing make it challenging for extracting immune region haplotype information from reference-reliant, shotgun sequencing and GWAS methods. As NGS based genome and exome sequencing and SNP arrays have become a routine for population studies, numerous efforts are being made for developing software to extract and or impute the immune gene information from these datasets. Despite these efforts, the fine mapping of causal variants of immune genes for their well-documented association with cancer, drug-induced hypersensitivity and immune-related diseases, has been slower than expected. This has in many ways limited our understanding of the mechanisms leading to immune disease. In the present work, we demonstrate the advantages of long reads delivered by SMRT Sequencing for assembling complete haplotypes of MHC and KIR gene clusters, as well as calling correct genotypes of genes comprised within them. All the genotype information is detected at allele- level with full phasing information across SNP-poor regions. Genotypes were called correctly from targeted gene amplicons, haplotypes, as well as from a completely assembled 5 Mb contig of the MHC region from a de novo assembly of whole genome shotgun data. De novo analysis pipeline used in all these approaches allowed for reference-free analysis without imputation, a key for interrogation without prior knowledge about ethnic backgrounds. These methods are thus easily adoptable for previously uncharacterized human or non-human species.


June 1, 2021  |  

Whole gene sequencing of KIR-3DL1 with SMRT Sequencing and the distribution of allelic variants in different ethnic groups

The killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) gene family are involved in immune modulation during viral infection, autoimmune disease and in allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Most KIR gene diversity studies and their impact on the transplant outcome is performed by gene absence/presence assays. However, it is well known that KIR gene allelic variations have biological significance. Allele level typing of KIR genes has been very challenging until recently due to the homologous nature of those genes and very long intronic sequences. SMRT (Single Molecule Real-Time) Sequencing generates average long reads of 10 to 15 kb and allows us to obtain in-phase long sequence reads. We have developed a PCR assay for SMRT Sequencing on the PacBio RS II platform in our lab for 3DL1 whole gene sequencing. This approach allows us to obtain allele level typing for 3DL1 genes and could serve as a model to type other KIR genes at allelic level.


June 1, 2021  |  

Analysis of 37,000 Caucasian samples reveals tight linkage between SNP RS9277534 and high resolution typing of HLA-DPB1

HLA-DPB1 mismatching between patients and unrelated donors is known to increase the risk of acute graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD) after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. If only HLA-DPB1 mismatched donors are available, the genotype defined by the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) rs9277534 can be used to select mismatched donors that are well-tolerated. However, since rs9277534 resides within the 3’ untranslated region (UTR), it usually is not analyzed during DPB1 routine typing.


April 21, 2020  |  

Patterns of non-ARD variation in more than 300 full-length HLA-DPB1 alleles.

Our understanding of sequence variation in the HLA-DPB1 gene is largely restricted to the hypervariable antigen recognition domain (ARD) encoded by exon 2. Here, we employed a redundant sequencing strategy combining long-read and short-read data to accurately phase and characterise in full length the majority of common and well-documented (CWD) DPB1 alleles as well as alleles with an observed frequency of at least 0.0006% in our predominantly European sample set. We generated 664 DPB1 sequences, comprising 279 distinct allelic variants. This allows us to present the, to date, most comprehensive analysis of the nature and extent of DPB1 sequence variation. The full-length sequence analysis revealed the existence of two highly diverged allele clades. These clades correlate with the rs9277534 A???G variant, a known expression marker located in the 3′-UTR. The two clades are fully differentiated by 174 fixed polymorphisms throughout a 3.6?kb stretch at the 3′-end of DPB1. The region upstream of this differentiation zone is characterised by increasingly shared variation between the clades. The low-expression A clade comprises 59% of the distinct allelic sequences including the three by far most frequent DPB1 alleles, DPB1*04:01, DPB1*02:01 and DPB1*04:02. Alleles in the A clade show reduced nucleotide diversity with an excess of rare variants when compared to the high-expression G clade. This pattern is consistent with a scenario of recent proliferation of A-clade alleles. The full-length characterisation of all but the most rare DPB1 alleles will benefit the application of NGS for DPB1 genotyping and provides a helpful framework for a deeper understanding of high- and low-expression alleles and their implications in the context of unrelated haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation.Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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