June 1, 2021  |  

Epigenome characterization of human genomes using the PacBio platform

In addition to the genome and transcriptome, epigenetic information is essential to understand biological processes and their regulation, and their misregulation underlying disease. Traditionally, epigenetic DNA modifications are detected using upfront sample preparation steps such as bisulfite conversion, followed by sequencing. Bisulfite sequencing has provided a wealth of knowledge about human epigenetics, however it does not access the entire genome due to limitations in read length and GC- bias of the sequencing technologies used. In contrast, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) DNA Sequencing is unique in that it can detect DNA base modifications as part of the sequencing process. It can thereby leverage the long read lengths and lack of GC bias for more comprehensive views of the human epigenome. I will highlight several examples of this capability towards the generation of new biological insights, including the resolution of methylation states in repetitive and GC-rich regions of the genome, and large-scale changes in the methylation status across a cancer genome as a function of drug sensitivity.

April 21, 2020  |  

DNA Methylation at the Schizophrenia and Intelligence GWAS-Implicated MIR137HG Locus May Be Associated with Disease and Cognitive Functions

The largest genome-wide association studies have identified schizophrenia and intelligence associated variants in the MIR137HG locus containing genes encoding microRNA-137 and microRNA-2682. In the present study, we investigated DNA methylation in the MIR137HG intragenic CpG island (CGI) in the peripheral blood of 44 patients with schizophrenia and 50 healthy controls. The CGI included the entire MIR137 gene and the region adjacent to the 5′-end of MIR2682. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship of the CGI methylation with schizophrenia and cognitive functioning. The methylation level of 91 CpG located in the selected region was established for each participant by means of single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing. All subjects completed the battery of neuropsychological tests. We found that the CGI was hypomethylated in both groups, except for one site—CpG (chr1: 98?511?049), with significant interindividual variability in methylation. A higher level of methylation of this CpG was seen in male patients and was associated with a decrease in the cognitive index in the combined sample of patients and controls. Our data suggest that further investigation of mechanisms that regulate the MIR137 and MIR2682 genes expression might help to understand the molecular basis of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.

April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequencing unveils IGH-DUX4 translocation into the silenced IGH allele in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

[email protected] proto-oncogene translocation is a common oncogenic event in lymphoid lineage cancers such as B-ALL, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Here, to investigate the interplay between [email protected] proto-oncogene translocation and IGH allelic exclusion, we perform long-read whole-genome and transcriptome sequencing along with epigenetic and 3D genome profiling of Nalm6, an IGH-DUX4 positive B-ALL cell line. We detect significant allelic imbalance on the wild-type over the IGH-DUX4 haplotype in expression and epigenetic data, showing IGH-DUX4 translocation occurs on the silenced IGH allele. In vitro, this reduces the oncogenic stress of DUX4 high-level expression. Moreover, patient samples of IGH-DUX4 B-ALL have similar expression profile and IGH breakpoints as Nalm6, suggesting a common mechanism to allow optimal dosage of non-toxic DUX4 expression.

April 21, 2020  |  

Development of a metabolic pathway transfer and genomic integration system for the syngas-fermenting bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii.

Clostridium spp. can synthesize valuable chemicals and fuels by utilizing diverse waste-stream substrates, including starchy biomass, lignocellulose, and industrial waste gases. However, metabolic engineering in Clostridium spp. is challenging due to the low efficiency of gene transfer and genomic integration of entire biosynthetic pathways.We have developed a reliable gene transfer and genomic integration system for the syngas-fermenting bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii based on the conjugal transfer of donor plasmids containing large transgene cassettes (>?5 kb) followed by the inducible activation of Himar1 transposase to promote integration. We established a conjugation protocol for the efficient generation of transconjugants using the Gram-positive origins of replication repL and repH. We also investigated the impact of DNA methylation on conjugation efficiency by testing donor constructs with all possible combinations of Dam and Dcm methylation patterns, and used bisulfite conversion and PacBio sequencing to determine the DNA methylation profile of the C. ljungdahlii genome, resulting in the detection of four sequence motifs with N6-methyladenosine. As proof of concept, we demonstrated the transfer and genomic integration of a heterologous acetone biosynthesis pathway using a Himar1 transposase system regulated by a xylose-inducible promoter. The functionality of the integrated pathway was confirmed by detecting enzyme proteotypic peptides and the formation of acetone and isopropanol by C. ljungdahlii cultures utilizing syngas as a carbon and energy source.The developed multi-gene delivery system offers a versatile tool to integrate and stably express large biosynthetic pathways in the industrial promising syngas-fermenting microorganism C. ljungdahlii. The simple transfer and stable integration of large gene clusters (like entire biosynthetic pathways) is expanding the range of possible fermentation products of heterologously expressing recombinant strains. We also believe that the developed gene delivery system can be adapted to other clostridial strains as well.

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