June 1, 2021  |  

Candidate gene screening using long-read sequencing

We have developed several candidate gene screening applications for both Neuromuscular and Neurological disorders. The power behind these applications comes from the use of long-read sequencing. It allows us to access previously unresolvable and even unsequencable genomic regions. SMRT Sequencing offers uniform coverage, a lack of sequence context bias, and very high accuracy. In addition, it is also possible to directly detect epigenetic signatures and characterize full-length gene transcripts through assembly-free isoform sequencing. In addition to calling the bases, SMRT Sequencing uses the kinetic information from each nucleotide to distinguish between modified and native bases.


June 1, 2021  |  

Screening and characterization of causative structural variants for bipolar disorder in a significantly linked chromosomal region onXq24-q27 in an extended pedigree from a genetic isolate

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a phenotypically and genetically complex and debilitating neurological disorder that affects 1% of the worldwide population. There is compelling evidence from family, twin and adoption studies supporting the involvement of a genetic predisposition in BD with estimated heritability up to ~ 80%. The risk in first-degree relatives is ten times higher than in the general population. Linkage and association studies have implicated multiple putative chromosomal loci for BP susceptibility, however no disease genes have been identified to date.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-Molecule Sequencing: Towards Clinical Applications.

In the past several years, single-molecule sequencing platforms, such as those by Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, have become available to researchers and are currently being tested for clinical applications. They offer exceptionally long reads that permit direct sequencing through regions of the genome inaccessible or difficult to analyze by short-read platforms. This includes disease-causing long repetitive elements, extreme GC content regions, and complex gene loci. Similarly, these platforms enable structural variation characterization at previously unparalleled resolution and direct detection of epigenetic marks in native DNA. Here, we review how these technologies are opening up new clinical avenues that are being applied to pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, constitutional disorders, pharmacogenomics, cancer, and more.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic Variation, Comparative Genomics, and the Diagnosis of Disease.

The discovery of mutations associated with human genetic dis- ease is an exercise in comparative genomics (see Glossary). Although there are many different strategies and approaches, the central premise is that affected persons harbor a significant excess of pathogenic DNA variants as com- pared with a group of unaffected persons (controls) that is either clinically defined1 or established by surveying large swaths of the general population.2 The more exclu- sive the variant is to the disease, the greater its penetrance, the larger its effect size, and the more relevant it becomes to both disease diagnosis and future therapeutic investigation. The most popular approach used by researchers in human genetics is the case–control design, but there are others that can be used to track variants and disease in a family context or that consider the probability of different classes of mutations based on evolutionary patterns of divergence or de novo mutational change.3,4 Although the approaches may be straightforward, the discovery of patho- genic variation and its mechanism of action often is less trivial, and decades of research can be required in order to identify the variants underlying both mendelian and complex genetic traits.


April 21, 2020  |  

An integrated whole genome analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveals insights into relationship between its genome, transcriptome and methylome.

Human tuberculosis disease (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is a complex disease, with a spectrum of outcomes. Genomic, transcriptomic and methylation studies have revealed differences between Mtb lineages, likely to impact on transmission, virulence and drug resistance. However, so far no studies have integrated sequence-based genomic, transcriptomic and methylation characterisation across a common set of samples, which is critical to understand how DNA sequence and methylation affect RNA expression and, ultimately, Mtb pathogenesis. Here we perform such an integrated analysis across 22?M. tuberculosis clinical isolates, representing ancient (lineage 1) and modern (lineages 2 and 4) strains. The results confirm the presence of lineage-specific differential gene expression, linked to specific SNP-based expression quantitative trait loci: with 10 eQTLs involving SNPs in promoter regions or transcriptional start sites; and 12 involving potential functional impairment of transcriptional regulators. Methylation status was also found to have a role in transcription, with evidence of differential expression in 50 genes across lineage 4 samples. Lack of methylation was associated with three novel variants in mamA, likely to cause loss of function of this enzyme. Overall, our work shows the relationship of DNA sequence and methylation to RNA expression, and differences between ancient and modern lineages. Further studies are needed to verify the functional consequences of the identified mechanisms of gene expression regulation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Bayesian nonparametric discovery of isoforms and individual specific quantification.

Most human protein-coding genes can be transcribed into multiple distinct mRNA isoforms. These alternative splicing patterns encourage molecular diversity, and dysregulation of isoform expression plays an important role in disease etiology. However, isoforms are difficult to characterize from short-read RNA-seq data because they share identical subsequences and occur in different frequencies across tissues and samples. Here, we develop BIISQ, a Bayesian nonparametric model for isoform discovery and individual specific quantification from short-read RNA-seq data. BIISQ does not require isoform reference sequences but instead estimates an isoform catalog shared across samples. We use stochastic variational inference for efficient posterior estimates and demonstrate superior precision and recall for simulations compared to state-of-the-art isoform reconstruction methods. BIISQ shows the most gains for low abundance isoforms, with 36% more isoforms correctly inferred at low coverage versus a multi-sample method and 170% more versus single-sample methods. We estimate isoforms in the GEUVADIS RNA-seq data and validate inferred isoforms by associating genetic variants with isoform ratios.


September 22, 2019  |  

Recurrent structural variation, clustered sites of selection, and disease risk for the complement factor H (CFH) gene family.

Structural variation and single-nucleotide variation of the complement factor H (CFH) gene family underlie several complex genetic diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS). To understand its diversity and evolution, we performed high-quality sequencing of this ~360-kbp locus in six primate lineages, including multiple human haplotypes. Comparative sequence analyses reveal two distinct periods of gene duplication leading to the emergence of four CFH-related (CFHR) gene paralogs (CFHR2 and CFHR4 ~25-35 Mya and CFHR1 and CFHR3 ~7-13 Mya). Remarkably, all evolutionary breakpoints share a common ~4.8-kbp segment corresponding to an ancestral CFHR gene promoter that has expanded independently throughout primate evolution. This segment is recurrently reused and juxtaposed with a donor duplication containing exons 8 and 9 from ancestral CFH, creating four CFHR fusion genes that include lineage-specific members of the gene family. Combined analysis of >5,000 AMD cases and controls identifies a significant burden of a rare missense mutation that clusters at the N terminus of CFH [P = 5.81 × 10-8, odds ratio (OR) = 9.8 (3.67-Infinity)]. A bipolar clustering pattern of rare nonsynonymous mutations in patients with AMD (P < 10-3) and AHUS (P = 0.0079) maps to functional domains that show evidence of positive selection during primate evolution. Our structural variation analysis in >2,400 individuals reveals five recurrent rearrangement breakpoints that show variable frequency among AMD cases and controls. These data suggest a dynamic and recurrent pattern of mutation critical to the emergence of new CFHR genes but also in the predisposition to complex human genetic disease phenotypes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Bacteroides dorei dominates gut microbiome prior to autoimmunity in Finnish children at high risk for type 1 diabetes.

The incidence of the autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes (T1D), has increased dramatically over the last half century in many developed countries and is particularly high in Finland and other Nordic countries. Along with genetic predisposition, environmental factors are thought to play a critical role in this increase. As with other autoimmune diseases, the gut microbiome is thought to play a potential role in controlling progression to T1D in children with high genetic risk, but we know little about how the gut microbiome develops in children with high genetic risk for T1D. In this study, the early development of the gut microbiomes of 76 children at high genetic risk for T1D was determined using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Stool samples from children born in the same hospital in Turku, Finland were collected at monthly intervals beginning at 4-6 months after birth until 2.2 years of age. Of those 76 children, 29 seroconverted to T1D-related autoimmunity (cases) including 22 who later developed T1D, the remaining 47 subjects remained healthy (controls). While several significant compositional differences in low abundant species prior to seroconversion were found, one highly abundant group composed of two closely related species, Bacteroides dorei and Bacteroides vulgatus, was significantly higher in cases compared to controls prior to seroconversion. Metagenomic sequencing of samples high in the abundance of the B. dorei/vulgatus group before seroconversion, as well as longer 16S rRNA sequencing identified this group as Bacteroides dorei. The abundance of B. dorei peaked at 7.6 months in cases, over 8 months prior to the appearance of the first islet autoantibody, suggesting that early changes in the microbiome may be useful for predicting T1D autoimmunity in genetically susceptible infants. The cause of increased B. dorei abundance in cases is not known but its timing appears to coincide with the introduction of solid food.


September 22, 2019  |  

Structural variants exhibit allelic heterogeneity and shape variation in complex traits

Despite extensive effort to reveal the genetic basis of complex phenotypic variation, studies typically explain only a fraction of trait heritability. It has been hypothesized that individually rare hidden structural variants (SVs) could account for a significant fraction of variation in complex traits. To investigate this hypothesis, we assembled 14 Drosophila melanogaster genomes and systematically identified more than 20,000 euchromatic SVs, of which ~40% are invisible to high specificity short read genotyping approaches. SVs are common in Drosophila genes, with almost one third of diploid individuals harboring an SV in genes larger than 5kb, and nearly a quarter harboring multiple SVs in genes larger than 10kb. We show that SV alleles are rarer than amino acid polymorphisms, implying that they are more strongly deleterious. A number of functionally important genes harbor previously hidden structural variants that likely affect complex phenotypes (e.g., Cyp6g1, Drsl5, Cyp28d1&2, InR, and Gss1&2). Furthermore, SVs are overrepresented in quantitative trait locus candidate genes from eight Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource (DSPR) mapping experiments. We conclude that SVs are pervasive in genomes, are frequently present as heterogeneous allelic series, and can act as rare alleles of large effect.


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