September 22, 2019  |  

CLK-dependent exon recognition and conjoined gene formation revealed with a novel small molecule inhibitor.

CDC-like kinase phosphorylation of serine/arginine-rich proteins is central to RNA splicing reactions. Yet, the genomic network of CDC-like kinase-dependent RNA processing events remains poorly defined. Here, we explore the connectivity of genomic CDC-like kinase splicing functions by applying graduated, short-exposure, pharmacological CDC-like kinase inhibition using a novel small molecule (T3) with very high potency, selectivity, and cell-based stability. Using RNA-Seq, we define CDC-like kinase-responsive alternative splicing events, the large majority of which monotonically increase or decrease with increasing CDC-like kinase inhibition. We show that distinct RNA-binding motifs are associated with T3 response in skipped exons. Unexpectedly, we observe dose-dependent conjoined gene transcription, which is associated with motif enrichment in the last and second exons of upstream and downstream partners, respectively. siRNA knockdown of CLK2-associated genes significantly increases conjoined gene formation. Collectively, our results reveal an unexpected role for CDC-like kinase in conjoined gene formation, via regulation of 3′-end processing and associated splicing factors.The phosphorylation of serine/arginine-rich proteins by CDC-like kinase is a central regulatory mechanism for RNA splicing reactions. Here, the authors synthesize a novel small molecule CLK inhibitor and map CLK-responsive alternative splicing events and discover an effect on conjoined gene transcription.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive analysis of alternative splicing in paleopolyploid maize.

Identifying and characterizing alternative splicing (AS) enables our understanding of the biological role of transcript isoform diversity. This study describes the use of publicly available RNA-Seq data to identify and characterize the global diversity of AS isoforms in maize using the inbred lines B73 and Mo17, and a related species, sorghum. Identification and characterization of AS within maize tissues revealed that genes expressed in seed exhibit the largest differential AS relative to other tissues examined. Additionally, differences in AS between the two genotypes B73 and Mo17 are greatest within genes expressed in seed. We demonstrate that changes in the level of alternatively spliced transcripts (intron retention and exon skipping) do not solely reflect differences in total transcript abundance, and we present evidence that intron retention may act to fine-tune gene expression across seed development stages. Furthermore, we have identified temperature sensitive AS in maize and demonstrate that drought-induced changes in AS involve distinct sets of genes in reproductive and vegetative tissues. Examining our identified AS isoforms within B73 × Mo17 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) identified splicing QTL (sQTL). The 43.3% of cis-sQTL regulated junctions are actually identified as alternatively spliced junctions in our analysis, while 10 Mb windows on each side of 48.2% of trans-sQTLs overlap with splicing related genes. Using sorghum as an out-group enabled direct examination of loss or conservation of AS between homeologous genes representing the two subgenomes of maize. We identify several instances where AS isoforms that are conserved between one maize homeolog and its sorghum ortholog are absent from the second maize homeolog, suggesting that these AS isoforms may have been lost after the maize whole genome duplication event. This comprehensive analysis provides new insights into the complexity of AS in maize.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic imprinting mediates dosage compensation in a young plant XY system.

Sex chromosomes have repeatedly evolved from a pair of autosomes. Consequently, X and Y chromosomes initially have similar gene content, but ongoing Y degeneration leads to reduced expression and eventual loss of Y genes1. The resulting imbalance in gene expression between Y genes and the rest of the genome is expected to reduce male fitness, especially when protein networks have components from both autosomes and sex chromosomes. A diverse set of dosage compensating mechanisms that alleviates these negative effects has been described in animals2-4. However, the early steps in the evolution of dosage compensation remain unknown, and dosage compensation is poorly understood in plants5. Here, we describe a dosage compensation mechanism in the evolutionarily young XY sex determination system of the plant Silene latifolia. Genomic imprinting results in higher expression from the maternal X chromosome in both males and females. This compensates for reduced Y expression in males, but results in X overexpression in females and may be detrimental. It could represent a transient early stage in the evolution of dosage compensation. Our finding has striking resemblance to the first stage proposed by Ohno6 for the evolution of X inactivation in mammals.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comprehensive genomic analysis of malignant pleural mesothelioma identifies recurrent mutations, gene fusions and splicing alterations.

We analyzed transcriptomes (n = 211), whole exomes (n = 99) and targeted exomes (n = 103) from 216 malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) tumors. Using RNA-seq data, we identified four distinct molecular subtypes: sarcomatoid, epithelioid, biphasic-epithelioid (biphasic-E) and biphasic-sarcomatoid (biphasic-S). Through exome analysis, we found BAP1, NF2, TP53, SETD2, DDX3X, ULK2, RYR2, CFAP45, SETDB1 and DDX51 to be significantly mutated (q-score = 0.8) in MPMs. We identified recurrent mutations in several genes, including SF3B1 (~2%; 4/216) and TRAF7 (~2%; 5/216). SF3B1-mutant samples showed a splicing profile distinct from that of wild-type tumors. TRAF7 alterations occurred primarily in the WD40 domain and were, except in one case, mutually exclusive with NF2 alterations. We found recurrent gene fusions and splice alterations to be frequent mechanisms for inactivation of NF2, BAP1 and SETD2. Through integrated analyses, we identified alterations in Hippo, mTOR, histone methylation, RNA helicase and p53 signaling pathways in MPMs.


September 22, 2019  |  

Introduction to isoform sequencing using Pacific Biosciences technology (Iso-Seq)

Alternative RNA splicing is a known phenomenon, but we still do not have a complete catalog of isoforms that explain variability in the human transcriptome. We have made significant progress in developing methods to study variability of the transcriptome, but we are far away of having a complete picture of the transcriptome. The initial methods to study gene expression were based on cloning of cDNAs and Sanger sequencing. The strategy was labor-intensive and expensive. With the development of microarrays, different methods based on exon arrays and tiling arrays provided valuable information about RNA expression. However, the microarray presented significant limitations. Most of the limitations became apparent by 2005, but it was not until 2008 that an alternative method to study the transcriptome was developed. RNA Sequencing using next-generation sequencing (RNA-Seq) quickly became the technology of choice for gene expression profiling. Recently, the precision and sensitivity of RNA-Seq have come into question, especially for transcriptome reconstruction. This chapter will describe a relatively new method, “Isoform Sequencing (Iso-Seq). Iso-Seq was developed by Pacific Biosciences (PacBio), and it is capable of identifying new isoforms with extraordinary precision due to its long-read technology. The technique to create libraries is straightforward, and the PacBio RS II instrument generates the information in hours. The bioinformatics analysis is performed using the freely available SMRT® Portal software. The SMRT Portal is easy to use and capable of performing all the steps necessary to analyze the raw data and to generate high-quality full-length isoforms. For the universal acceptance of the Iso-Seq method, the capacity of the SMRT Cells needs to improve at least 10- to 100-fold to make the system affordable and attractive to users.


September 22, 2019  |  

Complex rearrangements and oncogene amplifications revealed by long-read DNA and RNA sequencing of a breast cancer cell line.

The SK-BR-3 cell line is one of the most important models for HER2+ breast cancers, which affect one in five breast cancer patients. SK-BR-3 is known to be highly rearranged, although much of the variation is in complex and repetitive regions that may be underreported. Addressing this, we sequenced SK-BR-3 using long-read single molecule sequencing from Pacific Biosciences and develop one of the most detailed maps of structural variations (SVs) in a cancer genome available, with nearly 20,000 variants present, most of which were missed by short-read sequencing. Surrounding the important ERBB2 oncogene (also known as HER2), we discover a complex sequence of nested duplications and translocations, suggesting a punctuated progression. Full-length transcriptome sequencing further revealed several novel gene fusions within the nested genomic variants. Combining long-read genome and transcriptome sequencing enables an in-depth analysis of how SVs disrupt the genome and sheds new light on the complex mechanisms involved in cancer genome evolution.© 2018 Nattestad et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Computational analysis of alternative splicing in plant genomes.

Computational analyses play crucial roles in characterizing splicing isoforms in plant genomes. In this review, we provide a survey of computational tools used in recently published, genome-scale splicing analyses in plants. We summarize the commonly used software and pipelines for read mapping, isoform reconstruction, isoform quantification, and differential expression analysis. We also discuss methods for analyzing long reads and the strategies to combine long and short reads in identifying splicing isoforms. We review several tools for characterizing local splicing events, splicing graphs, coding potential, and visualizing splicing isoforms. We further discuss the procedures for identifying conserved splicing isoforms across plant species. Finally, we discuss the outlook of integrating other genomic data with splicing analyses to identify regulatory mechanisms of AS on genome-wide scale. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read based assembly and annotation of a Drosophila simulans genome

Long-read sequencing technologies enable high-quality, contiguous genome assemblies. Here we used SMRT sequencing to assemble the genome of a Drosophila simulans strain originating from Madagascar, the ancestral range of the species. We generated 8 Gb of raw data (~50x coverage) with a mean read length of 6,410 bp, a NR50 of 9,125 bp and the longest subread at 49 kb. We benchmarked six different assemblers and merged the best two assemblies from Canu and Falcon. Our final assembly was 127.41 Mb with a N50 of 5.38 Mb and 305 contigs. We anchored more than 4 Mb of novel sequence to the major chromosome arms, and significantly improved the assembly of peri-centromeric and telomeric regions. Finally, we performed full-length transcript sequencing and used this data in conjunction with short-read RNAseq data to annotate 13,422 genes in the genome, improving the annotation in regions with complex, nested gene structures.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptional diversity during lineage commitment of human blood progenitors.

Blood cells derive from hematopoietic stem cells through stepwise fating events. To characterize gene expression programs driving lineage choice, we sequenced RNA from eight primary human hematopoietic progenitor populations representing the major myeloid commitment stages and the main lymphoid stage. We identified extensive cell type-specific expression changes: 6711 genes and 10,724 transcripts, enriched in non-protein-coding elements at early stages of differentiation. In addition, we found 7881 novel splice junctions and 2301 differentially used alternative splicing events, enriched in genes involved in regulatory processes. We demonstrated experimentally cell-specific isoform usage, identifying nuclear factor I/B (NFIB) as a regulator of megakaryocyte maturation-the platelet precursor. Our data highlight the complexity of fating events in closely related progenitor populations, the understanding of which is essential for the advancement of transplantation and regenerative medicine. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.


September 22, 2019  |  

GMAP and GSNAP for genomic sequence alignment: enhancements to speed, accuracy, and functionality.

The programs GMAP and GSNAP, for aligning RNA-Seq and DNA-Seq datasets to genomes, have evolved along with advances in biological methodology to handle longer reads, larger volumes of data, and new types of biological assays. The genomic representation has been improved to include linear genomes that can compare sequences using single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD) instructions, compressed genomic hash tables with fast access using SIMD instructions, handling of large genomes with more than four billion bp, and enhanced suffix arrays (ESAs) with novel data structures for fast access. Improvements to the algorithms have included a greedy match-and-extend algorithm using suffix arrays, segment chaining using genomic hash tables, diagonalization using segmental hash tables, and nucleotide-level dynamic programming procedures that use SIMD instructions and eliminate the need for F-loop calculations. Enhancements to the functionality of the programs include standardization of indel positions, handling of ambiguous splicing, clipping and merging of overlapping paired-end reads, and alignments to circular chromosomes and alternate scaffolds. The programs have been adapted for use in pipelines by integrating their usage into R/Bioconductor packages such as gmapR and HTSeqGenie, and these pipelines have facilitated the discovery of numerous biological phenomena.


September 22, 2019  |  

The sea lamprey germline genome provides insights into programmed genome rearrangement and vertebrate evolution.

The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) serves as a comparative model for reconstructing vertebrate evolution. To enable more informed analyses, we developed a new assembly of the lamprey germline genome that integrates several complementary data sets. Analysis of this highly contiguous (chromosome-scale) assembly shows that both chromosomal and whole-genome duplications have played significant roles in the evolution of ancestral vertebrate and lamprey genomes, including chromosomes that carry the six lamprey HOX clusters. The assembly also contains several hundred genes that are reproducibly eliminated from somatic cells during early development in lamprey. Comparative analyses show that gnathostome (mouse) homologs of these genes are frequently marked by polycomb repressive complexes (PRCs) in embryonic stem cells, suggesting overlaps in the regulatory logic of somatic DNA elimination and bivalent states that are regulated by early embryonic PRCs. This new assembly will enhance diverse studies that are informed by lampreys’ unique biology and evolutionary/comparative perspective.


September 22, 2019  |  

A survey of localized sequence rearrangements in human DNA.

Genomes mutate and evolve in ways simple (substitution or deletion of bases) and complex (e.g. chromosome shattering). We do not fully understand what types of complex mutation occur, and we cannot routinely characterize arbitrarily-complex mutations in a high-throughput, genome-wide manner. Long-read DNA sequencing methods (e.g. PacBio, nanopore) are promising for this task, because one read may encompass a whole complex mutation. We describe an analysis pipeline to characterize arbitrarily-complex ‘local’ mutations, i.e. intrachromosomal mutations encompassed by one DNA read. We apply it to nanopore and PacBio reads from one human cell line (NA12878), and survey sequence rearrangements, both real and artifactual. Almost all the real rearrangements belong to recurring patterns or motifs: the most common is tandem multiplication (e.g. heptuplication), but there are also complex patterns such as localized shattering, which resembles DNA damage by radiation. Gene conversions are identified, including one between hemoglobin gamma genes. This study demonstrates a way to find intricate rearrangements with any number of duplications, deletions, and repositionings. It demonstrates a probability-based method to resolve ambiguous rearrangements involving highly similar sequences, as occurs in gene conversion. We present a catalog of local rearrangements in one human cell line, and show which rearrangement patterns occur.


September 22, 2019  |  

Intraspecific comparative genomics of isolates of the Norway spruce pathogen (Heterobasidion parviporum) and identification of its potential virulence factors.

Heterobasidion parviporum is an economically most important fungal forest pathogen in northern Europe, causing root and butt rot disease of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and virulence of this species remain elusive. No reference genome to facilitate functional analysis is available for this species.To better understand the virulence factor at both phenotypic and genomic level, we characterized 15 H. parviporum isolates originating from different locations across Finland for virulence, vegetative growth, sporulation and saprotrophic wood decay. Wood decay capability and latitude of fungal origins exerted interactive effects on their virulence and appeared important for H. parviporum virulence. We sequenced the most virulent isolate, the first full genome sequences of H. parviporum as a reference genome, and re-sequenced the remaining 14 H. parviporum isolates. Genome-wide alignments and intrinsic polymorphism analysis showed that these isolates exhibited overall high genomic similarity with an average of at least 96% nucleotide identity when compared to the reference, yet had remarkable intra-specific level of polymorphism with a bias for CpG to TpG mutations. Reads mapping coverage analysis enabled the classification of all predicted genes into five groups and uncovered two genomic regions exclusively present in the reference with putative contribution to its higher virulence. Genes enriched for copy number variations (deletions and duplications) and nucleotide polymorphism were involved in oxidation-reduction processes and encoding domains relevant to transcription factors. Some secreted protein coding genes based on the genome-wide selection pressure, or the presence of variants were proposed as potential virulence candidates.Our study reported on the first reference genome sequence for this Norway spruce pathogen (H. parviporum). Comparative genomics analysis gave insight into the overall genomic variation among this fungal species and also facilitated the identification of several secreted protein coding genes as putative virulence factors for the further functional analysis. We also analyzed and identified phenotypic traits potentially linked to its virulence.


September 22, 2019  |  

Reproducible integration of multiple sequencing datasets to form high-confidence SNP, indel, and reference calls for five human genome reference materials

Benchmark small variant calls from the Genome in a Bottle Consortium (GIAB) for the CEPH/HapMap genome NA12878 (HG001) have been used extensively for developing, optimizing, and demonstrating performance of sequencing and bioinformatics methods. Here, we develop a reproducible, cloud-based pipeline to integrate multiple sequencing datasets and form benchmark calls, enabling application to arbitrary human genomes. We use these reproducible methods to form high-confidence calls with respect to GRCh37 and GRCh38 for HG001 and 4 additional broadly-consented genomes from the Personal Genome Project that are available as NIST Reference Materials. These new genomes’ broad, open consent with few restrictions on availability of samples and data is enabling a uniquely diverse array of applications. Our new methods produce 17% more high-confidence SNPs, 176% more indels, and 12% larger regions than our previously published calls. To demonstrate that these calls can be used for accurate benchmarking, we compare other high-quality callsets to ours (e.g., Illumina Platinum Genomes), and we demonstrate that the majority of discordant calls are errors in the other callsets, We also highlight challenges in interpreting performance metrics when benchmarking against imperfect high-confidence calls. We show that benchmarking tools from the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health can be used with our calls to stratify performance metrics by variant type and genome context and elucidate strengths and weaknesses of a method.


September 22, 2019  |  

SvABA: genome-wide detection of structural variants and indels by local assembly.

Structural variants (SVs), including small insertion and deletion variants (indels), are challenging to detect through standard alignment-based variant calling methods. Sequence assembly offers a powerful approach to identifying SVs, but is difficult to apply at scale genome-wide for SV detection due to its computational complexity and the difficulty of extracting SVs from assembly contigs. We describe SvABA, an efficient and accurate method for detecting SVs from short-read sequencing data using genome-wide local assembly with low memory and computing requirements. We evaluated SvABA’s performance on the NA12878 human genome and in simulated and real cancer genomes. SvABA demonstrates superior sensitivity and specificity across a large spectrum of SVs and substantially improves detection performance for variants in the 20-300 bp range, compared with existing methods. SvABA also identifies complex somatic rearrangements with chains of short (<1000 bp) templated-sequence insertions copied from distant genomic regions. We applied SvABA to 344 cancer genomes from 11 cancer types and found that short templated-sequence insertions occur in ~4% of all somatic rearrangements. Finally, we demonstrate that SvABA can identify sites of viral integration and cancer driver alterations containing medium-sized (50-300 bp) SVs.© 2018 Wala et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


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