September 22, 2019  |  

The state of long non-coding RNA biology.

Transcriptomic studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of the genomes of mammals and other complex organisms is expressed in highly dynamic and cell-specific patterns to produce large numbers of intergenic, antisense and intronic long non-protein-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Despite well characterized examples, their scaling with developmental complexity, and many demonstrations of their association with cellular processes, development and diseases, lncRNAs are still to be widely accepted as major players in gene regulation. This may reflect an underappreciation of the extent and precision of the epigenetic control of differentiation and development, where lncRNAs appear to have a central role, likely as organizational and guide molecules: most lncRNAs are nuclear-localized and chromatin-associated, with some involved in the formation of specialized subcellular domains. I suggest that a reassessment of the conceptual framework of genetic information and gene expression in the 4-dimensional ontogeny of spatially organized multicellular organisms is required. Together with this and further studies on their biology, the key challenges now are to determine the structure?function relationships of lncRNAs, which may be aided by emerging evidence of their modular structure, the role of RNA editing and modification in enabling epigenetic plasticity, and the role of RNA signaling in transgenerational inheritance of experience.


September 22, 2019  |  

Universal alternative splicing of noncoding exons.

The human transcriptome is so large, diverse, and dynamic that, even after a decade of investigation by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), we have yet to resolve its true dimensions. RNA-seq suffers from an expression-dependent bias that impedes characterization of low-abundance transcripts. We performed targeted single-molecule and short-read RNA-seq to survey the transcriptional landscape of a single human chromosome (Hsa21) at unprecedented resolution. Our analysis reaches the lower limits of the transcriptome, identifying a fundamental distinction between protein-coding and noncoding gene content: almost every noncoding exon undergoes alternative splicing, producing a seemingly limitless variety of isoforms. Analysis of syntenic regions of the mouse genome shows that few noncoding exons are shared between human and mouse, yet human splicing profiles are recapitulated on Hsa21 in mouse cells, indicative of regulation by a deeply conserved splicing code. We propose that noncoding exons are functionally modular, with alternative splicing generating an enormous repertoire of potential regulatory RNAs and a rich transcriptional reservoir for gene evolution. Crown Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of a novel fusion transcript between human relaxin-1 (RLN1) and human relaxin-2 (RLN2) in prostate cancer.

Simultaneous expression of highly homologous RLN1 and RLN2 genes in prostate impairs their accurate delineation. We used PacBio SMRT sequencing and RNA-Seq in LNCaP cells in order to dissect the expression of RLN1 and RLN2 variants. We identified a novel fusion transcript comprising the RLN1 and RLN2 genes and found evidence of its expression in the normal and prostate cancer tissues. The RLN1-RLN2 fusion putatively encodes RLN2 isoform with the deleted secretory signal peptide. The identification of the fusion transcript provided information to determine unique RLN1-RLN2 fusion and RLN1 regions. The RLN1-RLN2 fusion was co-expressed with RLN1 in LNCaP cells, but the two gene products were inversely regulated by androgens. We showed that RLN1 is underrepresented in common PCa cell lines in comparison to normal and PCa tissue. The current study brings a highly relevant update to the relaxin field, and will encourage further studies of RLN1 and RLN2 in PCa and broader. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Draft genome assembly of the invasive cane toad, Rhinella marina.

The cane toad (Rhinella marina formerly Bufo marinus) is a species native to Central and South America that has spread across many regions of the globe. Cane toads are known for their rapid adaptation and deleterious impacts on native fauna in invaded regions. However, despite an iconic status, there are major gaps in our understanding of cane toad genetics. The availability of a genome would help to close these gaps and accelerate cane toad research.We report a draft genome assembly for R. marina, the first of its kind for the Bufonidae family. We used a combination of long-read Pacific Biosciences RS II and short-read Illumina HiSeq X sequencing to generate 359.5 Gb of raw sequence data. The final hybrid assembly of 31,392 scaffolds was 2.55 Gb in length with a scaffold N50 of 168 kb. BUSCO analysis revealed that the assembly included full length or partial fragments of 90.6% of tetrapod universal single-copy orthologs (n = 3950), illustrating that the gene-containing regions have been well assembled. Annotation predicted 25,846 protein coding genes with similarity to known proteins in Swiss-Prot. Repeat sequences were estimated to account for 63.9% of the assembly.The R. marina draft genome assembly will be an invaluable resource that can be used to further probe the biology of this invasive species. Future analysis of the genome will provide insights into cane toad evolution and enrich our understanding of their interplay with the ecosystem at large.


July 7, 2019  |  

Representing genetic variation with synthetic DNA standards.

The identification of genetic variation with next-generation sequencing is confounded by the complexity of the human genome sequence and by biases that arise during library preparation, sequencing and analysis. We have developed a set of synthetic DNA standards, termed ‘sequins’, that emulate human genetic features and constitute qualitative and quantitative spike-in controls for genome sequencing. Sequencing reads derived from sequins align exclusively to an artificial in silico reference chromosome, rather than the human reference genome, which allows them them to be partitioned for parallel analysis. Here we use this approach to represent common and clinically relevant genetic variation, ranging from single nucleotide variants to large structural rearrangements and copy-number variation. We validate the design and performance of sequin standards by comparison to examples in the NA12878 reference genome, and we demonstrate their utility during the detection and quantification of variants. We provide sequins as a standardized, quantitative resource against which human genetic variation can be measured and diagnostic performance assessed.


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