June 1, 2021  |  

Mitochondrial DNA sequencing using PacBio SMRT technology

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a compact, double-stranded circular genome of 16,569 bp with a cytosine-rich light (L) chain and a guanine-rich heavy (H) chain. mtDNA mutations have been increasingly recognized as important contributors to an array of human diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and Kearns–Sayre syndrome. mtDNA mutations can affect all of the 1000-10,000 copies of the mitochondrial genome present in a cell (homoplasmic mutation) or only a subset of copies (heteroplasmic mutation). The ratio of normal to mutant mtDNAs within cells is a significant factor in whether mutations will result in disease, as well as the clinical presentation, penetrance, and severity of the phenotype. Over time, heteroplasmic mutations can become homoplastic due to differential replication and random assortment. Full characterization of the mitochondrial genome would involve detection of not only homoplastic but heteroplasmic mutations, as well as complete phasing. Previously, we sequenced human mtDNA on the PacBio RS II System with two partially overlapping amplicons. Here, we present amplification-free, full-length sequencing of linearized mtDNA using the Sequel System. Full-length sequencing allows variant phasing along the entire mitochondrial genome, identification of heteroplasmic variants, and detection of epigenetic modifications that are lost in amplicon-based methods.

April 21, 2020  |  

Comparison of mitochondrial DNA variants detection using short- and long-read sequencing.

The recent advent of long-read sequencing technologies is expected to provide reasonable answers to genetic challenges unresolvable by short-read sequencing, primarily the inability to accurately study structural variations, copy number variations, and homologous repeats in complex parts of the genome. However, long-read sequencing comes along with higher rates of random short deletions and insertions, and single nucleotide errors. The relatively higher sequencing accuracy of short-read sequencing has kept it as the first choice of screening for single nucleotide variants and short deletions and insertions. Albeit, short-read sequencing still suffers from systematic errors that tend to occur at specific positions where a high depth of reads is not always capable to correct for these errors. In this study, we compared the genotyping of mitochondrial DNA variants in three samples using PacBio’s Sequel (Pacific Biosciences Inc., Menlo Park, CA, USA) long-read sequencing and illumina’s HiSeqX10 (illumine Inc., San Diego, CA, USA) short-read sequencing data. We concluded that, despite the differences in the type and frequency of errors in the long-reads sequencing, its accuracy is still comparable to that of short-reads for genotyping short nuclear variants; due to the randomness of errors in long reads, a lower coverage, around 37 reads, can be sufficient to correct for these random errors.

April 21, 2020  |  

A systematic review of the Trypanosoma cruzi genetic heterogeneity, host immune response and genetic factors as plausible drivers of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy.

Chagas disease is a complex tropical pathology caused by the kinetoplastid Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite displays massive genetic diversity and has been classified by international consensus in at least six Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) that are broadly distributed in the American continent. The main clinical manifestation of the disease is the chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCC) that is lethal in the infected individuals. However, one intriguing feature is that only 30-40% of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Some authors have suggested that the immune response, host genetic factors, virulence factors and even the massive genetic heterogeneity of T. cruzi are responsible of this clinical pattern. To date, no conclusive data support the reason why a few percentages of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Therefore, we decided to conduct a systematic review analysing the host genetic factors, immune response, cytokine production, virulence factors and the plausible association of the parasite DTUs and CCC. The epidemiological and clinical implications are herein discussed.

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