September 22, 2019  |  

Revealing the transcriptomic complexity of switchgrass by PacBio long-read sequencing.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is an important bioenergy crop widely used for lignocellulosic research. While extensive transcriptomic analyses have been conducted on this species using short read-based sequencing techniques, very little has been reliably derived regarding alternatively spliced (AS) transcripts.We present an analysis of transcriptomes of six switchgrass tissue types pooled together, sequenced using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) single-molecular long-read technology. Our analysis identified 105,419 unique transcripts covering 43,570 known genes and 8795 previously unknown genes. 45,168 are novel transcripts of known genes. A total of 60,096 AS transcripts are identified, 45,628 being novel. We have also predicted 1549 transcripts of genes involved in cell wall construction and remodeling, 639 being novel transcripts of known cell wall genes. Most of the predicted transcripts are validated against Illumina-based short reads. Specifically, 96% of the splice junction sites in all the unique transcripts are validated by at least five Illumina reads. Comparisons between genes derived from our identified transcripts and the current genome annotation revealed that among the gene set predicted by both analyses, 16,640 have different exon-intron structures.Overall, substantial amount of new information is derived from the PacBio RNA data regarding both the transcriptome and the genome of switchgrass.

September 22, 2019  |  

Event analysis: Using transcript events to improve estimates of abundance in RNA-seq data.

Alternative splicing leverages genomic content by allowing the synthesis of multiple transcripts and, by implication, protein isoforms, from a single gene. However, estimating the abundance of transcripts produced in a given tissue from short sequencing reads is difficult and can result in both the construction of transcripts that do not exist, and the failure to identify true transcripts. An alternative approach is to catalog the events that make up isoforms (splice junctions and exons). We present here the Event Analysis (EA) approach, where we project transcripts onto the genome and identify overlapping/unique regions and junctions. In addition, all possible logical junctions are assembled into a catalog. Transcripts are filtered before quantitation based on simple measures: the proportion of the events detected, and the coverage. We find that mapping to a junction catalog is more efficient at detecting novel junctions than mapping in a splice aware manner. We identify 99.8% of true transcripts while iReckon identifies 82% of the true transcripts and creates more transcripts not included in the simulation than were initially used in the simulation. Using PacBio Iso-seq data from a mouse neural progenitor cell model, EA detects 60% of the novel junctions that are combinations of existing exons while only 43% are detected by STAR. EA further detects ~5,000 annotated junctions missed by STAR. Filtering transcripts based on the proportion of the transcript detected and the number of reads on average supporting that transcript captures 95% of the PacBio transcriptome. Filtering the reference transcriptome before quantitation, results in is a more stable estimate of isoform abundance, with improved correlation between replicates. This was particularly evident when EA is applied to an RNA-seq study of type 1 diabetes (T1D), where the coefficient of variation among subjects (n = 81) in the transcript abundance estimates was substantially reduced compared to the estimation using the full reference. EA focuses on individual transcriptional events. These events can be quantitate and analyzed directly or used to identify the probable set of expressed transcripts. Simple rules based on detected events and coverage used in filtering result in a dramatic improvement in isoform estimation without the use of ancillary data (e.g., ChIP, long reads) that may not be available for many studies. Copyright © 2018 Newman et al.

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  |  

The genomic landscape of molecular responses to natural drought stress in Panicum hallii

Environmental stress is a major driver of ecological community dynamics and agricultural productivity. This is especially true for soil water availability, because drought is the greatest abiotic inhibitor of worldwide crop yields. Here, we test the genetic basis of drought responses in the genetic model for C4perennial grasses, Panicum hallii, through population genomics, field-scale gene-expression (eQTL) analysis, and comparison of two complete genomes. While gene expression networks are dominated by local cis-regulatory elements, we observe three genomic hotspots of unlinked trans-regulatory loci. These regulatory hubs are four times more drought responsive than the genome-wide average. Additionally, cis- and trans-regulatory networks are more likely to have opposing effects than expected under neutral evolution, supporting a strong influence of compensatory evolution and stabilizing selection. These results implicate trans-regulatory evolution as a driver of drought responses and demonstrate the potential for crop improvement in drought-prone regions through modification of gene regulatory networks.

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