June 1, 2021  |  

Improving the goat long-read assembly with optical mapping and Hi-C scaffolding

Reference genome assemblies provide important context in genetics by standardizing the order of genes and providing a universal set of coordinates for individual nucleotides. Often due to the high complexity of genic regions and higher copy number of genes involved in immune function, immunity-related genes are often misassembled in current reference assemblies. This problem is particularly ubiquitous in the reference genomes of non-model organisms as they often do not receive the years of curation necessary to resolve annotation and assembly errors. In this study, we reassemble a reference genome of the goat (Capra hircus) using modern PacBio technology in tandem with BioNano Genomics Irys optical maps and Lachesis clustering in order to provide a high quality reference assembly without the need for extensive filtering. Initial PacBio assemblies using P5C4 chemistry achieved contig N50’s of 4 Megabases and a BUSCO completion score of 84.0%, which is comparable to several finished model organism reference assemblies. We used BioNano Genomics’ Irys platform to generate 336 scaffolds from this data with a scaffold N50 of 24 megabases and total genome coverage of 98%. Lachesis interaction maps were used with a clustering algorithm to associate Irys scaffolds into the expected 30 chromosome physical maps. Comparisons of the initial hybrid scaffolds generated from the long read contigs and optical map information to a previously generated RH map revealed that the entirety of the Goat autosome 20 physical map was contained within one scaffold. Additionally, the BioNano scaffolding resolved several difficult regions that contained genes related to innate immunity which were problem regions in previous reference genome assemblies.

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.

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