April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequencing for rare human genetic diseases.

During the past decade, the search for pathogenic mutations in rare human genetic diseases has involved huge efforts to sequence coding regions, or the entire genome, using massively parallel short-read sequencers. However, the approximate current diagnostic rate is <50% using these approaches, and there remain many rare genetic diseases with unknown cause. There may be many reasons for this, but one plausible explanation is that the responsible mutations are in regions of the genome that are difficult to sequence using conventional technologies (e.g., tandem-repeat expansion or complex chromosomal structural aberrations). Despite the drawbacks of high cost and a shortage of standard analytical methods, several studies have analyzed pathogenic changes in the genome using long-read sequencers. The results of these studies provide hope that further application of long-read sequencers to identify the causative mutations in unsolved genetic diseases may expand our understanding of the human genome and diseases. Such approaches may also be applied to molecular diagnosis and therapeutic strategies for patients with genetic diseases in the future.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of LINE-1 transposons in a human genome at allelic resolution

The activity of the retrotransposon LINE-1 has created a substantial portion of the human genome. Most of this sequence comprises fractured and debilitated LINE-1s. An accurate approximation of the number, location, and sequence of the LINE-1 elements present in any single genome has proven elusive due to the difficulty of assembling and phasing the repetitive and polymorphic regions of the human genome. Through an in-depth analysis of publicly-available, deep, long-read assemblies of nearly homozygous human genomes, we defined the location and sequence of all intact LINE-1s in these assemblies. We found 148 and 142 intact LINE-1s in two nearly homozygous assemblies. A combination of these assemblies suggests a diploid human genome contains at least 50% more intact LINE-1s than previous estimates textendash in this case, 290 intact LINE-1s at 194 loci. We think this is the best approximation, to date, of the number of intact LINE-1s in a single diploid human genome. In addition to counting intact LINE-1 elements, we resolved the sequence of each element, including some LINE-1 elements in unassembled, presumably centromeric regions of the genome. A comparison of the intact LINE-1s in each assembly shows the specific pattern of variation between these genomes, including LINE-1s that remain intact in only one genome, allelic variation in shared intact LINE-1s, and LINE-1s that are unique (presumably young) insertions in only one genome. We found that many old elements (> 6 million years old) remain intact, and comparison of the young and intact LINE-1s across assemblies reinforces the notion that only a small portion of all LINE-1 sequences that may be intact in the genomes of the human population has been uncovered. This dataset provides the first nearly comprehensive estimate of LINE-1 diversity within an individual, an important dataset in the quest to understand the functional consequences of sequence variation in LINE-1 and the complete set of LINE-1s in the human population.


April 21, 2020  |  

Human contamination in bacterial genomes has created thousands of spurious proteins.

Contaminant sequences that appear in published genomes can cause numerous problems for downstream analyses, particularly for evolutionary studies and metagenomics projects. Our large-scale scan of complete and draft bacterial and archaeal genomes in the NCBI RefSeq database reveals that 2250 genomes are contaminated by human sequence. The contaminant sequences derive primarily from high-copy human repeat regions, which themselves are not adequately represented in the current human reference genome, GRCh38. The absence of the sequences from the human assembly offers a likely explanation for their presence in bacterial assemblies. In some cases, the contaminating contigs have been erroneously annotated as containing protein-coding sequences, which over time have propagated to create spurious protein “families” across multiple prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. As a result, 3437 spurious protein entries are currently present in the widely used nr and TrEMBL protein databases. We report here an extensive list of contaminant sequences in bacterial genome assemblies and the proteins associated with them. We found that nearly all contaminants occurred in small contigs in draft genomes, which suggests that filtering out small contigs from draft genome assemblies may mitigate the issue of contamination while still keeping nearly all of the genuine genomic sequences. © 2019 Breitwieser et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-Molecule Sequencing: Towards Clinical Applications.

In the past several years, single-molecule sequencing platforms, such as those by Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, have become available to researchers and are currently being tested for clinical applications. They offer exceptionally long reads that permit direct sequencing through regions of the genome inaccessible or difficult to analyze by short-read platforms. This includes disease-causing long repetitive elements, extreme GC content regions, and complex gene loci. Similarly, these platforms enable structural variation characterization at previously unparalleled resolution and direct detection of epigenetic marks in native DNA. Here, we review how these technologies are opening up new clinical avenues that are being applied to pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, constitutional disorders, pharmacogenomics, cancer, and more.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterizing the major structural variant alleles of the human genome.

In order to provide a comprehensive resource for human structural variants (SVs), we generated long-read sequence data and analyzed SVs for fifteen human genomes. We sequence resolved 99,604 insertions, deletions, and inversions including 2,238 (1.6 Mbp) that are shared among all discovery genomes with an additional 13,053 (6.9 Mbp) present in the majority, indicating minor alleles or errors in the reference. Genotyping in 440 additional genomes confirms the most common SVs in unique euchromatin are now sequence resolved. We report a ninefold SV bias toward the last 5 Mbp of human chromosomes with nearly 55% of all VNTRs (variable number of tandem repeats) mapping to this portion of the genome. We identify SVs affecting coding and noncoding regulatory loci improving annotation and interpretation of functional variation. These data provide the framework to construct a canonical human reference and a resource for developing advanced representations capable of capturing allelic diversity. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Sequence properties of certain GC rich avian genes, their origins and absence from genome assemblies: case studies.

More and more eukaryotic genomes are sequenced and assembled, most of them presented as a complete model in which missing chromosomal regions are filled by Ns and where a few chromosomes may be lacking. Avian genomes often contain sequences with high GC content, which has been hypothesized to be at the origin of many missing sequences in these genomes. We investigated features of these missing sequences to discover why some may not have been integrated into genomic libraries and/or sequenced.The sequences of five red jungle fowl cDNA models with high GC content were used as queries to search publicly available datasets of Illumina and Pacbio sequencing reads. These were used to reconstruct the leptin, TNFa, MRPL52, PCP2 and PET100 genes, all of which are absent from the red jungle fowl genome model. These gene sequences displayed elevated GC contents, had intron sizes that were sometimes larger than non-avian orthologues, and had non-coding regions that contained numerous tandem and inverted repeat sequences with motifs able to assemble into stable G-quadruplexes and intrastrand dyadic structures. Our results suggest that Illumina technology was unable to sequence the non-coding regions of these genes. On the other hand, PacBio technology was able to sequence these regions, but with dramatically lower efficiency than would typically be expected.High GC content was not the principal reason why numerous GC-rich regions of avian genomes are missing from genome assembly models. Instead, it is the presence of tandem repeats containing motifs capable of assembling into very stable secondary structures that is likely responsible.


April 21, 2020  |  

Differential retention of transposable element-derived sequences in outcrossing Arabidopsis genomes.

Transposable elements (TEs) are genomic parasites with major impacts on host genome architecture and host adaptation. A proper evaluation of their evolutionary significance has been hampered by the paucity of short scale phylogenetic comparisons between closely related species. Here, we characterized the dynamics of TE accumulation at the micro-evolutionary scale by comparing two closely related plant species, Arabidopsis lyrata and A. halleri.Joint genome annotation in these two outcrossing species confirmed that both contain two distinct populations of TEs with either ‘recent’ or ‘old’ insertion histories. Identification of rare segregating insertions suggests that diverse TE families contribute to the ongoing dynamics of TE accumulation in the two species. Orthologous TE fragments (i.e. those that have been maintained in both species), tend to be located closer to genes than those that are retained in one species only. Compared to non-orthologous TE insertions, those that are orthologous tend to produce fewer short interfering RNAs, are less heavily methylated when found within or adjacent to genes and these tend to have lower expression levels. These findings suggest that long-term retention of TE insertions reflects their frequent acquisition of adaptive roles and/or the deleterious effects of removing nearly neutral TE insertions when they are close to genes.Our results indicate a rapid evolutionary dynamics of the TE landscape in these two outcrossing species, with an important input of a diverse set of new insertions with variable propensity to resist deletion.


April 21, 2020  |  

Construction of JRG (Japanese reference genome) with single-molecule real-time sequencing

In recent genome analyses, population-specific reference panels have indicated important. However, reference panels based on short-read sequencing data do not sufficiently cover long insertions. Therefore, the nature of long insertions has not been well documented. Here, we assembled a Japanese genome using single-molecule real-time sequencing data and characterized insertions found in the assembled genome. We identified 3691 insertions ranging from 100?bps to ~10,000?bps in the assembled genome relative to the international reference sequence (GRCh38). To validate and characterize these insertions, we mapped short-reads from 1070 Japanese individuals and 728 individuals from eight other populations to insertions integrated into GRCh38. With this result, we constructed JRGv1 (Japanese Reference Genome version 1) by integrating the 903 verified insertions, totaling 1,086,173 bases, shared by at least two Japanese individuals into GRCh38. We also constructed decoyJRGv1 by concatenating 3559 verified insertions, totaling 2,536,870 bases, shared by at least two Japanese individuals or by six other assemblies. This assembly improved the alignment ratio by 0.4% on average. These results demonstrate the importance of refining the reference assembly and creating a population-specific reference genome. JRGv1 and decoyJRGv1 are available at the JRG website.


April 21, 2020  |  

Horizontal transfer of a retrotransposon between parasitic nematodes and the common shrew.

As the genomes of more metazoan species are sequenced, reports of horizontal transposon transfers (HTT) have increased. Our understanding of the mechanisms of such events is at an early stage. The close physical relationship between a parasite and its host could facilitate horizontal transfer. To date, two studies have identified horizontal transfer of RTEs, a class of retrotransposable elements, involving parasites: ticks might act as vector for BovB between ruminants and squamates, and AviRTE was transferred between birds and parasitic nematodes.We searched for RTEs shared between nematode and mammalian genomes. Given their physical proximity, it was necessary to detect and remove sequence contamination from the genome datasets, which would otherwise distort the signal of horizontal transfer. We developed an approach that is based on reads instead of genomic sequences to reliably detect contamination. From comparison of 43 RTEs across 197 genomes, we identified a single putative case of horizontal transfer: we detected RTE1_Sar from Sorex araneus, the common shrew, in parasitic nematodes. From the taxonomic distribution and evolutionary analysis, we show that RTE1_Sar was horizontally transferred.We identified a new horizontal RTE transfer in host-parasite interactions, which suggests that it is not uncommon. Further, we present and provide the workflow a read-based method to distinguish between contamination and horizontal transfer.


September 22, 2019  |  

Revealing missing human protein isoforms based on Ab initio prediction, RNA-seq and proteomics.

Biological and biomedical research relies on comprehensive understanding of protein-coding transcripts. However, the total number of human proteins is still unknown due to the prevalence of alternative splicing. In this paper, we detected 31,566 novel transcripts with coding potential by filtering our ab initio predictions with 50 RNA-seq datasets from diverse tissues/cell lines. PCR followed by MiSeq sequencing showed that at least 84.1% of these predicted novel splice sites could be validated. In contrast to known transcripts, the expression of these novel transcripts were highly tissue-specific. Based on these novel transcripts, at least 36 novel proteins were detected from shotgun proteomics data of 41 breast samples. We also showed L1 retrotransposons have a more significant impact on the origin of new transcripts/genes than previously thought. Furthermore, we found that alternative splicing is extraordinarily widespread for genes involved in specific biological functions like protein binding, nucleoside binding, neuron projection, membrane organization and cell adhesion. In the end, the total number of human transcripts with protein-coding potential was estimated to be at least 204,950.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-wide characterization of human L1 antisense promoter-driven transcripts.

Long INterspersed Element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is the only autonomously active, transposable element in the human genome. L1 sequences comprise approximately 17 % of the human genome, but only the evolutionarily recent, human-specific subfamily is retrotransposition competent. The L1 promoter has a bidirectional orientation containing a sense promoter that drives the transcription of two proteins required for retrotransposition and an antisense promoter. The L1 antisense promoter can drive transcription of chimeric transcripts: 5′ L1 antisense sequences spliced to the exons of neighboring genes.The impact of L1 antisense promoter activity on cellular transcriptomes is poorly understood. To investigate this, we analyzed GenBank ESTs for messenger RNAs that initiate in the L1 antisense promoter. We identified 988 putative L1 antisense chimeric transcripts, 911 of which have not been previously reported. These appear to be alternative genic transcripts, sense-oriented with respect to gene and initiating near, but typically downstream of, the gene transcriptional start site. In multiple cell lines, L1 antisense promoters display enrichment for YY1 transcription factor and histone modifications associated with active promoters. Global run-on sequencing data support the activity of the L1 antisense promoter. We independently detected 124 L1 antisense chimeric transcripts using long read Pacific Biosciences RNA-seq data. Furthermore, we validated four chimeric transcripts by quantitative RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing and demonstrated that they are readily detectable in many normal human tissues.We present a comprehensive characterization of human L1 antisense promoter-driven transcripts and provide substantial evidence that they are transcribed in a variety of human cell-types. Our findings reveal a new wide-reaching aspect of L1 biology by identifying antisense transcripts affecting as many as 4 % of all human genes.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive approach to expression of L1 loci.

L1 elements represent the only currently active, autonomous retrotransposon in the human genome, and they make major contributions to human genetic instability. The vast majority of the 500 000 L1 elements in the genome are defective, and only a relatively few can contribute to the retrotransposition process. However, there is currently no comprehensive approach to identify the specific loci that are actively transcribed separate from the excess of L1-related sequences that are co-transcribed within genes. We have developed RNA-Seq procedures, as well as a 1200 bp 5? RACE product coupled with PACBio sequencing that can identify the specific L1 loci that contribute most of the L1-related RNA reads. At least 99% of L1-related sequences found in RNA do not arise from the L1 promoter, instead representing pieces of L1 incorporated in other cellular RNAs. In any given cell type a relatively few active L1 loci contribute to the ‘authentic’ L1 transcripts that arise from the L1 promoter, with significantly different loci seen expressed in different tissues.© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long reads: their purpose and place.

In recent years long-read technologies have moved from being a niche and specialist field to a point of relative maturity likely to feature frequently in the genomic landscape. Analogous to next generation sequencing, the cost of sequencing using long-read technologies has materially dropped whilst the instrument throughput continues to increase. Together these changes present the prospect of sequencing large numbers of individuals with the aim of fully characterizing genomes at high resolution. In this article, we will endeavour to present an introduction to long-read technologies showing: what long reads are; how they are distinct from short reads; why long reads are useful and how they are being used. We will highlight the recent developments in this field, and the applications and potential of these technologies in medical research, and clinical diagnostics and therapeutics.


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