June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing for genome annotation and analysis of alternative splicing

In higher eukaryotic organisms, the majority of multi-exon genes are alternatively spliced. Different mRNA isoforms from the same gene can produce proteins that have distinct properties and functions. Thus, the importance of understanding the full complement of transcript isoforms with potential phenotypic impact cannot be understated. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences to survey transcriptome isoform diversity useful for gene discovery and annotation. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Our open-source computational pipeline delivers high-quality, non-redundant sequences for unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start sites, polyA tail, and gene fusion events. We applied the Iso-Seq method to the maize (Zea mays) inbred line B73. Full-length cDNAs from six diverse tissues were barcoded and sequenced across multiple size-fractionated SMRTbell libraries. A total of 111,151 unique transcripts were identified. More than half of these transcripts (57%) represented novel, sometimes tissue-specific, isoforms of known genes. In addition to the 2250 novel coding genes and 860 lncRNAs discovered, the Iso-Seq dataset corrected errors in existing gene models, highlighting the value of full-length transcripts for whole gene annotations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Schizophrenia risk variants influence multiple classes of transcripts of sorting nexin 19 (SNX19).

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many genomic loci associated with risk for schizophrenia, but unambiguous identification of the relationship between disease-associated variants and specific genes, and in particular their effect on risk conferring transcripts, has proven difficult. To better understand the specific molecular mechanism(s) at the schizophrenia locus in 11q25, we undertook cis expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL) mapping for this 2 megabase genomic region using postmortem human brain samples. To comprehensively assess the effects of genetic risk upon local expression, we evaluated multiple transcript features: genes, exons, and exon-exon junctions in multiple brain regions-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), hippocampus, and caudate. Genetic risk variants strongly associated with expression of SNX19 transcript features that tag multiple rare classes of SNX19 transcripts, whereas they only weakly affected expression of an exon-exon junction that tags the majority of abundant transcripts. The most prominent class of SNX19 risk-associated transcripts is predicted to be overexpressed, defined by an exon-exon splice junction between exons 8 and 10 (junc8.10) and that is predicted to encode proteins that lack the characteristic nexin C terminal domain. Risk alleles were also associated with either increased or decreased expression of multiple additional classes of transcripts. With RACE, molecular cloning, and long read sequencing, we found a number of novel SNX19 transcripts that further define the set of potential etiological transcripts. We explored epigenetic regulation of SNX19 expression and found that DNA methylation at CpG sites near the primary transcription start site and within exon 2 partially mediate the effects of risk variants on risk-associated expression. ATAC sequencing revealed that some of the most strongly risk-associated SNPs are located within a region of open chromatin, suggesting a nearby regulatory element is involved. These findings indicate a potentially complex molecular etiology, in which risk alleles for schizophrenia generate epigenetic alterations and dysregulation of multiple classes of SNX19 transcripts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Large Scale Profiling of Protein Isoforms Using Label-Free Quantitative Proteomics Revealed the Regulation of Nonsense-Mediated Decay in Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis).

Moso bamboo is an important forest species with a variety of ecological, economic, and cultural values. However, the gene annotation information of moso bamboo is only based on the transcriptome sequencing, lacking the evidence of proteome. The lignification and fiber in moso bamboo leads to a difficulty in the extraction of protein using conventional methods, which seriously hinders research on the proteomics of moso bamboo. The purpose of this study is to establish efficient methods for extracting the total proteins from moso bamboo for following mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteome identification. Here, we have successfully established a set of efficient methods for extracting total proteins of moso bamboo followed by mass spectrometry-based label-free quantitative proteome identification, which further improved the protein annotation of moso bamboo genes. In this study, 10,376 predicted coding genes were confirmed by quantitative proteomics, accounting for 35.8% of all annotated protein-coding genes. Proteome analysis also revealed the protein-coding potential of 1015 predicted long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), accounting for 51.03% of annotated lncRNAs. Thus, mass spectrometry-based proteomics provides a reliable method for gene annotation. Especially, quantitative proteomics revealed the translation patterns of proteins in moso bamboo. In addition, the 3284 transcript isoforms from 2663 genes identified by Pacific BioSciences (PacBio) single-molecule real-time long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) was confirmed on the protein level by mass spectrometry. Furthermore, domain analysis of mass spectrometry-identified proteins encoded in the same genomic locus revealed variations in domain composition pointing towards a functional diversification of protein isoform. Finally, we found that part transcripts targeted by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) could also be translated into proteins. In summary, proteomic analysis in this study improves the proteomics-assisted genome annotation of moso bamboo and is valuable to the large-scale research of functional genomics in moso bamboo. In summary, this study provided a theoretical basis and technical support for directional gene function analysis at the proteomics level in moso bamboo.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent evolution in the genomes of closely related lacertids, Lacerta viridis and L. bilineata, and implications for speciation.

Lacerta viridis and Lacerta bilineata are sister species of European green lizards (eastern and western clades, respectively) that, until recently, were grouped together as the L. viridis complex. Genetic incompatibilities were observed between lacertid populations through crossing experiments, which led to the delineation of two separate species within the L. viridis complex. The population history of these sister species and processes driving divergence are unknown. We constructed the first high-quality de novo genome assemblies for both L. viridis and L. bilineata through Illumina and PacBio sequencing, with annotation support provided from transcriptome sequencing of several tissues. To estimate gene flow between the two species and identify factors involved in reproductive isolation, we studied their evolutionary history, identified genomic rearrangements, detected signatures of selection on non-coding RNA, and on protein-coding genes.Here we show that gene flow was primarily unidirectional from L. bilineata to L. viridis after their split at least 1.15 million years ago. We detected positive selection of the non-coding repertoire; mutations in transcription factors; accumulation of divergence through inversions; selection on genes involved in neural development, reproduction, and behavior, as well as in ultraviolet-response, possibly driven by sexual selection, whose contribution to reproductive isolation between these lacertid species needs to be further evaluated.The combination of short and long sequence reads resulted in one of the most complete lizard genome assemblies. The characterization of a diverse array of genomic features provided valuable insights into the demographic history of divergence among European green lizards, as well as key species differences, some of which are candidates that could have played a role in speciation. In addition, our study generated valuable genomic resources that can be used to address conservation-related issues in lacertids. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Gammaherpesvirus Readthrough Transcription Generates a Long Non-Coding RNA That Is Regulated by Antisense miRNAs and Correlates with Enhanced Lytic Replication In Vivo.

Gammaherpesviruses, including the human pathogens Epstein?Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) are oncogenic viruses that establish lifelong infections in hosts and are associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases and lymphomas. Recent studies have shown that the majority of the mammalian genome is transcribed and gives rise to numerous long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Likewise, the large double-stranded DNA virus genomes of herpesviruses undergo pervasive transcription, including the expression of many as yet uncharacterized lncRNAs. Murine gammaperherpesvirus 68 (MHV68, MuHV-4, ?HV68) is a natural pathogen of rodents, and is genetically and pathogenically related to EBV and KSHV, providing a highly tractable model for studies of gammaherpesvirus biology and pathogenesis. Through the integrated use of parallel data sets from multiple sequencing platforms, we previously resolved transcripts throughout the MHV68 genome, including at least 144 novel transcript isoforms. Here, we sought to molecularly validate novel transcripts identified within the M3/M2 locus, which harbors genes that code for the chemokine binding protein M3, the latency B cell signaling protein M2, and 10 microRNAs (miRNAs). Using strand-specific northern blots, we validated the presence of M3-04, a 3.91 kb polyadenylated transcript that initiates at the M3 transcription start site and reads through the M3 open reading frame (ORF), the M3 poly(a) signal sequence, and the M2 ORF. This unexpected transcript was solely localized to the nucleus, strongly suggesting that it is not translated and instead may function as a lncRNA. Use of an MHV68 mutant lacking two M3-04-antisense pre-miRNA stem loops resulted in highly increased expression of M3-04 and increased virus replication in the lungs of infected mice, demonstrating a key role for these RNAs in regulation of lytic infection. Together these findings suggest the possibility of a tripartite regulatory relationship between the lncRNA M3-04, antisense miRNAs, and the latency gene M2.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma (Silver-Seed Gourd) Reveals Faster Rates of Protein-Coding Gene and Long Noncoding RNA Turnover and Neofunctionalization within Cucurbita.

Whole-genome duplications are an important source of evolutionary novelties that change the mode and tempo at which genetic elements evolve within a genome. The Cucurbita genus experienced a whole-genome duplication around 30 million years ago, although the evolutionary dynamics of the coding and noncoding genes in this genus have not yet been scrutinized. Here, we analyzed the genomes of four Cucurbita species, including a newly assembled genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma, and compared the gene contents of these species with those of five other members of the Cucurbitaceae family to assess the evolutionary dynamics of protein-coding and long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) genes after the genome duplication. We report that Cucurbita genomes have a higher protein-coding gene birth-death rate compared with the genomes of the other members of the Cucurbitaceae family. C. argyrosperma gene families associated with pollination and transmembrane transport had significantly faster evolutionary rates. lincRNA families showed high levels of gene turnover throughout the phylogeny, and 67.7% of the lincRNA families in Cucurbita showed evidence of birth from the neofunctionalization of previously existing protein-coding genes. Collectively, our results suggest that the whole-genome duplication in Cucurbita resulted in faster rates of gene family evolution through the neofunctionalization of duplicated genes. Copyright © 2019 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Hybrid sequencing-based personal full-length transcriptomic analysis implicates proteostatic stress in metastatic ovarian cancer.

Comprehensive molecular characterization of myriad somatic alterations and aberrant gene expressions at personal level is key to precision cancer therapy, yet limited by current short-read sequencing technology, individualized catalog of complete genomic and transcriptomic features is thus far elusive. Here, we integrated second- and third-generation sequencing platforms to generate a multidimensional dataset on a patient affected by metastatic epithelial ovarian cancer. Whole-genome and hybrid transcriptome dissection captured global genetic and transcriptional variants at previously unparalleled resolution. Particularly, single-molecule mRNA sequencing identified a vast array of unannotated transcripts, novel long noncoding RNAs and gene chimeras, permitting accurate determination of transcription start, splice, polyadenylation and fusion sites. Phylogenetic and enrichment inference of isoform-level measurements implicated early functional divergence and cytosolic proteostatic stress in shaping ovarian tumorigenesis. A complementary imaging-based high-throughput drug screen was performed and subsequently validated, which consistently pinpointed proteasome inhibitors as an effective therapeutic regime by inducing protein aggregates in ovarian cancer cells. Therefore, our study suggests that clinical application of the emerging long-read full-length analysis for improving molecular diagnostics is feasible and informative. An in-depth understanding of the tumor transcriptome complexity allowed by leveraging the hybrid sequencing approach lays the basis to reveal novel and valid therapeutic vulnerabilities in advanced ovarian malignancies.


April 21, 2020  |  

The developmental dynamics of the Populus stem transcriptome.

The Populus shoot undergoes primary growth (longitudinal growth) followed by secondary growth (radial growth), which produces biomass that is an important source of energy worldwide. We adopted joint PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis to identify differentially expressed transcripts along a developmental gradient from the shoot apex to the fifth internode of Populus Nanlin895. We obtained 87 150 full-length transcripts, including 2081 new isoforms and 62 058 new alternatively spliced isoforms, most of which were produced by intron retention, that were used to update the Populus annotation. Among these novel isoforms, there are 1187 long non-coding RNAs and 356 fusion genes. Using this annotation, we found 15 838 differentially expressed transcripts along the shoot developmental gradient, of which 1216 were transcription factors (TFs). Only a few of these genes were reported previously. The differential expression of these TFs suggests that they may play important roles in primary and secondary growth. AP2, ARF, YABBY and GRF TFs are highly expressed in the apex, whereas NAC, bZIP, PLATZ and HSF TFs are likely to be important for secondary growth. Overall, our findings provide evidence that long-read sequencing can complement short-read sequencing for cataloguing and quantifying eukaryotic transcripts and increase our understanding of the vital and dynamic process of shoot development. © 2018 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Copy-number variants in clinical genome sequencing: deployment and interpretation for rare and undiagnosed disease.

Current diagnostic testing for genetic disorders involves serial use of specialized assays spanning multiple technologies. In principle, genome sequencing (GS) can detect all genomic pathogenic variant types on a single platform. Here we evaluate copy-number variant (CNV) calling as part of a clinically accredited GS test.We performed analytical validation of CNV calling on 17 reference samples, compared the sensitivity of GS-based variants with those from a clinical microarray, and set a bound on precision using orthogonal technologies. We developed a protocol for family-based analysis of GS-based CNV calls, and deployed this across a clinical cohort of 79 rare and undiagnosed cases.We found that CNV calls from GS are at least as sensitive as those from microarrays, while only creating a modest increase in the number of variants interpreted (~10 CNVs per case). We identified clinically significant CNVs in 15% of the first 79 cases analyzed, all of which were confirmed by an orthogonal approach. The pipeline also enabled discovery of a uniparental disomy (UPD) and a 50% mosaic trisomy 14. Directed analysis of select CNVs enabled breakpoint level resolution of genomic rearrangements and phasing of de novo CNVs.Robust identification of CNVs by GS is possible within a clinical testing environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

A global survey of full-length transcriptome of Ginkgo biloba reveals transcript variants involved in flavonoid biosynthesis

Ginkgo biloba, which contains flavonoids as bioactive components, is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Increasing the flavonoid production of medicinal plants through genetic engineering generally focuses on the key genes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying such biosynthesis are not yet well understood. To understand these mechanisms, a combination of second-generation sequencing (SGS) and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing was applied to G. biloba. Eight tissues were sampled for SMRT sequencing to generate a high-quality, full-length transcriptome database. From 23.36 Gb clean reads, 12,954 alternative polyadenylation events, 12,290 alternative splicing events, 929 fusion transcripts, 2,286 novel transcripts, and 1,270 lncRNAs were predicted by removing redundant reads. Further studies reveal that 7 AS, 5 lncRNA, and 6 fusion gene events were identified in flavonoid biosynthesis. A total of 12 gene modules were revealed to be involved in flavonoid metabolism structural genes and transcription factors by constructing co-expression networks. Weighted gene coexpression network analysis (WGCNA) analysis reveals that some hub genes operate during the biosynthesis by identifying transcription factors (TFs) and structure genes. Seven key hub genes were also identified by analyzing the correlation between gene expression level and flavonoids content. The results highlight the importance of SMRT sequencing of the full-length transcriptome in improving genome annotation and elucidating the gene regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis in G. biloba by providing a comprehensive set of reference transcripts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read assembly of the Chinese rhesus macaque genome and identification of ape-specific structural variants.

We present a high-quality de novo genome assembly (rheMacS) of the Chinese rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) using long-read sequencing and multiplatform scaffolding approaches. Compared to the current Indian rhesus macaque reference genome (rheMac8), rheMacS increases sequence contiguity 75-fold, closing 21,940 of the remaining assembly gaps (60.8 Mbp). We improve gene annotation by generating more than two million full-length transcripts from ten different tissues by long-read RNA sequencing. We sequence resolve 53,916 structural variants (96% novel) and identify 17,000 ape-specific structural variants (ASSVs) based on comparison to ape genomes. Many ASSVs map within ChIP-seq predicted enhancer regions where apes and macaque show diverged enhancer activity and gene expression. We further characterize a subset that may contribute to ape- or great-ape-specific phenotypic traits, including taillessness, brain volume expansion, improved manual dexterity, and large body size. The rheMacS genome assembly serves as an ideal reference for future biomedical and evolutionary studies.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Impact of cDNA Normalization on Long-Read Sequencing of a Complex Transcriptome

Normalization of cDNA is widely used to improve the coverage of rare transcripts in analysis of transcriptomes employing next-generation sequencing. Recently, long-read technology has been emerging as a powerful tool for sequencing and construction of transcriptomes, especially for complex genomes containing highly similar transcripts and transcript-spliced isoforms. Here, we analyzed the transcriptome of sugarcane, with a highly polyploidy plant genome, by PacBio isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) of two different cDNA library preparations, with and without a normalization step. The results demonstrated that, while the two libraries included many of the same transcripts, many longer transcripts were removed and many new generally shorter transcripts were detected by normalization. For the same input cDNA and the same data yield, the normalized library recovered more total transcript isoforms, number of predicted gene families and orthologous groups, resulting in a higher representation for the sugarcane transcriptome, compared to the non-normalized library. The non-normalized library, on the other hand, included a wider transcript length range with more longer transcripts above ~1.25 kb, more transcript isoforms per gene family and gene ontology terms per transcript. A large proportion of the unique transcripts comprising ~52% of the normalized library were expressed at a lower level than the unique transcripts from the non-normalized library, across three tissue types tested including leaf, stalk and root. About 83% of the total 5,348 predicted long noncoding transcripts was derived from the normalized library, of which ~80% was derived from the lowly expressed fraction. Functional annotation of the unique transcripts suggested that each library enriched different functional transcript fractions. This demonstrated the complementation of the two approaches in obtaining a complete transcriptome of a complex genome at the sequencing depth used in this study.


April 21, 2020  |  

Improved annotation of the domestic pig genome through integration of Iso-Seq and RNA-seq data.

Our understanding of the pig transcriptome is limited. RNA transcript diversity among nine tissues was assessed using poly(A) selected single-molecule long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-seq) and Illumina RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) from a single White cross-bred pig. Across tissues, a total of 67,746 unique transcripts were observed, including 60.5% predicted protein-coding, 36.2% long non-coding RNA and 3.3% nonsense-mediated decay transcripts. On average, 90% of the splice junctions were supported by RNA-seq within tissue. A large proportion (80%) represented novel transcripts, mostly produced by known protein-coding genes (70%), while 17% corresponded to novel genes. On average, four transcripts per known gene (tpg) were identified; an increase over current EBI (1.9 tpg) and NCBI (2.9 tpg) annotations and closer to the number reported in human genome (4.2 tpg). Our new pig genome annotation extended more than 6000 known gene borders (5′ end extension, 3′ end extension, or both) compared to EBI or NCBI annotations. We validated a large proportion of these extensions by independent pig poly(A) selected 3′-RNA-seq data, or human FANTOM5 Cap Analysis of Gene Expression data. Further, we detected 10,465 novel genes (81% non-coding) not reported in current pig genome annotations. More than 80% of these novel genes had transcripts detected in >?1 tissue. In addition, more than 80% of novel intergenic genes with at least one transcript detected in liver tissue had H3K4me3 or H3K36me3 peaks mapping to their promoter and gene body, respectively, in independent liver chromatin immunoprecipitation data. These validated results show significant improvement over current pig genome annotations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Systematic analysis of dark and camouflaged genes reveals disease-relevant genes hiding in plain sight.

The human genome contains “dark” gene regions that cannot be adequately assembled or aligned using standard short-read sequencing technologies, preventing researchers from identifying mutations within these gene regions that may be relevant to human disease. Here, we identify regions with few mappable reads that we call dark by depth, and others that have ambiguous alignment, called camouflaged. We assess how well long-read or linked-read technologies resolve these regions.Based on standard whole-genome Illumina sequencing data, we identify 36,794 dark regions in 6054 gene bodies from pathways important to human health, development, and reproduction. Of these gene bodies, 8.7% are completely dark and 35.2% are =?5% dark. We identify dark regions that are present in protein-coding exons across 748 genes. Linked-read or long-read sequencing technologies from 10x Genomics, PacBio, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies reduce dark protein-coding regions to approximately 50.5%, 35.6%, and 9.6%, respectively. We present an algorithm to resolve most camouflaged regions and apply it to the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project. We rescue a rare ten-nucleotide frameshift deletion in CR1, a top Alzheimer’s disease gene, found in disease cases but not in controls.While we could not formally assess the association of the CR1 frameshift mutation with Alzheimer’s disease due to insufficient sample-size, we believe it merits investigating in a larger cohort. There remain thousands of potentially important genomic regions overlooked by short-read sequencing that are largely resolved by long-read technologies.


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