April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of Reference Materials for Genetic Testing of CYP2D6 Alleles: A GeT-RM Collaborative Project.

Pharmacogenetic testing increasingly is available from clinical and research laboratories. However, only a limited number of quality control and other reference materials currently are available for the complex rearrangements and rare variants that occur in the CYP2D6 gene. To address this need, the Division of Laboratory Systems, CDC-based Genetic Testing Reference Material Coordination Program, in collaboration with members of the pharmacogenetic testing and research communities and the Coriell Cell Repositories (Camden, NJ), has characterized 179 DNA samples derived from Coriell cell lines. Testing included the recharacterization of 137 genomic DNAs that were genotyped in previous Genetic Testing Reference Material Coordination Program studies and 42 additional samples that had not been characterized previously. DNA samples were distributed to volunteer testing laboratories for genotyping using a variety of commercially available and laboratory-developed tests. These publicly available samples will support the quality-assurance and quality-control programs of clinical laboratories performing CYP2D6 testing.Published by Elsevier Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

The use of Online Tools for Antimicrobial Resistance Prediction by Whole Genome Sequencing in MRSA and VRE.

The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis represents a serious threat to public health and has resulted in concentrated efforts to accelerate development of rapid molecular diagnostics for AMR. In combination with publicly-available web-based AMR databases, whole genome sequencing (WGS) offers the capacity for rapid detection of antibiotic resistance genes. Here we studied the concordance between WGS-based resistance prediction and phenotypic susceptibility testing results for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE) clinical isolates using publicly-available tools and databases.Clinical isolates prospectively collected at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center between December 2016 and December 2017 underwent WGS. Antibiotic resistance gene content was assessed from assembled genomes by BLASTn search of online databases. Concordance between WGS-predicted resistance profile and phenotypic susceptibility as well as sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (NPV, PPV) were calculated for each antibiotic/organism combination, using the phenotypic results as the gold standard.Phenotypic susceptibility testing and WGS results were available for 1242 isolate/antibiotic combinations. Overall concordance was 99.3% with a sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV of 98.7% (95% CI, 97.2-99.5%), 99.6% (95 % CI, 98.8-99.9%), 99.3% (95% CI, 98.0-99.8%), 99.2% (95% CI, 98.3-99.7%), respectively. Additional identification of point mutations in housekeeping genes increased the concordance to 99.4% and the sensitivity to 99.3% (95% CI, 98.2-99.8%) and NPV to 99.4% (95% CI, 98.4-99.8%).WGS can be used as a reliable predicator of phenotypic resistance for both MRSA and VRE using readily-available online tools.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reconstruction of the genomes of drug-resistant pathogens for outbreak investigation through metagenomic sequencing

Culture-independent methods that target genome fragments have shown promise in identifying certain pathogens, but the holy grail of comprehensive pathogen genome detection from microbiologically complex samples for subsequent forensic analyses remains a challenge. In the context of an investigation of a nosocomial outbreak, we used shotgun metagenomic sequencing of a human fecal sample and a neural network algorithm based on tetranucleotide frequency profiling to reconstruct microbial genomes and tested the same approach using rectal swabs from a second patient. The approach rapidly and readily detected the genome of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae in the patient fecal specimen and in the rectal swab sample, achieving a level of strain resolution that was sufficient for confident transmission inference during a highly clonal outbreak. The analysis also detected previously unrecognized colonization of the patient by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, another multidrug-resistant bacterium.IMPORTANCE The study results reported here perfectly demonstrate the power and promise of clinical metagenomics to recover genome sequences of important drug-resistant bacteria and to rapidly provide rich data that inform outbreak investigations and treatment decisions, independently of the need to culture the organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Enrichment of fetal and maternal long cell-free DNA fragments from maternal plasma following DNA repair.

Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) fragments in maternal plasma contain DNA damage and may negatively impact the sensitivity of noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). However, some of these DNA damages are potentially reparable. We aimed to recover these damaged cfDNA molecules using PreCR DNA repair mix.cfDNA was extracted from 20 maternal plasma samples and was repaired and sequenced by the Illumina platform. Size profiles and fetal DNA fraction changes of repaired samples were characterized. Targeted sequencing of chromosome Y sequences was used to enrich fetal cfDNA molecules following repair. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing platform was employed to characterize long (>250 bp) cfDNA molecules. NIPT of five trisomy 21 samples was performed.Size profiles of repaired libraries were altered, with significantly increased long (>250 bp) cfDNA molecules. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based analyses showed that both fetal- and maternal-derived cfDNA molecules were enriched by the repair. Fetal DNA fractions in maternal plasma showed a small but consistent (4.8%) increase, which were contributed by a higher increment of long fetal cfDNA molecules. z-score values were improved in NIPT of all trisomy 21 samples.Plasma DNA repair recovers and enriches long cfDNA molecules of both fetal and maternal origins in maternal plasma. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Dnase1l3 deletion causes aberrations in length and end-motif frequencies in plasma DNA.

Circulating DNA in plasma consists of short DNA fragments. The biological processes generating such fragments are not well understood. DNASE1L3 is a secreted DNASE1-like nuclease capable of digesting DNA in chromatin, and its absence causes anti-DNA responses and autoimmunity in humans and mice. We found that the deletion of Dnase1l3 in mice resulted in aberrations in the fragmentation of plasma DNA. Such aberrations included an increase in short DNA molecules below 120 bp, which was positively correlated with anti-DNA antibody levels. We also observed an increase in long, multinucleosomal DNA molecules and decreased frequencies of the most common end motifs found in plasma DNA. These aberrations were independent of anti-DNA response, suggesting that they represented a primary effect of DNASE1L3 loss. Pregnant Dnase1l3-/- mice carrying Dnase1l3+/- fetuses showed a partial restoration of normal frequencies of plasma DNA end motifs, suggesting that DNASE1L3 from Dnase1l3-proficient fetuses could enter maternal systemic circulation and affect both fetal and maternal DNA fragmentation in a systemic as well as local manner. However, the observed shortening of circulating fetal DNA relative to maternal DNA was not affected by the deletion of Dnase1l3 Collectively, our findings demonstrate that DNASE1L3 plays a role in circulating plasma DNA homeostasis by enhancing fragmentation and influencing end-motif frequencies. These results support a distinct role of DNASE1L3 as a regulator of the physical form and availability of cell-free DNA and may have important implications for the mechanism whereby this enzyme prevents autoimmunity. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Rigorous Interlaboratory Examination of the Need to Confirm Next-Generation Sequencing-Detected Variants with an Orthogonal Method in Clinical Genetic Testing.

Orthogonal confirmation of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-detected germline variants is standard practice, although published studies have suggested that confirmation of the highest-quality calls may not always be necessary. The key question is how laboratories can establish criteria that consistently identify those NGS calls that require confirmation. Most prior studies addressing this question have had limitations: they have been generally of small scale, omitted statistical justification, and explored limited aspects of underlying data. The rigorous definition of criteria that separate high-accuracy NGS calls from those that may or may not be true remains a crucial issue. We analyzed five reference samples and over 80,000 patient specimens from two laboratories. Quality metrics were examined for approximately 200,000 NGS calls with orthogonal data, including 1662 false positives. A classification algorithm used these data to identify a battery of criteria that flag 100% of false positives as requiring confirmation (CI lower bound, 98.5% to 99.8%, depending on variant type) while minimizing the number of flagged true positives. These criteria identify false positives that the previously published criteria miss. Sampling analysis showed that smaller data sets resulted in less effective criteria. Our methodology for determining test- and laboratory-specific criteria can be generalized into a practical approach that can be used by laboratories to reduce the cost and time burdens of confirmation without affecting clinical accuracy. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Investigative Pathology and the Association for Molecular Pathology. 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  |  

Characterization of vanM carrying clinical Enterococcus isolates and diversity of the suppressed vanM gene cluster.

Here we report the prevalence of the suppressed vanM gene cluster as a reservoir of vancomycin resistance genes. Among 1284 clinical isolates of enterococci from four hospitals in Hangzhou, China, 55 isolates of Enterococcus faecium and one isolate of Enterococcus faecalis were screened positive for the vanM genotype. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing showed that 55 of the 56 vanM-positive isolates were susceptible to vancomycin and teicoplanin. Most of them (54/56) belonged to the main epidemic lineage CC17, mostly the ST78 type. The vanM gene clusters in the 55 vancomycin-susceptible isolates showed sequence diversity owing to different insertion locations of IS1216E. The vanM transposons could be classified into five types and they all carried two or more IS1216E elements, leading to complete or partial deletions of vanR, vanS, or vanX. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction showed that the expression level of vanM was significantly lower in the vancomycin-susceptible isolates than in the vancomycin-resistant isolate. Considering the prevalence of the vanM genotype and the potential for conversion to a resistant phenotype, vanM might act as an important determinant of glycopeptide resistance in the future. It is essential to strengthen the surveillance of vanM-containing enterococci to control the dissemination of vancomycin resistance. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.


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 Pathovar of Xanthomonas oryzae Infecting Wild Grasses Provides Insight Into the Evolution of Pathogenicity in Rice Agroecosystems

Xanthomonas oryzae (Xo) are critical rice pathogens. Virulent lineages from Africa and Asia and less virulent strains from the US have been well characterized. X. campestris pv. leersiae (Xcl), first described in 1957, causes bacterial streak on the perennial grass, Leersia hexandra, and is a close relative of Xo. L. hexandra, a member of the Poaceae, is highly similar to rice phylogenetically, is globally ubiquitous around rice paddies, and is a reservoir of pathogenic Xo. We used long read, single molecule, real time (SMRT) genome sequences of five strains of Xcl from Burkina Faso, China, Mali and Uganda to determine the genetic relatedness of this organism with Xo. Novel Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) were discovered in all five strains of Xcl. Predicted TALE target sequences were identified in the L. perrieri genome and compared to rice susceptibility gene homologs. Pathogenicity screening on L. hexandra and diverse rice cultivars confirmed that Xcl are able to colonize rice and produce weak but not progressive symptoms. Overall, based on average nucleotide identity, type III effector repertoires and disease phenotype, we propose to rename Xcl to X. oryzae pv. leersiae (Xol) and use this parallel system to improve understanding of the evolution of bacterial pathogenicity in rice agroecosystems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-Read Sequencing Emerging in Medical Genetics

The wide implementation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the field of medical genetics. However, the short read lengths of currently used sequencing approaches pose a limitation for identification of structural variants, sequencing repetitive regions, phasing alleles and distinguishing highly homologous genomic regions. These limitations may significantly contribute to the diagnostic gap in patients with genetic disorders who have undergone standard NGS, like whole exome or even genome sequencing. Now, the emerging long-read sequencing (LRS) technologies may offer improvements in the characterization of genetic variation and regions that are difficult to assess with the currently prevailing NGS approaches. LRS has so far mainly been used to investigate genetic disorders with previously known or strongly suspected disease loci. While these targeted approaches already show the potential of LRS, it remains to be seen whether LRS technologies can soon enable true whole genome sequencing routinely. Ultimately, this could allow the de novo assembly of individual whole genomes used as a generic test for genetic disorders. In this article, we summarize the current LRS-based research on human genetic disorders and discuss the potential of these technologies to facilitate the next major advancements in medical genetics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read based de novo assembly of low-complexity metagenome samples results in finished genomes and reveals insights into strain diversity and an active phage system.

Complete and contiguous genome assemblies greatly improve the quality of subsequent systems-wide functional profiling studies and the ability to gain novel biological insights. While a de novo genome assembly of an isolated bacterial strain is in most cases straightforward, more informative data about co-existing bacteria as well as synergistic and antagonistic effects can be obtained from a direct analysis of microbial communities. However, the complexity of metagenomic samples represents a major challenge. While third generation sequencing technologies have been suggested to enable finished metagenome-assembled genomes, to our knowledge, the complete genome assembly of all dominant strains in a microbiome sample has not been demonstrated. Natural whey starter cultures (NWCs) are used in cheese production and represent low-complexity microbiomes. Previous studies of Swiss Gruyère and selected Italian hard cheeses, mostly based on amplicon metagenomics, concurred that three species generally pre-dominate: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii.Two NWCs from Swiss Gruyère producers were subjected to whole metagenome shotgun sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences Sequel and Illumina MiSeq platforms. In addition, longer Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION reads had to be generated for one to resolve repeat regions. Thereby, we achieved the complete assembly of all dominant bacterial genomes from these low-complexity NWCs, which was corroborated by a 16S rRNA amplicon survey. Moreover, two distinct L. helveticus strains were successfully co-assembled from the same sample. Besides bacterial chromosomes, we could also assemble several bacterial plasmids and phages and a corresponding prophage. Biologically relevant insights were uncovered by linking the plasmids and phages to their respective host genomes using DNA methylation motifs on the plasmids and by matching prokaryotic CRISPR spacers with the corresponding protospacers on the phages. These results could only be achieved by employing long-read sequencing data able to span intragenomic as well as intergenomic repeats.Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of complete de novo genome assembly of all dominant strains from low-complexity NWCs based on whole metagenomics shotgun sequencing data. This allowed to gain novel biological insights and is a fundamental basis for subsequent systems-wide omics analyses, functional profiling and phenotype to genotype analysis of specific microbial communities.


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