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  |  

An open resource for accurately benchmarking small variant and reference calls.

Benchmark small variant calls are required for developing, optimizing and assessing the performance of sequencing and bioinformatics methods. Here, as part of the Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) Consortium, we apply a reproducible, cloud-based pipeline to integrate multiple short- and linked-read sequencing datasets and provide benchmark calls for human genomes. We generate benchmark calls for one previously analyzed GIAB sample, as well as six genomes from the Personal Genome Project. These new genomes have broad, open consent, making this a ‘first of its kind’ resource that is available to the community for multiple downstream applications. We produce 17% more benchmark single nucleotide variations, 176% more indels and 12% larger benchmark regions than previously published GIAB benchmarks. We demonstrate that this benchmark reliably identifies errors in existing callsets and highlight challenges in interpreting performance metrics when using benchmarks that are not perfect or comprehensive. Finally, we identify strengths and weaknesses of callsets by stratifying performance according to variant type and genome context.


April 21, 2020  |  

The CF Canada-Sick Kids Program in individual CF therapy: A resource for the advancement of personalized medicine in CF.

Therapies targeting certain CFTR mutants have been approved, yet variations in clinical response highlight the need for in-vitro and genetic tools that predict patient-specific clinical outcomes. Toward this goal, the CF Canada-Sick Kids Program in Individual CF Therapy (CFIT) is generating a “first of its kind”, comprehensive resource containing patient-specific cell cultures and data from 100 CF individuals that will enable modeling of therapeutic responses.The CFIT program is generating: 1) nasal cells from drug naïve patients suitable for culture and the study of drug responses in vitro, 2) matched gene expression data obtained by sequencing the RNA from the primary nasal tissue, 3) whole genome sequencing of blood derived DNA from each of the 100 participants, 4) induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from each participant’s blood sample, 5) CRISPR-edited isogenic control iPSC lines and 6) prospective clinical data from patients treated with CF modulators.To date, we have recruited 57 of 100 individuals to CFIT, most of whom are homozygous for F508del (to assess in-vitro: in-vivo correlations with respect to ORKAMBI response) or heterozygous for F508del and a minimal function mutation. In addition, several donors are homozygous for rare nonsense and missense mutations. Nasal epithelial cell cultures and matched iPSC lines are available for many of these donors.This accessible resource will enable development of tools that predict individual outcomes to current and emerging modulators targeting F508del-CFTR and facilitate therapy discovery for rare CF causing mutations.Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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  |  

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.


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