June 1, 2021  |  

Access full spectrum of polymorphisms in HLA class I & II genes, without imputation for disease association and evolutionary research.

MHC class I and II genes are critically monitored by high-resolution sequencing for organ transplant decisions due to their role in GVHD. Their direct or linkage-based causal association, have increased their prominence as targets for drug sensitivity, autoimmune, cancer and infectious disease research. Monitoring HLA genes can however be tricky due to their highly polymorphic nature. Allele-level resolution is thus strongly preferred. However, most studies were historically focused on peptide binding domains of the HLA genes, due to technological challenges. As a result knowledge about the functional role of polymorphisms outside of exons 2 and 3 of HLA genes was rather limited. There are also relatively few full-length gene references currently available in the IMGT HLA database. This made it difficult to quickly adopt high-throughput reference-reliant methods for allele-level HLA sequencing. Increasing awareness regarding role of regulatory region polymorphisms of HLA genes in disease association1, nonetheless have brought about a revolution in full-length HLA gene sequencing. Researchers are now exploring ways to obtain complete information for HLA genes and integrate it with the current HLA database so it can be interpreted used by clinical researchers. We have explored advantages of SMRT Sequencing to obtain fully phased, allele-specific sequences of HLA class I and II genes for 96 samples using completely De novo consensus generation approach for imputation-free 4-field typing. With long read lengths (average >10 kb) and consensus accuracy exceeding 99.999% (Q50), a comprehensive snapshot of variants in exons, introns and UTRs could be obtained for spectrum of polymorphisms in phase across SNP-poor regions. Such information can provide invaluable insights in future causality association and population diversity research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

Adaptive archaic introgression of copy number variants and the discovery of previously unknown human genes

As they migrated out of Africa and into Europe and Asia, anatomically modern humans interbred with archaic hominins, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. The result of this genetic introgression on the recipient populations has been of considerable interest, especially in cases of selection for specific archaic genetic variants. Hsieh et al. characterized adaptive structural variants and copy number variants that are likely targets of positive selection in Melanesians. Focusing on population-specific regions of the genome that carry duplicated genes and show an excess of amino acid replacements provides evidence for one of the mechanisms by which genetic novelty can arise and result in differentiation between human genomes.Science, this issue p. eaax2083INTRODUCTIONCharacterizing genetic variants underlying local adaptations in human populations is one of the central goals of evolutionary research. Most studies have focused on adaptive single-nucleotide variants that either arose as new beneficial mutations or were introduced after interbreeding with our now-extinct relatives, including Neanderthals and Denisovans. The adaptive role of copy number variants (CNVs), another well-known form of genomic variation generated through deletions or duplications that affect more base pairs in the genome, is less well understood, despite evidence that such mutations are subject to stronger selective pressures.RATIONALEThis study focuses on the discovery of introgressed and adaptive CNVs that have become enriched in specific human populations. We combine whole-genome CNV calling and population genetic inference methods to discover CNVs and then assess signals of selection after controlling for demographic history. We examine 266 publicly available modern human genomes from the Simons Genome Diversity Project and genomes of three ancient homininstextemdasha Denisovan, a Neanderthal from the Altai Mountains in Siberia, and a Neanderthal from Croatia. We apply long-read sequencing methods to sequence-resolve complex CNVs of interest specifically in the Melanesianstextemdashan Oceanian population distributed from Papua New Guinea to as far east as the islands of Fiji and known to harbor some of the greatest amounts of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry.RESULTSConsistent with the hypothesis of archaic introgression outside Africa, we find a significant excess of CNV sharing between modern non-African populations and archaic hominins (P = 0.039). Among Melanesians, we observe an enrichment of CNVs with potential signals of positive selection (n = 37 CNVs), of which 19 CNVs likely introgressed from archaic hominins. We show that Melanesian-stratified CNVs are significantly associated with signals of positive selection (P = 0.0323). Many map near or within genes associated with metabolism (e.g., ACOT1 and ACOT2), development and cell cycle or signaling (e.g., TNFRSF10D and CDK11A and CDK11B), or immune response (e.g., IFNLR1). We characterize two of the largest and most complex CNVs on chromosomes 16p11.2 and 8p21.3 that introgressed from Denisovans and Neanderthals, respectively, and are absent from most other human populations. At chromosome 16p11.2, we sequence-resolve a large duplication of >383 thousand base pairs (kbp) that originated from Denisovans and introgressed into the ancestral Melanesian population 60,000 to 170,000 years ago. This large duplication occurs at high frequency (>79%) in diverse Melanesian groups, shows signatures of positive selection, and maps adjacent to Homo sapienstextendashspecific duplications that predispose to rearrangements associated with autism. On chromosome 8p21.3, we identify a Melanesian haplotype that carries two CNVs, a ~6-kbp deletion, and a ~38-kbp duplication, with a Neanderthal origin and that introgressed into non-Africans 40,000 to 120,000 years ago. This CNV haplotype occurs at high frequency (44%) and shows signals consistent with a partial selective sweep in Melanesians. Using long-read sequencing genomic and transcriptomic data, we reconstruct the structure and complex evolutionary history for these two CNVs and discover previously undescribed duplicated genes (TNFRSF10D1, TNFRSF10D2, and NPIPB16) that show an excess of amino acid replacements consistent with the action of positive selection.CONCLUSIONOur results suggest that large CNVs originating in archaic hominins and introgressed into modern humans have played an important role in local population adaptation and represent an insufficiently studied source of large-scale genetic variation that is absent from current reference genomes.Large adaptive-introgressed CNVs at chromosomes 8p21.3 and 16p11.2 in Melanesians.The magnifying glasses highlight structural differences between the archaic (top) and reference (bottom) genomes. Neanderthal (red) and Denisovan (blue) haplotypes encompassing large CNVs occur at high frequencies in Melanesians (44 and 79%, respectively) but are absent (black) in all non-Melanesians. These CNVs create positively selected genes (TNFRSF10D1, TNFRSF10D2, and NPIPB16) that are absent from the reference genome.Copy number variants (CNVs) are subject to stronger selective pressure than single-nucleotide variants, but their roles in archaic introgression and adaptation have not been systematically investigated. We show that stratified CNVs are significantly associated with signatures of positive selection in Melanesians and provide evidence for adaptive introgression of large CNVs at chromosomes 16p11.2 and 8p21.3 from Denisovans and Neanderthals, respectively. Using long-read sequence data, we reconstruct the structure and complex evolutionary history of these polymorphisms and show that both encode positively selected genes absent from most human populations. Our results collectively suggest that large CNVs originating in archaic hominins and introgressed into modern humans have played an important role in local population adaptation and represent an insufficiently studied source of large-scale genetic variation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potential of TLR-gene diversity in Czech indigenous cattle for resistance breeding as revealed by hybrid sequencing

A production herd of Czech Simmental cattle (Czech Red Pied, CRP), the conserved subpopulation of this breed, and the ancient local breed Czech Red cattle (CR) were screened for diversity in the antibacterial toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are members of the innate immune system. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons of TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR5, and TLR6 from pooled DNA samples were sequenced with PacBio technology, with 3–5×?coverage per gene per animal. To increase the reliability of variant detection, the gDNA pools were sequenced in parallel with the Illumina X-ten platform at low coverage (60× per gene). The diversity in conserved CRP and CR was similar to the diversity in conserved and modern CRP, representing 76.4?% and 70.9?% of its variants, respectively. Sixty-eight (54.4?%) polymorphisms in the five TLR genes were shared by the two breeds, whereas 38 (30.4?%) were specific to the production herd of CRP; 4 (3.2?%) were specific to the broad CRP population; 7 (5.6?%) were present in both conserved populations; 5 (4.0?%) were present solely for the conserved CRP; and 3 (2.4?%) were restricted to CR. Consequently, gene pool erosion related to intensive breeding did not occur in Czech Simmental cattle. Similarly, no considerable consequences were found from known bottlenecks in the history of Czech Red cattle. On the other hand, the distinctness of the conserved populations and their potential for resistance breeding were only moderate. This relationship might be transferable to other non-abundant historical cattle breeds that are conserved as genetic resources. The estimates of polymorphism impact using Variant Effect Predictor and SIFT software tools allowed for the identification of candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association studies related to infection resistance and targeted breeding. Knowledge of TLR-gene diversity present in Czech Simmental populations may aid in the potential transfer of variant characteristics from other breeds.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequence capture of the haemoglobin gene clusters across codfish species.

Combining high-throughput sequencing with targeted sequence capture has become an attractive tool to study specific genomic regions of interest. Most studies have so far focused on the exome using short-read technology. These approaches are not designed to capture intergenic regions needed to reconstruct genomic organization, including regulatory regions and gene synteny. Here, we demonstrate the power of combining targeted sequence capture with long-read sequencing technology for comparative genomic analyses of the haemoglobin (Hb) gene clusters across eight species separated by up to 70 million years. Guided by the reference genome assembly of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) together with genome information from draft assemblies of selected codfishes, we designed probes covering the two Hb gene clusters. Use of custom-made barcodes combined with PacBio RSII sequencing led to highly continuous assemblies of the LA (~100 kb) and MN (~200 kb) clusters, which include syntenic regions of coding and intergenic sequences. Our results revealed an overall conserved genomic organization of the Hb genes within this lineage, yet with several, lineage-specific gene duplications. Moreover, for some of the species examined, we identified amino acid substitutions at two sites in the Hbb1 gene as well as length polymorphisms in its regulatory region, which has previously been linked to temperature adaptation in Atlantic cod populations. This study highlights the use of targeted long-read capture as a versatile approach for comparative genomic studies by generation of a cross-species genomic resource elucidating the evolutionary history of the Hb gene family across the highly divergent group of codfishes. © 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

DNA Methylation at the Schizophrenia and Intelligence GWAS-Implicated MIR137HG Locus May Be Associated with Disease and Cognitive Functions

The largest genome-wide association studies have identified schizophrenia and intelligence associated variants in the MIR137HG locus containing genes encoding microRNA-137 and microRNA-2682. In the present study, we investigated DNA methylation in the MIR137HG intragenic CpG island (CGI) in the peripheral blood of 44 patients with schizophrenia and 50 healthy controls. The CGI included the entire MIR137 gene and the region adjacent to the 5′-end of MIR2682. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship of the CGI methylation with schizophrenia and cognitive functioning. The methylation level of 91 CpG located in the selected region was established for each participant by means of single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing. All subjects completed the battery of neuropsychological tests. We found that the CGI was hypomethylated in both groups, except for one site—CpG (chr1: 98?511?049), with significant interindividual variability in methylation. A higher level of methylation of this CpG was seen in male patients and was associated with a decrease in the cognitive index in the combined sample of patients and controls. Our data suggest that further investigation of mechanisms that regulate the MIR137 and MIR2682 genes expression might help to understand the molecular basis of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.


April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

The role of genomic structural variation in the genetic improvement of polyploid crops

Many of our major crop species are polyploids, containing more than one genome or set of chromosomes. Polyploid crops present unique challenges, including difficulties in genome assembly, in discriminating between multiple gene and sequence copies, and in genetic mapping, hindering use of genomic data for genetics and breeding. Polyploid genomes may also be more prone to containing structural variation, such as loss of gene copies or sequences (presence–absence variation) and the presence of genes or sequences in multiple copies (copy-number variation). Although the two main types of genomic structural variation commonly identified are presence–absence variation and copy-number variation, we propose that homeologous exchanges constitute a third major form of genomic structural variation in polyploids. Homeologous exchanges involve the replacement of one genomic segment by a similar copy from another genome or ancestrally duplicated region, and are known to be extremely common in polyploids. Detecting all kinds of genomic structural variation is challenging, but recent advances such as optical mapping and long-read sequencing offer potential strategies to help identify structural variants even in complex polyploid genomes. All three major types of genomic structural variation (presence–absence, copy-number, and homeologous exchange) are now known to influence phenotypes in crop plants, with examples of flowering time, frost tolerance, and adaptive and agronomic traits. In this review, we summarize the challenges of genome analysis in polyploid crops, describe the various types of genomic structural variation and the genomics technologies and data that can be used to detect them, and collate information produced to date related to the impact of genomic structural variation on crop phenotypes. We highlight the importance of genomic structural variation for the future genetic improvement of polyploid crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequencing unveils IGH-DUX4 translocation into the silenced IGH allele in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

[email protected] proto-oncogene translocation is a common oncogenic event in lymphoid lineage cancers such as B-ALL, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Here, to investigate the interplay between [email protected] proto-oncogene translocation and IGH allelic exclusion, we perform long-read whole-genome and transcriptome sequencing along with epigenetic and 3D genome profiling of Nalm6, an IGH-DUX4 positive B-ALL cell line. We detect significant allelic imbalance on the wild-type over the IGH-DUX4 haplotype in expression and epigenetic data, showing IGH-DUX4 translocation occurs on the silenced IGH allele. In vitro, this reduces the oncogenic stress of DUX4 high-level expression. Moreover, patient samples of IGH-DUX4 B-ALL have similar expression profile and IGH breakpoints as Nalm6, suggesting a common mechanism to allow optimal dosage of non-toxic DUX4 expression.


April 21, 2020  |  

Programmable mutually exclusive alternative splicing for generating RNA and protein diversity.

Alternative splicing performs a central role in expanding genomic coding capacity and proteomic diversity. However, programming of splicing patterns in engineered biological systems remains underused. Synthetic approaches thus far have predominantly focused on controlling expression of a single protein through alternative splicing. Here, we describe a modular and extensible platform for regulating four programmable exons that undergo a mutually exclusive alternative splicing event to generate multiple functionally-distinct proteins. We present an intron framework that enforces the mutual exclusivity of two internal exons and demonstrate a graded series of consensus sequence elements of varying strengths that set the ratio of two mutually exclusive isoforms. We apply this framework to program the DNA-binding domains of modular transcription factors to differentially control downstream gene activation. This splicing platform advances an approach for generating diverse isoforms and can ultimately be applied to program modular proteins and increase coding capacity of synthetic biological systems.


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