June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing haplotype diversity at the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus across human populations using novel long-read sequencing and assembly approaches

The human immunoglobulin heavy chain locus (IGH) remains among the most understudied regions of the human genome. Recent efforts have shown that haplotype diversity within IGH is elevated and exhibits population specific patterns; for example, our re-sequencing of the locus from only a single chromosome uncovered >100 Kb of novel sequence, including descriptions of six novel alleles, and four previously unmapped genes. Historically, this complex locus architecture has hindered the characterization of IGH germline single nucleotide, copy number, and structural variants (SNVs; CNVs; SVs), and as a result, there remains little known about the role of IGH polymorphisms in inter-individual antibody repertoire variability and disease. To remedy this, we are taking a multi-faceted approach to improving existing genomic resources in the human IGH region. First, from whole-genome and fosmid-based datasets, we are building the largest and most ethnically diverse set of IGH reference assemblies to date, by employing PacBio long-read sequencing combined with novel algorithms for phased haplotype assembly. In total, our effort will result in the characterization of >15 phased haplotypes from individuals of Asian, African, and European descent, to be used as a representative reference set by the genomics and immunogenetics community. Second, we are utilizing this more comprehensive sequence catalogue to inform the design and analysis of novel targeted IGH genotyping assays. Standard targeted DNA enrichment methods (e.g., exome capture) are currently optimized for the capture of only very short (100’s of bp) DNA segments. Our platform uses a modified bench protocol to pair existing capture-array technologies with the enrichment of longer fragments of DNA, enabling the use of PacBio sequencing of DNA segments up to 7 Kb. This substantial increase in contiguity disambiguates many of the complex repeated structures inherent to the locus, while yielding the base pair fidelity required to call SNVs. Together these resources will establish a stronger framework for further characterizing IGH genetic diversity and facilitate IGH genomic profiling in the clinical and research settings, which will be key to fully understanding the role of IGH germline variation in antibody repertoire development and disease.

April 21, 2020  |  

Acquired N-Linked Glycosylation Motifs in B-Cell Receptors of Primary Cutaneous B-Cell Lymphoma and the Normal B-Cell Repertoire.

Primary cutaneous follicle center lymphoma (PCFCL) is a rare mature B-cell lymphoma with an unknown etiology. PCFCL resembles follicular lymphoma (FL) by cytomorphologic and microarchitectural criteria. FL B cells are selected for N-linked glycosylation motifs in their B-cell receptors (BCRs) that are acquired during continuous somatic hypermutation. The stimulation of mannosylated BCR by lectins on the tumor microenvironment is therefore a candidate driver in FL pathogenesis. We investigated whether the same mechanism could play a role in PCFCL pathogenesis. Full-length functional variable, diversity, and joining gene sequences of 18 PCFCL and 8 primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, leg-type were identified by unbiased Anchoring Reverse Transcription of Immunoglobulin Sequences and Amplification by Nested PCR and BCR reconstruction from RNA sequencing data. Low BCR variation demonstrated negligible ongoing somatic hypermutation in PCFCL and primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, leg-type, and indicated that the PCFCL microarchitecture does not act as a functional germinal center. Similar to FL but in contrast to primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, leg-type, BCR genes of 15 PCFCLs (83%) had acquired N-linked glycosylation motifs. These motifs were located at the BCR positions converted to N-linked glycosylation motifs in normal B-cell repertoires with low prevalence but mostly at different positions than those found in FL. The cutaneous localization of PCFCL might suggest a role for lectins from commensal skin bacteria in PCFCL lymphomagenesis.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Immunogenetic factors driving formation of ultralong VH CDR3 in Bos taurus antibodies.

The antibody repertoire of Bos taurus is characterized by a subset of variable heavy (VH) chain regions with ultralong third complementarity determining regions (CDR3) which, compared to other species, can provide a potent response to challenging antigens like HIV env. These unusual CDR3 can range to over seventy highly diverse amino acids in length and form unique ß-ribbon ‘stalk’ and disulfide bonded ‘knob’ structures, far from the typical antigen binding site. The genetic components and processes for forming these unusual cattle antibody VH CDR3 are not well understood. Here we analyze sequences of Bos taurus antibody VH domains and find that the subset with ultralong CDR3 exclusively uses a single variable gene, IGHV1-7 (VHBUL) rearranged to the longest diversity gene, IGHD8-2. An eight nucleotide duplication at the 3′ end of IGHV1-7 encodes a longer V-region producing an extended F ß-strand that contributes to the stalk in a rearranged CDR3. A low amino acid variability was observed in CDR1 and CDR2, suggesting that antigen binding for this subset most likely only depends on the CDR3. Importantly a novel, potentially AID mediated, deletional diversification mechanism of the B. taurus VH ultralong CDR3 knob was discovered, in which interior codons of the IGHD8-2 region are removed while maintaining integral structural components of the knob and descending strand of the stalk in place. These deletions serve to further diversify cysteine positions, and thus disulfide bonded loops. Hence, both germline and somatic genetic factors and processes appear to be involved in diversification of this structurally unusual cattle VH ultralong CDR3 repertoire.

April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid and Focused Maturation of a VRC01-Class HIV Broadly Neutralizing Antibody Lineage Involves Both Binding and Accommodation of the N276-Glycan.

The VH1-2 restricted VRC01-class of antibodies targeting the HIV envelope CD4 binding site are a major focus of HIV vaccine strategies. However, a detailed analysis of VRC01-class antibody development has been limited by the rare nature of these responses during natural infection and the lack of longitudinal sampling of such responses. To inform vaccine strategies, we mapped the development of a VRC01-class antibody lineage (PCIN63) in the subtype C infected IAVI Protocol C neutralizer PC063. PCIN63 monoclonal antibodies had the hallmark VRC01-class features and demonstrated neutralization breadth similar to the prototype VRC01 antibody, but were 2- to 3-fold less mutated. Maturation occurred rapidly within ~24 months of emergence of the lineage and somatic hypermutations accumulated at key contact residues. This longitudinal study of broadly neutralizing VRC01-class antibody lineage reveals early binding to the N276-glycan during affinity maturation, which may have implications for vaccine design.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

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