June 1, 2021  |  

Sequencing of expanded CGG repeats in the FMR1 gene.

Alleles of the FMR1 gene with more than 200 CGG repeats generally undergo methylation-coupled gene silencing, resulting in fragile X syndrome, the leading heritable form of cognitive impairment. Smaller expansions (55-200 CGG repeats) result in elevated levels of FMR1 mRNA, which is directly responsible for the late-onset neurodegenerative disorder, fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). For mechanistic studies and genetic counseling, it is important to know with precision the number of CGG repeats; however, no existing DNA sequencing method is capable of sequencing through more than ~100 CGG repeats, thus limiting the ability to precisely characterize the disease-causing alleles. The recent development of single molecule, real-time sequencing represents a novel approach to DNA sequencing that couples the intrinsic processivity of DNA polymerase with the ability to read polymerase activity on a single-molecule basis. Further, the accuracy of the method is improved through the use of circular templates, such that each molecule can be read multiple times to produce a circular consensus sequence (CCS). We have succeeded in generating CCS reads representing multiple passes through both strands of repeat tracts exceeding 700 CGGs (>2 kb of 100 percent CG) flanked by native FMR1 sequence, with single-molecule readlengths exceeding 12 kb. This sequencing approach thus enables us to fully characterize the previously intractable CGG-repeat sequence, leading to a better understanding of the distinct associated molecular pathologies. Real-time kinetic data also provides insight into the activity of DNA polymerase inside this unique sequence. The methodology should be widely applicable for studies of the molecular pathogenesis of an increasing number of repeat expansion-associated neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, and for the efficient identification of such disorders in the clinical setting.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing and gene expression profiling reveal broad involvement of natural antisense transcript gene pairs in pepper development and response to stresses.

Pepper is an important vegetable with great economic value and unique biological features. In the past few years, significant development has been made towards understanding the huge complex pepper genome; however, pepper functional genomics has not been well studied. To better understand the pepper gene structure and pepper gene regulation, we conducted full-length mRNA sequencing by PacBio sequencing and obtained 57862 high-quality full-length mRNA sequences derived from 18362 previously annotated and 5769 newly detected genes. New gene models were built that combined the full-length mRNA sequences and corrected approximately 500 fragmented gene models from previous annotations. Based on the full-length mRNA, we identified 4114 and 5880 pepper genes forming natural antisense transcript (NAT) genes in-cis and in-trans, respectively. Most of these genes accumulate small RNAs in their overlapping regions. By analyzing these NAT gene expression patterns in our transcriptome data, we identified many NAT pairs responsive to a variety of biological processes in pepper. Pepper formate dehydrogenase 1 (FDH1), which is required for R-gene-mediated disease resistance, may be regulated by nat-siRNAs and participate in a positive feedback loop in salicylic acid biosynthesis during resistance responses. Several cis-NAT pairs and subgroups of trans-NAT genes were responsive to pepper pericarp and placenta development, which may play roles in capsanthin and capsaicin biosynthesis. Using a comparative genomics approach, the evolutionary mechanisms of cis-NATs were investigated, and we found that an increase in intergenic sequences accounted for the loss of most cis-NATs, while transposon insertion contributed to the formation of most new cis-NATs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


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  |  

High satellite repeat turnover in great apes studied with short- and long-read technologies.

Satellite repeats are a structural component of centromeres and telomeres, and in some instances their divergence is known to drive speciation. Due to their highly repetitive nature, satellite sequences have been understudied and underrepresented in genome assemblies. To investigate their turnover in great apes, we studied satellite repeats of unit sizes up to 50?bp in human, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, using unassembled short and long sequencing reads. The density of satellite repeats, as identified from accurate short reads (Illumina), varied greatly among great ape genomes. These were dominated by a handful of abundant repeated motifs, frequently shared among species, which formed two groups: (1) the (AATGG)n repeat (critical for heat shock response) and its derivatives; and (2) subtelomeric 32-mers involved in telomeric metabolism. Using the densities of abundant repeats, individuals could be classified into species. However clustering did not reproduce the accepted species phylogeny, suggesting rapid repeat evolution. Several abundant repeats were enriched in males vs. females; using Y chromosome assemblies or FIuorescent In Situ Hybridization, we validated their location on the Y. Finally, applying a novel computational tool, we identified many satellite repeats completely embedded within long Oxford Nanopore and Pacific Biosciences reads. Such repeats were up to 59?kb in length and consisted of perfect repeats interspersed with other similar sequences. Our results based on sequencing reads generated with three different technologies provide the first detailed characterization of great ape satellite repeats, and open new avenues for exploring their functions. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem-genotypes: robust detection of tandem repeat expansions from long DNA reads.

Tandemly repeated DNA is highly mutable and causes at least 31 diseases, but it is hard to detect pathogenic repeat expansions genome-wide. Here, we report robust detection of human repeat expansions from careful alignments of long but error-prone (PacBio and nanopore) reads to a reference genome. Our method is robust to systematic sequencing errors, inexact repeats with fuzzy boundaries, and low sequencing coverage. By comparing to healthy controls, we prioritize pathogenic expansions within the top 10 out of 700,000 tandem repeats in whole genome sequencing data. This may help to elucidate the many genetic diseases whose causes remain unknown.


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