October 23, 2019  |  

Function-based identification of mammalian enhancers using site-specific integration.

The accurate and comprehensive identification of functional regulatory sequences in mammalian genomes remains a major challenge. Here we describe site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing (SIF-seq), an unbiased, medium-throughput functional assay for the discovery of distant-acting enhancers. Targeted single-copy genomic integration into pluripotent cells, reporter assays and flow cytometry are coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing to enable parallel screening of large numbers of DNA sequences. By functionally interrogating >500 kilobases (kb) of mouse and human sequence in mouse embryonic stem cells for enhancer activity we identified enhancers at pluripotency loci including NANOG. In in vitro-differentiated cardiomyocytes and neural progenitor cells, we identified cardiac enhancers and neuronal enhancers, respectively. SIF-seq is a powerful and flexible method for de novo functional identification of mammalian enhancers in a potentially wide variety of cell types.


September 22, 2019  |  

Sixteen diverse laboratory mouse reference genomes define strain-specific haplotypes and novel functional loci.

We report full-length draft de novo genome assemblies for 16 widely used inbred mouse strains and find extensive strain-specific haplotype variation. We identify and characterize 2,567 regions on the current mouse reference genome exhibiting the greatest sequence diversity. These regions are enriched for genes involved in pathogen defence and immunity and exhibit enrichment of transposable elements and signatures of recent retrotransposition events. Combinations of alleles and genes unique to an individual strain are commonly observed at these loci, reflecting distinct strain phenotypes. We used these genomes to improve the mouse reference genome, resulting in the completion of 10 new gene structures. Also, 62 new coding loci were added to the reference genome annotation. These genomes identified a large, previously unannotated, gene (Efcab3-like) encoding 5,874 amino acids. Mutant Efcab3-like mice display anomalies in multiple brain regions, suggesting a possible role for this gene in the regulation of brain development.


September 22, 2019  |  

G&T-seq: parallel sequencing of single-cell genomes and transcriptomes.

The simultaneous sequencing of a single cell’s genome and transcriptome offers a powerful means to dissect genetic variation and its effect on gene expression. Here we describe G&T-seq, a method for separating and sequencing genomic DNA and full-length mRNA from single cells. By applying G&T-seq to over 220 single cells from mice and humans, we discovered cellular properties that could not be inferred from DNA or RNA sequencing alone.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptional diversity during lineage commitment of human blood progenitors.

Blood cells derive from hematopoietic stem cells through stepwise fating events. To characterize gene expression programs driving lineage choice, we sequenced RNA from eight primary human hematopoietic progenitor populations representing the major myeloid commitment stages and the main lymphoid stage. We identified extensive cell type-specific expression changes: 6711 genes and 10,724 transcripts, enriched in non-protein-coding elements at early stages of differentiation. In addition, we found 7881 novel splice junctions and 2301 differentially used alternative splicing events, enriched in genes involved in regulatory processes. We demonstrated experimentally cell-specific isoform usage, identifying nuclear factor I/B (NFIB) as a regulator of megakaryocyte maturation-the platelet precursor. Our data highlight the complexity of fating events in closely related progenitor populations, the understanding of which is essential for the advancement of transplantation and regenerative medicine. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.


September 22, 2019  |  

The state of play in higher eukaryote gene annotation.

A genome sequence is worthless if it cannot be deciphered; therefore, efforts to describe – or ‘annotate’ – genes began as soon as DNA sequences became available. Whereas early work focused on individual protein-coding genes, the modern genomic ocean is a complex maelstrom of alternative splicing, non-coding transcription and pseudogenes. Scientists – from clinicians to evolutionary biologists – need to navigate these waters, and this has led to the design of high-throughput, computationally driven annotation projects. The catalogues that are being produced are key resources for genome exploration, especially as they become integrated with expression, epigenomic and variation data sets. Their creation, however, remains challenging.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long reads: their purpose and place.

In recent years long-read technologies have moved from being a niche and specialist field to a point of relative maturity likely to feature frequently in the genomic landscape. Analogous to next generation sequencing, the cost of sequencing using long-read technologies has materially dropped whilst the instrument throughput continues to increase. Together these changes present the prospect of sequencing large numbers of individuals with the aim of fully characterizing genomes at high resolution. In this article, we will endeavour to present an introduction to long-read technologies showing: what long reads are; how they are distinct from short reads; why long reads are useful and how they are being used. We will highlight the recent developments in this field, and the applications and potential of these technologies in medical research, and clinical diagnostics and therapeutics.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of the Hi5 germ cell line from Trichoplusia ni, an agricultural pest and novel model for small RNA biology.

We report a draft assembly of the genome of Hi5 cells from the lepidopteran insect pest,Trichoplusia ni, assigning 90.6% of bases to one of 28 chromosomes and predicting 14,037 protein-coding genes. Chemoreception and detoxification gene families revealT. ni-specific gene expansions that may explain its widespread distribution and rapid adaptation to insecticides. Transcriptome and small RNA data from thorax, ovary, testis, and the germline-derived Hi5 cell line show distinct expression profiles for 295 microRNA- and >393 piRNA-producing loci, as well as 39 genes encoding small RNA pathway proteins. Nearly all of the W chromosome is devoted to piRNA production, andT. nisiRNAs are not 2´-O-methylated. To enable use of Hi5 cells as a model system, we have established genome editing and single-cell cloning protocols. TheT. nigenome provides insights into pest control and allows Hi5 cells to become a new tool for studying small RNAs ex vivo.© 2018, Fu et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

SvABA: genome-wide detection of structural variants and indels by local assembly.

Structural variants (SVs), including small insertion and deletion variants (indels), are challenging to detect through standard alignment-based variant calling methods. Sequence assembly offers a powerful approach to identifying SVs, but is difficult to apply at scale genome-wide for SV detection due to its computational complexity and the difficulty of extracting SVs from assembly contigs. We describe SvABA, an efficient and accurate method for detecting SVs from short-read sequencing data using genome-wide local assembly with low memory and computing requirements. We evaluated SvABA’s performance on the NA12878 human genome and in simulated and real cancer genomes. SvABA demonstrates superior sensitivity and specificity across a large spectrum of SVs and substantially improves detection performance for variants in the 20-300 bp range, compared with existing methods. SvABA also identifies complex somatic rearrangements with chains of short (<1000 bp) templated-sequence insertions copied from distant genomic regions. We applied SvABA to 344 cancer genomes from 11 cancer types and found that short templated-sequence insertions occur in ~4% of all somatic rearrangements. Finally, we demonstrate that SvABA can identify sites of viral integration and cancer driver alterations containing medium-sized (50-300 bp) SVs.© 2018 Wala et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of bdelloid rotifers: Insights from desiccating and nondesiccating species.

Bdelloid rotifers are a class of microscopic invertebrates that have existed for millions of years apparently without sex or meiosis. They inhabit a variety of temporary and permanent freshwater habitats globally, and many species are remarkably tolerant of desiccation. Bdelloids offer an opportunity to better understand the evolution of sex and recombination, but previous work has emphasised desiccation as the cause of several unusual genomic features in this group. Here, we present high-quality whole-genome sequences of 3 bdelloid species: Rotaria macrura and R. magnacalcarata, which are both desiccation intolerant, and Adineta ricciae, which is desiccation tolerant. In combination with the published assembly of A. vaga, which is also desiccation tolerant, we apply a comparative genomics approach to evaluate the potential effects of desiccation tolerance and asexuality on genome evolution in bdelloids. We find that ancestral tetraploidy is conserved among all 4 bdelloid species, but homologous divergence in obligately aquatic Rotaria genomes is unexpectedly low. This finding is contrary to current models regarding the role of desiccation in shaping bdelloid genomes. In addition, we find that homologous regions in A. ricciae are largely collinear and do not form palindromic repeats as observed in the published A. vaga assembly. Consequently, several features interpreted as genomic evidence for long-term ameiotic evolution are not general to all bdelloid species, even within the same genus. Finally, we substantiate previous findings of high levels of horizontally transferred nonmetazoan genes in both desiccating and nondesiccating bdelloid species and show that this unusual feature is not shared by other animal phyla, even those with desiccation-tolerant representatives. These comparisons call into question the proposed role of desiccation in mediating horizontal genetic transfer.


September 22, 2019  |  

A graph-based approach to diploid genome assembly.

Constructing high-quality haplotype-resolved de novo assemblies of diploid genomes is important for revealing the full extent of structural variation and its role in health and disease. Current assembly approaches often collapse the two sequences into one haploid consensus sequence and, therefore, fail to capture the diploid nature of the organism under study. Thus, building an assembler capable of producing accurate and complete diploid assemblies, while being resource-efficient with respect to sequencing costs, is a key challenge to be addressed by the bioinformatics community.We present a novel graph-based approach to diploid assembly, which combines accurate Illumina data and long-read Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) data. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on a pseudo-diploid yeast genome and show that we require as little as 50× coverage Illumina data and 10× PacBio data to generate accurate and complete assemblies. Additionally, we show that our approach has the ability to detect and phase structural variants.https://github.com/whatshap/whatshap.Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.


September 22, 2019  |  

Variation graph toolkit improves read mapping by representing genetic variation in the reference.

Reference genomes guide our interpretation of DNA sequence data. However, conventional linear references represent only one version of each locus, ignoring variation in the population. Poor representation of an individual’s genome sequence impacts read mapping and introduces bias. Variation graphs are bidirected DNA sequence graphs that compactly represent genetic variation across a population, including large-scale structural variation such as inversions and duplications. Previous graph genome software implementations have been limited by scalability or topological constraints. Here we present vg, a toolkit of computational methods for creating, manipulating, and using these structures as references at the scale of the human genome. vg provides an efficient approach to mapping reads onto arbitrary variation graphs using generalized compressed suffix arrays, with improved accuracy over alignment to a linear reference, and effectively removing reference bias. These capabilities make using variation graphs as references for DNA sequencing practical at a gigabase scale, or at the topological complexity of de novo assemblies.


September 22, 2019  |  

A homeobox gene, BarH-1, underlies a female alternative life-history strategy

Colias butterflies (the “clouded sulphurs”) often occur in mixed populations where females exhibit two color morphs, yellow/orange or white. White females, known as the Alba morph, reallocate resources from the synthesis of costly colored pigments to reproductive and somatic development 1. Due to this tradeoff Alba females develop faster and have higher fecundity than orange females 2. However orange females, that have instead invested in pigments, are preferred by males who in turn provide a nutrient rich spermatophore during mating 2,3,4. Thus the wing color morphs represent alternative life history strategies (ALHS) that are female-limited, wherein tradeoffs, due to divergent resource investment, result in distinct phenotypes with associated fitness consequences. Here we map the genetic basis of Alba in Colias crocea to a transposable element insertion downstream of the Colias homolog of BarH-1. To investigate the phenotypic effects of this insertion we use CRISPR/Cas9 to validate BarH-1’s functional role in the wing color switch and antibody staining to confirm expression differences in the scale building cells of pupal wings. We then use scanning electron microscopy to determine that BarH-1 expression in the wings causes a reduction in pigment granules within wing scales, and thereby gives rise to the white color. Finally, lipid and transcriptome analyses reveal additional physiological differences that arise due to Alba, suggesting pleiotropic effects beyond wing color. Together these findings provide the first well documented mechanism for a female ALHS and support an alternative view of color polymorphism as indicative of pleiotropic effects with life history consequences.


September 22, 2019  |  

Streptococcus suis contains multiple phase-variable methyltransferases that show a discrete lineage distribution.

Streptococcus suis is a major pathogen of swine, responsible for a number of chronic and acute infections, and is also emerging as a major zoonotic pathogen, particularly in South-East Asia. Our study of a diverse population of S. suis shows that this organism contains both Type I and Type III phase-variable methyltransferases. In all previous examples, phase-variation of methyltransferases results in genome wide methylation differences, and results in differential regulation of multiple genes, a system known as the phasevarion (phase-variable regulon). We hypothesized that each variant in the Type I and Type III systems encoded a methyltransferase with a unique specificity, and could therefore control a distinct phasevarion, either by recombination-driven shuffling between different specificities (Type I) or by biphasic on-off switching via simple sequence repeats (Type III). Here, we present the identification of the target specificities for each Type III allelic variant from S. suis using single-molecule, real-time methylome analysis. We demonstrate phase-variation is occurring in both Type I and Type III methyltransferases, and show a distinct association between methyltransferase type and presence, and population clades. In addition, we show that the phase-variable Type I methyltransferase was likely acquired at the origin of a highly virulent zoonotic sub-population.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic surveillance of Enterococcus faecium reveals limited sharing of strains and resistance genes between livestock and humans in the United Kingdom.

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) is a major cause of nosocomial infection and is categorized as high priority by the World Health Organization global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the past, livestock have been proposed as a putative reservoir for drug-resistant E. faecium strains that infect humans, and isolates of the same lineage have been found in both reservoirs. We undertook cross-sectional surveys to isolate E. faecium (including VREfm) from livestock farms, retail meat, and wastewater treatment plants in the United Kingdom. More than 600 isolates from these sources were sequenced, and their relatedness and antibiotic resistance genes were compared with genomes of almost 800 E. faecium isolates from patients with bloodstream infection in the United Kingdom and Ireland. E. faecium was isolated from 28/29 farms; none of these isolates were VREfm, suggesting a decrease in VREfm prevalence since the last UK livestock survey in 2003. However, VREfm was isolated from 1% to 2% of retail meat products and was ubiquitous in wastewater treatment plants. Phylogenetic comparison demonstrated that the majority of human and livestock-related isolates were genetically distinct, although pig isolates from three farms were more genetically related to human isolates from 2001 to 2004 (minimum of 50?single-nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]). Analysis of accessory (variable) genes added further evidence for distinct niche adaptation. An analysis of acquired antibiotic resistance genes and their variants revealed limited sharing between humans and livestock. Our findings indicate that the majority of E. faecium strains infecting patients are largely distinct from those from livestock in this setting, with limited sharing of strains and resistance genes.IMPORTANCE The rise in rates of human infection caused by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) strains between 1988 to the 2000s in Europe was suggested to be associated with acquisition from livestock. As a result, the European Union banned the use of the glycopeptide drug avoparcin as a growth promoter in livestock feed. While some studies reported a decrease in VREfm in livestock, others reported no reduction. Here, we report the first livestock VREfm prevalence survey in the UK since 2003 and the first large-scale study using whole-genome sequencing to investigate the relationship between E. faecium strains in livestock and humans. We found a low prevalence of VREfm in retail meat and limited evidence for recent sharing of strains between livestock and humans with bloodstream infection. There was evidence for limited sharing of genes encoding antibiotic resistance between these reservoirs, a finding which requires further research. Copyright © 2018 Gouliouris et al.


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