June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative Studies of Mammalian Sex Chromosomes: From Cytogenetics to NGS

It is a common knowledge that sex chromosome mutations are better tolerated and more viable compared to changes in autosomes. This is explained by relatively low gene density in both the X and the Y chromosome and by random X chromosome inactivation in mammalian females buffering the effect of X-aneuploidies. However, it is not well understood why apparently similar sex chromosome abnormalities, such as X-monosomy or certain Y chromosome rearrangements, result in different phenotypic effects in different species. It is thought that this is due to species differences in the organization of the Y chromosome, differences in the set of genes escaping X-inactivation, and the presence of species/lineage specific sex-linked genes with functions in development and reproduction. Current knowledge about the species differences in sex chromosome organization and function is limited, this despite the availability of reference genome assemblies for most domestic species. It appears that sequence assembly of the X chromosome in most species is rather patchy containing multiple gaps and possible misassemblies, being the poorest in the pseudoautosomal region and in regions containing putative lineage-specific sequences. The Y chromosome, on the other hand, is typically not included in the reference genome and is studied separately, whereas complete sequence assembly of the male-specific portion of the Y is not yet available for any domestic species. In this talk I will discuss comparative organization and function of animal sex chromosomes and related phenotypes proceeding from our research in horses.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-length haplotigs for yak and cattle from trio binning assembly of an F1 hybrid

Background Assemblies of diploid genomes are generally unphased, pseudo-haploid representations that do not correctly reconstruct the two parental haplotypes present in the individual sequenced. Instead, the assembly alternates between parental haplotypes and may contain duplications in regions where the parental haplotypes are sufficiently different. Trio binning is an approach to genome assembly that uses short reads from both parents to classify long reads from the offspring according to maternal or paternal haplotype origin, and is thus helped rather than impeded by heterozygosity. Using this approach, it is possible to derive two assemblies from an individual, accurately representing both parental contributions in their entirety with higher continuity and accuracy than is possible with other methods.Results We used trio binning to assemble reference genomes for two species from a single individual using an interspecies cross of yak (Bos grunniens) and cattle (Bos taurus). The high heterozygosity inherent to interspecies hybrids allowed us to confidently assign >99% of long reads from the F1 offspring to parental bins using unique k-mers from parental short reads. Both the maternal (yak) and paternal (cattle) assemblies contain over one third of the acrocentric chromosomes, including the two largest chromosomes, in single haplotigs.Conclusions These haplotigs are the first vertebrate chromosome arms to be assembled gap-free and fully phased, and the first time assemblies for two species have been created from a single individual. Both assemblies are the most continuous currently available for non-model vertebrates.MbmegabaseskbkilobasesMYAmillions of years agoMHCmajor histocompatibility complexSMRTsingle molecule real time


April 21, 2020  |  

Telomere-to-telomere assembly of a complete human X chromosome

After nearly two decades of improvements, the current human reference genome (GRCh38) is the most accurate and complete vertebrate genome ever produced. However, no one chromosome has been finished end to end, and hundreds of unresolved gaps persist. The remaining gaps include ribosomal rDNA arrays, large near-identical segmental duplications, and satellite DNA arrays. These regions harbor largely unexplored variation of unknown consequence, and their absence from the current reference genome can lead to experimental artifacts and hide true variants when re-sequencing additional human genomes. Here we present a de novo human genome assembly that surpasses the continuity of GRCh38, along with the first gapless, telomere-to-telomere assembly of a human chromosome. This was enabled by high-coverage, ultra-long-read nanopore sequencing of the complete hydatidiform mole CHM13 genome, combined with complementary technologies for quality improvement and validation. Focusing our efforts on the human X chromosome 3, we reconstructed the ~2.8 megabase centromeric satellite DNA array and closed all 29 remaining gaps in the current reference, including new sequence from the human pseudoautosomal regions and cancer-testis ampliconic gene families (CT-X and GAGE). This complete chromosome X, combined with the ultra-long nanopore data, also allowed us to map methylation patterns across complex tandem repeats and satellite arrays for the first time. These results demonstrate that finishing the human genome is now within reach and will enable ongoing efforts to complete the remaining human chromosomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions such as when and where transcription occurs to the folding and intermolecular interactions that govern RNA function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Benchmarking Transposable Element Annotation Methods for Creation of a Streamlined, Comprehensive Pipeline

Sequencing technology and assembly algorithms have matured to the point that high-quality de novo assembly is possible for large, repetitive genomes. Current assemblies traverse transposable elements (TEs) and allow for annotation of TEs. There are numerous methods for each class of elements with unknown relative performance metrics. We benchmarked existing programs based on a curated library of rice TEs. Using the most robust programs, we created a comprehensive pipeline called Extensive de-novo TE Annotator (EDTA) that produces a condensed TE library for annotations of structurally intact and fragmented elements. EDTA is open-source and freely available: https://github.com/oushujun/EDTA.List of abbreviationsTETransposable ElementsLTRLong Terminal RepeatLINELong Interspersed Nuclear ElementSINEShort Interspersed Nuclear ElementMITEMiniature Inverted Transposable ElementTIRTerminal Inverted RepeatTSDTarget Site DuplicationTPTrue PositivesFPFalse PositivesTNTrue NegativeFNFalse NegativesGRFGeneric Repeat FinderEDTAExtensive de-novo TE Annotator


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


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  |  

Early Sex-chromosome Evolution in the Diploid Dioecious Plant Mercurialis annua.

Suppressed recombination allows divergence between homologous sex chromosomes and the functionality of their genes. Here, we reveal patterns of the earliest stages of sex-chromosome evolution in the diploid dioecious herb Mercurialis annua on the basis of cytological analysis, de novo genome assembly and annotation, genetic mapping, exome resequencing of natural populations, and transcriptome analysis. The genome assembly contained 34,105 expressed genes, of which 10,076 were assigned to linkage groups. Genetic mapping and exome resequencing of individuals across the species range both identified the largest linkage group, LG1, as the sex chromosome. Although the sex chromosomes of M. annua are karyotypically homomorphic, we estimate that about a third of the Y chromosome has ceased recombining, containing 568 transcripts and spanning 22.3 cM in the corresponding female map. Nevertheless, we found limited evidence for Y-chromosome degeneration in terms of gene loss and pseudogenization, and most X- and Y-linked genes appear to have diverged in the period subsequent to speciation between M. annua and its sister species M. huetii which shares the same sex-determining region. Taken together, our results suggest that the M. annua Y chromosome has at least two evolutionary strata: a small old stratum shared with M. huetii, and a more recent larger stratum that is probably unique to M. annua and that stopped recombining about one million years ago. Patterns of gene expression within the non-recombining region are consistent with the idea that sexually antagonistic selection may have played a role in favoring suppressed recombination.Copyright © 2019, Genetics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Critical length in long-read resequencing

Long-read sequencing has substantial advantages for structural variant discovery and phasing of vari- ants compared to short-read technologies, but the required and optimal read length has not been as- sessed. In this work, we used long reads simulated from human genomes and evaluated structural vari- ant discovery and variant phasing using current best practicebioinformaticsmethods.Wedeterminedthatoptimal discovery of structural variants from human genomes can be obtained with reads of minimally 20 kb. Haplotyping variants across genes only reaches its optimum from reads of 100 kb. These findings are important for the design of future long-read sequenc- ing projects.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic Variation, Comparative Genomics, and the Diagnosis of Disease.

The discovery of mutations associated with human genetic dis- ease is an exercise in comparative genomics (see Glossary). Although there are many different strategies and approaches, the central premise is that affected persons harbor a significant excess of pathogenic DNA variants as com- pared with a group of unaffected persons (controls) that is either clinically defined1 or established by surveying large swaths of the general population.2 The more exclu- sive the variant is to the disease, the greater its penetrance, the larger its effect size, and the more relevant it becomes to both disease diagnosis and future therapeutic investigation. The most popular approach used by researchers in human genetics is the case–control design, but there are others that can be used to track variants and disease in a family context or that consider the probability of different classes of mutations based on evolutionary patterns of divergence or de novo mutational change.3,4 Although the approaches may be straightforward, the discovery of patho- genic variation and its mechanism of action often is less trivial, and decades of research can be required in order to identify the variants underlying both mendelian and complex genetic traits.


April 21, 2020  |  

Heterochromatin-enriched assemblies reveal the sequence and organization of the Drosophila melanogaster Y chromosome.

Heterochromatic regions of the genome are repeat-rich and poor in protein coding genes, and are therefore underrepresented in even the best genome assemblies. One of the most difficult regions of the genome to assemble are sex-limited chromosomes. The Drosophila melanogaster Y chromosome is entirely heterochromatic, yet has wide-ranging effects on male fertility, fitness, and genome-wide gene expression. The genetic basis of this phenotypic variation is difficult to study, in part because we do not know the detailed organization of the Y chromosome. To study Y chromosome organization in D. melanogaster, we develop an assembly strategy involving the in silico enrichment of heterochromatic long single-molecule reads and use these reads to create targeted de novo assemblies of heterochromatic sequences. We assigned contigs to the Y chromosome using Illumina reads to identify male-specific sequences. Our pipeline extends the D. melanogaster reference genome by 11.9 Mb, closes 43.8% of the gaps, and improves overall contiguity. The addition of 10.6 MB of Y-linked sequence permitted us to study the organization of repeats and genes along the Y chromosome. We detected a high rate of duplication to the pericentric regions of the Y chromosome from other regions in the genome. Most of these duplicated genes exist in multiple copies. We detail the evolutionary history of one sex-linked gene family, crystal-Stellate While the Y chromosome does not undergo crossing over, we observed high gene conversion rates within and between members of the crystal-Stellate gene family, Su(Ste), and PCKR, compared to genome-wide estimates. Our results suggest that gene conversion and gene duplication play an important role in the evolution of Y-linked genes. Copyright © 2019 Chang and Larracuente.


April 21, 2020  |  

Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY) orchestrates male sex determination in major agricultural fruit fly pests.

In insects, rapidly evolving primary sex-determining signals are transduced by a conserved regulatory module controlling sexual differentiation. In the agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly), we identified a Y-linked gene, Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY), encoding a small protein that is necessary and sufficient for male development. Silencing or disruption of MoY in XY embryos causes feminization, whereas overexpression of MoY in XX embryos induces masculinization. Crosses between transformed XY females and XX males give rise to males and females, indicating that a Y chromosome can be transmitted by XY females. MoY is Y-linked and functionally conserved in other species of the Tephritidae family, highlighting its potential to serve as a tool for developing more effective control strategies against these major agricultural insect pests.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Copy-number variants in clinical genome sequencing: deployment and interpretation for rare and undiagnosed disease.

Current diagnostic testing for genetic disorders involves serial use of specialized assays spanning multiple technologies. In principle, genome sequencing (GS) can detect all genomic pathogenic variant types on a single platform. Here we evaluate copy-number variant (CNV) calling as part of a clinically accredited GS test.We performed analytical validation of CNV calling on 17 reference samples, compared the sensitivity of GS-based variants with those from a clinical microarray, and set a bound on precision using orthogonal technologies. We developed a protocol for family-based analysis of GS-based CNV calls, and deployed this across a clinical cohort of 79 rare and undiagnosed cases.We found that CNV calls from GS are at least as sensitive as those from microarrays, while only creating a modest increase in the number of variants interpreted (~10 CNVs per case). We identified clinically significant CNVs in 15% of the first 79 cases analyzed, all of which were confirmed by an orthogonal approach. The pipeline also enabled discovery of a uniparental disomy (UPD) and a 50% mosaic trisomy 14. Directed analysis of select CNVs enabled breakpoint level resolution of genomic rearrangements and phasing of de novo CNVs.Robust identification of CNVs by GS is possible within a clinical testing environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide systematic identification of methyltransferase recognition and modification patterns.

Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation patterns using single molecule real-time DNA sequencing has boosted the number of publicly available methylomes. However, there is a lack of tools coupling methylation patterns and the corresponding methyltransferase genes. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput method for coupling methyltransferases with their respective motifs, using automated cloning and analysing the methyltransferases in vectors carrying a strain-specific cassette containing all potential target sites. To validate the method, we analyse the genomes of the thermophile Moorella thermoacetica and the mesophile Acetobacterium woodii, two acetogenic bacteria having substantially modified genomes with 12 methylation motifs and a total of 23 methyltransferase genes. Using our method, we characterize the 23 methyltransferases, assign motifs to the respective enzymes and verify activity for 11 of the 12 motifs.


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