Current Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire sequencing (AIRR-seq) using short-read sequencing strategies resolve expressed Ab transcripts with limited resolution of the C region. In this article, we present the near-full-length AIRR-seq (FLAIRR-seq) method that uses targeted amplification by 5′ RACE, combined with single-molecule, real-time sequencing to generate highly accurate (99.99%) human Ab H chain transcripts. FLAIRR-seq was benchmarked by comparing H chain V (IGHV), D (IGHD), and J (IGHJ) gene usage, complementarity-determining region 3 length, and somatic hypermutation to matched datasets generated with standard 5′ RACE AIRR-seq using short-read sequencing and full-length isoform sequencing. Together, these data demonstrate robust FLAIRR-seq performance using RNA samples derived from PBMCs, purified B cells, and whole blood, which recapitulated results generated by commonly used methods, while additionally resolving H chain gene features not documented in IMGT at the time of submission. FLAIRR-seq data provide, for the first time, to our knowledge, simultaneous single-molecule characterization of IGHV, IGHD, IGHJ, and IGHC region genes and alleles, allele-resolved subisotype definition, and high-resolution identification of class switch recombination within a clonal lineage. In conjunction with genomic sequencing and genotyping of IGHC genes, FLAIRR-seq of the IgM and IgG repertoires from 10 individuals resulted in the identification of 32 unique IGHC alleles, 28 (87%) of which were previously uncharacterized. Together, these data demonstrate the capabilities of FLAIRR-seq to characterize IGHV, IGHD, IGHJ, and IGHC gene diversity for the most comprehensive view of bulk-expressed Ab repertoires to date.
Journal: The Journal of Immunology