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Journal: Genome research


Emerging next-generation sequencing technologies have revolutionized the collection of genomic data for applications in bioforensics, biosurveillance, and for use in clinical settings. However, to make the most of these new data, new methodology needs to be developed that can accommodate large volumes of genetic data in a computationally efficient manner. We present a statistical framework to analyze raw next-generation sequence reads from purified or mixed environmental or targeted infected tissue samples for rapid species identification and strain attribution against a robust database of known biological agents. Our method, Pathoscope, capitalizes on a Bayesian statistical framework that accommodates information on sequence quality, mapping quality and provides posterior probabilities of matches to a known database of target genomes. Importantly, our approach also incorporates the possibility that multiple species can be present in the sample and considers cases when the sample species/strain is not in the reference database. Furthermore, our approach can accurately discriminate between very closely related strains of the same species with very little coverage of the genome and without the need for multiple alignment steps, extensive homology searches, or genome assembly- which are time consuming and labor intensive steps. We demonstrate the utility of our approach on genomic data from purified and in silico ‘environmental’ samples from known bacterial agents impacting human health for accuracy assessment and comparison with other approaches.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Archaea, Organism, Virus, Genome, Genomics


RNA-seq is a powerful tool for the study of alternative splicing and other forms of alternative isoform expression. Understanding the regulation of these processes requires sensitive and specific detection of differential isoform abundance in comparisons between conditions, cell types, or tissues. We present DEXSeq, a statistical method to test for differential exon usage in RNA-seq data. DEXSeq uses generalized linear models and offers reliable control of false discoveries by taking biological variation into account. DEXSeq detects with high sensitivity genes, and in many cases exons, that are subject to differential exon usage. We demonstrate the versatility of DEXSeq by applying it to several data sets. The method facilitates the study of regulation and function of alternative exon usage on a genome-wide scale. An implementation of DEXSeq is available as an R/Bioconductor package.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Statistics, Messenger RNA, Intron, Spliceosome, RNA splicing, Alternative splicing


Recent genome-wide computational screens that search for conservation of RNA secondary structure in whole genome alignments (WGAs) have predicted thousands of structural noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). The sensitivity of such approaches, however, is limited due to their reliance on sequence-based whole-genome aligners, which regularly misalign structural ncRNAs. This suggests that many more structural ncRNAs may remain undetected. Structure-based alignment, which could increase the sensitivity, has been prohibitive for genome-wide screens due to its extreme computational costs. Breaking this barrier, we present the pipeline REAPR (RE-Alignment for Prediction of structural ncRNA), which efficiently realigns whole genomes based on RNA sequence and structure, thus allowing us to boost the performance of de novo ncRNA predictors, such as RNAz. Key to the pipeline’s efficiency is the development of a novel banding technique for multiple RNA alignment. REAPR significantly outperforms the widely-used predictors RNAz and EvoFold in genome-wide screens; in direct comparison to the most recent RNAz screen on D. melanogaster, REAPR predicts twice as many high-confidence ncRNA candidates. Moreover, modEncode RNA-Seq experiments confirm a substantial number of its predictions as transcripts. REAPR’s advancement of de novo structural characterization of ncRNAs complements the identification of transcripts from rapidly accumulating RNA-Seq data.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genome, RNA, Prediction, Non-coding RNA, Transfer RNA, Long noncoding RNA


Emerging sequencing technologies allow common and rare variants to be systematically assayed across the human genome in many individuals. In order to improve variant detection and genotype calling, raw sequence data are typically examined across many individuals. Here, we describe a method for genotype calling in settings where sequence data are available for unrelated individuals and parent-offspring trios and show that modeling trio information can greatly increase the accuracy of inferred genotypes and haplotypes, especially on low to modest depth sequencing data. Our method considers both linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns and the constraints imposed by family structure when assigning individual genotypes and haplotypes. Using simulations, we show that trios provide higher genotype calling accuracy across the frequency spectrum, both overall and at hard-to-call heterozygous sites. In addition, trios provide greatly improved phasing accuracy-improving the accuracy of downstream analyses (such as genotype imputation) that rely on phased haplotypes. To further evaluate our approach, we analyzed data on the first 508 individuals sequenced by the SardiNIA sequencing project. Our results show that our method reduces the genotyping error rate by 50% compared with analysis using existing methods that ignore family structure. We anticipate our method will facilitate genotype calling and haplotype inference for many ongoing sequencing projects.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Human genome, Sequence, Zygosity, Linkage disequilibrium, Haplotype


Lung cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease in terms of both underlying genetic lesions and response to therapeutic treatments. We performed deep whole-genome sequencing and transcriptome sequencing on 19 lung cancer cell lines and three lung tumor/normal pairs. Overall, our data show that cell line models exhibit similar mutation spectra to human tumor samples. Smoker and never-smoker cancer samples exhibit distinguishable patterns of mutations. A number of epigenetic regulators, including KDM6A, ASH1L, SMARCA4, and ATAD2, are frequently altered by mutations or copy number changes. A systematic survey of splice-site mutations identified 106 splice site mutations associated with cancer specific aberrant splicing, including mutations in several known cancer-related genes. RAC1b, an isoform of the RAC1 GTPase that includes one additional exon, was found to be preferentially up-regulated in lung cancer. We further show that its expression is significantly associated with sensitivity to a MAP2K (MEK) inhibitor PD-0325901. Taken together, these data present a comprehensive genomic landscape of a large number of lung cancer samples and further demonstrate that cancer-specific alternative splicing is a widespread phenomenon that has potential utility as therapeutic biomarkers. The detailed characterizations of the lung cancer cell lines also provide genomic context to the vast amount of experimental data gathered for these lines over the decades, and represent highly valuable resources for cancer biology.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cancer, Mutation, Lung cancer, Alternative splicing, Splice site mutation


Advances in genome sequencing and assembly technologies are generating many high-quality genome sequences, but assemblies of large, repeat-rich polyploid genomes, such as that of bread wheat, remain fragmented and incomplete. We have generated a new wheat whole-genome shotgun sequence assembly using a combination of optimized data types and an assembly algorithm designed to deal with large and complex genomes. The new assembly represents >78% of the genome with a scaffold N50 of 88.8 kb that has a high fidelity to the input data. Our new annotation combines strand-specific Illumina RNA-seq and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) full-length cDNAs to identify 104,091 high-confidence protein-coding genes and 10,156 noncoding RNA genes. We confirmed three known and identified one novel genome rearrangements. Our approach enables the rapid and scalable assembly of wheat genomes, the identification of structural variants, and the definition of complete gene models, all powerful resources for trait analysis and breeding of this key global crop.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Genome, RNA, Genomics, DNA sequencing


We expanded the knowledge base for Drosophila cell line transcriptomes by deeply sequencing their small RNAs. In total, we analyzed more than 1 billion raw reads from 53 libraries across 25 cell lines. We verify reproducibility of biological replicate data sets, determine common and distinct aspects of miRNA expression across cell lines, and infer the global impact of miRNAs on cell line transcriptomes. We next characterize their commonalities and differences in endo-siRNA populations. Interestingly, most cell lines exhibit enhanced TE-siRNA production relative to tissues, suggesting this as a common aspect of cell immortalization. We also broadly extend annotations of cis-NAT-siRNA loci, identifying ones with common expression across diverse cells and tissues, as well as cell-restricted loci. Finally, we characterize small RNAs in a set of ovary-derived cell lines, including somatic cells (OSS and OSC) and a mixed germline/somatic cell population (fGS/OSS) that exhibits ping-pong piRNA signatures. Collectively, the ovary data reveal new genic piRNA loci, including unusual configurations of piRNA-generating regions. Together with the companion analysis of mRNAs described in a previous study, these small RNA data provide comprehensive information on the transcriptional landscape of diverse Drosophila cell lines. These data should encourage broader usage of fly cell lines, beyond the few that are presently in common usage.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, RNA, Cell biology, Messenger RNA, Small interfering RNA


Dynamic epigenetic reprogramming occurs during mammalian germ cell development, although the targets of this process, including DNA demethylation and de novo methylation, remain poorly understood. We performed genome-wide DNA methylation analysis in male and female mouse primordial germ cells at embryonic day 10.5, 13.5, and 16.5 by whole-genome shotgun bisulfite sequencing. Our high-resolution DNA methylome maps demonstrated gender-specific differences in CpG methylation at genome-wide and gene-specific levels during fetal germline progression. There was extensive intra- and intergenic hypomethylation with erasure of methylation marks at imprinted, X-linked, or germline-specific genes during gonadal sex determination and partial methylation at particular retrotransposons. Following global demethylation and sex determination, CpG sites switched to de novo methylation in males, but the X-linked genes appeared resistant to the wave of de novo methylation. Significant differential methylation at a subset of imprinted loci was identified in both genders and non-CpG methylation occurred only in male gonocytes. Our data establish the basis for future studies on the role of epigenetic modifications in germline development and other biological processes.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Male, Epigenetics, Sex, DNA methylation, Germ cell


The correct interpretation of microbial sequencing data applied to surveillance and outbreak investigation depends on accessible genomic databases to provide vital genetic context. Our aim was to construct and describe a UK MRSA database containing over 1,000 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) genomes drawn from England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland over a decade. We sequenced 1,013 MRSA submitted to the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy by 46 laboratories between 2001 and 2010. Each isolate was assigned to a regional healthcare referral network in England, and otherwise grouped based on country of origin. Phylogenetic reconstructions were used to contextualise MRSA outbreak investigations, and to detect the spread of resistance. The majority of isolates (n=783, 77%) belonged to CC22, which contains the dominant UK epidemic clone (EMRSA-15). There was marked geographic structuring of EMRSA-15, consistent with widespread dissemination prior to the sampling decade followed by local diversification. The addition of MRSA genomes from two outbreaks and one pseudo-outbreak demonstrated the certainty with which outbreaks could be confirmed or refuted. We identified local and regional differences in antibiotic resistance profiles, with examples of local expansion, as well as widespread circulation of mobile genetic elements across the bacterial population. We have generated a resource for the future surveillance and outbreak investigation of MRSA in the UK and Ireland, and have shown the value of this during outbreak investigation and tracking of antimicrobial resistance.

Concepts: Bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Vancomycin, Northern Ireland


Metagenomic shotgun sequencing (MSS) is an important tool for characterizing viral populations. It is culture-independent, requires no a priori knowledge of the viruses in the sample, and may provide useful genomic information. However, MSS can lack sensitivity and may yield insufficient data for detailed analysis. We have created a targeted sequence capture panel, ViroCap, designed to enrich nucleic acid from DNA and RNA viruses from 34 families that infect vertebrate hosts. A computational approach condensed nearly 1 billion base pair (bp) of viral reference sequence into less than 200 million bp of unique, representative sequence suitable for targeted sequence capture. We compared the effectiveness of detecting viruses in standard MSS versus MSS following targeted sequence capture. First, we analyzed two sets of samples, one derived from samples submitted to a diagnostic virology laboratory and one derived from samples collected in a study of fever in children. We detected 14 and 18 viruses in the two sets, comprising 19 genera from 10 families, with dramatic enhancement of genome representation following capture enrichment. The median fold-increases in percent viral reads post-capture were 674 and 296. Median breadth of coverage increased from 2.1% to 83.2% post-capture in the first set and from 2.0% to 75.6% in the second set. Next, we analyzed samples containing a set of diverse anellovirus sequences and demonstrated that ViroCap could be used to detect viral sequences with up to 58% variation from the references used to select capture probes. ViroCap substantially enhances MSS for a comprehensive set of viruses and has utility for research and clinical applications.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Virus, Genome, RNA, Nucleic acid, Sequence, A priori and a posteriori