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1.  A high resolution HLA and SNP haplotype map for disease association studies in the extended human MHC 
Nature genetics  2006;38(10):1166-1172.
The proteins encoded by the classical HLA class I and class II genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are highly polymorphic and play an essential role in self/non-self immune recognition. HLA variation is a crucial determinant of transplant rejection and susceptibility to a large number of infectious and autoimmune disease1. Yet identification of causal variants is problematic due to linkage disequilibrium (LD) that extends across multiple HLA and non-HLA genes in the MHC2,3. We therefore set out to characterize the LD patterns between the highly polymorphic HLA genes and background variation by typing the classical HLA genes and >7,500 common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and deletion/insertion polymorphisms (DIPs) across four population samples. The analysis provides informative tag SNPs that capture some of the variation in the MHC region and that could be used in initial disease association studies, and provides new insight into the evolutionary dynamics and ancestral origins of the HLA loci and their haplotypes.
doi:10.1038/ng1885
PMCID: PMC2670196  PMID: 16998491
2.  The rates of de novo meiotic deletions and duplications causing several genomic disorders in the male germline 
Nature genetics  2007;40(1):90-95.
Meiotic recombination between highly-similar duplicated sequences (non-allelic homologous recombination, NAHR) generates deletions, duplications, inversions, and translocations, and is responsible for genetic diseases known as ‘genomic disorders’, most of which are caused by altered copy number of dosage sensitive genes. NAHR Hotspots have been identified within some duplicated sequences. We have developed sperm-based assays to measure the de novo rate of reciprocal deletions and duplications at 4 NAHR hotspots. We used these assays to dissect the relative rates of NAHR between different pairs of duplicated sequences. We show that: (i) these NAHR hotspots are specific to meiosis, (ii) deletions are generated at a higher rate than their reciprocal duplications in the male germline and (iii) some of these genomic disorders are likely to have been under-ascertained clinically, most notably the duplication of 7q11, the reciprocal of the Williams-Beuren Syndrome deletion.
doi:10.1038/ng.2007.40
PMCID: PMC2669897  PMID: 18059269
3.  A Bayesian deconvolution strategy for immunoprecipitation-based DNA methylome analysis 
Nature biotechnology  2008;26(7):779-785.
DNA methylation is an indispensible epigenetic modification of mammalian genomes. Consequently there is great interest in strategies for genome-wide/whole-genome DNA methylation analysis, and immunoprecipitation-based methods have proven to be a powerful option. Such methods are rapidly shifting the bottleneck from data generation to data analysis, necessitating the development of better analytical tools. Until now, a major analytical difficulty associated with immunoprecipitation-based DNA methylation profiling has been the inability to estimate absolute methylation levels. Here we report the development of a novel cross-platform algorithm – Bayesian Tool for Methylation Analysis (Batman) – for analyzing Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) profiles generated using arrays (MeDIP-chip) or next-generation sequencing (MeDIP-seq). The latter is an approach we have developed to elucidate the first high-resolution whole-genome DNA methylation profile (DNA methylome) of any mammalian genome. MeDIP-seq/MeDIP-chip combined with Batman represent robust, quantitative, and cost-effective functional genomic strategies for elucidating the function of DNA methylation.
doi:10.1038/nbt1414
PMCID: PMC2644410  PMID: 18612301
4.  Association of Smoking Behavior with an Odorant Receptor Allele Telomeric to the Human Major Histocompatibility Complex 
Genetic testing  2008;12(4):481-486.
Smoking behavior has been associated in two independent European cohorts with the most common Caucasian human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype (A1-B8-DR3). We aimed to test whether polymorphic members of the two odorant receptor (OR) clusters within the extended HLA complex might be responsible for the observed association, by genotyping a cohort of Hungarian women in which the mentioned association had been found. One hundred and eighty HLA haplotypes from Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain families were analyzed in silico to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within OR genes that are in linkage disequilibrium with the A1-B8-DR3 haplotype, as well as with two other haplotypes indirectly linked to smoking behavior. A nonsynonymous SNP within the OR12D3 gene (rs3749971T) was found to be linked to the A1-B8-DR3 haplotype. This polymorphism leads to a 97Thr → Ile exchange that affects a putative ligand binding region of the OR12D3 protein. Smoking was found to be associated in the Hungarian cohort with the rs3749971T allele (p = 1.05×10−2), with higher significance than with A1-B8-DR3 (p = 2.38×10−2). Our results link smoking to a distinct OR allele, and demonstrate that the rs3749971T polymorphism is associated with the HLA haplotype-dependent differential recognition of cigarette smoke components, at least among Caucasian women.
doi:10.1089/gte.2008.0029
PMCID: PMC2635552  PMID: 18939942
5.  Generation of a genomic tiling array of the human Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and its application for DNA methylation analysis 
BMC Medical Genomics  2008;1:19.
Background
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is essential for human immunity and is highly associated with common diseases, including cancer. While the genetics of the MHC has been studied intensively for many decades, very little is known about the epigenetics of this most polymorphic and disease-associated region of the genome.
Methods
To facilitate comprehensive epigenetic analyses of this region, we have generated a genomic tiling array of 2 Kb resolution covering the entire 4 Mb MHC region. The array has been designed to be compatible with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP), array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and expression profiling, including of non-coding RNAs. The array comprises 7832 features, consisting of two replicates of both forward and reverse strands of MHC amplicons and appropriate controls.
Results
Using MeDIP, we demonstrate the application of the MHC array for DNA methylation profiling and the identification of tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs). Based on the analysis of two tissues and two cell types, we identified 90 tDMRs within the MHC and describe their characterisation.
Conclusion
A tiling array covering the MHC region was developed and validated. Its successful application for DNA methylation profiling indicates that this array represents a useful tool for molecular analyses of the MHC in the context of medical genomics.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-1-19
PMCID: PMC2430202  PMID: 18513384
6.  Variation analysis and gene annotation of eight MHC haplotypes: The MHC Haplotype Project 
Immunogenetics  2008;60(1):1-18.
The human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is contained within about 4 Mb on the short arm of chromosome 6 and is recognised as the most variable region in the human genome. The primary aim of the MHC Haplotype Project was to provide a comprehensively annotated reference sequence of a single, human leukocyte antigen-homozygous MHC haplotype and to use it as a basis against which variations could be assessed from seven other similarly homozygous cell lines, representative of the most common MHC haplotypes in the European population. Comparison of the haplotype sequences, including four haplotypes not previously analysed, resulted in the identification of >44,000 variations, both substitutions and indels (insertions and deletions), which have been submitted to the dbSNP database. The gene annotation uncovered haplotype-specific differences and confirmed the presence of more than 300 loci, including over 160 protein-coding genes. Combined analysis of the variation and annotation datasets revealed 122 gene loci with coding substitutions of which 97 were non-synonymous. The haplotype (A3-B7-DR15; PGF cell line) designated as the new MHC reference sequence, has been incorporated into the human genome assembly (NCBI35 and subsequent builds), and constitutes the largest single-haplotype sequence of the human genome to date. The extensive variation and annotation data derived from the analysis of seven further haplotypes have been made publicly available and provide a framework and resource for future association studies of all MHC-associated diseases and transplant medicine.
doi:10.1007/s00251-007-0262-2
PMCID: PMC2206249  PMID: 18193213
Major histocompatibility complex; Haplotype; Polymorphism; Retroelement; Genetic predisposition to disease; Population genetics
7.  Genetic Analysis of Completely Sequenced Disease-Associated MHC Haplotypes Identifies Shuffling of Segments in Recent Human History 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(1):e9.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is recognised as one of the most important genetic regions in relation to common human disease. Advancement in identification of MHC genes that confer susceptibility to disease requires greater knowledge of sequence variation across the complex. Highly duplicated and polymorphic regions of the human genome such as the MHC are, however, somewhat refractory to some whole-genome analysis methods. To address this issue, we are employing a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) cloning strategy to sequence entire MHC haplotypes from consanguineous cell lines as part of the MHC Haplotype Project. Here we present 4.25 Mb of the human haplotype QBL (HLA-A26-B18-Cw5-DR3-DQ2) and compare it with the MHC reference haplotype and with a second haplotype, COX (HLA-A1-B8-Cw7-DR3-DQ2), that shares the same HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1 alleles. We have defined the complete gene, splice variant, and sequence variation contents of all three haplotypes, comprising over 259 annotated loci and over 20,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Certain coding sequences vary significantly between different haplotypes, making them candidates for functional and disease-association studies. Analysis of the two DR3 haplotypes allowed delineation of the shared sequence between two HLA class II–related haplotypes differing in disease associations and the identification of at least one of the sites that mediated the original recombination event. The levels of variation across the MHC were similar to those seen for other HLA-disparate haplotypes, except for a 158-kb segment that contained the HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1 genes and showed very limited polymorphism compatible with identity-by-descent and relatively recent common ancestry (<3,400 generations). These results indicate that the differential disease associations of these two DR3 haplotypes are due to sequence variation outside this central 158-kb segment, and that shuffling of ancestral blocks via recombination is a potential mechanism whereby certain DR–DQ allelic combinations, which presumably have favoured immunological functions, can spread across haplotypes and populations.
Synopsis
A group of genes involved in the human immune system are contained within a surprisingly short section of Chromosome 6 that has long been recognised as the most important genomic region in relation to disease susceptibility. Discerning the actual genes playing a role in disease has proved difficult mainly because the region contains numerous genes and is also the most genetically variable in the genome. Within this jungle of variation, the research reported here has identified and characterised a discrete segment shared by two individuals that is virtually devoid of variation—a polymorphism desert. The conservation of this segment amongst a background of extreme variation suggests both an ancient origin and genetic exchange in early human history. These observations are important in evolutionary terms as they reveal a potential mechanism whereby certain genetic segments associated with favourable immune functions have spread across human populations. Within medical terms this may also explain contrasting disease risks in people from different ethnic backgrounds. Public access to these data will help researchers find specific variants conferring disease susceptibility or resistance and, as in this report, rule out regions for conveying specificity to certain diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020009
PMCID: PMC1331980  PMID: 16440057
8.  Genetic Analysis of Completely Sequenced Disease-Associated MHC Haplotypes Identifies Shuffling of Segments in Recent Human History 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(1):e9.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is recognised as one of the most important genetic regions in relation to common human disease. Advancement in identification of MHC genes that confer susceptibility to disease requires greater knowledge of sequence variation across the complex. Highly duplicated and polymorphic regions of the human genome such as the MHC are, however, somewhat refractory to some whole-genome analysis methods. To address this issue, we are employing a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) cloning strategy to sequence entire MHC haplotypes from consanguineous cell lines as part of the MHC Haplotype Project. Here we present 4.25 Mb of the human haplotype QBL (HLA-A26-B18-Cw5-DR3-DQ2) and compare it with the MHC reference haplotype and with a second haplotype, COX (HLA-A1-B8-Cw7-DR3-DQ2), that shares the same HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1 alleles. We have defined the complete gene, splice variant, and sequence variation contents of all three haplotypes, comprising over 259 annotated loci and over 20,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Certain coding sequences vary significantly between different haplotypes, making them candidates for functional and disease-association studies. Analysis of the two DR3 haplotypes allowed delineation of the shared sequence between two HLA class II–related haplotypes differing in disease associations and the identification of at least one of the sites that mediated the original recombination event. The levels of variation across the MHC were similar to those seen for other HLA-disparate haplotypes, except for a 158-kb segment that contained the HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1 genes and showed very limited polymorphism compatible with identity-by-descent and relatively recent common ancestry (<3,400 generations). These results indicate that the differential disease associations of these two DR3 haplotypes are due to sequence variation outside this central 158-kb segment, and that shuffling of ancestral blocks via recombination is a potential mechanism whereby certain DR–DQ allelic combinations, which presumably have favoured immunological functions, can spread across haplotypes and populations.
Synopsis
A group of genes involved in the human immune system are contained within a surprisingly short section of Chromosome 6 that has long been recognised as the most important genomic region in relation to disease susceptibility. Discerning the actual genes playing a role in disease has proved difficult mainly because the region contains numerous genes and is also the most genetically variable in the genome. Within this jungle of variation, the research reported here has identified and characterised a discrete segment shared by two individuals that is virtually devoid of variation—a polymorphism desert. The conservation of this segment amongst a background of extreme variation suggests both an ancient origin and genetic exchange in early human history. These observations are important in evolutionary terms as they reveal a potential mechanism whereby certain genetic segments associated with favourable immune functions have spread across human populations. Within medical terms this may also explain contrasting disease risks in people from different ethnic backgrounds. Public access to these data will help researchers find specific variants conferring disease susceptibility or resistance and, as in this report, rule out regions for conveying specificity to certain diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020009
PMCID: PMC1331980  PMID: 16440057
9.  Immunogenomics: Molecular hide and seek 
Human Genomics  2006;2(4):244-251.
Similar to other classical science disciplines, immunology has been embracing novel technologies and approaches giving rise to specialised sub-disciplines such as immunogenetics and, more recently, immunogenomics, which, in many ways, is the genome-wide application of immunogenetic approaches. Here, recent progress in the understanding of the immune sub-genome will be reviewed, and the ways in which immunogenomic datasets consisting of genetic and epigenetic variation, linkage disequilibrium and recombination can be harnessed for disease association and evolutionary studies will be discussed. The discussion will focus on data available for the major histocompatibility complex and the leukocyte receptor complex, the two most polymorphic regions of the human immune sub-genome.
doi:10.1186/1479-7364-2-4-244
PMCID: PMC3525153  PMID: 16460649
immunogenomics; immunogenetics; major histocompatibility complex (MHC); recombination; linkage disequilibrium; epigenetics

Results 1-9 (9)