Model organisms are becoming increasingly important for the study of complex diseases such as type 1 diabetes (T1D). The non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse is an experimental model for T1D having been bred to develop the disease spontaneously in a process that is similar to humans. Genetic analysis of the NOD mouse has identified around 50 disease loci, which have the nomenclature Idd for insulin-dependent diabetes, distributed across at least 11 different chromosomes. In total, 21 Idd regions across 6 chromosomes, that are major contributors to T1D susceptibility or resistance, were selected for finished sequencing and annotation at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Here we describe the generation of 40.4 mega base-pairs of finished sequence from 289 bacterial artificial chromosomes for the NOD mouse. Manual annotation has identified 738 genes in the diabetes sensitive NOD mouse and 765 genes in homologous regions of the diabetes resistant C57BL/6J reference mouse across 19 candidate Idd regions. This has allowed us to call variation consequences between homologous exonic sequences for all annotated regions in the two mouse strains. We demonstrate the importance of this resource further by illustrating the technical difficulties that regions of inter-strain structural variation between the NOD mouse and the C57BL/6J reference mouse can cause for current next generation sequencing and assembly techniques. Furthermore, we have established that the variation rate in the Idd regions is 2.3 times higher than the mean found for the whole genome assembly for the NOD/ShiLtJ genome, which we suggest reflects the fact that positive selection for functional variation in immune genes is beneficial in regard to host defence. In summary, we provide an important resource, which aids the analysis of potential causative genes involved in T1D susceptibility.
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes play a critical role in vertebrate immune response and because the MHC is linked to a significant number of auto-immune and other diseases it is of great medical interest. Here we describe the clone-based sequencing and subsequent annotation of the MHC region of the gorilla genome. Because the MHC is subject to extensive variation, both structural and sequence-wise, it is not readily amenable to study in whole genome shotgun sequence such as the recently published gorilla genome. The variation of the MHC also makes it of evolutionary interest and therefore we analyse the sequence in the context of human and chimpanzee. In our comparisons with human and re-annotated chimpanzee MHC sequence we find that gorilla has a trimodular RCCX cluster, versus the reference human bimodular cluster, and additional copies of Class I (pseudo)genes between Gogo-K and Gogo-A (the orthologues of HLA-K and -A). We also find that Gogo-H (and Patr-H) is coding versus the HLA-H pseudogene and, conversely, there is a Gogo-DQB2 pseudogene versus the HLA-DQB2 coding gene. Our analysis, which is freely available through the VEGA genome browser, provides the research community with a comprehensive dataset for comparative and evolutionary research of the MHC.
Gene targeting in embryonic stem cells has become the principal technology for manipulation of the mouse genome, offering unrivalled accuracy in allele design and access to conditional mutagenesis. To bring these advantages to the wider research community, large-scale mouse knockout programmes are producing a permanent resource of targeted mutations in all protein-coding genes. Here we report the establishment of a high-throughput gene-targeting pipeline for the generation of reporter-tagged, conditional alleles. Computational allele design, 96-well modular vector construction and high-efficiency gene-targeting strategies have been combined to mutate genes on an unprecedented scale. So far, more than 12,000 vectors and 9,000 conditional targeted alleles have been produced in highly germline-competent C57BL/6N embryonic stem cells. High-throughput genome engineering highlighted by this study is broadly applicable to rat and human stem cells and provides a foundation for future genome-wide efforts aimed at deciphering the function of all genes encoded by the mammalian genome.
Pseudogenes have long been considered as nonfunctional genomic sequences. However, recent evidence suggests that many of them might have some form of biological activity, and the possibility of functionality has increased interest in their accurate annotation and integration with functional genomics data.
As part of the GENCODE annotation of the human genome, we present the first genome-wide pseudogene assignment for protein-coding genes, based on both large-scale manual annotation and in silico pipelines. A key aspect of this coupled approach is that it allows us to identify pseudogenes in an unbiased fashion as well as untangle complex events through manual evaluation. We integrate the pseudogene annotations with the extensive ENCODE functional genomics information. In particular, we determine the expression level, transcription-factor and RNA polymerase II binding, and chromatin marks associated with each pseudogene. Based on their distribution, we develop simple statistical models for each type of activity, which we validate with large-scale RT-PCR-Seq experiments. Finally, we compare our pseudogenes with conservation and variation data from primate alignments and the 1000 Genomes project, producing lists of pseudogenes potentially under selection.
At one extreme, some pseudogenes possess conventional characteristics of functionality; these may represent genes that have recently died. On the other hand, we find interesting patterns of partial activity, which may suggest that dead genes are being resurrected as functioning non-coding RNAs. The activity data of each pseudogene are stored in an associated resource, psiDR, which will be useful for the initial identification of potentially functional pseudogenes.
Advances in high-throughput mass spectrometry are making proteomics an increasingly important tool in genome annotation projects. Peptides detected in mass spectrometry experiments can be used to validate gene models and verify the translation of putative coding sequences (CDSs). Here, we have identified peptides that cover 35% of the genes annotated by the GENCODE consortium for the human genome as part of a comprehensive analysis of experimental spectra from two large publicly available mass spectrometry databases. We detected the translation to protein of “novel” and “putative” protein-coding transcripts as well as transcripts annotated as pseudogenes and nonsense-mediated decay targets.
We provide a detailed overview of the population of alternatively spliced protein isoforms that are detectable by peptide identification methods. We found that 150 genes expressed multiple alternative protein isoforms. This constitutes the largest set of reliably confirmed alternatively spliced proteins yet discovered. Three groups of genes were highly overrepresented. We detected alternative isoforms for 10 of the 25 possible heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins, proteins with a key role in the splicing process. Alternative isoforms generated from interchangeable homologous exons and from short indels were also significantly enriched, both in human experiments and in parallel analyses of mouse and Drosophila proteomics experiments. Our results show that a surprisingly high proportion (almost 25%) of the detected alternative isoforms are only subtly different from their constitutive counterparts.
Many of the alternative splicing events that give rise to these alternative isoforms are conserved in mouse. It was striking that very few of these conserved splicing events broke Pfam functional domains or would damage globular protein structures. This evidence of a strong bias toward subtle differences in CDS and likely conserved cellular function and structure is remarkable and strongly suggests that the translation of alternative transcripts may be subject to selective constraints.
alternative splicing; shotgun proteomics; genome annotation; heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins; NAGNAG splicing; mutually exclusive exons
While alternative splicing (AS) can potentially expand the functional repertoire of vertebrate genomes, relatively few AS transcripts have been experimentally characterized. We describe our detailed manual annotation of vertebrate genomes, which is generating a publicly available geneset rich in AS. In order to achieve this we have adopted a highly sensitive approach to annotating gene models supported by correctly mapped, canonically spliced transcriptional evidence combined with a highly cautious approach to adding unsupported extensions to models and making decisions on their functional potential. We use information about the predicted functional potential and structural properties of every AS transcript annotated at a protein-coding or non-coding locus to place them into one of eleven subclasses. We describe the incorporation of new sequencing and proteomics technologies into our annotation pipelines, which are used to identify and validate AS. Combining all data sources has led to the production of a rich geneset containing an average of 6.3 AS transcripts for every human multi-exon protein-coding gene. The datasets produced have proved very useful in providing context to studies investigating the functional potential of genes and the effect of variation may have on gene structure and function.
The Consensus Coding Sequence (CCDS) collaboration involves curators at multiple centers with a goal of producing a conservative set of high quality, protein-coding region annotations for the human and mouse reference genome assemblies. The CCDS data set reflects a ‘gold standard’ definition of best supported protein annotations, and corresponding genes, which pass a standard series of quality assurance checks and are supported by manual curation. This data set supports use of genome annotation information by human and mouse researchers for effective experimental design, analysis and interpretation. The CCDS project consists of analysis of automated whole-genome annotation builds to identify identical CDS annotations, quality assurance testing and manual curation support. Identical CDS annotations are tracked with a CCDS identifier (ID) and any future change to the annotated CDS structure must be agreed upon by the collaborating members. CCDS curation guidelines were developed to address some aspects of curation in order to improve initial annotation consistency and to reduce time spent in discussing proposed annotation updates. Here, we present the current status of the CCDS database and details on our procedures to track and coordinate our efforts. We also present the relevant background and reasoning behind the curation standards that we have developed for CCDS database treatment of transcripts that are nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) candidates, for transcripts containing upstream open reading frames, for identifying the most likely translation start codons and for the annotation of readthrough transcripts. Examples are provided to illustrate the application of these guidelines.
Database URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/CCDS/CcdsBrowse.cgi
Manual annotation of genomic data is extremely valuable to produce an accurate reference gene set but is expensive compared with automatic methods and so has been limited to model organisms. Annotation tools that have been developed at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI, http://www.sanger.ac.uk/.) are being used to fill that gap, as they can be used remotely and so open up viable community annotation collaborations. We introduce the ‘Blessed’ annotator and ‘Gatekeeper’ approach to Community Annotation using the Otterlace/ZMap genome annotation tool. We also describe the strategies adopted for annotation consistency, quality control and viewing of the annotation.
Database URL: http://vega.sanger.ac.uk/index.html
The classic organization of a gene structure has followed the Jacob and Monod bacterial gene model proposed more than 50 years ago. Since then, empirical determinations of the complexity of the transcriptomes found in yeast to human has blurred the definition and physical boundaries of genes. Using multiple analysis approaches we have characterized individual gene boundaries mapping on human chromosomes 21 and 22. Analyses of the locations of the 5′ and 3′ transcriptional termini of 492 protein coding genes revealed that for 85% of these genes the boundaries extend beyond the current annotated termini, most often connecting with exons of transcripts from other well annotated genes. The biological and evolutionary importance of these chimeric transcripts is underscored by (1) the non-random interconnections of genes involved, (2) the greater phylogenetic depth of the genes involved in many chimeric interactions, (3) the coordination of the expression of connected genes and (4) the close in vivo and three dimensional proximity of the genomic regions being transcribed and contributing to parts of the chimeric RNAs. The non-random nature of the connection of the genes involved suggest that chimeric transcripts should not be studied in isolation, but together, as an RNA network.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a group of genes with a variety of roles in the innate and adaptive immune responses. MHC genes form a genetically linked cluster in eutherian mammals, an organization that is thought to confer functional and evolutionary advantages to the immune system. The tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), an Australian marsupial, provides a unique model for understanding MHC gene evolution, as many of its antigen presenting genes are not linked to the MHC, but are scattered around the genome.
Here we describe the 'core' tammar wallaby MHC region on chromosome 2q by ordering and sequencing 33 BAC clones, covering over 4.5 MB and containing 129 genes. When compared to the MHC region of the South American opossum, eutherian mammals and non-mammals, the wallaby MHC has a novel gene organization. The wallaby has undergone an expansion of MHC class II genes, which are separated into two clusters by the class III genes. The antigen processing genes have undergone duplication, resulting in two copies of TAP1 and three copies of TAP2. Notably, Kangaroo Endogenous Retroviral Elements are present within the region and may have contributed to the genomic instability.
The wallaby MHC has been extensively remodeled since the American and Australian marsupials last shared a common ancestor. The instability is characterized by the movement of antigen presenting genes away from the core MHC, most likely via the presence and activity of retroviral elements. We propose that the movement of class II genes away from the ancestral class II region has allowed this gene family to expand and diversify in the wallaby. The duplication of TAP genes in the wallaby MHC makes this species a unique model organism for studying the relationship between MHC gene organization and function.
Alternative splicing (AS) has the potential to greatly expand the functional repertoire of mammalian transcriptomes. However, few variant transcripts have been characterized functionally, making it difficult to assess the contribution of AS to the generation of phenotypic complexity and to study the evolution of splicing patterns. We have compared the AS of 309 protein-coding genes in the human ENCODE pilot regions against their mouse orthologs in unprecedented detail, utilizing traditional transcriptomic and RNAseq data. The conservation status of every transcript has been investigated, and each functionally categorized as coding (separated into coding sequence [CDS] or nonsense-mediated decay [NMD] linked) or noncoding. In total, 36.7% of human and 19.3% of mouse coding transcripts are species specific, and we observe a 3.6 times excess of human NMD transcripts compared with mouse; in contrast to previous studies, the majority of species-specific AS is unlinked to transposable elements. We observe one conserved CDS variant and one conserved NMD variant per 2.3 and 11.4 genes, respectively. Subsequently, we identify and characterize equivalent AS patterns for 22.9% of these CDS or NMD-linked events in nonmammalian vertebrate genomes, and our data indicate that functional NMD-linked AS is more widespread and ancient than previously thought. Furthermore, although we observe an association between conserved AS and elevated sequence conservation, as previously reported, we emphasize that 30% of conserved AS exons display sequence conservation below the average score for constitutive exons. In conclusion, we demonstrate the value of detailed comparative annotation in generating a comprehensive set of AS transcripts, increasing our understanding of AS evolution in vertebrates. Our data supports a model whereby the acquisition of functional AS has occurred throughout vertebrate evolution and is considered alongside amino acid change as a key mechanism in gene evolution.
alternative splicing; nonsense-mediated decay; vertebrate evolution; RBM39
As genome sequences are determined for increasing numbers of model organisms, demand has grown for better tools to facilitate unified genome annotation efforts by communities of biologists. Typically this process involves numerous experts from the field and the use of data from dispersed sources as evidence. This kind of collaborative annotation project requires specialized software solutions for efficient data tracking and processing.
As part of the scale-up phase of the ENCODE project (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements), the aim of the GENCODE project is to produce a highly accurate evidence-based reference gene annotation for the human genome. The AnnoTrack software system was developed to aid this effort. It integrates data from multiple distributed sources, highlights conflicts and facilitates the quick identification, prioritisation and resolution of problems during the process of genome annotation.
AnnoTrack has been in use for the last year and has proven a very valuable tool for large-scale genome annotation. Designed to interface with standard bioinformatics components, such as DAS servers and Ensembl databases, it is easy to setup and configure for different genome projects. The source code is available at http://annotrack.sanger.ac.uk.
Novel human pseudogenes are identified that had previous functionality and their age is estimated. The rate of loss-of-function occurred uniformly.
Unitary pseudogenes are a class of unprocessed pseudogenes without functioning counterparts in the genome. They constitute only a small fraction of annotated pseudogenes in the human genome. However, as they represent distinct functional losses over time, they shed light on the unique features of humans in primate evolution.
We have developed a pipeline to detect human unitary pseudogenes through analyzing the global inventory of orthologs between the human genome and its mammalian relatives. We focus on gene losses along the human lineage after the divergence from rodents about 75 million years ago. In total, we identify 76 unitary pseudogenes, including previously annotated ones, and many novel ones. By comparing each of these to its functioning ortholog in other mammals, we can approximately date the creation of each unitary pseudogene (that is, the gene 'death date') and show that for our group of 76, the functional genes appear to be disabled at a fairly uniform rate throughout primate evolution - not all at once, correlated, for instance, with the 'Alu burst'. Furthermore, we identify 11 unitary pseudogenes that are polymorphic - that is, they have both nonfunctional and functional alleles currently segregating in the human population. Comparing them with their orthologs in other primates, we find that two of them are in fact pseudogenes in non-human primates, suggesting that they represent cases of a gene being resurrected in the human lineage.
This analysis of unitary pseudogenes provides insights into the evolutionary constraints faced by different organisms and the timescales of functional gene loss in humans.
Efforts to annotate the genomes of a wide variety of model organisms are currently carried out by sequencing centers, model organism databases and academic/institutional laboratories around the world. Different annotation methods and tools have been developed over time to meet the needs of biologists faced with the task of annotating biological data. While standardized methods are essential for consistent curation within each annotation group, methods and tools can differ between groups, especially when the groups are curating different organisms. Biocurators from several institutes met at the Third International Biocuration Conference in Berlin, Germany, April 2009 and hosted the ‘Best Practices in Genome Annotation: Inference from Evidence’ workshop to share their strategies, pipelines, standards and tools. This article documents the material presented in the workshop.
A review of the main computational pipelines used to generate the human reference protein-coding gene sets.
The vast majority of the biology of a newly sequenced genome is inferred from the set of encoded proteins. Predicting this set is therefore invariably the first step after the completion of the genome DNA sequence. Here we review the main computational pipelines used to generate the human reference protein-coding gene sets.
Host defense peptides are a critical component of the innate immune system. Human alpha- and beta-defensin genes are subject to copy number variation (CNV) and historically the organization of mouse alpha-defensin genes has been poorly defined. Here we present the first full manual genomic annotation of the mouse defensin region on Chromosome 8 of the reference strain C57BL/6J, and the analysis of the orthologous regions of the human and rat genomes. Problems were identified with the reference assemblies of all three genomes. Defensins have been studied for over two decades and their naming has become a critical issue due to incorrect identification of defensin genes derived from different mouse strains and the duplicated nature of this region.
The defensin gene cluster region on mouse Chromosome 8 A2 contains 98 gene loci: 53 are likely active defensin genes and 22 defensin pseudogenes. Several TATA box motifs were found for human and mouse defensin genes that likely impact gene expression. Three novel defensin genes belonging to the Cryptdin Related Sequences (CRS) family were identified. All additional mouse defensin loci on Chromosomes 1, 2 and 14 were annotated and unusual splice variants identified. Comparison of the mouse alpha-defensins in the three main mouse reference gene sets Ensembl, Mouse Genome Informatics (MGI), and NCBI RefSeq reveals significant inconsistencies in annotation and nomenclature. We are collaborating with the Mouse Genome Nomenclature Committee (MGNC) to establish a standardized naming scheme for alpha-defensins.
Prior to this analysis, there was no reliable reference gene set available for the mouse strain C57BL/6J defensin genes, demonstrating that manual intervention is still critical for the annotation of complex gene families and heavily duplicated regions. Accurate gene annotation is facilitated by the annotation of pseudogenes and regulatory elements. Manually curated gene models will be incorporated into the Ensembl and Consensus Coding Sequence (CCDS) reference sets. Elucidation of the genomic structure of this complex gene cluster on the mouse reference sequence, and adoption of a clear and unambiguous naming scheme, will provide a valuable tool to support studies on the evolution, regulatory mechanisms and biological functions of defensins in vivo.
An accurate and precisely annotated genome assembly is a fundamental requirement for functional genomic analysis. Here, the complete DNA sequence and gene annotation of mouse Chromosome 11 was used to test the efficacy of large-scale sequencing for mutation identification. We re-sequenced the 14,000 annotated exons and boundaries from over 900 genes in 41 recessive mutant mouse lines that were isolated in an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) mutation screen targeted to mouse Chromosome 11. Fifty-nine sequence variants were identified in 55 genes from 31 mutant lines. 39% of the lesions lie in coding sequences and create primarily missense mutations. The other 61% lie in noncoding regions, many of them in highly conserved sequences. A lesion in the perinatal lethal line l11Jus13 alters a consensus splice site of nucleoredoxin (Nxn), inserting 10 amino acids into the resulting protein. We conclude that point mutations can be accurately and sensitively recovered by large-scale sequencing, and that conserved noncoding regions should be included for disease mutation identification. Only seven of the candidate genes we report have been previously targeted by mutation in mice or rats, showing that despite ongoing efforts to functionally annotate genes in the mammalian genome, an enormous gap remains between phenotype and function. Our data show that the classical positional mapping approach of disease mutation identification can be extended to large target regions using high-throughput sequencing.
Here we show that tiny DNA lesions can be found in huge amounts of DNA sequence data, similar to finding a needle in a haystack. These lesions identify many new candidates for disease genes associated with birth defects, infertility, and growth. Further, our data suggest that we know very little about what mammalian genes do. Sequencing methods are becoming cheaper and faster. Therefore, our strategy, shown here for the first time, will become commonplace.
Alternative splicing has the potential to generate a wide range of protein isoforms. For many computational applications and for experimental research, it is important to be able to concentrate on the isoform that retains the core biological function. For many genes this is far from clear.
We have combined five methods into a pipeline that allows us to detect the principal variant for a gene. Most of the methods were based on conservation between species, at the level of both gene and protein. The five methods used were the conservation of exonic structure, the detection of non-neutral evolution, the conservation of functional residues, the existence of a known protein structure and the abundance of vertebrate orthologues. The pipeline was able to determine a principal isoform for 83% of a set of well-annotated genes with multiple variants.
RACE (Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends) is a widely used approach for transcript identification. Random clone selection from the RACE mixture, however, is an ineffective sampling strategy if the dynamic range of transcript abundances is large. Here, we describe a strategy that uses array hybridization to improve sampling efficiency of human transcripts. The products of the RACE reaction are hybridized onto tiling arrays, and the exons detected are used to delineate a series of RT-PCR reactions, through which the original RACE mixture is segregated into simpler RT-PCR reactions. These are independently cloned, and randomly selected clones are sequenced. This approach is superior to direct cloning and sequencing of RACE products: it specifically targets novel transcripts, and often results in overall normalization of transcript abundances. We show theoretically and experimentally that this strategy leads indeed to efficient sampling of novel transcripts, and we investigate multiplexing it by pooling RACE reactions from multiple interrogated loci prior to hybridization.
MHC class I antigens are encoded by a rapidly evolving gene family comprising classical and non-classical genes that are found in all vertebrates and involved in diverse immune functions. However, there is a fundamental difference between the organization of class I genes in mammals and non-mammals. Non-mammals have a single classical gene responsible for antigen presentation, which is linked to the antigen processing genes, including TAP. This organization allows co-evolution of advantageous class Ia/TAP haplotypes. In contrast, mammals have multiple classical genes within the MHC, which are separated from the antigen processing genes by class III genes. It has been hypothesized that separation of classical class I genes from antigen processing genes in mammals allowed them to duplicate. We investigated this hypothesis by characterizing the class I genes of the tammar wallaby, a model marsupial that has a novel MHC organization, with class I genes located within the MHC and 10 other chromosomal locations.
Sequence analysis of 14 BACs containing 15 class I genes revealed that nine class I genes, including one to three classical class I, are not linked to the MHC but are scattered throughout the genome. Kangaroo Endogenous Retroviruses (KERVs) were identified flanking the MHC un-linked class I. The wallaby MHC contains four non-classical class I, interspersed with antigen processing genes. Clear orthologs of non-classical class I are conserved in distant marsupial lineages.
We demonstrate that classical class I genes are not linked to antigen processing genes in the wallaby and provide evidence that retroviral elements were involved in their movement. The presence of retroviral elements most likely facilitated the formation of recombination hotspots and subsequent diversification of class I genes. The classical class I have moved away from antigen processing genes in eutherian mammals and the wallaby independently, but both lineages appear to have benefited from this loss of linkage by increasing the number of classical genes, perhaps enabling response to a wider range of pathogens. The discovery of non-classical orthologs between distantly related marsupial species is unusual for the rapidly evolving class I genes and may indicate an important marsupial specific function.
Chromosome 17 is unusual among the human chromosomes in many respects. It is the largest human autosome with orthology to only a single mouse chromosome1, mapping entirely to the distal half of mouse chromosome 11. Chromosome 17 is rich in protein-coding genes, having the second highest gene density in the genome2,3. It is also enriched in segmental duplications, ranking third in density among the autosomes4. Here we report a finished sequence for human chromosome 17, as well as a structural comparison with the finished sequence for mouse chromosome 11, the first finished mouse chromosome. Comparison of the orthologous regions reveals striking differences. In contrast to the typical pattern seen in mammalian evolution5,6, the human sequence has undergone extensive intrachromosomal rearrangement, whereas the mouse sequence has been remarkably stable. Moreover, although the human sequence has a high density of segmental duplication, the mouse sequence has a very low density. Notably, these segmental duplications correspond closely to the sites of structural rearrangement, demonstrating a link between duplication and rearrangement. Examination of the main classes of duplicated segments provides insight into the dynamics underlying expansion of chromosome-specific, low-copy repeats in the human genome.
Targeted sequencing, manual genome annotation, phylogenetic analysis and mass spectrometry were used to characterise major urinary proteins (MUPs) and the Mup clusters of two strains of inbred mice.
The major urinary proteins (MUPs) of Mus musculus domesticus are deposited in urine in large quantities, where they bind and release pheromones and also provide an individual 'recognition signal' via their phenotypic polymorphism. Whilst important information about MUP functionality has been gained in recent years, the gene cluster is poorly studied in terms of structure, genic polymorphism and evolution.
We combine targeted sequencing, manual genome annotation and phylogenetic analysis to compare the Mup clusters of C57BL/6J and 129 strains of mice. We describe organizational heterogeneity within both clusters: a central array of cassettes containing Mup genes highly similar at the protein level, flanked by regions containing Mup genes displaying significantly elevated divergence. Observed genomic rearrangements in all regions have likely been mediated by endogenous retroviral elements. Mup loci with coding sequences that differ between the strains are identified - including a gene/pseudogene pair - suggesting that these inbred lineages exhibit variation that exists in wild populations. We have characterized the distinct MUP profiles in the urine of both strains by mass spectrometry. The total MUP phenotype data is reconciled with our genomic sequence data, matching all proteins identified in urine to annotated genes.
Our observations indicate that the MUP phenotypic polymorphism observed in wild populations results from a combination of Mup gene turnover coupled with currently unidentified mechanisms regulating gene expression patterns. We propose that the structural heterogeneity described within the cluster reflects functional divergence within the Mup gene family.
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.
Major histocompatibility complex; Haplotype; Polymorphism; Retroelement; Genetic predisposition to disease; Population genetics