Integrated genome and transcriptome sequencing identifies a noncoding mutation in the genome replication factor DONSON as the cause of microcephaly-micromelia syndrome
While next-generation sequencing has accelerated the discovery of human disease genes, progress has been largely limited to the "low hanging fruit" of mutations with obvious exonic coding or canonical splice site impact. In contrast, the lack of high-throughput, unbiased approaches for functional assessment of most noncoding variants has bottlenecked gene discovery. We report the integration of transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq), which surveys all mRNAs to reveal functional impacts of variants at the transcription level, into the gene discovery framework for a unique human disease, microcephaly-micromelia syndrome (MMS). MMS is an autosomal recessive condition described thus far in only a single First Nations population and causes intrauterine growth restriction, severe microcephaly, craniofacial anomalies, skeletal dysplasia, and neonatal lethality. Linkage analysis of affected families, including a very large pedigree, identified a single locus on Chromosome 21 linked to the disease (LOD > 9). Comprehensive genome sequencing did not reveal any pathogenic coding or canonical splicing mutations within the linkage region but identified several nonconserved noncoding variants. RNA-seq analysis detected aberrant splicing in DONSON due to one of these noncoding variants, showing a causative role for DONSON disruption in MMS. We show that DONSON is expressed in progenitor cells of embryonic human brain and other proliferating tissues, is co-expressed with components of the DNA replication machinery, and that Donson is essential for early embryonic development in mice as well, suggesting an essential conserved role for DONSON in the cell cycle. Our results demonstrate the utility of integrating transcriptomics into the study of human genetic disease when DNA sequencing alone is not sufficient to reveal the underlying pathogenic mutation.
One brain, many genomes
A PIECE OF MY MIND. A Wild Rotation
Somatic mutation in single human neurons tracks developmental and transcriptional history
Neurons live for decades in a postmitotic state, their genomes susceptible to DNA damage. Here we survey the landscape of somatic single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) in the human brain. We identified thousands of somatic SNVs by single-cell sequencing of 36 neurons from the cerebral cortex of three normal individuals. Unlike germline and cancer SNVs, which are often caused by errors in DNA replication, neuronal mutations appear to reflect damage during active transcription. Somatic mutations create nested lineage trees, allowing them to be dated relative to developmental landmarks and revealing a polyclonal architecture of the human cerebral cortex. Thus, somatic mutations in the brain represent a durable and ongoing record of neuronal life history, from development through postmitotic function.
Cell lineage analysis in human brain using endogenous retroelements
Somatic mutations occur during brain development and are increasingly implicated as a cause of neurogenetic disease. However, the patterns in which somatic mutations distribute in the human brain are unknown. We used high-coverage whole-genome sequencing of single neurons from a normal individual to identify spontaneous somatic mutations as clonal marks to track cell lineages in human brain.Â Somatic mutation analyses in >30 locations throughout the nervous system identified multiple lineages and sublineages of cells marked by different LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposition events and subsequent mutation of poly-A microsatellites within L1. One clone contained thousands of cells limited to the left middle frontal gyrus, whereas a second distinct clone contained millions of cells distributed over the entire left hemisphere. These patterns mirror known somatic mutation disorders of brain development and suggest that focally distributed mutations are also prevalent in normal brains. Single-cell analysis of somatic mutation enables tracing of cell lineage clones in human brain.
Somatic mutation, genomic variation, and neurological disease
Genetic mutations causing human disease are conventionally thought to be inherited through the germ line from one's parents and present in all somatic (body) cells, except for most cancer mutations, which arise somatically. Increasingly, somatic mutations are being identified in diseases other than cancer, including neurodevelopmental diseases. Somatic mutations can arise during the course of prenatal brain development and cause neurological disease-even when present at low levels of mosaicism, for example-resulting in brain malformations associated with epilepsy and intellectual disability. Novel, highly sensitive technologies will allow more accurate evaluation of somatic mutations in neurodevelopmental disorders and during normal brain development.
Single-neuron sequencing analysis of L1 retrotransposition and somatic mutation in the human brain
A major unanswered question in neuroscience is whether there exists genomic variability between individual neurons of the brain, contributing to functional diversity or to an unexplained burden of neurological disease. To address this question, we developed a method to amplify genomes of single neurons from human brains. Because recent reports suggest frequent LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposition in human brains, we performed genome-wide L1 insertion profiling of 300 single neurons from cerebral cortex and caudate nucleus of three normal individuals, recovering >80% of germline insertions from single neurons. While we find somatic L1 insertions, we estimate <0.6 unique somatic insertions per neuron, and most neurons lack detectable somatic insertions, suggesting that L1 is not a major generator of neuronal diversity in cortex and caudate. We then genotyped single cortical cells to characterize the mosaicism of a somatic AKT3 mutation identified in a child with hemimegalencephaly. Single-neuron sequencing allows systematic assessment of genomic diversity in the human brain.
Somatic Activation of AKT3 Causes Hemispheric Developmental Brain Malformations
Hemimegalencephaly (HMG) is a developmental brain disorder characterized by an enlarged, malformed cerebral hemisphere, typically causing epilepsy that requires surgical resection. We studied resected HMG tissue to test whether the condition might reflect somatic mutations affecting genes critical to brain development. We found that two out of eight HMG samples showed trisomy of chromosome 1q, which encompasses many genes, including AKT3, a gene known to regulate brain size. A third case showed a known activating mutation in AKT3 (c.49G-->A, creating p.E17K) that was not present in the patient's blood cells. Remarkably, the E17K mutation in AKT3 is exactly paralogous to E17K mutations in AKT1 and AKT2 recently discovered in somatic overgrowth syndromes. We show that AKT3 is the most abundant AKT paralog in the brain during neurogenesis and that phosphorylated AKT is abundant in cortical progenitor cells. Our data suggest that somatic mutations limited to the brain could represent an important cause of complex neurogenetic disease.
Applications of Single-Cell DNA Sequencing
Over the past decade, genomic analyses of single cells-the fundamental units of life-have become possible. Single-cell DNA sequencing has shed light on biological questions that were previously inaccessible across diverse fields of research, including somatic mutagenesis, organismal development, genome function, and microbiology. Single-cell DNA sequencing also promises significant future biomedical and clinical impact, spanning oncology, fertility, and beyond. While single-cell approaches that profile RNA and protein have greatly expanded our understanding of cellular diversity, many fundamental questions in biology and important biomedical applications require analysis of the DNA of single cells. Here, we review the applications and biological questions for which single-cell DNA sequencing is uniquely suited or required. We include a discussion of the fields that will be impacted by single-cell DNA sequencing as the technology continues to advance. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics Volume 22 is August 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
A recurrent, homozygous EMC10 frameshift variant is associated with a syndrome of developmental delay with variable seizures and dysmorphic features
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:The endoplasmic reticulum membrane complex (EMC) is a highly conserved, multifunctional 10-protein complex related to membrane protein biology. In seven families, we identified 13 individuals with highly overlapping phenotypes who harbor a single identical homozygous frameshift variant in EMC10. METHODS:Using exome, genome, and Sanger sequencing, a recurrent frameshift EMC10 variant was identified in affected individuals in an international cohort of consanguineous families. Multiple families were independently identified and connected via Matchmaker Exchange and internal databases. We assessed the effect of the frameshift variant on EMC10 RNA and protein expression and evaluated EMC10 expressionÂ in normal humanÂ brain tissue using immunohistochemistry. RESULTS:A homozygous variant EMC10 c.287delG (Refseq NM_206538.3, p.Gly96Alafs*9) segregated with affected individuals in each family, who exhibited a phenotypic spectrum of intellectual disability (ID) and global developmental delay (GDD), variable seizures and variable dysmorphic features (elongated face, curly hair, cubitus valgus, and arachnodactyly). The variant arose on two founder haplotypes and results in significantly reduced EMC10 RNA expression and an unstable truncated EMC10 protein. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:We propose that a homozygous loss-of-function variant in EMC10 causes a novel syndromic neurodevelopmental phenotype. Remarkably, the recurrent variant is likely the result of a hypermutable site and arose on distinct founder haplotypes.