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Localization of balanced chromosome translocation breakpoints by long-read sequencing on the Oxford Nanopore platform
Structural variants (SVs) in genomes, including translocations, inversions, insertions, deletions and duplications, remain difficult to be detected reliably by traditional genomic technologies. In particular, balanced translocations and inversions cannot be detected by microarrays since they do not alter chromosome copy numbers; they cannot be reliably detected by short-read sequencing either, since many breakpoints are located within repetitive regions of the genome that are unmappable by short reads. However, the detection and the precise localization of breakpoints at the nucleotide level are important to study the genetic causes in patients carrying balanced translocations or inversions. Long-read sequencing techniques, such as the Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT), may detect these SVs in a more direct, efficient and accurate manner. In this study, we applied whole-genome long-read sequencing on the Oxford Nanopore GridION sequencer to detect the breakpoints from 6 carriers of balanced translocations and one carrier of inversion, where SVs had initially been detected by karyotyping at the chromosome level. The results showed that all the balanced translocations were detected with ~10X coverage and were consistent with the karyotyping results. PCR and Sanger sequencing confirmed 8 of the 14 breakpoints to single base resolution, yet other breakpoints cannot be refined to single-base due to their localization at highly repetitive regions or pericentromeric regions, or due to the possible presence of local deletions/duplications. Our results indicate that low-coverage whole-genome sequencing is an ideal tool for the precise localization of most translocation breakpoints and may provide haplotype information on the breakpoint-linked SNPs, which may be widely applied in SV detection, therapeutic monitoring, assisted reproduction technology (ART) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).
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