Publications by authors named "Timothy J C Bruxner"

15 Publications

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Comparison of long-read methods for sequencing and assembly of a plant genome.

Gigascience 2020 12;9(12)

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.

Background: Sequencing technologies have advanced to the point where it is possible to generate high-accuracy, haplotype-resolved, chromosome-scale assemblies. Several long-read sequencing technologies are available, and a growing number of algorithms have been developed to assemble the reads generated by those technologies. When starting a new genome project, it is therefore challenging to select the most cost-effective sequencing technology, as well as the most appropriate software for assembly and polishing. It is thus important to benchmark different approaches applied to the same sample.

Results: Here, we report a comparison of 3 long-read sequencing technologies applied to the de novo assembly of a plant genome, Macadamia jansenii. We have generated sequencing data using Pacific Biosciences (Sequel I), Oxford Nanopore Technologies (PromethION), and BGI (single-tube Long Fragment Read) technologies for the same sample. Several assemblers were benchmarked in the assembly of Pacific Biosciences and Nanopore reads. Results obtained from combining long-read technologies or short-read and long-read technologies are also presented. The assemblies were compared for contiguity, base accuracy, and completeness, as well as sequencing costs and DNA material requirements.

Conclusions: The 3 long-read technologies produced highly contiguous and complete genome assemblies of M. jansenii. At the time of sequencing, the cost associated with each method was significantly different, but continuous improvements in technologies have resulted in greater accuracy, increased throughput, and reduced costs. We propose updating this comparison regularly with reports on significant iterations of the sequencing technologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gigascience/giaa146DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7751402PMC
December 2020

A High-Fat Diet Increases Influenza A Virus-Associated Cardiovascular Damage.

J Infect Dis 2020 08;222(5):820-831

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: Influenza A virus (IAV) causes a wide range of extrarespiratory complications. However, the role of host factors in these complications of influenza virus infection remains to be defined.

Methods: Here, we sought to use transcriptional profiling, virology, histology, and echocardiograms to investigate the role of a high-fat diet in IAV-associated cardiac damage.

Results: Transcriptional profiling showed that, compared to their low-fat counterparts (LF mice), mice fed a high-fat diet (HF mice) had impairments in inflammatory signaling in the lung and heart after IAV infection. This was associated with increased viral titers in the heart, increased left ventricular mass, and thickening of the left ventricular wall in IAV-infected HF mice compared to both IAV-infected LF mice and uninfected HF mice. Retrospective analysis of clinical data revealed that cardiac complications were more common in patients with excess weight, an association which was significant in 2 out of 4 studies.

Conclusions: Together, these data provide the first evidence that a high-fat diet may be a risk factor for the development of IAV-associated cardiovascular damage and emphasizes the need for further clinical research in this area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa159DOI Listing
August 2020

Single-cell RNA-seq of human induced pluripotent stem cells reveals cellular heterogeneity and cell state transitions between subpopulations.

Genome Res 2018 07 11;28(7):1053-1066. Epub 2018 May 11.

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia.

Heterogeneity of cell states represented in pluripotent cultures has not been described at the transcriptional level. Since gene expression is highly heterogeneous between cells, single-cell RNA sequencing can be used to identify how individual pluripotent cells function. Here, we present results from the analysis of single-cell RNA sequencing data from 18,787 individual WTC-CRISPRi human induced pluripotent stem cells. We developed an unsupervised clustering method and, through this, identified four subpopulations distinguishable on the basis of their pluripotent state, including a core pluripotent population (48.3%), proliferative (47.8%), early primed for differentiation (2.8%), and late primed for differentiation (1.1%). For each subpopulation, we were able to identify the genes and pathways that define differences in pluripotent cell states. Our method identified four transcriptionally distinct predictor gene sets composed of 165 unique genes that denote the specific pluripotency states; using these sets, we developed a multigenic machine learning prediction method to accurately classify single cells into each of the subpopulations. Compared against a set of established pluripotency markers, our method increases prediction accuracy by 10%, specificity by 20%, and explains a substantially larger proportion of deviance (up to threefold) from the prediction model. Finally, we developed an innovative method to predict cells transitioning between subpopulations and support our conclusions with results from two orthogonal pseudotime trajectory methods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gr.223925.117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6028138PMC
July 2018

Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing for Detecting Gene Fusions in Leukemia.

Mol Cancer Res 2018 02 13;16(2):279-285. Epub 2017 Nov 13.

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Translational Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Mixed lineage leukemia () gene rearrangements characterize approximately 70% of infant and 10% of adult and therapy-related leukemia. Conventional clinical diagnostics, including cytogenetics and fluorescence hybridization (FISH) fail to detect translocation partner genes (TPG) in many patients. Long-distance inverse (LDI)-PCR, the "gold standard" technique that is used to characterize breakpoints, is laborious and requires a large input of genomic DNA (gDNA). To overcome the limitations of current techniques, a targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach that requires low RNA input was tested. Anchored multiplex PCR-based enrichment (AMP-E) was used to rapidly identify a broad range of fusions in patient specimens. Libraries generated using Archer FusionPlex Heme and Myeloid panels were sequenced using the Illumina platform. Diagnostic specimens ( = 39) from pediatric leukemia patients were tested with AMP-E and validated by LDI-PCR. In concordance with LDI-PCR, the AMP-E method successfully identified TPGs without prior knowledge. AMP-E identified 10 different fusions in the 39 samples. Only two specimens were discordant; AMP-E successfully identified a fusion where LDI-PCR had failed to determine the breakpoint, whereas a fusion was not detected by AMP-E due to low expression of the fusion transcript. Sensitivity assays demonstrated that AMP-E can detect in MV4-11 cell dilutions of 10 and transcripts down to 0.005 copies/ng. This study demonstrates a NGS methodology with improved sensitivity compared with current diagnostic methods for -rearranged leukemia. Furthermore, this assay rapidly and reliably identifies partner genes and patient-specific fusion sequences that could be used for monitoring minimal residual disease. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-17-0569DOI Listing
February 2018

Whole-genome landscape of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours.

Nature 2017 03 15;543(7643):65-71. Epub 2017 Feb 15.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston Road, Brisbane 4006, Australia.

The diagnosis of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PanNETs) is increasing owing to more sensitive detection methods, and this increase is creating challenges for clinical management. We performed whole-genome sequencing of 102 primary PanNETs and defined the genomic events that characterize their pathogenesis. Here we describe the mutational signatures they harbour, including a deficiency in G:C > T:A base excision repair due to inactivation of MUTYH, which encodes a DNA glycosylase. Clinically sporadic PanNETs contain a larger-than-expected proportion of germline mutations, including previously unreported mutations in the DNA repair genes MUTYH, CHEK2 and BRCA2. Together with mutations in MEN1 and VHL, these mutations occur in 17% of patients. Somatic mutations, including point mutations and gene fusions, were commonly found in genes involved in four main pathways: chromatin remodelling, DNA damage repair, activation of mTOR signalling (including previously undescribed EWSR1 gene fusions), and telomere maintenance. In addition, our gene expression analyses identified a subgroup of tumours associated with hypoxia and HIF signalling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21063DOI Listing
March 2017

Hypermutation In Pancreatic Cancer.

Gastroenterology 2017 01 15;152(1):68-74.e2. Epub 2016 Nov 15.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Pancreatic cancer is molecularly diverse, with few effective therapies. Increased mutation burden and defective DNA repair are associated with response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in several other cancer types. We interrogated 385 pancreatic cancer genomes to define hypermutation and its causes. Mutational signatures inferring defects in DNA repair were enriched in those with the highest mutation burdens. Mismatch repair deficiency was identified in 1% of tumors harboring different mechanisms of somatic inactivation of MLH1 and MSH2. Defining mutation load in individual pancreatic cancers and the optimal assay for patient selection may inform clinical trial design for immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2016.09.060DOI Listing
January 2017

The Snake with the Scorpion's Sting: Novel Three-Finger Toxin Sodium Channel Activators from the Venom of the Long-Glanded Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus).

Toxins (Basel) 2016 10 18;8(10). Epub 2016 Oct 18.

Venom Evolution Lab, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072, Australia.

Millions of years of evolution have fine-tuned the ability of venom peptides to rapidly incapacitate both prey and potential predators. Toxicofera reptiles are characterized by serous-secreting mandibular or maxillary glands with heightened levels of protein expression. These glands are the core anatomical components of the toxicoferan venom system, which exists in myriad points along an evolutionary continuum. Neofunctionalisation of toxins is facilitated by positive selection at functional hotspots on the ancestral protein and venom proteins have undergone dynamic diversification in helodermatid and varanid lizards as well as advanced snakes. A spectacular point on the venom system continuum is the long-glanded blue coral snake (), a specialist feeder that preys on fast moving, venomous snakes which have both a high likelihood of prey escape but also represent significant danger to the predator itself. The maxillary venom glands of extend one quarter of the snake's body length and nestle within the rib cavity. Despite the snake's notoriety its venom has remained largely unstudied. Here we show that the venom uniquely produces spastic paralysis, in contrast to the flaccid paralysis typically produced by neurotoxic snake venoms. The toxin responsible, which we have called calliotoxin (δ-elapitoxin-Cb1a), is a three-finger toxin (3FTx). Calliotoxin shifts the voltage-dependence of Na1.4 activation to more hyperpolarised potentials, inhibits inactivation, and produces large ramp currents, consistent with its profound effects on contractile force in an isolated skeletal muscle preparation. Voltage-gated sodium channels (Na) are a particularly attractive pharmacological target as they are involved in almost all physiological processes including action potential generation and conduction. Accordingly, venom peptides that interfere with Na function provide a key defensive and predatory advantage to a range of invertebrate venomous species including cone snails, scorpions, spiders, and anemones. Enhanced activation or delayed inactivation of sodium channels by toxins is associated with the extremely rapid onset of tetanic/excitatory paralysis in envenomed prey animals. A strong selection pressure exists for the evolution of such toxins where there is a high chance of prey escape. However, despite their prevalence in other venomous species, toxins causing delay of sodium channel inhibition have never previously been described in vertebrate venoms. Here we show that Na modulators, convergent with those of invertebrates, have evolved in the venom of the long-glanded coral snake. Calliotoxin represents a functionally novel class of 3FTx and a structurally novel class of Na toxins that will provide significant insights into the pharmacology and physiology of Na. The toxin represents a remarkable case of functional convergence between invertebrate and vertebrate venom systems in response to similar selection pressures. These results underscore the dynamic evolution of the Toxicofera reptile system and reinforces the value of using evolution as a roadmap for biodiscovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins8100303DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086663PMC
October 2016

Assessing the genetic diversity of Cu resistance in mine tailings through high-throughput recovery of full-length copA genes.

Sci Rep 2015 Aug 19;5:13258. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia.

Characterizing the genetic diversity of microbial copper (Cu) resistance at the community level remains challenging, mainly due to the polymorphism of the core functional gene copA. In this study, a local BLASTN method using a copA database built in this study was developed to recover full-length putative copA sequences from an assembled tailings metagenome; these sequences were then screened for potentially functioning CopA using conserved metal-binding motifs, inferred by evolutionary trace analysis of CopA sequences from known Cu resistant microorganisms. In total, 99 putative copA sequences were recovered from the tailings metagenome, out of which 70 were found with high potential to be functioning in Cu resistance. Phylogenetic analysis of selected copA sequences detected in the tailings metagenome showed that topology of the copA phylogeny is largely congruent with that of the 16S-based phylogeny of the tailings microbial community obtained in our previous study, indicating that the development of copA diversity in the tailings might be mainly through vertical descent with few lateral gene transfer events. The method established here can be used to explore copA (and potentially other metal resistance genes) diversity in any metagenome and has the potential to exhaust the full-length gene sequences for downstream analyses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep13258DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541151PMC
August 2015

Integrated genomic and transcriptomic analysis of human brain metastases identifies alterations of potential clinical significance.

J Pathol 2015 Nov 19;237(3):363-78. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Queensland, Australia.

Treatment options for patients with brain metastases (BMs) have limited efficacy and the mortality rate is virtually 100%. Targeted therapy is critically under-utilized, and our understanding of mechanisms underpinning metastatic outgrowth in the brain is limited. To address these deficiencies, we investigated the genomic and transcriptomic landscapes of 36 BMs from breast, lung, melanoma and oesophageal cancers, using DNA copy-number analysis and exome- and RNA-sequencing. The key findings were as follows. (a) Identification of novel candidates with possible roles in BM development, including the significantly mutated genes DSC2, ST7, PIK3R1 and SMC5, and the DNA repair, ERBB-HER signalling, axon guidance and protein kinase-A signalling pathways. (b) Mutational signature analysis was applied to successfully identify the primary cancer type for two BMs with unknown origins. (c) Actionable genomic alterations were identified in 31/36 BMs (86%); in one case we retrospectively identified ERBB2 amplification representing apparent HER2 status conversion, then confirmed progressive enrichment for HER2-positivity across four consecutive metastatic deposits by IHC and SISH, resulting in the deployment of HER2-targeted therapy for the patient. (d) In the ERBB/HER pathway, ERBB2 expression correlated with ERBB3 (r(2)  = 0.496; p < 0.0001) and HER3 and HER4 were frequently activated in an independent cohort of 167 archival BM from seven primary cancer types: 57.6% and 52.6% of cases were phospho-HER3(Y1222) or phospho-HER4(Y1162) membrane-positive, respectively. The HER3 ligands NRG1/2 were barely detectable by RNAseq, with NRG1 (8p12) genomic loss in 63.6% breast cancer-BMs, suggesting a microenvironmental source of ligand. In summary, this is the first study to characterize the genomic landscapes of BM. The data revealed novel candidates, potential clinical applications for genomic profiling of resectable BMs, and highlighted the possibility of therapeutically targeting HER3, which is broadly over-expressed and activated in BMs, independent of primary site and systemic therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.4583DOI Listing
November 2015

Whole-genome characterization of chemoresistant ovarian cancer.

Nature 2015 May;521(7553):489-94

Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Southbank, Victoria 3006, Australia.

Patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC) have experienced little improvement in overall survival, and standard treatment has not advanced beyond platinum-based combination chemotherapy, during the past 30 years. To understand the drivers of clinical phenotypes better, here we use whole-genome sequencing of tumour and germline DNA samples from 92 patients with primary refractory, resistant, sensitive and matched acquired resistant disease. We show that gene breakage commonly inactivates the tumour suppressors RB1, NF1, RAD51B and PTEN in HGSC, and contributes to acquired chemotherapy resistance. CCNE1 amplification was common in primary resistant and refractory disease. We observed several molecular events associated with acquired resistance, including multiple independent reversions of germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations in individual patients, loss of BRCA1 promoter methylation, an alteration in molecular subtype, and recurrent promoter fusion associated with overexpression of the drug efflux pump MDR1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14410DOI Listing
May 2015

Recommendations for Accurate Resolution of Gene and Isoform Allele-Specific Expression in RNA-Seq Data.

PLoS One 2015 12;10(5):e0126911. Epub 2015 May 12.

Translational Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland; Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Genetic variation modulates gene expression transcriptionally or post-transcriptionally, and can profoundly alter an individual's phenotype. Measuring allelic differential expression at heterozygous loci within an individual, a phenomenon called allele-specific expression (ASE), can assist in identifying such factors. Massively parallel DNA and RNA sequencing and advances in bioinformatic methodologies provide an outstanding opportunity to measure ASE genome-wide. In this study, matched DNA and RNA sequencing, genotyping arrays and computationally phased haplotypes were integrated to comprehensively and conservatively quantify ASE in a single human brain and liver tissue sample. We describe a methodological evaluation and assessment of common bioinformatic steps for ASE quantification, and recommend a robust approach to accurately measure SNP, gene and isoform ASE through the use of personalized haplotype genome alignment, strict alignment quality control and intragenic SNP aggregation. Our results indicate that accurate ASE quantification requires careful bioinformatic analyses and is adversely affected by sample specific alignment confounders and random sampling even at moderate sequence depths. We identified multiple known and several novel ASE genes in liver, including WDR72, DSP and UBD, as well as genes that contained ASE SNPs with imbalance direction discordant with haplotype phase, explainable by annotated transcript structure, suggesting isoform derived ASE. The methods evaluated in this study will be of use to researchers performing highly conservative quantification of ASE, and the genes and isoforms identified as ASE of interest to researchers studying those loci.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126911PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428808PMC
February 2016

Genomic catastrophes frequently arise in esophageal adenocarcinoma and drive tumorigenesis.

Nat Commun 2014 Oct 29;5:5224. Epub 2014 Oct 29.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Brisbane, Queensland 4006, Australia.

Oesophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) incidence is rapidly increasing in Western countries. A better understanding of EAC underpins efforts to improve early detection and treatment outcomes. While large EAC exome sequencing efforts to date have found recurrent loss-of-function mutations, oncogenic driving events have been underrepresented. Here we use a combination of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and single-nucleotide polymorphism-array profiling to show that genomic catastrophes are frequent in EAC, with almost a third (32%, n=40/123) undergoing chromothriptic events. WGS of 22 EAC cases show that catastrophes may lead to oncogene amplification through chromothripsis-derived double-minute chromosome formation (MYC and MDM2) or breakage-fusion-bridge (KRAS, MDM2 and RFC3). Telomere shortening is more prominent in EACs bearing localized complex rearrangements. Mutational signature analysis also confirms that extreme genomic instability in EAC can be driven by somatic BRCA2 mutations. These findings suggest that genomic catastrophes have a significant role in the malignant transformation of EAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms6224DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4596003PMC
October 2014

A workflow to increase verification rate of chromosomal structural rearrangements using high-throughput next-generation sequencing.

Biotechniques 2014 Jul 1;57(1):31-8. Epub 2014 Jul 1.

Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, Institute for Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Somatic rearrangements, which are commonly found in human cancer genomes, contribute to the progression and maintenance of cancers. Conventionally, the verification of somatic rearrangements comprises many manual steps and Sanger sequencing. This is labor intensive when verifying a large number of rearrangements in a large cohort. To increase the verification throughput, we devised a high-throughput workflow that utilizes benchtop next-generation sequencing and in-house bioinformatics tools to link the laboratory processes. In the proposed workflow, primers are automatically designed. PCR and an optional gel electrophoresis step to confirm the somatic nature of the rearrangements are performed. PCR products of somatic events are pooled for Ion Torrent PGM and/or Illumina MiSeq sequencing, the resulting sequence reads are assembled into consensus contigs by a consensus assembler, and an automated BLAT is used to resolve the breakpoints to base level. We compared sequences and breakpoints of verified somatic rearrangements between the conventional and high-throughput workflow. The results showed that next-generation sequencing methods are comparable to conventional Sanger sequencing. The identified breakpoints obtained from next-generation sequencing methods were highly accurate and reproducible. Furthermore, the proposed workflow allows hundreds of events to be processed in a shorter time frame compared with the conventional workflow.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2144/000114189DOI Listing
July 2014