Project description:Circulating DNA in plasma consists of short DNA fragments. The biological processes generating such fragments are not well understood. DNASE1L3 is a secreted DNASE1-like nuclease capable of digesting DNA in chromatin, and its absence causes anti-DNA responses and autoimmunity in humans and mice. We found that the deletion of <i>Dnase1l3</i> in mice resulted in aberrations in the fragmentation of plasma DNA. Such aberrations included an increase in short DNA molecules below 120 bp, which was positively correlated with anti-DNA antibody levels. We also observed an increase in long, multinucleosomal DNA molecules and decreased frequencies of the most common end motifs found in plasma DNA. These aberrations were independent of anti-DNA response, suggesting that they represented a primary effect of DNASE1L3 loss. Pregnant <i>Dnase1l3</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> mice carrying <i>Dnase1l3</i> <sup><i>+/-</i></sup> fetuses showed a partial restoration of normal frequencies of plasma DNA end motifs, suggesting that DNASE1L3 from <i>Dnase1l3</i>-proficient fetuses could enter maternal systemic circulation and affect both fetal and maternal DNA fragmentation in a systemic as well as local manner. However, the observed shortening of circulating fetal DNA relative to maternal DNA was not affected by the deletion of <i>Dnase1l3</i> Collectively, our findings demonstrate that DNASE1L3 plays a role in circulating plasma DNA homeostasis by enhancing fragmentation and influencing end-motif frequencies. These results support a distinct role of DNASE1L3 as a regulator of the physical form and availability of cell-free DNA and may have important implications for the mechanism whereby this enzyme prevents autoimmunity.
Project description:Cell-free DNA in plasma has been used for noninvasive prenatal testing and cancer liquid biopsy. The physical properties of cell-free DNA fragments in plasma, such as fragment sizes and ends, have attracted much recent interest, leading to the emerging field of cell-free DNA fragmentomics. However, one aspect of plasma DNA fragmentomics as to whether double-stranded plasma molecules might carry single-stranded ends, termed a jagged end in this study, remains underexplored. We have developed two approaches for investigating the presence of jagged ends in a plasma DNA pool. These approaches utilized DNA end repair to introduce differential methylation signals between the original sequence and the jagged ends, depending on whether unmethylated or methylated cytosines were used in the DNA end-repair procedure. The majority of plasma DNA molecules (87.8%) were found to bear jagged ends. The jaggedness varied according to plasma DNA fragment sizes and appeared to be in association with nucleosomal patterns. In the plasma of pregnant women, the jaggedness of fetal DNA molecules was higher than that of the maternal counterparts. The jaggedness of plasma DNA correlated with the fetal DNA fraction. Similarly, in the plasma of cancer patients, tumor-derived DNA molecules in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma showed an elevated jaggedness compared with nontumoral DNA. In mouse models, knocking out of the Dnase1 gene reduced jaggedness, whereas knocking out of the Dnase1l3 gene enhanced jaggedness. Hence, plasma DNA jagged ends represent an intrinsic property of plasma DNA and provide a link between nuclease activities and the fragmentation of plasma DNA.
Project description:Circulating tumor-derived cell-free DNA (ctDNA) analysis offers an attractive noninvasive means for detection and monitoring of cancers. Evidence for the presence of cancer is dependent on the ability to detect features in the peripheral circulation that are deemed as cancer-associated. We explored approaches to improve the chance of detecting the presence of cancer based on sequence information present on ctDNA molecules. We developed an approach to detect the total pool of somatic mutations. We then investigated if there existed a class of ctDNA signature in the form of preferred plasma DNA end coordinates. Cell-free DNA fragmentation is a nonrandom process. Using plasma samples obtained from liver transplant recipients, we showed that liver contributed cell-free DNA molecules ended more frequently at certain genomic coordinates than the nonliver-derived molecules. The abundance of plasma DNA molecules with these liver-associated ends correlated with the liver DNA fractions in the plasma samples. Studying the DNA end characteristics in plasma of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic hepatitis B, we showed that there were millions of tumor-associated plasma DNA end coordinates in the genome. Abundance of plasma DNA molecules with tumor-associated DNA ends correlated with the tumor DNA fractions even in plasma samples of hepatocellular carcinoma patients that were subjected to shallow-depth sequencing analysis. Plasma DNA end coordinates may therefore serve as hallmarks of ctDNA that could be sampled readily and, hence, may improve the cost-effectiveness of liquid biopsy assessment.
Project description:Nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) is a major DNA double-strand break repair pathway that is conserved in eukaryotes. In vertebrates, NHEJ further acquires end-processing capacities (e.g., hairpin opening) in addition to direct end-ligation. The catalytic subunit of DNA-PK (DNA-PKcs) is a vertebrate-specific NHEJ factor that can be autophosphorylated or transphosphorylated by ATM kinase. Using a mouse model expressing a kinase-dead (KD) DNA-PKcs protein, we show that ATM-mediated transphosphorylation of DNA-PKcs regulates end-processing at the level of Artemis recruitment, while strict autophosphorylation of DNA-PKcs is necessary to relieve the physical blockage on end-ligation imposed by the DNA-PKcs protein itself. Accordingly, DNA-PKcs(KD/KD) mice and cells show severe end-ligation defects and p53- and Ku-dependent embryonic lethality, but open hairpin-sealed ends normally in the presence of ATM kinase activity. Together, our findings identify DNA-PKcs as the molecular switch that coordinates end-processing and end-ligation at the DNA ends through differential phosphorylations.
Project description:In this study, we compared the two long-read sequencing platforms, namely the single-molecule real-time sequencing by Pacific Biosciences and nanopore sequencing by Oxford Nanopore Technologies, for the analysis of cell-free DNA from plasma. Artificial mixtures of sonicated human and mouse DNA at different sizes were sequenced with the two platforms.
Project description:Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in human plasma is a class of biomarkers with many current and potential future diagnostic applications. Recent studies have shown that cfDNA molecules are not randomly fragmented and possess information related to their tissues of origin. Pathologies causing death of cells from particular tissues result in perturbations in the relative distribution of DNA from the affected tissues. Such tissue-of-origin analysis is particularly useful in the development of liquid biopsies for cancer. It is therefore of value to accurately determine the relative contributions of the tissues to the plasma DNA pool in a simultaneous manner. In this work, we report that in open chromatin regions, cfDNA molecules show characteristic fragmentation patterns reflected by sequencing coverage imbalance and differentially phased fragment end signals. The latter refers to differences in the read densities of sequences corresponding to the orientation of the upstream and downstream ends of cfDNA molecules in relation to the reference genome. Such cfDNA fragmentation patterns preferentially occur in tissue-specific open chromatin regions where the corresponding tissues contributed DNA into the plasma. Quantitative analyses of such signals allow measurement of the relative contributions of various tissues toward the plasma DNA pool. These findings were validated by plasma DNA sequencing data obtained from pregnant women, organ transplantation recipients, and cancer patients. Orientation-aware plasma DNA fragmentation analysis therefore has potential diagnostic applications in noninvasive prenatal testing, organ transplantation monitoring, and cancer liquid biopsy.
Project description:Apoptotic and necrotic tumor cells release DNA into plasma, providing an accessible tumor biomarker. Tumor-released plasma-circulating DNA can be screened for tumor-specific genetic changes, including mutation, methylation, or allelic imbalance. However, technical problems relating to the quantity and quality of DNA collected from plasma hinder downstream genetic screening and reduce biomarker detection sensitivity. Here, we present a new methodology, blunt-end ligation-mediated whole genome amplification (BL-WGA), that efficiently amplifies small apoptotic fragments (<200 bp) as well as intermediate and large necrotic fragments (>5 kb) and enables reliable high-throughput analysis of plasma-circulating DNA. In a single-tube reaction, purified double-stranded DNA was blunted with T4 DNA polymerase, self-ligated or cross-ligated with T4 DNA ligase and amplified via random primer-initiated multiple displacement amplification. Using plasma DNA from breast cancer patients and normal controls, we demonstrate that BL-WGA amplified the plasma-circulating genome by approximately 1000-fold. Of 25 informative polymorphic sites screened via polymerase chain reaction-denaturating high-performance liquid chromatography, 24 (95%) were correctly determined by BL-WGA to be allelic retention or imbalance compared to 44% by multiple displacement amplification. By enabling target magnification and application of high-throughput genome analysis, BL-WGA improves sensitivity for detection of circulating tumor-specific biomarkers from bodily fluids or for recovery of nucleic acids from suboptimally stored specimens.