Publications

2017
Lee S*, Lee S*, Ouellette S, Park W-Y, Lee EA**, Park PJ**. NGSCheckMate: software for validating sample identity in next-generation sequencing studies within and across data types [Internet]. Nucleic Acids Res 2017;45(11):e103. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In many next-generation sequencing (NGS) studies, multiple samples or data types are profiled for each individual. An important quality control (QC) step in these studies is to ensure that datasets from the same subject are properly paired. Given the heterogeneity of data types, file types and sequencing depths in a multi-dimensional study, a robust program that provides a standardized metric for genotype comparisons would be useful. Here, we describe NGSCheckMate, a user-friendly software package for verifying sample identities from FASTQ, BAM or VCF files. This tool uses a model-based method to compare allele read fractions at known single-nucleotide polymorphisms, considering depth-dependent behavior of similarity metrics for identical and unrelated samples. Our evaluation shows that NGSCheckMate is effective for a variety of data types, including exome sequencing, whole-genome sequencing, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, targeted sequencing and single-cell whole-genome sequencing, with a minimal requirement for sequencing depth (>0.5X). An alignment-free module can be run directly on FASTQ files for a quick initial check. We recommend using this software as a QC step in NGS studies. AVAILABILITY: https://github.com/parklab/NGSCheckMate.
Zhang Y, Kwok-Shing Ng P, Kucherlapati M, Chen F, Liu Y, Tsang YH, de Velasco G, Jeong KJ, Akbani R, Hadjipanayis A, Pantazi A, Bristow CA, Lee E, Mahadeshwar HS, Tang J, Zhang J, Yang L, Seth S, Lee S, Ren X, Song X, Sun H, Seidman J, Luquette LJ, Xi R, Chin L, Protopopov A, Westbrook TF, Shelley CS, Choueiri TK, Ittmann M, Van Waes C, Weinstein JN, Liang H, Henske EP, Godwin AK, Park PJ, Kucherlapati R, Scott KL, Mills GB, Kwiatkowski DJ, Creighton CJ. A Pan-Cancer Proteogenomic Atlas of PI3K/AKT/mTOR Pathway Alterations. Cancer Cell 2017;31(6):820-832.e3.Abstract
Molecular alterations involving the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway (including mutation, copy number, protein, or RNA) were examined across 11,219 human cancers representing 32 major types. Within specific mutated genes, frequency, mutation hotspot residues, in silico predictions, and functional assays were all informative in distinguishing the subset of genetic variants more likely to have functional relevance. Multiple oncogenic pathways including PI3K/AKT/mTOR converged on similar sets of downstream transcriptional targets. In addition to mutation, structural variations and partial copy losses involving PTEN and STK11 showed evidence for having functional relevance. A substantial fraction of cancers showed high mTOR pathway activity without an associated canonical genetic or genomic alteration, including cancers harboring IDH1 or VHL mutations, suggesting multiple mechanisms for pathway activation.
2016
Yu VWC, Yusuf RZ, Oki T, Wu J, Saez B, Wang X, Cook C, Baryawno N, Ziller MJ, Lee E, Gu H, Meissner A, Lin CP, Kharchenko PV**, Scadden DT**. Epigenetic Memory Underlies Cell-Autonomous Heterogeneous Behavior of Hematopoietic Stem Cells. Cell 2016;167(5):1310-1322.e17.Abstract
Stem cells determine homeostasis and repair of many tissues and are increasingly recognized as functionally heterogeneous. To define the extent of-and molecular basis for-heterogeneity, we overlaid functional, transcriptional, and epigenetic attributes of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) at a clonal level using endogenous fluorescent tagging. Endogenous HSC had clone-specific functional attributes over time in vivo. The intra-clonal behaviors were highly stereotypic, conserved under the stress of transplantation, inflammation, and genotoxic injury, and associated with distinctive transcriptional, DNA methylation, and chromatin accessibility patterns. Further, HSC function corresponded to epigenetic configuration but not always to transcriptional state. Therefore, hematopoiesis under homeostatic and stress conditions represents the integrated action of highly heterogeneous clones of HSC with epigenetically scripted behaviors. This high degree of epigenetically driven cell autonomy among HSCs implies that refinement of the concepts of stem cell plasticity and of the stem cell niche is warranted.
Saini N, Roberts SA, Klimczak LJ, Chan K, Grimm SA, Dai S, Fargo DC, Boyer JC, Kaufmann WK, Taylor JA, Lee E, Cortes-Ciriano I, Park PJ, Schurman SH, Malc EP, Mieczkowski PA, Gordenin DA. The Impact of Environmental and Endogenous Damage on Somatic Mutation Load in Human Skin Fibroblasts. PLoS Genet 2016;12(10):e1006385.Abstract
Accumulation of somatic changes, due to environmental and endogenous lesions, in the human genome is associated with aging and cancer. Understanding the impacts of these processes on mutagenesis is fundamental to understanding the etiology, and improving the prognosis and prevention of cancers and other genetic diseases. Previous methods relying on either the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells, or sequencing of single-cell genomes were inherently error-prone and did not allow independent validation of the mutations. In the current study we eliminated these potential sources of error by high coverage genome sequencing of single-cell derived clonal fibroblast lineages, obtained after minimal propagation in culture, prepared from skin biopsies of two healthy adult humans. We report here accurate measurement of genome-wide magnitude and spectra of mutations accrued in skin fibroblasts of healthy adult humans. We found that every cell contains at least one chromosomal rearrangement and 600–13,000 base substitutions. The spectra and correlation of base substitutions with epigenomic features resemble many cancers. Moreover, because biopsies were taken from body parts differing by sun exposure, we can delineate the precise contributions of environmental and endogenous factors to the accrual of genetic changes within the same individual. We show here that UV-induced and endogenous DNA damage can have a comparable impact on the somatic mutation loads in skin fibroblasts. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01087307.
Tica J*, Lee E*, Untergasser A, Meiers S, Garfield DA, Gokcumen O, Furlong EEM, Park PJ, Stütz AM**, Korbel JO**. Next-generation sequencing-based detection of germline L1-mediated transductions. BMC Genomics 2016;17:342.Abstract
BACKGROUND: While active LINE-1 (L1) elements possess the ability to mobilize flanking sequences to different genomic loci through a process termed transduction influencing genomic content and structure, an approach for detecting polymorphic germline non-reference transductions in massively-parallel sequencing data has been lacking. RESULTS: Here we present the computational approach TIGER (Transduction Inference in GERmline genomes), enabling the discovery of non-reference L1-mediated transductions by combining L1 discovery with detection of unique insertion sequences and detailed characterization of insertion sites. We employed TIGER to characterize polymorphic transductions in fifteen genomes from non-human primate species (chimpanzee, orangutan and rhesus macaque), as well as in a human genome. We achieved high accuracy as confirmed by PCR and two single molecule DNA sequencing techniques, and uncovered differences in relative rates of transduction between primate species. CONCLUSIONS: By enabling detection of polymorphic transductions, TIGER makes this form of relevant structural variation amenable for population and personal genome analysis.
Evrony GD*, Lee E*, Park PJ**, Walsh CA**. Resolving rates of mutation in the brain using single-neuron genomics. Elife 2016;5Abstract
Whether somatic mutations contribute functional diversity to brain cells is a long-standing question. Single-neuron genomics enables direct measurement of somatic mutation rates in human brain and promises to answer this question. A recent study (Upton et al., 2015) reported high rates of somatic LINE-1 element (L1) retrotransposition in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex that would have major implications for normal brain function, and suggested that these events preferentially impact genes important for neuronal function. We identify aspects of the single-cell sequencing approach, bioinformatic analysis, and validation methods that led to thousands of artifacts being interpreted as somatic mutation events. Our reanalysis supports a mutation frequency of approximately 0.2 events per cell, which is about fifty-fold lower than reported, confirming that L1 elements mobilize in some human neurons but indicating that L1 mosaicism is not ubiquitous. Through consideration of the challenges identified, we provide a foundation and framework for designing single-cell genomics studies.
2015
Evrony GD*, Lee E*, Mehta BK, Benjamini Y, Johnson RM, Cai X, Yang L, Haseley P, Lehmann HS, Park PJ**, Walsh CA**. Cell lineage analysis in human brain using endogenous retroelements. Neuron 2015;85(1):49-59.Abstract
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. 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.
Jung H, Lee D, Lee J, Park D, Kim YJ, Park W-Y, Hong D**, Park PJ**, Lee E**. Intron retention is a widespread mechanism of tumor-suppressor inactivation. Nat Genet 2015;47(11):1242-8.Abstract
A substantial fraction of disease-causing mutations are pathogenic through aberrant splicing. Although genome profiling studies have identified somatic single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) in cancer, the extent to which these variants trigger abnormal splicing has not been systematically examined. Here we analyzed RNA sequencing and exome data from 1,812 patients with cancer and identified ∼900 somatic exonic SNVs that disrupt splicing. At least 163 SNVs, including 31 synonymous ones, were shown to cause intron retention or exon skipping in an allele-specific manner, with ∼70% of the SNVs occurring on the last base of exons. Notably, SNVs causing intron retention were enriched in tumor suppressors, and 97% of these SNVs generated a premature termination codon, leading to loss of function through nonsense-mediated decay or truncated protein. We also characterized the genomic features predictive of such splicing defects. Overall, this work demonstrates that intron retention is a common mechanism of tumor-suppressor inactivation.
Bersani F, Lee E, Kharchenko PV, Xu AW, Liu M, Xega K, MacKenzie OC, Brannigan BW, Wittner BS, Jung H, Ramaswamy S, Park PJ, Maheswaran S, Ting DT**, Haber DA**. Pericentromeric satellite repeat expansions through RNA-derived DNA intermediates in cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015;112(49):15148-53.Abstract
Aberrant transcription of the pericentromeric human satellite II (HSATII) repeat is present in a wide variety of epithelial cancers. In deriving experimental systems to study its deregulation, we observed that HSATII expression is induced in colon cancer cells cultured as xenografts or under nonadherent conditions in vitro, but it is rapidly lost in standard 2D cultures. Unexpectedly, physiological induction of endogenous HSATII RNA, as well as introduction of synthetic HSATII transcripts, generated cDNA intermediates in the form of DNA/RNA hybrids. Single molecule sequencing of tumor xenografts showed that HSATII RNA-derived DNA (rdDNA) molecules are stably incorporated within pericentromeric loci. Suppression of RT activity using small molecule inhibitors reduced HSATII copy gain. Analysis of whole-genome sequencing data revealed that HSATII copy number gain is a common feature in primary human colon tumors and is associated with a lower overall survival. Together, our observations suggest that cancer-associated derepression of specific repetitive sequences can promote their RNA-driven genomic expansion, with potential implications on pericentromeric architecture.
Lodato MA*, Woodworth MB*, Lee S*, Evrony GD, Mehta BK, Karger A, Lee S, Chittenden TW, D'Gama AM, Cai X, Luquette LJ, Lee E, Park PJ**, Walsh CA**. Somatic mutation in single human neurons tracks developmental and transcriptional history. Science 2015;350(6256):94-98.Abstract
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.
2014
Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (incl. Lee E). Integrated genomic characterization of papillary thyroid carcinoma. Cell 2014;159(3):676-90.Abstract
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is the most common type of thyroid cancer. Here, we describe the genomic landscape of 496 PTCs. We observed a low frequency of somatic alterations (relative to other carcinomas) and extended the set of known PTC driver alterations to include EIF1AX, PPM1D, and CHEK2 and diverse gene fusions. These discoveries reduced the fraction of PTC cases with unknown oncogenic driver from 25% to 3.5%. Combined analyses of genomic variants, gene expression, and methylation demonstrated that different driver groups lead to different pathologies with distinct signaling and differentiation characteristics. Similarly, we identified distinct molecular subgroups of BRAF-mutant tumors, and multidimensional analyses highlighted a potential involvement of oncomiRs in less-differentiated subgroups. Our results propose a reclassification of thyroid cancers into molecular subtypes that better reflect their underlying signaling and differentiation properties, which has the potential to improve their pathological classification and better inform the management of the disease.
Hoadley KA, Yau C, Wolf DM, Cherniack AD, Tamborero D, Ng S, Leiserson MDM, Niu B, McLellan MD, Uzunangelov V, Zhang J, Kandoth C, Akbani R, Shen H, Omberg L, Chu A, Margolin AA, Van't Veer LJ, Lopez-Bigas N, Laird PW, Raphael BJ, Ding L, Robertson GA, Byers LA, Mills GB, Weinstein JN, Van Waes C, Chen Z, Collisson EA, Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (incl. Lee E), Benz CC, Perou CM, Stuart JM. Multiplatform analysis of 12 cancer types reveals molecular classification within and across tissues of origin. Cell 2014;158(4):929-944.Abstract
Recent genomic analyses of pathologically defined tumor types identify "within-a-tissue" disease subtypes. However, the extent to which genomic signatures are shared across tissues is still unclear. We performed an integrative analysis using five genome-wide platforms and one proteomic platform on 3,527 specimens from 12 cancer types, revealing a unified classification into 11 major subtypes. Five subtypes were nearly identical to their tissue-of-origin counterparts, but several distinct cancer types were found to converge into common subtypes. Lung squamous, head and neck, and a subset of bladder cancers coalesced into one subtype typified by TP53 alterations, TP63 amplifications, and high expression of immune and proliferation pathway genes. Of note, bladder cancers split into three pan-cancer subtypes. The multiplatform classification, while correlated with tissue-of-origin, provides independent information for predicting clinical outcomes. All data sets are available for data-mining from a unified resource to support further biological discoveries and insights into novel therapeutic strategies.
Davis CF, Ricketts CJ, Wang M, Yang L, Cherniack AD, Shen H, Buhay C, Kang H, Kim SC, Fahey CC, Hacker KE, Bhanot G, Gordenin DA, Chu A, Gunaratne PH, Biehl M, Seth S, Kaipparettu BA, Bristow CA, Donehower LA, Wallen EM, Smith AB, Tickoo SK, Tamboli P, Reuter V, Schmidt LS, Hsieh JJ, Choueiri TK, Hakimi AA, The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (incl. Lee E), Chin L, Meyerson M, Kucherlapati R, Park W-Y, Robertson GA, Laird PW, Henske EP, Kwiatkowski DJ, Park PJ, Morgan M, Shuch B, Muzny D, Wheeler DA, Linehan MW, Gibbs RA, Rathmell KW, Creighton CJ. The somatic genomic landscape of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Cell 2014;26(3):319-330.Abstract
We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations.
2013
Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (incl. Lee E), Weinstein JN, Collisson EA, Mills GB, Shaw KMR, Ozenberger BA, Ellrott K, Shmulevich I, Sander C, Stuart JM. The Cancer Genome Atlas Pan-Cancer analysis project. Nat Genet 2013;45(10):1113-20.Abstract
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network has profiled and analyzed large numbers of human tumors to discover molecular aberrations at the DNA, RNA, protein and epigenetic levels. The resulting rich data provide a major opportunity to develop an integrated picture of commonalities, differences and emergent themes across tumor lineages. The Pan-Cancer initiative compares the first 12 tumor types profiled by TCGA. Analysis of the molecular aberrations and their functional roles across tumor types will teach us how to extend therapies effective in one cancer type to others with a similar genomic profile.
Gokcumen O, Tischler V, Tica J, Zhu Q, Iskow RC, Lee E, Fritz MH-Y, Langdon A, Stütz AM, Pavlidis P, Benes V, Mills RE, Park PJ, Lee C, Korbel JO. Primate genome architecture influences structural variation mechanisms and functional consequences. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2013;110(39):15764-9.Abstract
Although nucleotide resolution maps of genomic structural variants (SVs) have provided insights into the origin and impact of phenotypic diversity in humans, comparable maps in nonhuman primates have thus far been lacking. Using massively parallel DNA sequencing, we constructed fine-resolution genomic structural variation maps in five chimpanzees, five orang-utans, and five rhesus macaques. The SV maps, which are comprised of thousands of deletions, duplications, and mobile element insertions, revealed a high activity of retrotransposition in macaques compared with great apes. By comparison, nonallelic homologous recombination is specifically active in the great apes, which is correlated with architectural differences between the genomes of great apes and macaque. Transcriptome analyses across nonhuman primates and humans revealed effects of species-specific whole-gene duplication on gene expression. We identified 13 gene duplications coinciding with the species-specific gain of tissue-specific gene expression in keeping with a role of gene duplication in the promotion of diversification and the acquisition of unique functions. Differences in the present day activity of SV formation mechanisms that our study revealed may contribute to ongoing diversification and adaptation of great ape and Old World monkey lineages.
Brennan CW, Verhaak RGW, McKenna A, Campos B, Noushmehr H, Salama SR, Zheng S, Chakravarty D, Sanborn ZJ, Berman SH, Beroukhim R, Bernard B, Wu C-J, Genovese G, Shmulevich I, Barnholtz-Sloan J, Zou L, Vegesna R, Shukla SA, Ciriello G, Yung WK, Zhang W, Sougnez C, Mikkelsen T, Aldape K, Bigner DD, Van Meir EG, Prados M, Sloan A, Black KL, Eschbacher J, Finocchiaro G, Friedman W, Andrews DW, Guha A, Iacocca M, O'Neill BP, Foltz G, Myers J, Weisenberger DJ, Penny R, Kucherlapati R, Perou CM, Hayes ND, Gibbs R, Marra M, Mills GB, Lander E, Spellman P, Wilson R, Sander C, Weinstein J, Meyerson M, Gabriel S, Laird PW, Haussler D, Getz G, Chin L, TCGA Research Network (incl. Lee E). The somatic genomic landscape of glioblastoma. Cell 2013;155(2):462-77.Abstract
We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations based on multidimensional and comprehensive characterization of more than 500 glioblastoma tumors (GBMs). We identify several novel mutated genes as well as complex rearrangements of signature receptors, including EGFR and PDGFRA. TERT promoter mutations are shown to correlate with elevated mRNA expression, supporting a role in telomerase reactivation. Correlative analyses confirm that the survival advantage of the proneural subtype is conferred by the G-CIMP phenotype, and MGMT DNA methylation may be a predictive biomarker for treatment response only in classical subtype GBM. Integrative analysis of genomic and proteomic profiles challenges the notion of therapeutic inhibition of a pathway as an alternative to inhibition of the target itself. These data will facilitate the discovery of therapeutic and diagnostic target candidates, the validation of research and clinical observations and the generation of unanticipated hypotheses that can advance our molecular understanding of this lethal cancer.
2012
Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network (incl. Lee E). Comprehensive genomic characterization of squamous cell lung cancers. Nature 2012;489(7417):519-25.Abstract
Lung squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of lung cancer, causing approximately 400,000 deaths per year worldwide. Genomic alterations in squamous cell lung cancers have not been comprehensively characterized, and no molecularly targeted agents have been specifically developed for its treatment. As part of The Cancer Genome Atlas, here we profile 178 lung squamous cell carcinomas to provide a comprehensive landscape of genomic and epigenomic alterations. We show that the tumour type is characterized by complex genomic alterations, with a mean of 360 exonic mutations, 165 genomic rearrangements, and 323 segments of copy number alteration per tumour. We find statistically recurrent mutations in 11 genes, including mutation of TP53 in nearly all specimens. Previously unreported loss-of-function mutations are seen in the HLA-A class I major histocompatibility gene. Significantly altered pathways included NFE2L2 and KEAP1 in 34%, squamous differentiation genes in 44%, phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase pathway genes in 47%, and CDKN2A and RB1 in 72% of tumours. We identified a potential therapeutic target in most tumours, offering new avenues of investigation for the treatment of squamous cell lung cancers.
Cancer Genome Atlas Network (incl. Lee E). Comprehensive molecular characterization of human colon and rectal cancer. Nature 2012;487(7407):330-7.Abstract
To characterize somatic alterations in colorectal carcinoma, we conducted a genome-scale analysis of 276 samples, analysing exome sequence, DNA copy number, promoter methylation and messenger RNA and microRNA expression. A subset of these samples (97) underwent low-depth-of-coverage whole-genome sequencing. In total, 16% of colorectal carcinomas were found to be hypermutated: three-quarters of these had the expected high microsatellite instability, usually with hypermethylation and MLH1 silencing, and one-quarter had somatic mismatch-repair gene and polymerase ε (POLE) mutations. Excluding the hypermutated cancers, colon and rectum cancers were found to have considerably similar patterns of genomic alteration. Twenty-four genes were significantly mutated, and in addition to the expected APC, TP53, SMAD4, PIK3CA and KRAS mutations, we found frequent mutations in ARID1A, SOX9 and FAM123B. Recurrent copy-number alterations include potentially drug-targetable amplifications of ERBB2 and newly discovered amplification of IGF2. Recurrent chromosomal translocations include the fusion of NAV2 and WNT pathway member TCF7L1. Integrative analyses suggest new markers for aggressive colorectal carcinoma and an important role for MYC-directed transcriptional activation and repression.
Lee E, Iskow R, Yang L, Gokcumen O, Haseley P, Luquette LJ, Lohr JG, Harris CC, Ding L, Wilson RK, Wheeler DA, Gibbs RA, Kucherlapati R, Lee C, Kharchenko PV**, Park PJ**. Landscape of somatic retrotransposition in human cancers. Science 2012;337(6097):967-71.Abstract
Transposable elements (TEs) are abundant in the human genome, and some are capable of generating new insertions through RNA intermediates. In cancer, the disruption of cellular mechanisms that normally suppress TE activity may facilitate mutagenic retrotranspositions. We performed single-nucleotide resolution analysis of TE insertions in 43 high-coverage whole-genome sequencing data sets from five cancer types. We identified 194 high-confidence somatic TE insertions, as well as thousands of polymorphic TE insertions in matched normal genomes. Somatic insertions were present in epithelial tumors but not in blood or brain cancers. Somatic L1 insertions tend to occur in genes that are commonly mutated in cancer, disrupt the expression of the target genes, and are biased toward regions of cancer-specific DNA hypomethylation, highlighting their potential impact in tumorigenesis.
Evrony GD*, Cai X*, Lee E, Hills BL, Elhosary PC, Lehmann HS, Parker JJ, Atabay KD, Gilmore EC, Poduri A, Park PJ, Walsh CA. Single-neuron sequencing analysis of L1 retrotransposition and somatic mutation in the human brain. Cell 2012;151(3):483-96.Abstract
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.

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