Capturing Differential Allele-Level Expression and Genotypes of All Classical HLA Loci and Haplotypes by a New Capture RNA-Seq Method

Fumiko Yamamoto, Shingo Suzuki, Akiko Mizutani, Atsuko Shigenari, Sayaka Ito, Yoshie Kametani, Shunichi Kato, Marcelo Fernandez-Viña, Makoto Murata, Satoko Morishima, Yasuo Morishima, Masafumi Tanaka, Jerzy K. Kulski, Seiamak Bahram, Takashi Shiina

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The highly polymorphic human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) also known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) encodes class I and II genes that are the cornerstone of the adaptive immune system. Their unique diversity (>25,000 alleles) might affect the outcome of any transplant, infection, and susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. The recent rapid development of new next-generation sequencing (NGS) methods provides the opportunity to study the influence/correlation of this high level of HLA diversity on allele expression levels in health and disease. Here, we describe the NGS capture RNA-Seq method that we developed for genotyping all 12 classical HLA loci (HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-DPA1, HLA-DPB1, HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, HLA-DRA, HLA-DRB1, HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4, and HLA-DRB5) and assessing their allelic imbalance by quantifying their allele RNA levels. This is a target enrichment method where total RNA is converted to a sequencing-ready complementary DNA (cDNA) library and hybridized to a complex pool of RNA-specific HLA biotinylated oligonucleotide capture probes, prior to NGS. This method was applied to 161 peripheral blood mononuclear cells and 48 umbilical cord blood cells of healthy donors. The differential allelic expression of 10 HLA loci (except for HLA-DRA and HLA-DPA1) showed strong significant differences (P < 2.1 × 10−15). The results were corroborated by independent methods. This newly developed NGS method could be applied to a wide range of biological and medical questions including graft rejections and HLA-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number941
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2020


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