27th July 2017 - BioRxiv
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system is a gene family that encodes the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC). HLA-B is the most polymorphic gene in the MHC class I region, comprised of 4,765 HLA-B alleles (IPD-IMGT/HLA Database Release 3.28). Many HLA-B alleles have been associated with adverse drug reactions and disease risks, and we are interested in developing efficient methods for analysis of HLA alleles in this context. Here we describe an approach to HLA-B typing using multiplexed next generation sequencing on the MinION nanopore sequencer (Oxford Nanopore Technologies), combined with data analysis with the SeqNext-HLA software package (JSI Medical Systems GmbH, Ettenheim, Germany). The nanopore sequencer offers the advantages of long-read capability and single molecule reads, which can facilitate effective haplotyping. We developed this method using reference samples of known HLA-B type as well as individuals of New Zealand Māori or Pacific Island (Polynesian) descent, because HLA-B diversity in these populations is not well understood. We demonstrate here that nanopore sequencing of barcoded, pooled, 943 bp polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons of 49 DNA samples, on one R9.4 flowcell (Oxford Nanopore Technologies), generated ample read depth for all samples. Sequence analysis using SeqNext-HLA software assigned HLA-B alleles to all samples at high-resolution with very little ambiguity. Our PCR-based next generation sequencing method is a scaleable and efficient approach for genotyping HLA-B and potentially any other HLA locus. Finally, we report our findings on HLA-B genotypes of this cohort, which adds to our understanding of HLA-B allele frequencies among Māori and Polynesian people.