Publications by Year: 2018

Lodato MA*, Rodin RE*, Bohrson CL*, Coulter ME*, Barton AR*, Kwon M*, Sherman MA, Vitzthum CM, Luquette LJ, Yandava C, Yang P, Chittenden TW, Hatem NE, Ryu SC, Woodworth MB, Park PJ**, Walsh CA**. Aging and neurodegeneration are associated with increased mutations in single human neurons. Science 2018;359(6375):555-559.Abstract
It has long been hypothesized that aging and neurodegeneration are associated with somatic mutation in neurons; however, methodological hurdles have prevented testing this hypothesis directly. We used single-cell whole-genome sequencing to perform genome-wide somatic single-nucleotide variant (sSNV) identification on DNA from 161 single neurons from the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of fifteen normal individuals (aged 4 months to 82 years) as well as nine individuals affected by early-onset neurodegeneration due to genetic disorders of DNA repair (Cockayne syndrome and Xeroderma pigmentosum). sSNVs increased approximately linearly with age in both areas (with a higher rate in hippocampus) and were more abundant in neurodegenerative disease. The accumulation of somatic mutations with age-which we term genosenium-shows age-related, region-related, and disease-related molecular signatures, and may be important in other human age-associated conditions.
Kerpedjiev P, Abdennur N, Lekschas F, McCallum C, Dinkla K, Strobelt H, Luber JM, Ouellette SB, Azhir A, Kumar N, Hwang J, Lee S, Alver BH, Pfister H, Mirny LA, Park PJ, Gehlenborg N. HiGlass: web-based visual exploration and analysis of genome interaction maps. Genome Biol 2018;19(1):125.Abstract
We present HiGlass, an open source visualization tool built on web technologies that provides a rich interface for rapid, multiplex, and multiscale navigation of 2D genomic maps alongside 1D genomic tracks, allowing users to combine various data types, synchronize multiple visualization modalities, and share fully customizable views with others. We demonstrate its utility in exploring different experimental conditions, comparing the results of analyses, and creating interactive snapshots to share with collaborators and the broader public. HiGlass is accessible online at and is also available as a containerized application that can be run on any platform.
Fan J*, Lee HO*, Lee S, Ryu DE, Lee S, Xue C, Kim SJ, Kim K, Barkas N, Park PJ, Park WY, Karchenko PV. Linking transcriptional and genetic tumor heterogeneity through allele analysis of single-cell RNA-seq data. Genome Research 2018;28(8):1217-1227.Abstract
Characterization of intratumoral heterogeneity is critical to cancer therapy, as the presence of phenotypically diverse cell populations commonly fuels relapse and resistance to treatment. Although genetic variation is a well-studied source of intratumoral heterogeneity, the functional impact of most genetic alterations remains unclear. Even less understood is the relative importance of other factors influencing heterogeneity, such as epigenetic state or tumor microenvironment. To investigate the relationship between genetic and transcriptional heterogeneity in a context of cancer progression, we devised a computational approach called HoneyBADGER to identify copy number variation and loss of heterozygosity in individual cells from single-cell RNA-sequencing data. By integrating allele and normalized expression information, HoneyBADGER is able to identify and infer the presence of subclone-specific alterations in individual cells and reconstruct the underlying subclonal architecture. By examining several tumor types, we show that HoneyBADGER is effective at identifying deletions, amplifications, and copy-neutral loss-of-heterozygosity events and is capable of robustly identifying subclonal focal alterations as small as 10 megabases. We further apply HoneyBADGER to analyze single cells from a progressive multiple myeloma patient to identify major genetic subclones that exhibit distinct transcriptional signatures relevant to cancer progression. Other prominent transcriptional subpopulations within these tumors did not line up with the genetic subclonal structure and were likely driven by alternative, nonclonal mechanisms. These results highlight the need for integrative analysis to understand the molecular and phenotypic heterogeneity in cancer.
Zhang L, Ettou S, Khalid M, Taglienti M, Jain D, Jung YL, Seager C, Liu Y, Ng KH, Park PJ, Kreidberg JA. EED, a member of the polycomb group, is required for nephron differentiation and the maintenance of nephron progenitor cells. Development 2018;145(14)Abstract
Epigenetic regulation of gene expression has a crucial role allowing for the self-renewal and differentiation of stem and progenitor populations during organogenesis. The mammalian kidney maintains a population of self-renewing stem cells that differentiate to give rise to thousands of nephrons, which are the functional units that carry out filtration to maintain physiological homeostasis. The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) epigenetically represses gene expression during development by placing the H3K27me3 mark on histone H3 at promoter and enhancer sites, resulting in gene silencing. To understand the role of PRC2 in nephron differentiation, we conditionally inactivated the Eed gene, which encodes a nonredundant component of the PRC2 complex, in nephron progenitor cells. Resultant kidneys were smaller and showed premature loss of progenitor cells. The progenitors in Eedmutant mice that were induced to differentiate did not develop into properly formed nephrons. Lhx1, normally expressed in the renal vesicle, was overexpressed in kidneys of Eed mutant mice. Thus, PRC2 has a crucial role in suppressing the expression of genes that maintain the progenitor state, allowing nephron differentiation to proceed.
Holm IA, Agrawal PB, Ceyhan-Birsoy O, Christensen KD, Fayer S, Frankel LA, Genetti CA, Krier JB, LaMay RC, Levy HL, McGuire AL, Parad RB, Park PJ, Pereira S, Rehm HL, Schwartz TS, Waisbren SE, Yu TW, Team BSP, Green RC, Beggs AH. The BabySeq project: implementing genomic sequencing in newborns. BMC Pediatrics 2018;18(1):225.Abstract


The greatest opportunity for lifelong impact of genomic sequencing is during the newborn period. The "BabySeq Project" is a randomized trial that explores the medical, behavioral, and economic impacts of integrating genomic sequencing into the care of healthy and sick newborns.


Families of newborns are enrolled from Boston Children's Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital nurseries, and half are randomized to receive genomic sequencing and a report that includes monogenic disease variants, recessive carrier variants for childhood onset or actionable disorders, and pharmacogenomic variants. All families participate in a disclosure session, which includes the return of results for those in the sequencing arm. Outcomes are collected through review of medical records and surveys of parents and health care providers and include the rationale for choice of genes and variants to report; what genomic data adds to the medical management of sick and healthy babies; and the medical, behavioral, and economic impacts of integrating genomic sequencing into the care of healthy and sick newborns.


The BabySeq Project will provide empirical data about the risks, benefits and costs of newborn genomic sequencing and will inform policy decisions related to universal genomic screening of newborns.


The study is registered in Identifier: NCT02422511 . Registration date: 10 April 2015.


Ethical, legal, social implications; Methods; Newborn screening; Newborn sequencing; Randomized trial; Whole exome sequencing

Zhang Y, Yang L, Kucherlapati M, Chen F, Hadjipanayis A, Pantazi A, Bristow CA, Lee EA, Mahadeshwar HS, Tang J, Zhang J, Seth S, Lee S, Ren X, Song X, Sun H, Seidman J, Luquette LJ, Xi R, Chin L, Protopopov A, Li W, Park PJ, Kucherlapati R, Creighton CJ. A Pan-Cancer Compendium of Genes Deregulated by Somatic Genomic Rearrangement across More Than 1,400 Cases. Cell Reports 2018;24(2):515-527.Abstract
A systematic cataloging of genes affected by genomic rearrangement, using multiple patient cohorts and cancer types, can provide insight into cancer-relevant alterations outside of exomes. By integrative analysis of whole-genome sequencing (predominantly low pass) and gene expression data from 1,448 cancers involving 18 histopathological types in The Cancer Genome Atlas, we identified hundreds of genes for which the nearby presence (within 100 kb) of a somatic structural variant (SV) breakpoint is associated with altered expression. While genomic rearrangements are associated with widespread copy-number alteration (CNA) patterns, approximately 1,100 genes-including overexpressed cancer driver genes (e.g., TERT, ERBB2, CDK12, CDK4) and underexpressed tumor suppressors (e.g., TP53, RB1, PTEN, STK11)-show SV-associated deregulation independent of CNA. SVs associated with the disruption of topologically associated domains, enhancer hijacking, or fusion transcripts are implicated in gene upregulation. For cancer-relevant pathways, SVs considerably expand our understanding of how genes are affected beyond point mutation or CNA.
Dou Y*, Gold HD*, Luquette LJ*, Park PJ. Detecting Somatic Mutations in Normal Cells. Trends in Genetics 2018;35(7):545-557.Abstract
Somatic mutations have been studied extensively in the context of cancer. Recent studies have demonstrated that high-throughput sequencing data can be used to detect somatic mutations in non-tumor cells. Analysis of such mutations allows us to better understand the mutational processes in normal cells, explore cell lineages in development, and examine potential associations with age-related disease. We describe here approaches for characterizing somatic mutations in normal and non-tumor disease tissues. We discuss several experimental designs and common pitfalls in somatic mutation detection, as well as more recent developments such as phasing and linked-read technology. With the dramatically increasing numbers of samples undergoing genome sequencing, bioinformatic analysis will enable the characterization of somatic mutations and their impact on non-cancer tissues.
Bailey MH, Tokheim C, Porta-Pardo E, Sengupta S, Bertrand D, Weerasinghe A, Colaprico A, Wendl MC, Kim J, Reardon B, Ng PK, Jeong KJ, Cao S, Wang Z, Gao J, Gao Q, Wang F, Liu EM, Mularoni L, Rubio-Perez C, Nagarajan N, Cortes-Ciriano I, Zhou DC, Liang WW, Hess JM, Yellapantula VD, Tamborero D, Gonzalez-Perez A, Suphavilai C, Ko JY, Khurana E, Park PJ, Van Allen EM, Liang H, Group MC3 W, Group MC3 W, Lawrence MS, Godzik A, N. L-B, Stuart J, Wheeler D, Getz G, Chen K, Lazar AJ, Mills GB, Karchin R, Ding L. Comprehensive Characterization of Cancer Driver Genes and Mutations. Cell 2018;173(2):371-385.Abstract
Identifying molecular cancer drivers is critical for precision oncology. Multiple advanced algorithms to identify drivers now exist, but systematic attempts to combine and optimize them on large datasets are few. We report a PanCancer and PanSoftware analysis spanning 9,423 tumor exomes (comprising all 33 of The Cancer Genome Atlas projects) and using 26 computational tools to catalog driver genes and mutations. We identify 299 driver genes with implications regarding their anatomical sites and cancer/cell types. Sequence- and structure-based analyses identified >3,400 putative missense driver mutations supported by multiple lines of evidence. Experimental validation confirmed 60%-85% of predicted mutations as likely drivers. We found that >300 MSI tumors are associated with high PD-1/PD-L1, and 57% of tumors analyzed harbor putative clinically actionable events. Our study represents the most comprehensive discovery of cancer genes and mutations to date and will serve as a blueprint for future biological and clinical endeavors.
Sherman MA, Barton AR, Lodato MA, Vitzthum C, Coulter ME, Walsh CA, Park PJ. PaSD-qc: quality control for single cell whole-genome sequencing data using power spectral density estimation. Nucleic Acids Research 2018;46(4):e20.Abstract
Single cell whole-genome sequencing (scWGS) is providing novel insights into the nature of genetic heterogeneity in normal and diseased cells. However, the whole-genome amplification process required for scWGS introduces biases into the resulting sequencing that can confound downstream analysis. Here, we present a statistical method, with an accompanying package PaSD-qc (Power Spectral Density-qc), that evaluates the properties and quality of single cell libraries. It uses a modified power spectral density to assess amplification uniformity, amplicon size distribution, autocovariance and inter-sample consistency as well as to identify chromosomes with aberrant read-density profiles due either to copy alterations or poor amplification. These metrics provide a standard way to compare the quality of single cell samples as well as yield information necessary to improve variant calling strategies. We demonstrate the usefulness of this tool in comparing the properties of scWGS protocols, identifying potential chromosomal copy number variation, determining chromosomal and subchromosomal regions of poor amplification, and selecting high-quality libraries from low-coverage data for deep sequencing. The software is available free and open-source at