High-resolution, high-throughput HLA genotyping by next-generation sequencing


Henry A. Erlich, PhD
Department of Human Genetics
Roche Molecular Systems
Inc., 4300 Hacienda Drive
CA 94588
Tel: +1 925 730 8630
Fax: +1 925 225 0763
e-mail: henry.erlich@roche.com


The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and class II loci are the most polymorphic genes in the human genome. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation requires allele-level HLA typing at multiple loci to select the best matched unrelated donors for recipient patients. In current methods for HLA typing, both alleles of a heterozygote are amplified and typed or sequenced simultaneously, often making it difficult to unambiguously determine the sequence of the two alleles. Next-generation sequencing methods clonally propagate in parallel millions of single DNA molecules, which are then also sequenced in parallel. Recently, the read lengths obtainable by one such next-generation sequencing method (454 Life Sciences, Inc.) have increased to >250 nucleotides. These clonal read lengths make possible setting the phase of the linked polymorphisms within an exon and thus the unambiguous determination of the sequence of each HLA allele. Here we demonstrate this capacity as well as show that the throughput of the system is sufficiently high to enable a complete, 7-locus HLA class I and II typing for 24 or 48 individual DNAs in a single GS FLX sequencing run. Highly multiplexed amplicon sequencing is facilitated by the use of sample-specific internal sequence tags (multiplex identification tags or MIDs) in the primers that allow pooling of samples yet maintain the ability to assign sequences to specific individuals. We have incorporated an HLA typing software application developed by Conexio Genomics (Freemantle, Australia) that assigns HLA genotypes for these 7 loci (HLA-A, -B, -C, DRB1, DQA1, DQB1, DPB1), as well as for DRB3, DRB4, and DRB5 from 454 sequence data. The potential of this HLA sequencing system to analyze chimeric mixtures is demonstrated here by the detection of a rare HLA-B allele in a mixture of two homozygous cell lines (1/100), as well as by the detection of the rare nontransmitted maternal allele present in the blood of a severe combined immunodeficiency disease syndrome (SCIDS) patient.