Journal article Open Access

The landscape of SNCA transcripts across synucleinopathies: New insights from long reads sequencing analysis

Tseng, Elizabeth; Rowell, William J; Omolara-Chinue, Glenn; Hong, Ting; Barrera, Julio; Kujawa, Steve; Chiba-Falek, Ornit

Dysregulation of alpha-synuclein expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, in particular, Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Previous studies have shown that the alternatively spliced isoforms of the SNCA gene are differentially expressed in different parts of the brain for PD and DLB patients. Similarly, SNCA isoforms with skipped exons can have a functional impact on the protein domains. The large intronic region of the SNCA gene was also shown to harbor structural variants that affect transcriptional levels. Here we apply the first study of using long read sequencing with targeted capture of both the gDNA and cDNA of the SNCA gene in brain tissues of PD, DLB, and control samples using the PacBio Sequel system. The targeted full-length cDNA (Iso-Seq) data confirmed complex usage of known alternative start sites and variable 3' UTR lengths, as well as novel 5' starts and 3' ends not previously described. The targeted gDNA data allowed phasing of up to 81% of the ~114kb SNCA region, with the longest phased block exceeding 54 kb. We demonstrate that long gDNA and cDNA reads have the potential to reveal long-range information not previously accessible using traditional sequencing methods. This approach has a potential impact in studying disease risk genes such as SNCA, providing new insights into the genetic etiologies, including perturbations to the landscape the gene transcripts, of human complex diseases such as synucleinopathies.

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