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Genomic diversity associated with polymorphic inversions in humans and their close relatives

Höps, Wolfram Gregor Alexander

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Individuals of one species share the bulk of their genetic material, yet no two genomes are the same. Aside from displaying classical variation such as deletions, insertions, or substitutions of base pairs, two DNA segments can also differ in their orientation relative to the rest of their chromosomes. Such inversions are known for a range of biological implications and contribute critically to genome evolution and disease. However, inversions are notoriously challenging to detect, a fact which still impedes comprehensive analysis of their specific properties. This thesis describes several highly inter-connected projects aimed at identifying and functionally characterizing inversions present in the human population and related great ape species. First, inversions between human and four great ape species were assessed for their potential to disrupt topologically associating domains (TADs), potentially prompting gene misregulation. TAD boundaries co-located with breakpoints of long inversions, and while disrupted TADs displayed elevated rates of differen- tially expressed genes, this effect could be attributed the vicinity to inversion breakpoints, suggesting overall robustness of gene expression in response to TAD disruption. The second part of this thesis describes contributions to a collaborative project aimed at characterizing the full spectrum of inversions in 43 humans. In this study, I co-developed a novel inversion genotyping algorithm based on Strand- specific DNA sequencing and contributed to the description of 398 inversion polymorphisms. Inversions exhibited various underlying formation mechanisms, promotion of gene dysregulation, widespread recurrence, and association with genomic disease. These results suggest that long inversions are much more prominent in humans than previously thought, with at least 0.6% of the genome subject to inversion recurrence and, sometimes, the associated risk of subsequent deleterious mutation. With a focus on the link between inversions and disease-causing copy num- ber variations, the last project describes a novel algorithm to identify loci hit sequentially by several overlapping mutation events. This algorithm enabled the description of detailed mutation sequences in 20 highly dynamic regions in the human genome, and additional complex variants on chromosome Y. Six complex loci associate directly with a genomic disease, thereby highlighting in detail the intrinsic link between inversions and CNVs. In summary, these projects provide novel insights into the landscape of in- versions in humans and primates, which are much more frequent, and often more complex than previously thought. These findings provide a basis for future inversion studies and highlight the crucial contribution of this class of mutation to genome variation.

Document type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Korbel, Dr. Jan
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 22 March 2023
Date Deposited: 31 May 2023 05:39
Date: 2023
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Bio Sciences > Dean's Office of the Faculty of Bio Sciences
DDC-classification: 500 Natural sciences and mathematics
570 Life sciences
Controlled Keywords: Genomik, Genetische Variabilität
Uncontrolled Keywords: Genomische Strukturvarianten
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