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37   Genomic improvement of the horse X chromosome and characterization of the pseudoautosomal boundary

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 2021
Jevit M. et al

The horse reference genome has been improved with the release of EquCab3 and the first Y chromosome reference. The most complex sequences, such as those in the sex chromosomes, are still unresolved. These include large amplicons, repeats, and the pseudoautosomal boundary (PAB). We initiated a comprehensive study specifically to improve the assembly of the horse sex chromosomes. To refine the assembly of complex regions, we are utilizing 3 new technologies: trio-binning, Hi-C and Bionano optical mapping. Trio-binning uses long read sequences from F1 interspecific hybrids and short reads from parent species. High molecular weight blood DNA was extracted from a female hinny and sequenced on 2 PacBio Sequel cells. Paired-end Illumina reads (150bp) for horse (Twilight) and donkey (Willy) were obtained from SRA. These sequences as well as the hinny long reads were assembled with trio-binning function of the Canu assembler program. The initial assembly is 2.5 Gb separated into 1,757 contigs with an N50 of 41.5 Mb. We have completed Hi-C sequencing and Bionano optical maps for one thoroughbred stallion (Bravo). Both technologies are needed to scaffold the trio-binning Canu assembly. Our initial goal was to use this assembly to better define the PAB in the horse. The PAB demarcates the end of the pseudoautosomal region (PAR) where X-Y recombination stops. Despite the evolutionary and biological importance of the PAB, the region has been characterized at molecular level in only a few species. The PAB of the horse is presently not well defined. Previously, we identified and Sanger sequenced 4 BAC clones – 2 spanning PAB-X and PAB-Y. To identify the PAB of the horse, BAC sequences were aligned to the Y assembly, EquCab3 and a 42 Mb-size contig from trio-binning assembly which corresponds to the short arm of the X. We identified a region on both X and Y where X-Y homology drops from over 97% (PAR) to almost zero, indicative of the PAB. This region corresponds to the location of the XKR3Y gene in the Y but is not well-annotated in the X. We also identified a duplication and an inversion in EquCab3 which was not consistent with the corresponding region in the X-BACs, or the new 42 Mb Xp contig, suggesting a mis-assembly in EquCab3. We believe that these approaches combined will also resolve other complex and repetitive portions in the horse sex chromosomes.




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