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Plasma DNA aberrations in systemic lupus erythematosus revealed by genomic and methylomic sequencing

We performed a high-resolution analysis of the biological characteristics of plasma DNA in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients using massively parallel genomic and methylomic sequencing. A number of plasma DNA abnormalities were found. First, aberrations in measured genomic representations (MGRs) were identified in the plasma DNA of SLE patients. The extent of the aberrations in MGRs correlated with anti-double–stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody level. Second, the plasma DNA of active SLE patients exhibited skewed molecular size-distribution profiles with a significantly increased proportion of short DNA fragments. The extent of plasma DNA shortening in SLE patients correlated with the SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI) and anti-dsDNA antibody level. Third, the plasma DNA of active SLE patients showed decreased methylation densities. The extent of hypomethylation correlated with SLEDAI and anti-dsDNA antibody level. To explore the impact of anti-dsDNA antibody on plasma DNA in SLE, a column-based protein G capture approach was used to fractionate the IgG-bound and non–IgG-bound DNA in plasma. Compared with healthy individuals, SLE patients had higher concentrations of IgG-bound DNA in plasma. More IgG binding occurs at genomic locations showing increased MGRs. Furthermore, the IgG-bound plasma DNA was shorter in size and more hypomethylated than the non–IgG-bound plasma DNA. These observations have enhanced our understanding of the spectrum of plasma DNA aberrations in SLE and may provide new molecular markers for SLE. Our results also suggest that caution should be exercised when interpreting plasma DNA-based noninvasive prenatal testing and cancer testing conducted for SLE patients.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001001093 Illumina HiSeq 2000 2
Publications Citations
Plasma DNA aberrations in systemic lupus erythematosus revealed by genomic and methylomic sequencing.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111: 2014 E5302-11
Fragmentation landscape of cell-free DNA revealed by deconvolutional analysis of end motifs.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120: 2023 e2220982120