Allele-specific quantification of human leukocyte antigen transcript isoforms by nanopore sequencing

Andrew E.O. Hughes, Maureen C. Montgomery, Chang Liu, Eric T. Weimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: While tens of thousands of HLA alleles have been identified by DNA sequencing, the contribution of alternative splicing to HLA diversity is not well characterized. In this study, we sought to determine if long-read sequencing could be used to accurately quantify allele-specific HLA transcripts in primary human lymphocytes. Methods: cDNA libraries were prepared from peripheral blood lymphocytes from 12 donors and sequenced by nanopore long-read sequencing. HLA reads were aligned to donor-specific reference sequences based on the known type of each donor. Allele-specific exon utilization was calculated as the proportion of reads aligning to each allele containing known exons, and transcript isoforms were quantified based on patterns of exon utilization within individual reads. Results: Splice variants were rare among class I HLA genes (median exon retention rate 99%–100%), except for several HLA-C alleles with exon 5 spliced out of up to 15% of reads. Splice variants were also rare among class II HLA genes (median exon retention rate 98%–100%), except for HLA-DQB1. Consistent with previous work, exon 5 of HLA-DQB1 was spliced out in alleles with a mutated splice acceptor site at rs28688207. Surprisingly, a 28% loss of exon 5 was also observed in HLA-DQB1 alleles with an intact splice acceptor site at rs28688207. Discussion: We describe a simple bioinformatic workflow to quantify allele-specific expression of HLA transcript isoforms. Further studies are warranted to characterize the repertoire of HLA transcripts expressed in different cell types and tissues across diverse populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1199618
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - 2023


  • allele-specific expression
  • human leukocyte antigen (HLA)
  • long-read sequencing
  • nanopore sequencing
  • transcript isoforms


Dive into the research topics of 'Allele-specific quantification of human leukocyte antigen transcript isoforms by nanopore sequencing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this