High-throughput immune repertoire sequencing has emerged as a critical step in the understanding of adaptive responses following infection or vaccination or in autoimmunity. However, determination of native antibody variable heavy-light pairs (VH-VL pairs) remains a major challenge, and no technologies exist to adequately interrogate the >1 × 106 B cells in typical specimens. We developed a low-cost, single-cell, emulsion-based technology for sequencing antibody VH-VL repertoires from >2 × 106 B cells per experiment with demonstrated pairing precision >97%. A simple flow-focusing apparatus was used to sequester single B cells into emulsion droplets containing lysis buffer and magnetic beads for mRNA capture; subsequent emulsion RT-PCR generated VH-VL amplicons for next-generation sequencing. Massive VH-VL repertoire analyses of three human donors provided new immunological insights including (i) the identity, frequency and pairing propensity of shared, or 'public', VL genes, (ii) the detection of allelic inclusion (an implicated autoimmune mechanism) in healthy individuals and (iii) the occurrence of antibodies with features, in terms of gene usage and CDR3 length, associated with broadly neutralizing antibodies to rapidly evolving viruses such as HIV-1 and influenza.
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Sequence Read Archive
We thank C. Berkland, M. Singh and N. Dormer for critical help and advice. We thank B. Iverson and D. Derryberry for insightful feedback, M. Ronalter, C. Das, M. Wirth and Y. Wine for help with experiments, J. Lavinder for reviewing the manuscript, O. Lungu for help with data analysis, B. Briney for sharing an unpublished primer sequence, L. Morris (National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service, South Africa) and P. Kwong (Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, USA) for sharing CAP256 samples, C. McHenry for PacBio sequencing, and J. Wheeler and S. Hunicke-Smith for Illumina MiSeq sequencing. This work was funded by fellowships to B.J.D. from the Hertz Foundation, the University of Texas Donald D. Harrington Foundation and the National Science Foundation, and by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) HDTRA1-12-C-0105 (G.G.). A.D.E. would like to acknowledge funding from US National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship (FA9550-10-1-0169) and grants from the DTRA (HDTRA1-12-C-0007) and the Welch Foundation (F-1654). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsors.
FASTA file containing allelically included pairs observed in all donors
FASTA file containing allelically included pairs with stop codons
FASTA file containing full-length VH:VL sequences from PacBio data that encoded VRC26-class antibodies
FASTA file containing Sanger sequences of VH and VL plasmids used in HEK293 transfections
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Recombinant human B cell repertoires enable screening for rare, specific, and natively paired antibodies
Communications Biology (2018)