PB-Motif—A Method for Identifying Gene/Pseudogene Rearrangements With Long Reads: An Application to CYP21A2 Genotyping

Zachary Stephens, Dragana Milosevic, Benjamin Kipp, Stefan Grebe, Ravishankar K. Iyer, Jean Pierre A. Kocher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long read sequencing technologies have the potential to accurately detect and phase variation in genomic regions that are difficult to fully characterize with conventional short read methods. These difficult to sequence regions include several clinically relevant genes with highly homologous pseudogenes, many of which are prone to gene conversions or other types of complex structural rearrangements. We present PB-Motif, a new method for identifying rearrangements between two highly homologous genomic regions using PacBio long reads. PB-Motif leverages clustering and filtering techniques to efficiently report rearrangements in the presence of sequencing errors and other systematic artifacts. Supporting reads for each high-confidence rearrangement can then be used for copy number estimation and phased variant calling. First, we demonstrate PB-Motif's accuracy with simulated sequence rearrangements of PMS2 and its pseudogene PMS2CL using simulated reads sweeping over a range of sequencing error rates. We then apply PB-Motif to 26 clinical samples, characterizing CYP21A2 and its pseudogene CYP21A1P as part of a diagnostic assay for congenital adrenal hyperplasia. We successfully identify damaging variation and patient carrier status concordant with clinical diagnosis obtained from multiplex ligation-dependent amplification (MLPA) and Sanger sequencing. The source code is available at: github.com/zstephens/pb-motif.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number716586
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
StatePublished - Jul 28 2021


  • bioinformatics
  • computational biology
  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • CYP21A2
  • long reads
  • pseudogene
  • structural variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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