The landscape of genomic structural variation in Indigenous Australians

Andre L.M. Reis, Melissa Rapadas, Jillian M. Hammond, Hasindu Gamaarachchi, Igor Stevanovski, Meutia Ayuputeri Kumaheri, Sanjog R. Chintalaphani, Duminda S.B. Dissanayake, Owen M. Siggs, Alex W. Hewitt, Bastien Llamas, Alex Brown, Gareth Baynam, Graham J. Mann, Brendan J. McMorran, Simon Easteal, Azure Hermes, Misty R. Jenkins, Glen Pearson, Yvette RoeJanine Mohamed, Ben Murray, Lyndon Ormond-Parker, Erica Kneipp, Keith Nugent, Graham Mann, Hardip R. Patel, Ira W. Deveson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Indigenous Australians harbour rich and unique genomic diversity. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestries are historically under-represented in genomics research and almost completely missing from reference datasets 1–3. Addressing this representation gap is critical, both to advance our understanding of global human genomic diversity and as a prerequisite for ensuring equitable outcomes in genomic medicine. Here we apply population-scale whole-genome long-read sequencing 4 to profile genomic structural variation across four remote Indigenous communities. We uncover an abundance of large insertion–deletion variants (20–49 bp; n = 136,797), structural variants (50 b–50 kb; n = 159,912) and regions of variable copy number (>50 kb; n = 156). The majority of variants are composed of tandem repeat or interspersed mobile element sequences (up to 90%) and have not been previously annotated (up to 62%). A large fraction of structural variants appear to be exclusive to Indigenous Australians (12% lower-bound estimate) and most of these are found in only a single community, underscoring the need for broad and deep sampling to achieve a comprehensive catalogue of genomic structural variation across the Australian continent. Finally, we explore short tandem repeats throughout the genome to characterize allelic diversity at 50 known disease loci 5, uncover hundreds of novel repeat expansion sites within protein-coding genes, and identify unique patterns of diversity and constraint among short tandem repeat sequences. Our study sheds new light on the dimensions and dynamics of genomic structural variation within and beyond Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-610
Number of pages9
Issue number7992
Early online date13 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2023


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