Development and application of a next-generation sequencing protocol and bioinformatics pipeline for the comprehensive analysis of the canine immunoglobulin repertoire.
Profiling the adaptive immune repertoire using next generation sequencing (NGS) has become common in human medicine, showing promise in characterizing clonal expansion of B cell clones through analysis of B cell receptors (BCRs) in patients with lymphoid malignancies. In contrast, most work evaluating BCR repertoires in dogs has employed traditional PCR-based approaches analyzing the IGH locus only. The objectives of this study were to: (1) describe a novel NGS protocol to evaluate canine BCRs; (2) develop a bioinformatics pipeline for processing canine BCR sequencing data; and (3) apply these methods to derive insights into BCR repertoires of healthy dogs and dogs undergoing treatment for B-cell lymphoma. RNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of healthy dogs (n = 25) and dogs newly diagnosed with intermediate-to-large B-cell lymphoma (n = 18) with intent to pursue chemotherapy was isolated, converted into cDNA and sequenced by NGS. The BCR repertoires were identified and quantified using a novel analysis pipeline. The IGK repertoires of the healthy dogs were far less diverse compared to IGL which, as with IGH, was highly diverse. Strong biases at key positions within the CDR3 sequence were identified within the healthy dog BCR repertoire. For a subset of the dogs with B-cell lymphoma, clonal expansion of specific IGH sequences pre-treatment and reduction post-treatment was observed. The degree of expansion and reduction correlated with the clinical outcome in this subset. Future studies employing these techniques may improve disease monitoring, provide earlier recognition of disease progression, and ultimately lead to more targeted therapeutics.