June 1, 2021  |  

Cogent: Reconstructing the coding genome from full-length transcriptome sequences

For highly complex and large genomes, a well-annotated genome may be computationally challenging and costly, yet the study of alternative splicing events and gene annotations usually rely on the existence of a genome. Long-read sequencing technology provides new opportunities to sequence full-length cDNAs, avoiding computational challenges that short read transcript assembly brings. The use of single molecule, real-time sequencing from Pacific Biosciences to sequence transcriptomes (the Iso-SeqTM method), which produces de novo, high-quality, full-length transcripts, has revealed an astonishing amount of alternative splicing in eukaryotic species. With the Iso-Seq method, it is now possible to reconstruct the transcribed regions of the genome using just the transcripts themselves. We present Cogent, a tool for finding gene families and reconstructing the coding genome in the absence of a reference genome. Cogent uses k-mer similarities to first partition the transcripts into different gene families. Then, for each gene family, the transcripts are used to build a splice graph. Cogent identifies bubbles resulting from sequencing errors, minor variants, and exon skipping events, and attempts to resolve each splice graph down to the minimal set of reconstructed contigs. We apply Cogent to a Cuttlefish Iso-Seq dataset, for which there is a highly fragmented, Illumina-based draft genome assembly and little annotation. We show that Cogent successfully discovers gene families and can reconstruct the coding region of gene loci. The reconstructed contigs can then be used to visualize alternative splicing events, identify minor variants, and even be used to improve genome assemblies.


September 22, 2019  |  

A chromosome conformation capture ordered sequence of the barley genome.

Cereal grasses of the Triticeae tribe have been the major food source in temperate regions since the dawn of agriculture. Their large genomes are characterized by a high content of repetitive elements and large pericentromeric regions that are virtually devoid of meiotic recombination. Here we present a high-quality reference genome assembly for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). We use chromosome conformation capture mapping to derive the linear order of sequences across the pericentromeric space and to investigate the spatial organization of chromatin in the nucleus at megabase resolution. The composition of genes and repetitive elements differs between distal and proximal regions. Gene family analyses reveal lineage-specific duplications of genes involved in the transport of nutrients to developing seeds and the mobilization of carbohydrates in grains. We demonstrate the importance of the barley reference sequence for breeding by inspecting the genomic partitioning of sequence variation in modern elite germplasm, highlighting regions vulnerable to genetic erosion.


September 22, 2019  |  

Distinguishing highly similar gene isoforms with a clustering-based bioinformatics analysis of PacBio single-molecule long reads.

Gene isoforms are commonly found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Since each isoform may perform a specific function in response to changing environmental conditions, studying the dynamics of gene isoforms is important in understanding biological processes and disease conditions. However, genome-wide identification of gene isoforms is technically challenging due to the high degree of sequence identity among isoforms. Traditional targeted sequencing approach, involving Sanger sequencing of plasmid-cloned PCR products, has low throughput and is very tedious and time-consuming. Next-generation sequencing technologies such as Illumina and 454 achieve high throughput but their short read lengths are a critical barrier to accurate assembly of highly similar gene isoforms, and may result in ambiguities and false joining during sequence assembly. More recently, the third generation sequencer represented by the PacBio platform offers sufficient throughput and long reads covering the full length of typical genes, thus providing a potential to reliably profile gene isoforms. However, the PacBio long reads are error-prone and cannot be effectively analyzed by traditional assembly programs.We present a clustering-based analysis pipeline integrated with PacBio sequencing data for profiling highly similar gene isoforms. This approach was first evaluated in comparison to de novo assembly of 454 reads using a benchmark admixture containing 10 known, cloned msg genes encoding the major surface glycoprotein of Pneumocystis jirovecii. All 10 msg isoforms were successfully reconstructed with the expected length (~1.5 kb) and correct sequence by the new approach, while 454 reads could not be correctly assembled using various assembly programs. When using an additional benchmark admixture containing 22 known P. jirovecii msg isoforms, this approach accurately reconstructed all but 4 these isoforms in their full-length (~3 kb); these 4 isoforms were present in low concentrations in the admixture. Finally, when applied to the original clinical sample from which the 22 known msg isoforms were cloned, this approach successfully identified not only all known isoforms accurately (~3 kb each) but also 48 novel isoforms.PacBio sequencing integrated with the clustering-based analysis pipeline achieves high-throughput and high-resolution discrimination of highly similar sequences, and can serve as a new approach for genome-wide characterization of gene isoforms and other highly repetitive sequences.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio sequencing of gene families – a case study with wheat gluten genes.

Amino acids in wheat (Triticum aestivum) seeds mainly accumulate in storage proteins called gliadins and glutenins. Gliadins contain a/ß-, ?- and ?-types whereas glutenins contain HMW- and LMW-types. Known gliadin and glutenin sequences were largely determined through cloning and sequencing by capillary electrophoresis. This time-consuming process prevents us to intensively study the variation of each orthologous gene copy among cultivars. The throughput and sequencing length of Pacific Bioscience RS (PacBio) single molecule sequencing platform make it feasible to construct contiguous and non-chimeric RNA sequences. We assembled 424 wheat storage protein transcripts from ten wheat cultivars by using just one single-molecule-real-time cell. The protein genes from wheat cultivar Chinese Spring are comparable to known sequences from NCBI. We demonstrated real-time sequencing of gene families with high-throughput and low-cost. This method can be applied to studies of gene amplification and copy number variation among species and cultivars. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio for haplotyping in gene families.

The throughput and read length provided by Pacific Bioscience (PacBio) Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing platform makes it feasible to construct contiguous, non-chimeric sequences. This is especially useful for genes with repetitive sequences in their gene bodies in gene families. We illustrate the use of PacBio to sequence and assemble hundreds of transcripts of gluten gene families from different cultivars of wheat using sequence from a single SMRT cell. To this end, we barcoded amplicons from different cultivars, then pooled these into one library for sequencing. Sequencing reads were later separated by the barcodes and further sorted into different gene groups by blast. The reads from each gene are then assembled by SeqmanNGen software. Given the length of 1 kb for each sequence derived from an initial molecule, the phase of the polymorphisms is not lost and can be used to infer also haplotype differences between different cultivars.


July 7, 2019  |  

Bovine NK-lysin: Copy number variation and functional diversification.

NK-lysin is an antimicrobial peptide and effector protein in the host innate immune system. It is coded by a single gene in humans and most other mammalian species. In this study, we provide evidence for the existence of four NK-lysin genes in a repetitive region on cattle chromosome 11. The NK2A, NK2B, and NK2C genes are tandemly arrayed as three copies in ~30-35-kb segments, located 41.8 kb upstream of NK1. All four genes are functional, albeit with differential tissue expression. NK1, NK2A, and NK2B exhibited the highest expression in intestine Peyer’s patch, whereas NK2C was expressed almost exclusively in lung. The four peptide products were synthesized ex vivo, and their antimicrobial effects against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria were confirmed with a bacteria-killing assay. Transmission electron microcopy indicated that bovine NK-lysins exhibited their antimicrobial activities by lytic action in the cell membranes. In summary, the single NK-lysin gene in other mammals has expanded to a four-member gene family by tandem duplications in cattle; all four genes are transcribed, and the synthetic peptides corresponding to the core regions are biologically active and likely contribute to innate immunity in ruminants.


July 7, 2019  |  

Structure and evolution of the filaggrin gene repeated region in primates

The evolutionary dynamics of repeat sequences is quite complex, with some duplicates never having differentiated from each other. Two models can explain the complex evolutionary process for repeated genes—concerted and birth-and-death, of which the latter is driven by duplications maintained by selection. Copy number variations caused by random duplications and losses in repeat regions may modulate molecular pathways and therefore affect phenotypic characteristics in a population, resulting in individuals that are able to adapt to new environments. In this study, we investigated the filaggrin gene (FLG), which codes for filaggrin—an important component of the outer layers of mammalian skin—and contains tandem repeats that exhibit copy number variation between and within species. To examine which model best fits the evolutionary pathway for the complete tandem repeats within a single exon of FLG, we determined the repeat sequences in crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis), orangutan (Pongo abelii), gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and compared these with the sequence in human (Homo sapiens).


July 7, 2019  |  

Coping with living in the soil: the genome of the parthenogenetic springtail Folsomia candida.

Folsomia candida is a model in soil biology, belonging to the family of Isotomidae, subclass Collembola. It reproduces parthenogenetically in the presence of Wolbachia, and exhibits remarkable physiological adaptations to stress. To better understand these features and adaptations to life in the soil, we studied its genome in the context of its parthenogenetic lifestyle.We applied Pacific Bioscience sequencing and assembly to generate a reference genome for F. candida of 221.7 Mbp, comprising only 162 scaffolds. The complete genome of its endosymbiont Wolbachia, was also assembled and turned out to be the largest strain identified so far. Substantial gene family expansions and lineage-specific gene clusters were linked to stress response. A large number of genes (809) were acquired by horizontal gene transfer. A substantial fraction of these genes are involved in lignocellulose degradation. Also, the presence of genes involved in antibiotic biosynthesis was confirmed. Intra-genomic rearrangements of collinear gene clusters were observed, of which 11 were organized as palindromes. The Hox gene cluster of F. candida showed major rearrangements compared to arthropod consensus cluster, resulting in a disorganized cluster.The expansion of stress response gene families suggests that stress defense was important to facilitate colonization of soils. The large number of HGT genes related to lignocellulose degradation could be beneficial to unlock carbohydrate sources in soil, especially those contained in decaying plant and fungal organic matter. Intra- as well as inter-scaffold duplications of gene clusters may be a consequence of its parthenogenetic lifestyle. This high quality genome will be instrumental for evolutionary biologists investigating deep phylogenetic lineages among arthropods and will provide the basis for a more mechanistic understanding in soil ecology and ecotoxicology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Exploring structural variants in environmentally sensitive gene families.

Environmentally sensitive plant gene families like NBS-LRRs, receptor kinases, defensins and others, are known to be highly variable. However, most existing strategies for discovering and describing structural variation in complex gene families provide incomplete and imperfect results. The move to de novo genome assemblies for multiple accessions or individuals within a species is enabling more comprehensive and accurate insights about gene family variation. Earlier array-based genome hybridization and sequence-based read mapping methods were limited by their reliance on a reference genome and by misplacement of paralogous sequences. Variant discovery based on de novo genome assemblies overcome the problems arising from a reference genome and reduce sequence misplacement. As de novo genome sequencing moves to the use of longer reads, artifacts will be minimized, intact tandem gene clusters will be constructed accurately, and insights into rapid evolution will become feasible. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Third-generation sequencing and analysis of four complete pig liver esterase gene sequences in clones identified by screening BAC library.

Pig liver carboxylesterase (PLE) gene sequences in GenBank are incomplete, which has led to difficulties in studying the genetic structure and regulation mechanisms of gene expression of PLE family genes. The aim of this study was to obtain and analysis of complete gene sequences of PLE family by screening from a Rongchang pig BAC library and third-generation PacBio gene sequencing.After a number of existing incomplete PLE isoform gene sequences were analysed, primers were designed based on conserved regions in PLE exons, and the whole pig genome used as a template for Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. Specific primers were then selected based on the PCR amplification results. A three-step PCR screening method was used to identify PLE-positive clones by screening a Rongchang pig BAC library and PacBio third-generation sequencing was performed. BLAST comparisons and other bioinformatics methods were applied for sequence analysis.Five PLE-positive BAC clones, designated BAC-10, BAC-70, BAC-75, BAC-119 and BAC-206, were identified. Sequence analysis yielded the complete sequences of four PLE genes, PLE1, PLE-B9, PLE-C4, and PLE-G2. Complete PLE gene sequences were defined as those containing regulatory sequences, exons, and introns. It was found that, not only did the PLE exon sequences of the four genes show a high degree of homology, but also that the intron sequences were highly similar. Additionally, the regulatory region of the genes contained two 720bps reverse complement sequences that may have an important function in the regulation of PLE gene expression.This is the first report to confirm the complete sequences of four PLE genes. In addition, the study demonstrates that each PLE isoform is encoded by a single gene and that the various genes exhibit a high degree of sequence homology, suggesting that the PLE family evolved from a single ancestral gene. Obtaining the complete sequences of these PLE genes provides the necessary foundation for investigation of the genetic structure, function, and regulatory mechanisms of the PLE gene family.


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