June 1, 2021  |  

High-quality human genomes achieved through HiFi sequence data and FALCON-Unzip assembly

De novo assemblies of human genomes from accurate (85-90%), continuous long reads (CLR) now approach the human reference genome in contiguity, but the assembly base pair accuracy is typically below QV40 (99.99%), an order-of-magnitude lower than the standard for finished references. The base pair errors complicate downstream interpretation, particularly false positive indels that lead to false gene loss through frameshifts. PacBio HiFi sequence data, which are both long (>10 kb) and very accurate (>99.9%) at the individual sequence read level, enable a new paradigm in human genome assembly. Haploid human assemblies using HiFi data achieve similar contiguity to those using CLR data and are highly accurate at the base level1. Furthermore, HiFi assemblies resolve more high-identity sequences such as segmental duplications2. To enable HiFi assembly in diploid human samples, we have extended the FALCON-Unzip assembler to work directly with HiFi reads. Here we present phased human diploid genome assemblies from HiFi sequencing of HG002, HG005, and the Vertebrate Genome Project (VGP) mHomSap1 trio on the PacBio Sequel II System. The HiFi assemblies all exceed the VGP’s quality guidelines, approaching QV50 (99.999%) accuracy. For HG002, 60% of the genome was haplotype-resolved, with phase-block N50 of 143Kbp and phasing accuracy of 99.6%. The overall mean base accuracy of the assembly was QV49.7. In conclusion, HiFi data show great promise towards complete, contiguous, and accurate diploid human assemblies.


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