June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing for genome annotation and analysis of alternative splicing

In higher eukaryotic organisms, the majority of multi-exon genes are alternatively spliced. Different mRNA isoforms from the same gene can produce proteins that have distinct properties and functions. Thus, the importance of understanding the full complement of transcript isoforms with potential phenotypic impact cannot be understated. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences to survey transcriptome isoform diversity useful for gene discovery and annotation. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Our open-source computational pipeline delivers high-quality, non-redundant sequences for unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start sites, polyA tail, and gene fusion events. We applied the Iso-Seq method to the maize (Zea mays) inbred line B73. Full-length cDNAs from six diverse tissues were barcoded and sequenced across multiple size-fractionated SMRTbell libraries. A total of 111,151 unique transcripts were identified. More than half of these transcripts (57%) represented novel, sometimes tissue-specific, isoforms of known genes. In addition to the 2250 novel coding genes and 860 lncRNAs discovered, the Iso-Seq dataset corrected errors in existing gene models, highlighting the value of full-length transcripts for whole gene annotations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Using Pan RNA-Seq Analysis to Reveal the Ubiquitous Existence of 5′ and 3′ End Small RNAs.

In this study, we used pan RNA-seq analysis to reveal the ubiquitous existence of both 5′ and 3′ end small RNAs (5′ and 3′ sRNAs). 5′ and 3′ sRNAs alone can be used to annotate nuclear non-coding and mitochondrial genes at 1-bp resolution and identify new steady RNAs, which are usually transcribed from functional genes. Then, we provided a simple and cost effective way for the annotation of nuclear non-coding and mitochondrial genes and the identification of new steady RNAs, particularly long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Using 5′ and 3′ sRNAs, the annotation of human mitochondrial was corrected and a novel ncRNA named non-coding mitochondrial RNA 1 (ncMT1) was reported for the first time in this study. We also found that most of human tRNA genes have downstream lncRNA genes as lncTRS-TGA1-1 and corrected the misunderstanding of them in previous studies. Using 5′, 3′, and intronic sRNAs, we reported for the first time that enzymatic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) cleavage and RNA interference (RNAi) might be involved in the RNA degradation and gene expression regulation of U1 snRNA in human. We provided a different perspective on the regulation of gene expression in U1 snRNA. We also provided a novel view on cancer and virus-induced diseases, leading to find diagnostics or therapy targets from the ribonuclease III (RNase III) family and its related pathways. Our findings pave the way toward a rediscovery of dsRNA cleavage and RNAi, challenging classical theories.


September 22, 2019  |  

The transcriptome of human pluripotent stem cells.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs) are in vitro derivatives of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and are characterized by an undifferentiated and pluripotent state that can be perpetuated in time, indefinitely. hESCs provide a unique opportunity to both dissect the molecular mechanisms that are predisposed to the maintenance of pluripotency and model the ability to initiate differentiation and cell commitment within the developing embryo. To fully understand these mechanisms, it is necessary to accurately identify the specific transcriptome of hESCs. Many distinct gene annotation methods, such as cDNA and EST sequencing and RNA-Seq, have been used to identify the transcriptome of hESCs. Lately, we developed a new tool (IDP) to integrate the hybrid sequencing data to characterize a more reliable and comprehensive hESC transcriptome with discoveries of many novel transcripts. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

A global survey of alternative splicing in allopolyploid cotton: landscape, complexity and regulation.

Alternative splicing (AS) is a crucial regulatory mechanism in eukaryotes, which acts by greatly increasing transcriptome diversity. The extent and complexity of AS has been revealed in model plants using high-throughput next-generation sequencing. However, this technique is less effective in accurately identifying transcript isoforms in polyploid species because of the high sequence similarity between coexisting subgenomes. Here we characterize AS in the polyploid species cotton. Using Pacific Biosciences single-molecule long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq), we developed an integrated pipeline for Iso-Seq transcriptome data analysis (https://github.com/Nextomics/pipeline-for-isoseq). We identified 176 849 full-length transcript isoforms from 44 968 gene models and updated gene annotation. These data led us to identify 15 102 fibre-specific AS events and estimate that c. 51.4% of homoeologous genes produce divergent isoforms in each subgenome. We reveal that AS allows differential regulation of the same gene by miRNAs at the isoform level. We also show that nucleosome occupancy and DNA methylation play a role in defining exons at the chromatin level. This study provides new insights into the complexity and regulation of AS, and will enhance our understanding of AS in polyploid species. Our methodology for Iso-Seq data analysis will be a useful reference for the study of AS in other species.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

The state of long non-coding RNA biology.

Transcriptomic studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of the genomes of mammals and other complex organisms is expressed in highly dynamic and cell-specific patterns to produce large numbers of intergenic, antisense and intronic long non-protein-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Despite well characterized examples, their scaling with developmental complexity, and many demonstrations of their association with cellular processes, development and diseases, lncRNAs are still to be widely accepted as major players in gene regulation. This may reflect an underappreciation of the extent and precision of the epigenetic control of differentiation and development, where lncRNAs appear to have a central role, likely as organizational and guide molecules: most lncRNAs are nuclear-localized and chromatin-associated, with some involved in the formation of specialized subcellular domains. I suggest that a reassessment of the conceptual framework of genetic information and gene expression in the 4-dimensional ontogeny of spatially organized multicellular organisms is required. Together with this and further studies on their biology, the key challenges now are to determine the structure?function relationships of lncRNAs, which may be aided by emerging evidence of their modular structure, the role of RNA editing and modification in enabling epigenetic plasticity, and the role of RNA signaling in transgenerational inheritance of experience.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing revealed an extensive transcript complexity in herpesviruses.

Long-read sequencing (LRS) techniques are very recent advancements, but they have already been used for transcriptome research in all of the three subfamilies of herpesviruses. These techniques have multiplied the number of known transcripts in each of the examined viruses. Meanwhile, they have revealed a so far hidden complexity of the herpesvirus transcriptome with the discovery of a large number of novel RNA molecules, including coding and non-coding RNAs, as well as transcript isoforms, and polycistronic RNAs. Additionally, LRS techniques have uncovered an intricate meshwork of transcriptional overlaps between adjacent and distally located genes. Here, we review the contribution of LRS to herpesvirus transcriptomics and present the complexity revealed by this technology, while also discussing the functional significance of this phenomenon.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of novel transcripts in pseudorabies virus.

In this study we identified two 3′-coterminal RNA molecules in the pseudorabies virus. The highly abundant short transcript (CTO-S) proved to be encoded between the ul21 and ul22 genes in close vicinity of the replication origin (OriL) of the virus. The less abundant long RNA molecule (CTO-L) is a transcriptional readthrough product of the ul21 gene and overlaps OriL. These polyadenylated RNAs were characterized by ascertaining their nucleotide sequences with the Illumina HiScanSQ and Pacific Biosciences Real-Time (PacBio RSII) sequencing platforms and by analyzing their transcription kinetics through use of multi-time-point Real-Time RT-PCR and the PacBio RSII system. It emerged that transcription of the CTOs is fully dependent on the viral transactivator protein IE180 and CTO-S is not a microRNA precursor. We propose an interaction between the transcription and replication machineries at this genomic location, which might play an important role in the regulation of DNA synthesis.


September 22, 2019  |  

PLEK: a tool for predicting long non-coding RNAs and messenger RNAs based on an improved k-mer scheme.

High-throughput transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) technology promises to discover novel protein-coding and non-coding transcripts, particularly the identification of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) from de novo sequencing data. This requires tools that are not restricted by prior gene annotations, genomic sequences and high-quality sequencing.We present an alignment-free tool called PLEK (predictor of long non-coding RNAs and messenger RNAs based on an improved k-mer scheme), which uses a computational pipeline based on an improved k-mer scheme and a support vector machine (SVM) algorithm to distinguish lncRNAs from messenger RNAs (mRNAs), in the absence of genomic sequences or annotations. The performance of PLEK was evaluated on well-annotated mRNA and lncRNA transcripts. 10-fold cross-validation tests on human RefSeq mRNAs and GENCODE lncRNAs indicated that our tool could achieve accuracy of up to 95.6%. We demonstrated the utility of PLEK on transcripts from other vertebrates using the model built from human datasets. PLEK attained >90% accuracy on most of these datasets. PLEK also performed well using a simulated dataset and two real de novo assembled transcriptome datasets (sequenced by PacBio and 454 platforms) with relatively high indel sequencing errors. In addition, PLEK is approximately eightfold faster than a newly developed alignment-free tool, named Coding-Non-Coding Index (CNCI), and 244 times faster than the most popular alignment-based tool, Coding Potential Calculator (CPC), in a single-threading running manner.PLEK is an efficient alignment-free computational tool to distinguish lncRNAs from mRNAs in RNA-seq transcriptomes of species lacking reference genomes. PLEK is especially suitable for PacBio or 454 sequencing data and large-scale transcriptome data. Its open-source software can be freely downloaded from https://sourceforge.net/projects/plek/files/.


September 22, 2019  |  

Isoform sequencing and state-of-art applications for unravelling complexity of plant transcriptomes

Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing developed by PacBio, also called third-generation sequencing (TGS), offers longer reads than the second-generation sequencing (SGS). Given its ability to obtain full-length transcripts without assembly, isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) of transcriptomes by PacBio is advantageous for genome annotation, identification of novel genes and isoforms, as well as the discovery of long non-coding RNA (lncRNA). In addition, Iso-Seq gives access to the direct detection of alternative splicing, alternative polyadenylation (APA), gene fusion, and DNA modifications. Such applications of Iso-Seq facilitate the understanding of gene structure, post-transcriptional regulatory networks, and subsequently proteomic diversity. In this review, we summarize its applications in plant transcriptome study, specifically pointing out challenges associated with each step in the experimental design and highlight the development of bioinformatic pipelines. We aim to provide the community with an integrative overview and a comprehensive guidance to Iso-Seq, and thus to promote its applications in plant research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Capturing a long look at our genetic library.

Long-read sequencing, coupled to cDNA capture, provides an unrivaled view of the transcriptome of chromosome 21, revealing surprises about the splicing of long noncoding RNAs. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Integrated DNA methylome and transcriptome analysis reveals the ethylene-induced flowering pathway genes in pineapple.

Ethylene has long been used to promote flowering in pineapple production. Ethylene-induced flowering is dose dependent, with a critical threshold level of ethylene response factors needed to trigger flowering. The mechanism of ethylene-induced flowering is still unclear. Here, we integrated isoform sequencing (iso-seq), Illumina short-reads sequencing and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) to explore the early changes of transcriptomic and DNA methylation in pineapple following high-concentration ethylene (HE) and low-concentration ethylene (LE) treatment. Iso-seq produced 122,338 transcripts, including 26,893 alternative splicing isoforms, 8,090 novel transcripts and 12,536 candidate long non-coding RNAs. The WGBS results suggested a decrease in CG methylation and increase in CHH methylation following HE treatment. The LE and HE treatments induced drastic changes in transcriptome and DNA methylome, with LE inducing the initial response to flower induction and HE inducing the subsequent response. The dose-dependent induction of FLOWERING LOCUS T-like genes (FTLs) may have contributed to dose-dependent flowering induction in pineapple by ethylene. Alterations in DNA methylation, lncRNAs and multiple genes may be involved in the regulation of FTLs. Our data provided a landscape of the transcriptome and DNA methylome and revealed a candidate network that regulates flowering time in pineapple, which may promote further studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptome-referenced association study of clove shape traits in garlic.

Genome-wide association studies are a powerful approach for identifying genes related to complex traits in organisms, but are limited by the requirement for a reference genome sequence of the species under study. To circumvent this problem, we propose a transcriptome-referenced association study (TRAS) that utilizes a transcriptome generated by single-molecule long-read sequencing as a reference sequence to score population variation at both transcript sequence and expression levels. Candidate transcripts are identified when both scores are associated with a trait and their potential interactions are ascertained by expression quantitative trait loci analysis. Applying this method to characterize garlic clove shape traits in 102 landraces, we identified 22 candidate transcripts, most of which showed extensive interactions. Eight transcripts were long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), and the others were proteins involved mainly in carbohydrate metabolism, protein degradation, etc. TRAS, as an efficient tool for association study independent of a reference genome, extends the applicability of association studies to a broad range of species.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution expression map of the Arabidopsis root reveals alternative splicing and lincRNA regulation.

The extent to which alternative splicing and long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) contribute to the specialized functions of cells within an organ is poorly understood. We generated a comprehensive dataset of gene expression from individual cell types of the Arabidopsis root. Comparisons across cell types revealed that alternative splicing tends to remove parts of coding regions from a longer, major isoform, providing evidence for a progressive mechanism of splicing. Cell-type-specific intron retention suggested a possible origin for this common form of alternative splicing. Coordinated alternative splicing across developmental stages pointed to a role in regulating differentiation. Consistent with this hypothesis, distinct isoforms of a transcription factor were shown to control developmental transitions. lincRNAs were generally lowly expressed at the level of individual cell types, but co-expression clusters provided clues as to their function. Our results highlight insights gained from analysis of expression at the level of individual cell types. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Full-length isoform sequencing reveals novel transcripts and substantial transcriptional overlaps in a herpesvirus.

Whole transcriptome studies have become essential for understanding the complexity of genetic regulation. However, the conventionally applied short-read sequencing platforms cannot be used to reliably distinguish between many transcript isoforms. The Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RS II platform is capable of reading long nucleic acid stretches in a single sequencing run. The pseudorabies virus (PRV) is an excellent system to study herpesvirus gene expression and potential interactions between the transcriptional units. In this work, non-amplified and amplified isoform sequencing protocols were used to characterize the poly(A+) fraction of the lytic transcriptome of PRV, with the aim of a complete transcriptional annotation of the viral genes. The analyses revealed a previously unrecognized complexity of the PRV transcriptome including the discovery of novel protein-coding and non-coding genes, novel mono- and polycistronic transcription units, as well as extensive transcriptional overlaps between neighboring and distal genes. This study identified non-coding transcripts overlapping all three replication origins of the PRV, which might play a role in the control of DNA synthesis. We additionally established the relative expression levels of gene products. Our investigations revealed that the whole PRV genome is utilized for transcription, including both DNA strands in all coding and intergenic regions. The genome-wide occurrence of transcript overlaps suggests a crosstalk between genes through a network formed by interacting transcriptional machineries with a potential function in the control of gene expression.


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