September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 19, 2019  |  

Parkinson’s disease associated with pure ATXN10 repeat

Large, non-coding pentanucleotide repeat expansions of ATTCT in intron 9 of the ATXN10 gene typically cause progressive spinocerebellar ataxia with or without seizures and present neuropathologically with Purkinje cell loss resulting in symmetrical cerebellar atrophy. These ATXN10 repeat expansions can be interrupted by sequence motifs which have been attributed to seizures and are likely to act as genetic modifiers. We identified a Mexican kindred with multiple affected family members with ATXN10 expansions. Four affected family members showed clinical features of spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10). However, one affected individual presented with early-onset levodopa-responsive parkinsonism, and one family member carried a large repeat ATXN10 expansion, but was clinically unaffected. To characterize the ATXN10 repeat, we used a novel technology of single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9-based capture. We sequenced the entire span of ~5.3–7.0kb repeat expansions. The Parkinson’s patient carried an ATXN10 expansion with no repeat interruption motifs as well as an unaffected sister. In the siblings with typical SCA10, we found a repeat pattern of ATTCC repeat motifs that have not been associated with seizures previously. Our data suggest that the absence of repeat interruptions is likely a genetic modifier for the clinical presentation of L-Dopa responsive parkinsonism, whereas repeat interruption motifs contribute clinically to epilepsy. Repeat interruptions are important genetic modifiers of the clinical phenotype in SCA10. Advanced sequencing techniques now allow to better characterize the underlying genetic architecture for determining accurate phenotype–genotype correlations.


July 19, 2019  |  

Amplification-free, CRISPR-Cas9 targeted enrichment and SMRT Sequencing of repeat-expansion disease causative genomic regions

Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods require amplification. Some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, many human genetic disorders are caused by repeat expansions, including difficult to sequence tandem repeats. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR-Cas9 system for specific targeting multiple genomic loci. This method, in conjunction with long reads generated through Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing and unbiased coverage, enables enrichment and sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies. Using human genomic DNA samples, we demonstrate successful targeting of causative loci for Huntingtontextquoterights disease (HTT; CAG repeat), Fragile X syndrome (FMR1; CGG repeat), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (C9orf72; GGGGCC repeat), and spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10) (ATXN10; variable ATTCT repeat). The method, amenable to multiplexing across multiple genomic loci, uses an amplification-free approach that facilitates the isolation of hundreds of individual on-target molecules in a single SMRT Cell and accurate sequencing through long repeat stretches, regardless of extreme GC percent or sequence complexity content. Our novel targeted sequencing method opens new doors to genomic analyses independent of PCR amplification that will facilitate the study of repeat expansion disorders.


July 19, 2019  |  

Detailed analysis of HTT repeat elements in human blood using targeted amplification-free long-read sequencing.

Amplification of DNA is required as a mandatory step during library preparation in most targeted sequencing protocols. This can be a critical limitation when targeting regions that are highly repetitive or with extreme guanine-cytosine (GC) content, including repeat expansions associated with human disease. Here, we used an amplification-free protocol for targeted enrichment utilizing the CRISPR/Cas9 system (No-Amp Targeted sequencing) in combination with single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing for studying repeat elements in the huntingtin (HTT) gene, where an expanded CAG repeat is causative for Huntington disease. We also developed a robust data analysis pipeline for repeat element analysis that is independent of alignment of reads to a reference genome. The method was applied to 11 diagnostic blood samples, and for all 22 alleles the resulting CAG repeat count agreed with previous results based on fragment analysis. The amplification-free protocol also allowed for studying somatic variability of repeat elements in our samples, without the interference of PCR stutter. In summary, with No-Amp Targeted sequencing in combination with our analysis pipeline, we could accurately study repeat elements that are difficult to investigate using PCR-based methods.© 2018 The Authors. Human Mutation published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


July 19, 2019  |  

De novo repeat interruptions are associated with reduced somatic instability and mild or absent clinical features in myotonic dystrophy type 1.

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multisystem disorder, caused by expansion of a CTG trinucleotide repeat in the 3′-untranslated region of the DMPK gene. The repeat expansion is somatically unstable and tends to increase in length with time, contributing to disease progression. In some individuals, the repeat array is interrupted by variant repeats such as CCG and CGG, stabilising the expansion and often leading to milder symptoms. We have characterised three families, each including one person with variant repeats that had arisen de novo on paternal transmission of the repeat expansion. Two individuals were identified for screening due to an unusual result in the laboratory diagnostic test, and the third due to exceptionally mild symptoms. The presence of variant repeats in all three expanded alleles was confirmed by restriction digestion of small pool PCR products, and allele structures were determined by PacBio sequencing. Each was different, but all contained CCG repeats close to the 3′-end of the repeat expansion. All other family members had inherited pure CTG repeats. The variant repeat-containing alleles were more stable in the blood than pure alleles of similar length, which may in part account for the mild symptoms observed in all three individuals. This emphasises the importance of somatic instability as a disease mechanism in DM1. Further, since patients with variant repeats may have unusually mild symptoms, identification of these individuals has important implications for genetic counselling and for patient stratification in DM1 clinical trials.


July 19, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing across the C9orf72 ‘GGGGCC’ repeat expansion: implications for clinical use and genetic discovery efforts in human disease.

Many neurodegenerative diseases are caused by nucleotide repeat expansions, but most expansions, like the C9orf72 ‘GGGGCC’ (G4C2) repeat that causes approximately 5-7% of all amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) cases, are too long to sequence using short-read sequencing technologies. It is unclear whether long-read sequencing technologies can traverse these long, challenging repeat expansions. Here, we demonstrate that two long-read sequencing technologies, Pacific Biosciences’ (PacBio) and Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ (ONT), can sequence through disease-causing repeats cloned into plasmids, including the FTD/ALS-causing G4C2 repeat expansion. We also report the first long-read sequencing data characterizing the C9orf72 G4C2 repeat expansion at the nucleotide level in two symptomatic expansion carriers using PacBio whole-genome sequencing and a no-amplification (No-Amp) targeted approach based on CRISPR/Cas9.Both the PacBio and ONT platforms successfully sequenced through the repeat expansions in plasmids. Throughput on the MinION was a challenge for whole-genome sequencing; we were unable to attain reads covering the human C9orf72 repeat expansion using 15 flow cells. We obtained 8× coverage across the C9orf72 locus using the PacBio Sequel, accurately reporting the unexpanded allele at eight repeats, and reading through the entire expansion with 1324 repeats (7941 nucleotides). Using the No-Amp targeted approach, we attained >?800× coverage and were able to identify the unexpanded allele, closely estimate expansion size, and assess nucleotide content in a single experiment. We estimate the individual’s repeat region was >?99% G4C2 content, though we cannot rule out small interruptions.Our findings indicate that long-read sequencing is well suited to characterizing known repeat expansions, and for discovering new disease-causing, disease-modifying, or risk-modifying repeat expansions that have gone undetected with conventional short-read sequencing. The PacBio No-Amp targeted approach may have future potential in clinical and genetic counseling environments. Larger and deeper long-read sequencing studies in C9orf72 expansion carriers will be important to determine heterogeneity and whether the repeats are interrupted by non-G4C2 content, potentially mitigating or modifying disease course or age of onset, as interruptions are known to do in other repeat-expansion disorders. These results have broad implications across all diseases where the genetic etiology remains unclear.


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