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June 1, 2012

Next-generation sequencing and large genome assemblies.

The next-generation sequencing (NGS) revolution has drastically reduced time and cost requirements for sequencing of large genomes, and also qualitatively changed the problem of assembly. This article reviews the state of the art in de novo genome assembly, paying particular attention to mammalian-sized genomes. The strengths and weaknesses of the main sequencing platforms are highlighted, leading to a discussion of assembly and the new challenges associated with NGS data. Current approaches to assembly are outlined and the various software packages available are introduced and compared. The question of whether quality assemblies can be produced using short-read NGS data alone, or…

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June 1, 2012

Going beyond five bases in DNA sequencing.

DNA sequencing has provided a wealth of information about biological systems, but thus far has focused on the four canonical bases, and 5-methylcytosine through comparison of the genomic DNA sequence to a transformed four-base sequence obtained after treatment with bisulfite. However, numerous other chemical modifications to the nucleotides are known to control fundamental life functions, influence virulence of pathogens, and are associated with many diseases. These modifications cannot be accessed with traditional sequencing methods. In this opinion, we highlight several emerging single-molecule sequencing techniques that have the potential to directly detect many types of DNA modifications as an integral part…

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February 1, 2012

Cancer genomics: technology, discovery, and translation.

In recent years, the increasing awareness that somatic mutations and other genetic aberrations drive human malignancies has led us within reach of personalized cancer medicine (PCM). The implementation of PCM is based on the following premises: genetic aberrations exist in human malignancies; a subset of these aberrations drive oncogenesis and tumor biology; these aberrations are actionable (defined as having the potential to affect management recommendations based on diagnostic, prognostic, and/or predictive implications); and there are highly specific anticancer agents available that effectively modulate these targets. This article highlights the technology underlying cancer genomics and examines the early results of genome…

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September 1, 2011

Real-time sequencing.

This month’s Genome Watch describes the impact of next-generation sequencing on the ‘real-time’ analysis of pathogen genomes during outbreaks.

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October 1, 2010

A window into third-generation sequencing.

First- and second-generation sequencing technologies have led the way in revolutionizing the field of genomics and beyond, motivating an astonishing number of scientific advances, including enabling a more complete understanding of whole genome sequences and the information encoded therein, a more complete characterization of the methylome and transcriptome and a better understanding of interactions between proteins and DNA. Nevertheless, there are sequencing applications and aspects of genome biology that are presently beyond the reach of current sequencing technologies, leaving fertile ground for additional innovation in this space. In this review, we describe a new generation of single-molecule sequencing technologies (third-generation…

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September 1, 2010

Computational solutions to large-scale data management and analysis.

Today we can generate hundreds of gigabases of DNA and RNA sequencing data in a week for less than US$5,000. The astonishing rate of data generation by these low-cost, high-throughput technologies in genomics is being matched by that of other technologies, such as real-time imaging and mass spectrometry-based flow cytometry. Success in the life sciences will depend on our ability to properly interpret the large-scale, high-dimensional data sets that are generated by these technologies, which in turn requires us to adopt advances in informatics. Here we discuss how we can master the different types of computational environments that exist -…

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