August 19, 2021  |  Sequencing methods

Application Brief: Targeted sequencing for amplicons – Best Practices

With Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing and the Sequel System, you can easily and cost effectively generate highly accurate long reads (HiFi reads, >99% single-molecule accuracy) from genes or regions of interest ranging in size from several hundred base pairs to 20 kb. Target all types of variation across relevant genomic regions, including low complexity regions like repeat expansions, promoters, and flanking regions of transposable elements.


June 1, 2021  |  

Highly sensitive, non-invasive detection of colorectal cancer mutations using single molecule, third generation sequencing.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents one of the most prevalent and lethal malignant neoplasms and every individual of age 50 and above should undergo regular CRC screening. Currently, the most effective procedure to detect adenomas, the precursors to CRC, is colonoscopy, which reduces CRC incidence by 80%. However, it is an invasive approach that is unpleasant for the patient, expensive, and poses some risk of complications such as colon perforation. A non-invasive screening approach with detection rates comparable to those of colonoscopy has not yet been established. The current study applies Pacific Biosciences third generation, single molecule sequencing to the inspection of CRC-driving mutations. Our approach combines the screening power and the extremely high accuracy of circular consensus (CCS) third generation sequencing with the non-invasiveness of using stool DNA to detect CRC-associated mutations present at extremely low frequencies and establishes a foundation for a non-invasive, highly sensitive assay to screen the population for CRC and early stage adenomas. We performed a series of experiments using a pool of fifteen amplicons covering the genes most frequently mutated in CRC (APC, Beta Catenin, KRAS, BRAF, and TP53), ensuring a theoretical screening coverage of over 97% for both CRC and adenomas. The assay was able to detect mutations in DNA isolated from stool samples from patients diagnosed with CRC at frequencies below 0.5 % with no false positives. The mutations were then confirmed by sequencing DNA isolated from the excised tumor samples. Our assay should be sensitive enough to allow the early identification of adenomatous polyps using stool DNA as analyte. In conclusion, we have developed an assay to detect mutations in the genes associated with CRC and adenomas using Pacific Biosciences RS Single Molecule, Real Time Circular Consensus Sequencing (SMRT-CCS). With no systematic bias and a much higher raw base-calling quality (CCS) compared to other sequencing methods, the assay was able to detect mutations in stool DNA at frequencies below 0.5 % with no false positives. This level of sensitivity should be sufficient to allow the detection of most adenomatous polyps using stool DNA as analyte, a feature that would make our approach the first non-invasive assay with a sensitivity comparable to that of colonoscopy and a strong candidate for the non-invasive preventive CRC screening of the general population.


June 1, 2021  |  

An improved circular consensus algorithm with an application to detection of HIV-1 Drug-Resistance Associated Mutations (DRAMs)

Scientists who require confident resolution of heterogeneous populations across complex regions have been unable to transition to short-read sequencing methods. They continue to depend on Sanger Sequencing despite its cost and time inefficiencies. Here we present a new redesigned algorithm that allows the generation of circular consensus sequences (CCS) from individual SMRT Sequencing reads. With this new algorithm, dubbed CCS2, it is possible to reach arbitrarily high quality across longer insert lengths at a lower cost and higher throughput than Sanger Sequencing. We apply this new algorithm, dubbed CCS2, to the characterization of the HIV-1 K103N drug-resistance associated mutation, which is both important clinically, and represents a challenge due to regional sequence context. A mutation was introduced into the 3rd position of amino acid position 103 (A>C substitution) of the RT gene on a pNL4-3 backbone by site-directed mutagenesis. Regions spanning ~1,300 bp were PCR amplified from both the non-mutated and mutant (K103N) plasmids, and were sequenced individually and as a 50:50 mixture. Sequencing data were analyzed using the new CCS2 algorithm, which uses a fully-generative probabilistic model of our SMRT Sequencing process to polish consensus sequences to arbitrarily high accuracy. This result, previously demonstrated for multi-molecule consensus sequences with the Quiver algorithm, is made possible by incorporating per-Zero Mode Waveguide (ZMW) characteristics, thus accounting for the intrinsic changes in the sequencing process that are unique to each ZMW. With CCS2, we are able to achieve a per-read empirical quality of QV30 with 19X coverage. This yields ~5000 1.3 kb consensus sequences with a collective empirical quality of ~QV40. Additionally, we demonstrate a 0% miscall rate in both unmixed samples, and estimate a 48:52% frequency for the K103N mutation in the mixed sample, consistent with data produced by orthogonal platforms.


June 1, 2021  |  

Highly sensitive and cost-effective detection of somatic cancer variants using single-molecule, real-time sequencing

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies allow for molecular profiling of cancer samples with high sensitivity and speed at reduced cost. For efficient profiling of cancer samples, it is important that the NGS methods used are not only robust, but capable of accurately detecting low-frequency somatic mutations. Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing offers several advantages, including the ability to sequence single molecules with very high accuracy (>QV40) using the circular consensus sequencing (CCS) approach. The availability of genetically defined, human genomic reference standards provides an industry standard for the development and quality control of molecular assays for studying cancer variants. Here we characterize SMRT Sequencing for the detection of low-frequency somatic variants using the Quantitative Multiplex DNA Reference Standards from Horizon Discovery, combined with amplification of the variants using the Multiplicom Tumor Hotspot MASTR Plus assay. First, we sequenced a reference standard containing precise allelic frequencies from 1% to 24.5% for major oncology targets verified using digital PCR. This reference material recapitulates the complexity of tumor composition and serves as a well-characterized control. The control sample was amplified using the Multiplicom Tumor Hotspot MASTR Plus assay that targets 252 amplicons (121-254 bp) from 26 relevant cancer genes, which includes all 11 variants in the control sample. Next, we sequenced control samples prepared by SeraCare Life Sciences, which contained a defined mutation at allelic frequencies from 10% down to 0.1%. The wild type and mutant amplicons were serially diluted, sequenced and analyzed using SMRT Sequencing to identify the variants and determine the observed frequency. The random error profile and high-accuracy CCS reads make it possible to accurately detect low-frequency somatic variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

An improved circular consensus algorithm with an application to detect HIV-1 Drug Resistance Associated Mutations (DRAMs)

Scientists who require confident resolution of heterogeneous populations across complex regions have been unable to transition to short-read sequencing methods. They continue to depend on Sanger sequencing despite its cost and time inefficiencies. Here we present a new redesigned algorithm that allows the generation of circular consensus sequences (CCS) from individual SMRT Sequencing reads. With this new algorithm, dubbed CCS2, it is possible to reach high quality across longer insert lengths at a lower cost and higher throughput than Sanger sequencing. We applied CCS2 to the characterization of the HIV-1 K103N drug-resistance associated mutation in both clonal and patient samples. This particular DRAM has previously proved to be clinically relevant, but challenging to characterize due to regional sequence context. First, a mutation was introduced into the 3rd position of amino acid position 103 (A>C substitution) of the RT gene on a pNL4-3 backbone by site-directed mutagenesis. Regions spanning ~1.3 kb were PCR amplified from both the non-mutated and mutant (K103N) plasmids, and were sequenced individually and as a 50:50 mixture. Additionally, the proviral reservoir of a subject with known dates of virologic failure of an Efavirenz-based regimen and with documented emergence of drug resistant (K103N) viremia was sequenced at several time points as a proof-of-concept study to determine the kinetics of retention and decay of K103N.Sequencing data were analyzed using the new CCS2 algorithm, which uses a fully-generative probabilistic model of our SMRT Sequencing process to polish consensus sequences to high accuracy. With CCS2, we are able to achieve a per-read empirical quality of QV30 (99.9% accuracy) at 19X coverage. A total of ~5000 1.3 kb consensus sequences with a collective empirical quality of ~QV40 (99.99%) were obtained for each sample. We demonstrate a 0% miscall rate in both unmixed control samples, and estimate a 48:52 frequency for the K103N mutation in the mixed (50:50) plasmid sample, consistent with data produced by orthogonal platforms. Additionally, the K103N escape variant was only detected in proviral samples from time points subsequent (19%) to the emergence of drug resistant viremia. This tool might be used to monitor the HIV reservoir for stable evolutionary changes throughout infection.


June 1, 2021  |  

“SMRTer Confirmation”: Scalable clinical read-through variant confirmation using the Pacific Biosciences SMRT Sequencing platform

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has significantly improved the cost and turnaround time for diagnostic genetic tests. ACMG recommends variant confirmation by an orthogonal method, unless sufficiently high sensitivity and specificity can be demonstrated using NGS alone. Most NGS laboratories make extensive use of Sanger sequencing for secondary confirmation of single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and indels, representing a large fraction of the cost and time required to deliver high quality genetic testing data to clinicians and patients. Despite its established data quality, Sanger is not a high-throughput method by today’s standards from either an assay or analysis standpoint as it can involve manual review of Sanger traces and is not amenable to multiplexing. Toward a scalable solution for confirmation, Invitae has developed a fully automated and LIMS-tracked assay and informatics pipeline that utilizes the Pacific Biosciences SMRT sequencing platform. Invitae’s pipeline generates PCR amplicons that encompass the variant(s) of interest, which are converted to closed DNA structures (SMRTbells) and sequenced in pools of 96 per SMRTcell. Each amplicon is appended with a 16nt barcode that encodes the patient and variant IDs. Per-sample de-multiplexing, alignment, variant calling, and confirmation resolution are handled via an automated pipeline. The confirmation process was validated by analyzing 243 clinical SNVs and indels in parallel with the gold standard Sanger sequencing method. Amplicons were sequenced and analyzed in technical replicates to demonstrate reproducibility. In this study, the PacBio-based confirmation pipeline demonstrated high reproducibility (97.5%), and outperformed Sanger in the fraction of primary NGS variants confirmed (PacBio = 93.4% and 94.7% confirmed across two replicates, Sanger = 84.8%) while having 100% concordance of confirmation status among overlapping confirmation calls.


June 1, 2021  |  

Profiling complex population genomes with highly accurate single molecule reads: cow rumen microbiomes

Determining compositions and functional capabilities of complex populations is often challenging, especially for sequencing technologies with short reads that do not uniquely identify organisms or genes. Long-read sequencing improves the resolution of these mixed communities, but adoption for this application has been limited due to concerns about throughput, cost and accuracy. The recently introduced PacBio Sequel System generates hundreds of thousands of long and highly accurate single-molecule reads per SMRT Cell. We investigated how the Sequel System might increase understanding of metagenomic communities. In the past, focus was largely on taxonomic classification with 16S rRNA sequencing. Recent expansion to WGS sequencing enables functional profiling as well, with the ultimate goal of complete genome assemblies. Here we compare the complex microbiomes in 5 cow rumen samples, for which Illumina WGS sequence data was also available. To maximize the PacBio single-molecule sequence accuracy, libraries of 2 to 3 kb were generated, allowing many polymerase passes per molecule. The resulting reads were filtered at predicted single-molecule accuracy levels up to 99.99%. Community compositions of the 5 samples were compared with Illumina WGS assemblies from the same set of samples, indicating rare organisms were often missed with Illumina. Assembly from PacBio CCS reads yielded a contig >100 kb in length with 6-fold coverage. Mapping of Illumina reads to the 101 kb contig verified the PacBio assembly and contig sequence. These results illustrate ways in which long accurate reads benefit analysis of complex communities.


June 1, 2021  |  

Profiling complex communities with highly accurate single molecule reads: cow rumen microbiomes

Determining compositions and functional capabilities of complex populations is often challenging, especially for sequencing technologies with short reads that do not uniquely identify organisms or genes. Long-read sequencing improves the resolution of these mixed communities, but adoption for this application has been limited due to concerns about throughput, cost and accuracy. The recently introduced PacBio Sequel System generates hundreds of thousands of long and highly accurate single-molecule reads per SMRT Cell. We investigated how the Sequel System might increase understanding of metagenomic communities. In the past, focus was largely on taxonomic classification with 16S rRNA sequencing. Recent expansion to WGS sequencing enables functional profiling as well, with the ultimate goal of complete genome assemblies. Here we compare the complex microbiomes in 5 cow rumen samples, for which Illumina WGS sequence data was also available. To maximize the PacBio single-molecule sequence accuracy, libraries of 2 to 3 kb were generated, allowing many polymerase passes per molecule. The resulting reads were filtered at predicted single-molecule accuracy levels up to 99.99%. Community compositions of the 5 samples were compared with Illumina WGS assemblies from the same set of samples, indicating rare organisms were often missed with Illumina. Assembly from PacBio CCS reads yielded a contig >100 kb in length with 6-fold coverage. Mapping of Illumina reads to the 101 kb contig verified the PacBio assembly and contig sequence. Scaffolding with reads from a PacBio unsheared library produced a complete genome of 2.4 Mb. These results illustrate ways in which long accurate reads benefit analysis of complex communities.


June 1, 2021  |  

T-cell receptor profiling using PacBio sequencing of SMARTer libraries

T-cells play a central part in the immune response in humans and related species. T-cell receptors (TCRs), heterodimers located on the T-cell surface, specifically bind foreign antigens displayed on the MHC complex of antigen-presenting cells. The wide spectrum of potential antigens is addressed by the diversity of TCRs created by V(D)J recombination. Profiling this repertoire of TCRs could be useful from, but not limited to, diagnosis, monitoring response to treatments, and examining T-cell development and diversification.


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