Transmission of arboviruses such as Dengue and Zika viruses by Aedes aegypti causes widespread and debilitating disease across the globe. Disease in humans can include severe acute symptoms such as hemorrhagic fever, organ failure, and encephalitis; and yet, mosquitoes tolerate high titers of virus in a persistent infection. The mechanisms responsible for tolerance to viral infection in mosquitoes are still unclear. Recent publications have highlighted the integration of genetic material from non-retroviral RNA viruses into the genome of the host during infection that relies upon endogenous retro-transcriptase activity from transposons. These endogenous viral elements (EVEs) found in the genome are…
In this PAG 2017 presentation, Ben Matthews describes a new genome assembly for Aedes aegypti, the mosquito responsible for spreading Zika virus, yellow fever, and other infectious diseases. By using PacBio long-read sequencing, scientists produced an assembly that is much more complete and contiguous than a previous assembly; 7,500 transcripts map to the new contigs but not to the old assembly. The genome is important for designing guide RNAs for CRISPR, understanding resistance to mosquito repellants, and much more.
PacBio Sequencing is characterized by very long sequence reads (averaging > 10,000 bases), lack of GC-bias, and high consensus accuracy. These features have allowed the method to provide a new gold standard in de novo genome assemblies, producing highly contiguous (contig N50 > 1 Mb) and accurate (> QV 50) genome assemblies. We will briefly describe the technology and then highlight the full workflow, from sample preparation through sequencing to data analysis, on examples of insect genome assemblies, and illustrate the difference these high-quality genomes represent with regard to biological insights, compared to fragmented draft assemblies generated by short-read sequencing.
At AGBT 2017, the Broad Institute’s Daniel Neafsey reported a large collaborative effort to sequence the mosquito that carries Zika virus. The team is using long-read PacBio sequencing to produce a high-quality genome assembly, which Neafsey expects will replace the 10-year-old Sanger assembly for Aedes aegypti. The new assembly reduces the number of contigs by at least 10-fold, boosts the contig N50 to nearly 2 Mb, and features more complete gene content.