April 21, 2020  |  

Porous Zero-Mode Waveguides for Picogram-Level DNA Capture.

We have recently shown that nanopore zero-mode waveguides are effective tools for capturing picogram levels of long DNA fragments for single-molecule DNA sequencing. Despite these key advantages, the manufacturing of large arrays is not practical due to the need for serial nanopore fabrication. To overcome this challenge, we have developed an approach for the wafer-scale fabrication of waveguide arrays on low-cost porous membranes, which are deposited using molecular-layer deposition. The membrane at each waveguide base contains a network of serpentine pores that allows for efficient electrophoretic DNA capture at picogram levels while eliminating the need for prohibitive serial pore milling. Here, we show that the loading efficiency of these porous waveguides is up to 2 orders of magnitude greater than their nanopore predecessors. This new device facilitates the scaling-up of the process, greatly reducing the cost and effort of manufacturing. Furthermore, the porous zero-mode waveguides can be used for applications that benefit from low-input single-molecule real-time sequencing.


October 23, 2019  |  

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and replication. We generated 3 zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) that target sequences within the HBV polymerase, core and X genes. Upon the formation of ZFN-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSB), imprecise repair by non-homologous end joining leads to mutations that inactivate HBV genes. We delivered HBV-specific ZFNs using self-complementary adeno-associated virus (scAAV) vectors and tested their anti-HBV activity in HepAD38 cells. HBV-ZFNs efficiently disrupted HBV target sites by inducing site-specific mutations. Cytotoxicity was seen with one of the ZFNs. scAAV-mediated delivery of a ZFN targeting HBV polymerase resulted in complete inhibition of HBV DNA replication and production of infectious HBV virions in HepAD38 cells. This effect was sustained for at least 2 weeks following only a single treatment. Furthermore, high specificity was observed for all ZFNs, as negligible off-target cleavage was seen via high-throughput sequencing of 7 closely matched potential off-target sites. These results show that HBV-targeted ZFNs can efficiently inhibit active HBV replication and suppress the cellular template for HBV persistence, making them promising candidates for eradication therapy.


October 23, 2019  |  

Codon swapping of zinc finger nucleases confers expression in primary cells and in vivo from a single lentiviral vector.

Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) are promising tools for genome editing for biotechnological as well as therapeutic purposes. Delivery remains a major issue impeding targeted genome modification. Lentiviral vectors are highly efficient for delivering transgenes into cell lines, primary cells and into organs, such as the liver. However, the reverse transcription of lentiviral vectors leads to recombination of homologous sequences, as found between and within ZFN monomers.We used a codon swapping strategy to both drastically disrupt sequence identity between ZFN monomers and to reduce sequence repeats within a monomer sequence. We constructed lentiviral vectors encoding codon-swapped ZFNs or unmodified ZFNs from a single mRNA transcript. Cell lines, primary hepatocytes and newborn rats were used to evaluate the efficacy of integrative-competent (ICLV) and integrative-deficient (IDLV) lentiviral vectors to deliver ZFNs into target cells.We reduced total identity between ZFN monomers from 90.9% to 61.4% and showed that a single ICLV allowed efficient expression of functional ZFNs targeting the rat UGT1A1 gene after codon-swapping, leading to much higher ZFN activity in cell lines (up to 7-fold increase compared to unmodified ZFNs and 60% activity in C6 cells), as compared to plasmid transfection or a single ICLV encoding unmodified ZFN monomers. Off-target analysis located several active sites for the 5-finger UGT1A1-ZFNs. Furthermore, we reported for the first time successful ZFN-induced targeted DNA double-strand breaks in primary cells (hepatocytes) and in vivo (liver) after delivery of a single IDLV encoding two ZFNs.These results demonstrate that a codon-swapping approach allowed a single lentiviral vector to efficiently express ZFNs and should stimulate the use of this viral platform for ZFN-mediated genome editing of primary cells, for both ex vivo or in vivo applications.


October 23, 2019  |  

An online bioinformatics tool predicts zinc finger and TALE nuclease off-target cleavage.

Although engineered nucleases can efficiently cleave intracellular DNA at desired target sites, major concerns remain on potential ‘off-target’ cleavage that may occur throughout the genome. We developed an online tool: predicted report of genome-wide nuclease off-target sites (PROGNOS) that effectively identifies off-target sites. The initial bioinformatics algorithms in PROGNOS were validated by predicting 44 of 65 previously confirmed off-target sites, and by uncovering a new off-target site for the extensively studied zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) targeting C-C chemokine receptor type 5. Using PROGNOS, we rapidly interrogated 128 potential off-target sites for newly designed transcription activator-like effector nucleases containing either Asn-Asn (NN) or Asn-Lys (NK) repeat variable di-residues (RVDs) and 3- and 4-finger ZFNs, and validated 13 bona fide off-target sites for these nucleases by DNA sequencing. The PROGNOS algorithms were further refined by incorporating additional features of nuclease-DNA interactions and the newly confirmed off-target sites into the training set, which increased the percentage of bona fide off-target sites found within the top PROGNOS rankings. By identifying potential off-target sites in silico, PROGNOS allows the selection of more specific target sites and aids the identification of bona fide off-target sites, significantly facilitating the design of engineered nucleases for genome editing applications.


October 23, 2019  |  

Targeted gene addition in human CD34(+) hematopoietic cells for correction of X-linked chronic granulomatous disease.

Gene therapy with genetically modified human CD34(+) hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) may be safer using targeted integration (TI) of transgenes into a genomic ‘safe harbor’ site rather than random viral integration. We demonstrate that temporally optimized delivery of zinc finger nuclease mRNA via electroporation and adeno-associated virus (AAV) 6 delivery of donor constructs in human HSPCs approaches clinically relevant levels of TI into the AAVS1 safe harbor locus. Up to 58% Venus(+) HSPCs with 6-16% human cell marking were observed following engraftment into mice. In HSPCs from patients with X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (X-CGD), caused by mutations in the gp91phox subunit of the NADPH oxidase, TI of a gp91phox transgene into AAVS1 resulted in ~15% gp91phox expression and increased NADPH oxidase activity in ex vivo-derived neutrophils. In mice transplanted with corrected HSPCs, 4-11% of human cells in the bone marrow expressed gp91phox. This method for TI into AAVS1 may be broadly applicable to correction of other monogenic diseases.


September 22, 2019  |  

Evolution of selective-sequencing approaches for virus discovery and virome analysis.

Recent advances in sequencing technologies have transformed the field of virus discovery and virome analysis. Once mostly confined to the traditional Sanger sequencing based individual virus discovery, is now entirely replaced by high throughput sequencing (HTS) based virus metagenomics that can be used to characterize the nature and composition of entire viromes. To better harness the potential of HTS for the study of viromes, sample preparation methodologies use different approaches to exclude amplification of non-viral components that can overshadow low-titer viruses. These virus-sequence enrichment approaches mostly focus on the sample preparation methods, like enzymatic digestion of non-viral nucleic acids and size exclusion of non-viral constituents by column filtration, ultrafiltration or density gradient centrifugation. However, recently a new approach of virus-sequence enrichment called virome-capture sequencing, focused on the amplification or HTS library preparation stage, was developed to increase the ability of virome characterization. This new approach has the potential to further transform the field of virus discovery and virome analysis, but its technical complexity and sequence-dependence warrants further improvements. In this review we discuss the different methods, their applications and evolution, for selective sequencing based virome analysis and also propose refinements needed to harness the full potential of HTS for virome analysis. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Analysis of RNA base modification and structural rearrangement by single-molecule real-time detection of reverse transcription.

Zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) are photonic nanostructures that create highly confined optical observation volumes, thereby allowing single-molecule-resolved biophysical studies at relatively high concentrations of fluorescent molecules. This principle has been successfully applied in single-molecule, real-time (SMRT®) DNA sequencing for the detection of DNA sequences and DNA base modifications. In contrast, RNA sequencing methods cannot provide sequence and RNA base modifications concurrently as they rely on complementary DNA (cDNA) synthesis by reverse transcription followed by sequencing of cDNA. Thus, information on RNA modifications is lost during the process of cDNA synthesis.Here we describe an application of SMRT technology to follow the activity of reverse transcriptase enzymes synthesizing cDNA on thousands of single RNA templates simultaneously in real time with single nucleotide turnover resolution using arrays of ZMWs. This method thereby obtains information from the RNA template directly. The analysis of the kinetics of the reverse transcriptase can be used to identify RNA base modifications, shown by example for N6-methyladenine (m6A) in oligonucleotides and in a specific mRNA extracted from total cellular mRNA. Furthermore, the real-time reverse transcriptase dynamics informs about RNA secondary structure and its rearrangements, as demonstrated on a ribosomal RNA and an mRNA template.Our results highlight the feasibility of studying RNA modifications and RNA structural rearrangements in ZMWs in real time. In addition, they suggest that technology can be developed for direct RNA sequencing provided that the reverse transcriptase is optimized to resolve homonucleotide stretches in RNA.


September 21, 2019  |  

DNA-guided delivery of single molecules into zero-mode waveguides.

Zero-mode waveguides (ZMWs) are powerful analytical tools corresponding to optical nanostructures fabricated in a thin metallic film capable of confining an excitation volume to the range of attoliters. This small volume of confinement allows single-molecule fluorescence experiments to be performed at physiologically relevant concentrations of fluorescently labeled biomolecules. Exactly one molecule to be studied must be attached at the floor of the ZMW for signal detection and analysis; however, the massive parallelism of these nanoarrays suffers from a Poissonian-limited distribution of these biomolecules. To date, there is no method available that provides full single-molecule occupancy of massively arrayed ZMWs. Here we report the performance of a DNA-guided method that uses steric exclusion properties of large DNA molecules to bias the Poissonian-limited delivery of single molecules. Non-Poissonian statistics were obtained with DNA molecules that contain a free-biotinylated extremity for efficient binding to the floor of the ZMW, which resulted in a decrease of accessibility for a second molecule. Both random-coiled and condensed DNA conformations drove non-Poissonian single-molecule delivery into ZMW arrays. The results suggest that an optimal balance between the rigidity and flexibility of the macromolecule is critical for favorable accessibility and single occupancy. The optimized method provides a means for full exploitation of these massively parallelized analytical tools.


September 21, 2019  |  

Real-time DNA sequencing from single polymerase molecules.

We present single-molecule, real-time sequencing data obtained from a DNA polymerase performing uninterrupted template-directed synthesis using four distinguishable fluorescently labeled deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs). We detected the temporal order of their enzymatic incorporation into a growing DNA strand with zero-mode waveguide nanostructure arrays, which provide optical observation volume confinement and enable parallel, simultaneous detection of thousands of single-molecule sequencing reactions. Conjugation of fluorophores to the terminal phosphate moiety of the dNTPs allows continuous observation of DNA synthesis over thousands of bases without steric hindrance. The data report directly on polymerase dynamics, revealing distinct polymerization states and pause sites corresponding to DNA secondary structure. Sequence data were aligned with the known reference sequence to assay biophysical parameters of polymerization for each template position. Consensus sequences were generated from the single-molecule reads at 15-fold coverage, showing a median accuracy of 99.3%, with no systematic error beyond fluorophore-dependent error rates.


July 19, 2019  |  

Parallel confocal detection of single molecules in real time.

The confocal detection principle is extended to a highly parallel optical system that continuously analyzes thousands of concurrent sample locations. This is achieved through the use of a holographic laser illumination multiplexer combined with a confocal pinhole array before a prism dispersive element used to provide spectroscopic information from each confocal volume. The system is demonstrated to detect and identify single fluorescent molecules from each of several thousand independent confocal volumes in real time.


July 19, 2019  |  

Chapter 20 – Real-time DNA sequencing from single polymerase molecules.

Pacific Biosciences has developed a method for real-time sequencing of single DNA molecules (Eid et al., 2009), with intrinsic sequencing rates of several bases per second and read lengths into the kilobase range. Conceptually, this sequencing approach is based on eavesdropping on the activity of DNA polymerase carrying out template-directed DNA polymerization. Performed in a highly parallel operational mode, sequential base additions catalyzed by each polymerase are detected with terminal phosphate-linked, fluorescence-labeled nucleotides. This chapter will first outline the principle of this single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing method, followed by descriptions of its underlying components and typical sequencing run conditions. Two examples are provided which illustrate that, in addition to the DNA sequence, the dynamics of DNA polymerization from each enzyme molecules is directly accessible: the determination of base-specific kinetic parameters from single-molecule sequencing reads, and the characterization of DNA synthesis rate heterogeneities. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Zero-mode waveguides for single-molecule analysis at high concentrations.

Optical approaches for observing the dynamics of single molecules have required pico- to nanomolar concentrations of fluorophore in order to isolate individual molecules. However, many biologically relevant processes occur at micromolar ligand concentrations, necessitating a reduction in the conventional observation volume by three orders of magnitude. We show that arrays of zero-mode waveguides consisting of subwavelength holes in a metal film provide a simple and highly parallel means for studying single-molecule dynamics at micromolar concentrations with microsecond temporal resolution. We present observations of DNA polymerase activity as an example of the effectiveness of zero-mode waveguides for performing single-molecule experiments at high concentrations.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantifying genome-editing outcomes at endogenous loci with SMRT sequencing.

Targeted genome editing with engineered nucleases has transformed the ability to introduce precise sequence modifications at almost any site within the genome. A major obstacle to probing the efficiency and consequences of genome editing is that no existing method enables the frequency of different editing events to be simultaneously measured across a cell population at any endogenous genomic locus. We have developed a novel method for quantifying individual genome editing outcomes at any site of interest using single molecule real time (SMRT) DNA sequencing. We show that this approach can be applied at various loci, using multiple engineered nuclease platforms including TALENs, RNA guided endonucleases (CRISPR/Cas9), and ZFNs, and in different cell lines to identify conditions and strategies in which the desired engineering outcome has occurred. This approach facilitates the evaluation of new gene editing technologies and permits sensitive quantification of editing outcomes in almost every experimental system used.


July 7, 2019  |  

Cotranslational protein folding inside the ribosome exit tunnel.

At what point during translation do proteins fold? It is well established that proteins can fold cotranslationally outside the ribosome exit tunnel, whereas studies of folding inside the exit tunnel have so far detected only the formation of helical secondary structure and collapsed or partially structured folding intermediates. Here, using a combination of cotranslational nascent chain force measurements, inter-subunit fluorescence resonance energy transfer studies on single translating ribosomes, molecular dynamics simulations, and cryoelectron microscopy, we show that a small zinc-finger domain protein can fold deep inside the vestibule of the ribosome exit tunnel. Thus, for small protein domains, the ribosome itself can provide the kind of sheltered folding environment that chaperones provide for larger proteins. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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