June 1, 2021  |  

Integrative biology of a fungus: Using PacBio SMRT Sequencing to interrogate the genome, epigenome, and transcriptome of Neurospora crassa.

PacBio SMRT Sequencing has the unique ability to directly detect base modifications in addition to the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Because eukaryotes use base modifications to regulate gene expression, the absence or presence of epigenetic events relative to the location of genes is critical to elucidate the function of the modification. Therefore an integrated approach that combines multiple omic-scale assays is necessary to study complex organisms. Here, we present an integrated analysis of three sequencing experiments: 1) DNA sequencing, 2) base-modification detection, and 3) Iso-seq analysis, in Neurospora crassa, a filamentous fungus that has been used to make many landmark discoveries in biochemistry and genetics. We show that de novo assembly of a new strain yields complete assemblies of entire chromosomes, and additionally contains entire centromeric sequences. Base-modification analyses reveal candidate sites of increased interpulse duration (IPD) ratio, that may signify regions of 5mC, 5hmC, or 6mA base modifications. Iso-seq method provides full-length transcript evidence for comprehensive gene annotation, as well as context to the base-modifications in the newly assembled genome. Projects that integrate multiple genome-wide assays could become common practice for identifying genomic elements and understanding their function in new strains and organisms.


June 1, 2021  |  

Next generation sequencing of full-length HIV-1 env during primary infection.

Background: The use of next generation sequencing (NGS) to examine circulating HIV env variants has been limited due to env’s length (2.6 kb), extensive indel polymorphism, GC deficiency, and long homopolymeric regions. We developed and standardized protocols for isolation, RT-PCR amplification, single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, and haplotype analysis of circulating HIV-1 env variants to evaluate viral diversity in primary infection. Methodology: HIV RNA was extracted from 7 blood plasma samples (1 mL) collected from 5 subjects (one individual sampled and sequenced at 3 time points) in the San Diego Primary Infection Cohort between 3-33 months from their estimated date of infection (EDI). Median viral load per sample was 50,118 HIV RNA copies/mL (range: 22,387-446,683). Full-length (3.2 kb) env amplicons were constructed into SMRTbell templates without shearing, and sequenced on the PacBio RS II using P4/C2 chemistry and 180 minute movie collection without stage start. To examine viral diversity in each sample, we determined haplotypes by clustering circular consensus sequences (CCS), and reconstructing a cluster consensus sequence using a partial order alignment approach. We measured sample diversity both as the mean pairwise distance among reads, and the fraction of reads containing indel polymorphisms. Results: We collected a median of 8,775 CCS reads per SMRT Cell (range: 4243-12234). A median of 7 haplotypes per subject (range: 1-55) were inferred at baseline. For the one subject with longitudinal samples analyzed, we observed an increasing number of distinct haplotypes (8 to 55 haplotypes over the course of 30 months), and an increasing mean pairwise distance among reads (from 0.8% to 1.6%, Tamura-Nei 93). We also observed significant indel polymorphism, with 16% of reads from one sample later in infection (33 months post-EDI) exhibiting deletions of more than 10% of env with respect to the reference strain, HXB2. Conclusions: This study developed a standardized NGS procedure (PacBio SMRT) to deep sequence full-length HIV RNA env variants from the circulating viral population, achieving good coverage, confirming low env diversity during primary infection that increased over time, and revealing significant indel polymorphism that highlights structural variation as important to env evolution. The long, accurate reads greatly simplified downstream bioinformatics analyses, especially haplotype phasing, increasing our confidence in the results. The sequencing methodology and analysis tools developed here could be successfully applied to any area for which full-length HIV env analysis would be useful.


June 1, 2021  |  

A novel analytical pipeline for de novo haplotype phasing and amplicon analysis using SMRT Sequencing technology.

While the identification of individual SNPs has been readily available for some time, the ability to accurately phase SNPs and structural variation across a haplotype has been a challenge. With individual reads of an average length of 9 kb (P5-C3), and individual reads beyond 30 kb in length, SMRT Sequencing technology allows the identification of mutation combinations such as microdeletions, insertions, and substitutions without any predetermined reference sequence. Long- amplicon analysis is a novel protocol that identifies and reports the abundance of differing clusters of sequencing reads within a single library. Graphs generated via hierarchical clustering of individual sequencing reads are used to generate Markov models representing the consensus sequence of individual clusters found to be significantly different. Long-amplicon analysis is capable of differentiating between underlying sequences that are 99.9% similar, which is suitable for haplotyping and differentiating pseudogenes from coding transcripts. This protocol allows for the identification of structural variation in the MUC5AC gene sequence, despite the presence of a gap in the current genome assembly, and can also be used for HLA haplotyping. Clustering can also been applied to identify full length transcripts for the purpose of estimating consensus sequences and enumerating isoform types. Long-amplicon analysis allows for the elucidation of complex regions otherwise missed by other sequencing technologies, which may contribute to the diagnosis and understanding of otherwise complex diseases.


June 1, 2021  |  

A comparison of assemblers and strategies for complex, large-genome sequencing with PacBio long reads.

PacBio sequencing holds promise for addressing large-genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and duplication events that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. Several strategies, with varying outcomes, are available for de novo sequencing and assembling of larger genomes. Using a diploid fungal genome, estimated to be ~80 Mb in size, as the basis dataset for comparison, we highlight assembly options when using only PacBio sequencing or a combined strategy leveraging data sets from multiple sequencing technologies. Data generated from SMRT Sequencing was subjected to assembly using different large-genome assemblers, and comparisons of the results will be shown. These include results generated with HGAP, Celera Assembler, MIRA, PBJelly, and other assembly tools currently in development. Improvements observed include a near 50% reduction in the number of contigs coupled with at least a doubling of contig N50 size in genome assemblies incorporating SMRT Sequencing data. We further show how incorporating long reads also highlights new challenges and missed insights of short-read assemblies arising from heterozygosity inherent in multiploid genomes.


June 1, 2021  |  

Isoform sequencing: Unveiling the complex landscape in eukaryotic transcriptome on the PacBio RS II.

Advances in RNA sequencing have accelerated our understanding of the transcriptome, however isoform discovery remains challenging due to short read lengths. The Iso-Seq Application provides a new alternative to sequence full-length cDNA libraries using long reads from the PacBio RS II. Identification of long and often rare isoforms is demonstrated with rat heart and lung RNA prepared using the Clontech® SMARTer® cDNA preparation kit, followed by agarose-gel size selection in fractions of 1-2 kb, 2-3 kb and 3-6 kb. For each tissue, 1.8 and 1.2 million reads were obtained from 32 and 26 SMRT Cells, respectively. Filtering for reads with both adapters and polyA tail signals yielded >50% putative full-length transcripts. To improve consensus accuracy, we developed an isoform-level clustering algorithm ICE (Iterative Clustering for Error Correction), and polished full-length consensus sequences from ICE using Quiver. This method generated full-length transcripts up to 4.5 kb with = 99% post-correction accuracy. Compared with known rat genes, the Iso-Seq method not only recovered the majority of currently annotated isoforms, but also several unannotated novel isoforms with identified homologs in the RefSeq database. Additionally, alternative stop sites, extended UTRs, and retained introns were detected.


June 1, 2021  |  

Near perfect de novo assemblies of eukaryotic genomes using PacBio long read sequencing.

Third generation single molecule sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences, Moleculo, Oxford Nanopore, and other companies are revolutionizing genomics by enabling the sequencing of long, individual molecules of DNA and RNA. One major advantage of these technologies over current short read sequencing is the ability to sequence much longer molecules, thousands or tens of thousands of nucleotides instead of mere hundreds. This capacity gives researchers substantially greater power to probe into microbial, plant, and animal genomes, but it remains unknown on how to best use these data. To answer this, we systematically evaluated the human genome and 25 other important genomes across the tree of life ranging in size from 1Mbp to 3Gbp in an attempt to answer how long the reads need to be and how much coverage is necessary to completely assemble their chromosomes with single molecule sequencing. We also present a novel error correction and assembly algorithm using a combination of PacBio and pre-assembled Illumina sequencing. This new algorithm greatly outperforms other published hybrid algorithms.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for investigative studies to understand evolutionary processes.

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing holds promise for addressing new frontiers to understand molecular mechanisms in evolution and gain insight into adaptive strategies. With read lengths exceeding 10 kb, we are able to sequence high-quality, closed microbial genomes with associated plasmids, and investigate large genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and multiple tandem-duplication events. Improved genome quality, observed at 99.9999% (QV60) consensus accuracy, and significant reduction of gap regions in reference genomes (up to and beyond 50%) allow researchers to better understand coding sequences with high confidence, investigate potential regulatory mechanisms in noncoding regions, and make inferences about evolutionary strategies that are otherwise missed by the coverage biases associated with short- read sequencing technologies. Additional benefits afforded by SMRT Sequencing include the simultaneous capability to detect epigenomic modifications and obtain full-length cDNA transcripts that obsolete the need for assembly. With direct sequencing of DNA in real-time, this has resulted in the identification of numerous base modifications and motifs, which genome-wide profiles have linked to specific methyltransferase activities. Our new offering, the Iso-Seq Application, allows for the accurate differentiation between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. PacBio reads easily span transcripts such that both 5’/3’ primers for cDNA library generation and the poly-A tail are observed. As such, exon configuration and intron retention events can be analyzed without ambiguity. This technological advance is useful for characterizing transcript diversity and improving gene structure annotations in reference genomes. We review solutions available with SMRT Sequencing, from targeted sequencing efforts to obtaining reference genomes (>100 Mb). This includes strategies for identifying microsatellites and conducting phylogenetic comparisons with targeted gene families. We highlight how to best leverage our long reads that have exceeded 20 kb in length for research investigations, as well as currently available bioinformatics strategies for analysis. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science as demonstrated in our genome improvement projects. Using the latest P5-C3 chemistry on model organisms, these efforts have yielded an observed contig N50 of ~6 Mb, with the longest contig exceeding 12.5 Mb and an average base quality of QV50.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genomic DNA sequences of HLA class I alleles generated using multiplexed barcodes and SMRT DNA Sequencing technology.

Allelic-level resolution HLA typing is known to improve survival prognoses post Unrelated Donor (UD) Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT). Currently, many commonly used HLA typing methodologies are limited either due to the fact that ambiguity cannot be resolved or that they are not amenable to high-throughput laboratories. Pacific Biosciences’ Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing technology enables sequencing of single molecules in isolation and has read-length capabilities to enable whole gene sequencing for HLA. DNA barcode technology labels samples with unique identifiers that can be traced throughout the sequencing process. The use of DNA barcodes means that multiple samples can be sequenced in a single experiment but data can still be attributed to the correct sample. Here we describe the results of experiments that use DNA barcodes to facilitate sequencing of multiple samples for full-length HLA class I genes (known as multiplexing).


June 1, 2021  |  

Complex alternative splicing patterns in hematopoietic cell subpopulations revealed by third-generation long reads.

Background: Alternative splicing expands the repertoire of gene functions and is a signature for different cell populations. Here we characterize the transcriptome of human bone marrow subpopulations including progenitor cells to understand their contribution to homeostasis and pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis and tumor metastasis. To obtain full-length transcript structures, we utilized long reads in addition to RNA-seq for estimating isoform diversity and abundance. Method: Freshly harvested, viable human bone marrow tissues were extracted from discarded harvesting equipment and separated into total bone marrow (total), lineage-negative (lin-) progenitor cells and differentiated cells (lin+) by magnetic bead sorting with antibodies to surface markers of hematopoietic cell lineages. Sequencing was done with SOLiD, Illumina HiSeq (100bp paired-end reads), and PacBio RS II (full-length cDNA library protocol for 1 – 6 kb libraries). Short reads were assembled using both Trinity for de novo assembly and Cufflinks for genome-guided assembly. Full-length transcript consensus sequences were obtained for the PacBio data using the RS_IsoSeq protocol from PacBios SMRTAnalysis software. Quantitation for each sample was done independently for each sequencing platform using Sailfish to obtain the TPM (transcripts per million) using k-mer matching. Results: PacBios long read sequencing technology is capable of sequencing full-length transcripts up to 10 kb and reveals heretofore-unseen isoform diversity and complexity within the hematopoietic cell populations. A comparison of sequencing depth and de novo transcript assembly with short read, second-generation sequencing reveals that, while short reads provide precision in determining portions of isoform structure and supporting larger 5 and 3 UTR regions, it fails in providing a complete structure especially when multiple isoforms are present at the same locus. Increased breadth of isoform complexity is revealed by long reads that permits further elaboration of full isoform diversity and specific isoform abundance within each separate cell population. Sorting the distribution of major and minor isoforms reveals a cell population-specific balance focused on distinct genome loci and shows how tissue specificity and diversity are modulated by alternative splicing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Resolving the ‘dark matter’ in genomes.

Second-generation sequencing has brought about tremendous insights into the genetic underpinnings of biology. However, there are many functionally important and medically relevant regions of genomes that are currently difficult or impossible to sequence, resulting in incomplete and fragmented views of genomes. Two main causes are (i) limitations to read DNA of extreme sequence content (GC-rich or AT-rich regions, low complexity sequence contexts) and (ii) insufficient read lengths which leave various forms of structural variation unresolved and result in mapping ambiguities.


June 1, 2021  |  

Old school/new school genome sequencing: One step backward — a quantum leap forward.

As the costs for genome sequencing have decreased the number of “genome” sequences have increased at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the quality and completeness of these so–called “genome” sequences have suffered enormously. We prefer to call such genome assemblies as “gene assembly space” (GAS). We believe it is important to distinguish GAS assemblies from reference genome assemblies (RGAs) as all subsequent research that depends on accurate genome assemblies can be highly compromised if the only assembly available is a GAS assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome assembly strategies of the recent polyploid, Coffea arabica.

Arabica coffee, revered for its taste and aroma, has a complex genome. It is an allotetraploid (2n=4x=44) with a genome size of approximately 1.3 Gb, derived from the recent (< 0.6 Mya) hybridization of two diploid progenitors (2n=2x=22), C. canephora (710 Mb) and C. eugenioides (670 Mb). Both parental species diverged recently (< 4.2Mya) and their genomes are highly homologous. To facilitate assembly, a dihaploid plant was chosen for sequencing. Initial genome assembly attempts with short read data produced an assembly covering 1,031 Mb of the C. arabica genome with a contig L50 of 9kb. By implementation of long read PacBio at greater than 50x coverage and cutting-edge PacBio software, a de novo PacBio-only genome assembly was constructed that covers 1,042 Mb of the genome with an L50 of 267 kb. The two assemblies were assessed and compared to determine gene content, chimeric regions, and the ability to separate the parental genomes. A genetic map that contains 600 SSRs is being used for anchoring the contigs and improve the sub-genome differentiation together with the search of sub-genome specific SNPs. PacBio transcriptome sequencing is currently being added to finalize gene annotation of the polished assembly. The finished genome assembly will be used to guide re-sequencing assemblies of parental genomes (C. canephora and C. eugenioides) as well as a template for GBS analysis and whole genome re-sequencing of a set of C. arabica accessions representative of the species diversity. The obtained data will provide powerful genomic tools to enable more efficient coffee breeding strategies for this crop, which is highly susceptible to climate change and is the main source of income for millions of small farmers in producing countries.


June 1, 2021  |  

Resources for advanced bioinformaticians working in plant and animal genomes with SMRT Sequencing.

Significant advances in bioinformatics tool development have been made to more efficiently leverage and deliver high-quality genome assemblies with PacBio long-read data. Current data throughput of SMRT Sequencing delivers average read lengths ranging from 10-15 kb with the longest reads exceeding 40 kb. This has resulted in consistent demonstration of a minimum 10-fold improvement in genome assemblies with contig N50 in the megabase range compared to assemblies generated using only short- read technologies. This poster highlights recent advances and resources available for advanced bioinformaticians and developers interested in the current state-of-the-art large genome solutions available as open-source code from PacBio and third-party solutions, including HGAP, MHAP, and ECTools. Resources and tools available on GitHub are reviewed, as well as datasets representing major model research organisms made publically available for community evaluation or interested developers.


June 1, 2021  |  

The resurgence of reference quality genome sequence.

Since the advent of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), the cost of de novo genome sequencing and assembly have dropped precipitately, which has spurred interest in genome sequencing overall. Unfortunately the contiguity of the NGS assembled sequences, as well as the accuracy of these assemblies have suffered. Additionally, most NGS de novo assemblies leave large portions of genomes unresolved, and repetitive regions are often collapsed. When compared to the reference quality genome sequences produced before the NGS era, the new sequences are highly fragmented and often prove to be difficult to properly annotate. In some cases the contiguous portions are smaller than the average gene size making the sequence not nearly as useful for biologists as the earlier reference quality genomes including of Human, Mouse, C. elegans, or Drosophila. Recently, new 3rd generation sequencing technologies, long-range molecular techniques, and new informatics tools have facilitated a return to high quality assembly. We will discuss the capabilities of the technologies and assess their impact on assembly projects across the tree of life from small microbial and fungal genomes through large plant and animal genomes. Beyond improvements to contiguity, we will focus on the additional biological insights that can be made with better assemblies, including more complete analysis genes in their flanking regulatory context, in-depth studies of transposable elements and other complex gene families, and long-range synteny analysis of entire chromosomes. We will also discuss the need for new algorithms for representing and analyzing collections of many complete genomes at once.


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