July 19, 2019  |  

Efficient and accurate whole genome assembly and methylome profiling of E. coli.

With the price of next generation sequencing steadily decreasing, bacterial genome assembly is now accessible to a wide range of researchers. It is therefore necessary to understand the best methods for generating a genome assembly, specifically, which combination of sequencing and bioinformatics strategies result in the most accurate assemblies. Here, we sequence three E. coli strains on the Illumina MiSeq, Life Technologies Ion Torrent PGM, and Pacific Biosciences RS. We then perform genome assemblies on all three datasets alone or in combination to determine the best methods for the assembly of bacterial genomes.Three E. coli strains – BL21(DE3), Bal225, and DH5a – were sequenced to a depth of 100× on the MiSeq and Ion Torrent machines and to at least 125× on the PacBio RS. Four assembly methods were examined and compared. The previously published BL21(DE3) genome [GenBank:AM946981.2], allowed us to evaluate the accuracy of each of the BL21(DE3) assemblies. BL21(DE3) PacBio-only assemblies resulted in a 90% reduction in contigs versus short read only assemblies, while N50 numbers increased by over 7-fold. Strikingly, the number of SNPs in PacBio-only assemblies were less than half that seen with short read assemblies (~20 SNPs vs. ~50 SNPs) and indels also saw dramatic reductions (~2 indel >5 bp in PacBio-only assemblies vs. ~12 for short-read only assemblies). Assemblies that used a mixture of PacBio and short read data generally fell in between these two extremes. Use of PacBio sequencing reads also allowed us to call covalent base modifications for the three strains. Each of the strains used here had a known covalent base modification genotype, which was confirmed by PacBio sequencing.Using data generated solely from the Pacific Biosciences RS, we were able to generate the most complete and accurate de novo assemblies of E. coli strains. We found that the addition of other sequencing technology data offered no improvements over use of PacBio data alone. In addition, the sequencing data from the PacBio RS allowed for sensitive and specific calling of covalent base modifications.


July 19, 2019  |  

The complex methylome of the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori.

The genome of Helicobacter pylori is remarkable for its large number of restriction-modification (R-M) systems, and strain-specific diversity in R-M systems has been suggested to limit natural transformation, the major driving force of genetic diversification in H. pylori. We have determined the comprehensive methylomes of two H. pylori strains at single base resolution, using Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT®) sequencing. For strains 26695 and J99-R3, 17 and 22 methylated sequence motifs were identified, respectively. For most motifs, almost all sites occurring in the genome were detected as methylated. Twelve novel methylation patterns corresponding to nine recognition sequences were detected (26695, 3; J99-R3, 6). Functional inactivation, correction of frameshifts as well as cloning and expression of candidate methyltransferases (MTases) permitted not only the functional characterization of multiple, yet undescribed, MTases, but also revealed novel features of both Type I and Type II R-M systems, including frameshift-mediated changes of sequence specificity and the interaction of one MTase with two alternative specificity subunits resulting in different methylation patterns. The methylomes of these well-characterized H. pylori strains will provide a valuable resource for future studies investigating the role of H. pylori R-M systems in limiting transformation as well as in gene regulation and host interaction.


July 19, 2019  |  

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 sequencing) that is emerging to fill this space, with the potential for dramatically longer read lengths, shorter time to result and lower overall cost.


July 19, 2019  |  

Germinal center centroblasts transition to a centrocyte phenotype according to a timed program and depend on the dark zone for effective selection.

Germinal center (GC) B cells cycle between the dark zone (DZ) and light zone (LZ) during antibody affinity maturation. Whether this movement is necessary for GC function has not been tested. Here we show that CXCR4-deficient GC B cells, which are restricted to the LZ, are gradually outcompeted by WT cells indicating an essential role for DZ access. Remarkably, the transition between DZ centroblast and LZ centrocyte phenotypes occurred independently of positioning. However, CXCR4-deficient cells carried fewer mutations and were overrepresented in the CD73(+) memory compartment. These findings are consistent with a model where GC B cells change from DZ to LZ phenotype according to a timed cellular program but suggest that spatial separation of DZ cells facilitates more effective rounds of mutation and selection. Finally, we identify a network of DZ CXCL12-expressing reticular cells that likely support DZ functions. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome reference and sequence variation in the large repetitive central exon of human MUC5AC.

Despite modern sequencing efforts, the difficulty in assembly of highly repetitive sequences has prevented resolution of human genome gaps, including some in the coding regions of genes with important biological functions. One such gene, MUC5AC, encodes a large, secreted mucin, which is one of the two major secreted mucins in human airways. The MUC5AC region contains a gap in the human genome reference (hg19) across the large, highly repetitive, and complex central exon. This exon is predicted to contain imperfect tandem repeat sequences and multiple conserved cysteine-rich (CysD) domains. To resolve the MUC5AC genomic gap, we used high-fidelity long PCR followed by single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. This technology yielded long sequence reads and robust coverage that allowed for de novo sequence assembly spanning the entire repetitive region. Furthermore, we used SMRT sequencing of PCR amplicons covering the central exon to identify genetic variation in four individuals. The results demonstrated the presence of segmental duplications of CysD domains, insertions/deletions (indels) of tandem repeats, and single nucleotide variants. Additional studies demonstrated that one of the identified tandem repeat insertions is tagged by nonexonic single nucleotide polymorphisms. Taken together, these data illustrate the successful utility of SMRT sequencing long reads for de novo assembly of large repetitive sequences to fill the gaps in the human genome. Characterization of the MUC5AC gene and the sequence variation in the central exon will facilitate genetic and functional studies for this critical airway mucin.


July 19, 2019  |  

Reducing assembly complexity of microbial genomes with single-molecule sequencing.

The short reads output by first- and second-generation DNA sequencing instruments cannot completely reconstruct microbial chromosomes. Therefore, most genomes have been left unfinished due to the significant resources required to manually close gaps in draft assemblies. Third-generation, single-molecule sequencing addresses this problem by greatly increasing sequencing read length, which simplifies the assembly problem.To measure the benefit of single-molecule sequencing on microbial genome assembly, we sequenced and assembled the genomes of six bacteria and analyzed the repeat complexity of 2,267 complete bacteria and archaea. Our results indicate that the majority of known bacterial and archaeal genomes can be assembled without gaps, at finished-grade quality, using a single PacBio RS sequencing library. These single-library assemblies are also more accurate than typical short-read assemblies and hybrid assemblies of short and long reads.Automated assembly of long, single-molecule sequencing data reduces the cost of microbial finishing to $1,000 for most genomes, and future advances in this technology are expected to drive the cost lower. This is expected to increase the number of completed genomes, improve the quality of microbial genome databases, and enable high-fidelity, population-scale studies of pan-genomes and chromosomal organization.


July 19, 2019  |  

Resolving the complexity of the human genome using single-molecule sequencing.

The human genome is arguably the most complete mammalian reference assembly, yet more than 160 euchromatic gaps remain and aspects of its structural variation remain poorly understood ten years after its completion. To identify missing sequence and genetic variation, here we sequence and analyse a haploid human genome (CHM1) using single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing. We close or extend 55% of the remaining interstitial gaps in the human GRCh37 reference genome–78% of which carried long runs of degenerate short tandem repeats, often several kilobases in length, embedded within (G+C)-rich genomic regions. We resolve the complete sequence of 26,079 euchromatic structural variants at the base-pair level, including inversions, complex insertions and long tracts of tandem repeats. Most have not been previously reported, with the greatest increases in sensitivity occurring for events less than 5 kilobases in size. Compared to the human reference, we find a significant insertional bias (3:1) in regions corresponding to complex insertions and long short tandem repeats. Our results suggest a greater complexity of the human genome in the form of variation of longer and more complex repetitive DNA that can now be largely resolved with the application of this longer-read sequencing technology.


July 19, 2019  |  

Single haplotype assembly of the human genome from a hydatidiform mole.

A complete reference assembly is essential for accurately interpreting individual genomes and associating variation with phenotypes. While the current human reference genome sequence is of very high quality, gaps and misassemblies remain due to biological and technical complexities. Large repetitive sequences and complex allelic diversity are the two main drivers of assembly error. Although increasing the length of sequence reads and library fragments can improve assembly, even the longest available reads do not resolve all regions. In order to overcome the issue of allelic diversity, we used genomic DNA from an essentially haploid hydatidiform mole, CHM1. We utilized several resources from this DNA including a set of end-sequenced and indexed BAC clones and 100× Illumina whole-genome shotgun (WGS) sequence coverage. We used the WGS sequence and the GRCh37 reference assembly to create an assembly of the CHM1 genome. We subsequently incorporated 382 finished BAC clone sequences to generate a draft assembly, CHM1_1.1 (NCBI AssemblyDB GCA_000306695.2). Analysis of gene, repetitive element, and segmental duplication content show this assembly to be of excellent quality and contiguity. However, comparison to assembly-independent resources, such as BAC clone end sequences and PacBio long reads, indicate misassembled regions. Most of these regions are enriched for structural variation and segmental duplication, and can be resolved in the future. This publicly available assembly will be integrated into the Genome Reference Consortium curation framework for further improvement, with the ultimate goal being a completely finished gap-free assembly. © 2014 Steinberg et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


July 19, 2019  |  

A random six-phase switch regulates pneumococcal virulence via global epigenetic changes.

Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the world’s foremost bacterial pathogen in both morbidity and mortality. Switching between phenotypic forms (or ‘phases’) that favour asymptomatic carriage or invasive disease was first reported in 1933. Here, we show that the underlying mechanism for such phase variation consists of genetic rearrangements in a Type I restriction-modification system (SpnD39III). The rearrangements generate six alternative specificities with distinct methylation patterns, as defined by single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) methylomics. The SpnD39III variants have distinct gene expression profiles. We demonstrate distinct virulence in experimental infection and in vivo selection for switching between SpnD39III variants. SpnD39III is ubiquitous in pneumococci, indicating an essential role in its biology. Future studies must recognize the potential for switching between these heretofore undetectable, differentiated pneumococcal subpopulations in vitro and in vivo. Similar systems exist in other bacterial genera, indicating the potential for broad exploitation of epigenetic gene regulation.


July 19, 2019  |  

One chromosome, one contig: complete microbial genomes from long-read sequencing and assembly.

Like a jigsaw puzzle with large pieces, a genome sequenced with long reads is easier to assemble. However, recent sequencing technologies have favored lowering per-base cost at the expense of read length. This has dramatically reduced sequencing cost, but resulted in fragmented assemblies, which negatively affect downstream analyses and hinder the creation of finished (gapless, high-quality) genomes. In contrast, emerging long-read sequencing technologies can now produce reads tens of kilobases in length, enabling the automated finishing of microbial genomes for under $1000. This promises to improve the quality of reference databases and facilitate new studies of chromosomal structure and variation. We present an overview of these new technologies and the methods used to assemble long reads into complete genomes. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

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 of the sequencing protocol. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Heterosexual transmission of subtype C HIV-1 selects consensus-like variants without increased replicative capacity or interferon-a resistance.

Heterosexual transmission of HIV-1 is characterized by a genetic bottleneck that selects a single viral variant, the transmitted/founder (TF), during most transmission events. To assess viral characteristics influencing HIV-1 transmission, we sequenced 167 near full-length viral genomes and generated 40 infectious molecular clones (IMC) including TF variants and multiple non-transmitted (NT) HIV-1 subtype C variants from six linked heterosexual transmission pairs near the time of transmission. Consensus-like genomes sensitive to donor antibodies were selected for during transmission in these six transmission pairs. However, TF variants did not demonstrate increased viral fitness in terms of particle infectivity or viral replicative capacity in activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC). In addition, resistance of the TF variant to the antiviral effects of interferon-a (IFN-a) was not significantly different from that of non-transmitted variants from the same transmission pair. Thus neither in vitro viral replicative capacity nor IFN-a resistance discriminated the transmission potential of viruses in the quasispecies of these chronically infected individuals. However, our findings support the hypothesis that within-host evolution of HIV-1 in response to adaptive immune responses reduces viral transmission potential.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genetic variation and the de novo assembly of human genomes.

The discovery of genetic variation and the assembly of genome sequences are both inextricably linked to advances in DNA-sequencing technology. Short-read massively parallel sequencing has revolutionized our ability to discover genetic variation but is insufficient to generate high-quality genome assemblies or resolve most structural variation. Full resolution of variation is only guaranteed by complete de novo assembly of a genome. Here, we review approaches to genome assembly, the nature of gaps or missing sequences, and biases in the assembly process. We describe the challenges of generating a complete de novo genome assembly using current technologies and the impact that being able to perfectly sequence the genome would have on understanding human disease and evolution. Finally, we summarize recent technological advances that improve both contiguity and accuracy and emphasize the importance of complete de novo assembly as opposed to read mapping as the primary means to understanding the full range of human genetic variation.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome sequencing: Long reads for a short plant

The genome of a tiny resurrection plant has been sequenced using PacBio’s long-read single-molecule real-time sequencing technology, aiding the understanding of extreme desiccation tolerance. The genome contiguity is comparable to that of genomes sequenced using far more laborious approaches.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantifying influenza virus diversity and transmission in humans.

Influenza A virus is characterized by high genetic diversity. However, most of what is known about influenza evolution has come from consensus sequences sampled at the epidemiological scale that only represent the dominant virus lineage within each infected host. Less is known about the extent of within-host virus diversity and what proportion of this diversity is transmitted between individuals. To characterize virus variants that achieve sustainable transmission in new hosts, we examined within-host virus genetic diversity in household donor-recipient pairs from the first wave of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic when seasonal H3N2 was co-circulating. Although the same variants were found in multiple members of the community, the relative frequencies of variants fluctuated, with patterns of genetic variation more similar within than between households. We estimated the effective population size of influenza A virus across donor-recipient pairs to be approximately 100-200 contributing members, which enabled the transmission of multiple lineages, including antigenic variants.


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