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  |  

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.


June 1, 2021  |  

Highly accurate read mapping of third generation sequencing reads for improved structural variation analysis

Characterizing genomic structural variations (SV) is vital for understanding how genomes evolve. Furthermore, SVs are known for playing a role in a wide range of diseases including cancer, autism, and schizophrenia. Nevertheless, due to their complexity they remain harder to detect and less understood than single nucleotide variations. Recently, third-generation sequencing has proven to be an invaluable tool for detecting SVs. The markedly higher read length not only allows single reads to span a SV, it also enables reliable mapping to repetitive regions of the genome. These regions often contain SVs and are inaccessible to short-read mapping. However, current sequencing technologies like PacBio show a raw read error rate of 10% or more consisting mostly of insertions and deletions. Especially in repetitive regions the high error rate causes current mapping methods to fail finding exact borders for SVs, to split up large deletions and insertions into several small ones, or in some cases, like inversions, to fail reporting them at all. Furthermore, for complex SVs it is not possible to find one end-to-end alignment for a given read. The decision of when to split a read into two or more separate alignments without knowledge of the underlying SV poses an even bigger challenge to current read mappers. Here we present NextGenMap-LR for long single molecule PacBio reads which addresses these issues. NextGenMap-LR uses a fast k-mer search to quickly find anchor regions between parts of a read and the reference and evaluates them using a vectorized implementation of the Smith-Waterman (SW) algorithm. The resulting high-quality anchors are then used to determine whether a read spans an SV and has to be split or can be aligned contiguously. Finally, NextGenMap-LR uses a banded SW algorithm to compute the final alignment(s). In this last step, to account for both the sequencing error and real genomic variations, we employ a non-affine gap model that penalizes gap extensions for longer gaps less than for shorter ones. Based on simulated as well as verified human breast cancer SV data we show how our approach significantly improves mapping of long reads around SVs. The non-affine gap model is especially effective at more precisely identifying the position of the breakpoint, and the enhanced scoring scheme enables subsequent variation callers to identify SVs that would have been missed otherwise.


June 1, 2021  |  

Detection of structural variants using third generation sequencing

Structural Variants (SVs), which include deletions, insertions, duplications, inversions and chromosomal rearrangements, have been shown to effect organism phenotypes, including changing gene expression, increasing disease risk, and playing an important role in cancer development. Still it remains challenging to detect all types of SVs from high throughput sequencing data and it is even harder to detect more complex SVs such as a duplication nested within an inversion. To overcome these challenges we developed algorithms for SV analysis using longer third generation sequencing reads. The increased read lengths allow us to span more complex SVs and accurately assess SVs in repetitive regions, two of the major limitations when using short Illumina data. Our enhanced open-source analysis method Sniffles accurately detects structural variants based on split read mapping and assessment of the alignments. Sniffles uses a self-balancing interval tree in combination with a plane sweep algorithm to manage and assess the identified SVs. Central to its high accuracy is its advanced scoring model that can distinguish erroneous alignments from true breakpoints flanking SVs. In experiments with simulated and real genomes (e.g human breast cancer), we find that Sniffles outperforms all other SV analysis approaches in both the sensitivity of finding events as well as the specificity of those events. Sniffles is available at: https://github.com/fritzsedlazeck/Sniffles


June 1, 2021  |  

Comprehensive genome and transcriptome structural analysis of a breast cancer cell line using PacBio long read sequencing

Genomic instability is one of the hallmarks of cancer, leading to widespread copy number variations, chromosomal fusions, and other structural variations. The breast cancer cell line SK-BR-3 is an important model for HER2+ breast cancers, which are among the most aggressive forms of the disease and affect one in five cases. Through short read sequencing, copy number arrays, and other technologies, the genome of SK-BR-3 is known to be highly rearranged with many copy number variations, including an approximately twenty-fold amplification of the HER2 oncogene. However, these technologies cannot precisely characterize the nature and context of the identified genomic events and other important mutations may be missed altogether because of repeats, multi-mapping reads, and the failure to reliably anchor alignments to both sides of a variation. To address these challenges, we have sequenced SK-BR-3 using PacBio long read technology. Using the new P6-C4 chemistry, we generated more than 70X coverage of the genome with average read lengths of 9-13kb (max: 71kb). Using Lumpy for split-read alignment analysis, as well as our novel assembly-based algorithms for finding complex variants, we have developed a detailed map of structural variations in this cell line. Taking advantage of the newly identified breakpoints and combining these with copy number assignments, we have developed an algorithm to reconstruct the mutational history of this cancer genome. From this we have discovered a complex series of nested duplications and translocations between chr17 and chr8, two of the most frequent translocation partners in primary breast cancers, resulting in amplification of HER2. We have also carried out full-length transcriptome sequencing using PacBio’s Iso-Seq technology, which has revealed a number of previously unrecognized gene fusions and isoforms. Combining long-read genome and transcriptome sequencing technologies enables an in-depth analysis of how changes in the genome affect the transcriptome, including how gene fusions are created across multiple chromosomes. This analysis has established the most complete cancer reference genome available to date, and is already opening the door to applying long-read sequencing to patient samples with complex genome structures.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome and transcriptome of the refeneration-competent flatworm, Macrostomum lignano

The free-living flatworm, Macrostomum lignano, much like its better known planarian relative, Schmidtea mediterranea, has an impressive regenerative capacity. Following injury, this species has the ability to regenerate almost an entirely new organism. This is attributable to the presence of an abundant somatic stem cell population, the neoblasts. These cells are also essential for the ongoing maintenance of most tissues, as their loss leads to irreversible degeneration of the animal. This set of unique properties makes a subset of flatworms attractive organisms for studying the evolution of pathways involved in tissue self-renewal, cell fate specification, and regeneration. The use of these organisms as models, however, is hampered by the lack of a well-assembled and annotated genome sequences, fundamental to modern genetic and molecular studies. Here we report the genomic sequence of Macrostomum lignano and an accompanying characterization of its transcriptome. The genome structure of M. lignano is remarkably complex, with ~75% of its sequence being comprised of simple repeats and transposon sequences. This has made high quality assembly from Illumina reads alone impossible (N50=222 bp). We therefore generated 130X coverage by long sequencing reads from the PacBio platform to create a substantially improved assembly with an N50 of 64 Kbp. We complemented the reference genome with an assembled and annotated transcriptome, and used both of these datasets in combination to probe gene expression patterns during regeneration, examining pathways important to stem cell function. As a whole, our data will provide a crucial resource for the community for the study not only of invertebrate evolution and phylogeny but also of regeneration and somatic pluripotency.


June 1, 2021  |  

The resurgence of reference quality genome

Several new 3rd generation long-range DNA sequencing and mapping technologies have recently become available that are starting to create a resurgence in genome sequence quality. Unlike their 2nd generation, shortread counterparts that can resolve a few hundred or a few thousand basepairs, the new technologies can routinely sequence 10,000 bp reads or map across 100,000 bp molecules. The substantially greater lengths are being used to enhance a number of important problems in genomics and medicine, including de novo genome assembly, structural variation detection, and haplotype phasing. Here we discuss the capabilities of the latest technologies, and show how they will improve the “3Cs of Genome Assembly”: the contiguity, completeness, and correctness. We derive this analysis from (1) a metaanalysis of the currently available 3rd generation genome assemblies, (2) a retrospective analysis of the evolution of the reference human genome, and (3) extensive simulations with dozens of species across the tree of life. We also propose a model using support vector regression (SVR) that predicts genome assembly performance using four features: read lengths(L) and coverage values(C) that can be used for evaluating potential technologies along with genome size(G) and repeats(R) that present species specific characteristics. The proposed model significantly improves genome assembly performance prediction by adopting data-driven approach and addressing limitations of the previous hypothesis-driven methodology. Overall, we anticipate these technologies unlock the genomic “dark matter”, and provide many new insights into evolution, agriculture, and human diseases.


June 1, 2021  |  

Phased diploid genome assembly with single-molecule real-time sequencing

While genome assembly projects have been successful in many haploid and inbred species, the assembly of non-inbred or rearranged heterozygous genomes remains a major challenge. To address this challenge, we introduce the open-source FALCON and FALCON-Unzip algorithms (https://github.com/PacificBiosciences/FALCON/) to assemble long-read sequencing data into highly accurate, contiguous, and correctly phased diploid genomes. We generate new reference sequences for heterozygous samples including an F1 hybrid of Arabidopsis thaliana, the widely cultivated Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon, and the coral fungus Clavicorona pyxidata, samples that have challenged short-read assembly approaches. The FALCON-based assemblies are substantially more contiguous and complete than alternate short- or long-read approaches. The phased diploid assembly enabled the study of haplotype structure and heterozygosities between homologous chromosomes, including the identification of widespread heterozygous structural variation within coding sequences.


June 1, 2021  |  

Haplotyping using full-length transcript sequencing reveals allele-specific expression

An important need in analyzing complex genomes is the ability to separate and phase haplotypes. While whole genome assembly can deliver this information, it cannot reveal whether there is allele-specific gene or isoform expression. The PacBio Iso-Seq method, which can produce high-quality transcript sequences of 10 kb and longer, has been used to annotate many important plant and animal genomes. We present an algorithm called IsoPhase that post-processes Iso-Seq data for transcript-based haplotyping. We applied IsoPhase to a maize Iso-Seq dataset consisting of two homozygous parents and two F1 cross hybrids. We validated the majority of the SNPs called with IsoPhase against matching short read data and identified cases of allele-specific, gene-level and isoform-level expression.


June 1, 2021  |  

A workflow for the comprehensive detection and prioritization of variants in human genomes with PacBio HiFi reads

PacBio HiFi reads (minimum 99% accuracy, 15-25 kb read length) have emerged as a powerful data type for comprehensive variant detection in human genomes. The HiFi read length extends confident mapping and variant calling to repetitive regions of the genome that are not accessible with short reads. Read length also improves detection of structural variants (SVs), with recall exceeding that of short reads by over 30%. High read quality allows for accurate single nucleotide variant and small indel detection, with precision and recall matching that of short reads. While many tools have been developed to take advantage of these qualities of HiFi reads, there is no end-to-end workflow for the filtering and prioritization of variants uniquely detected with long reads for rare and undiagnosed disease research. We have developed a flexible, modular workflow and web portal for variant analysis from HiFi reads and applied it to a set of rare disease cases unsolved by short-read whole genome sequencing. We expect that broad application of long-read variant detection workflows will solve many more rare disease cases. We have made these tools available at https://github.com/williamrowell/pbRUGD-workflow, and we hope they serve a starting point for developing a robust analysis framework for long read variant detection for rare diseases.


February 5, 2021  |  

AGBT 2015 Highlights: Customer interviews day 1

PacBio customers discuss their applications of PacBio SMRT Sequencing and long reads, including Lemuel Racacho (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute), Matthew Blow (JGI), Yuta Suzuki (U. of Tokyo),…


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