April 21, 2020  |  

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions such as when and where transcription occurs to the folding and intermolecular interactions that govern RNA function.


April 21, 2020  |  

deSALT: fast and accurate long transcriptomic read alignment with de Bruijn graph-based index

Long-read RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) is promising to transcriptomics studies, however, the alignment of the reads is still a fundamental but non-trivial task due to the sequencing errors and complicated gene structures. We propose deSALT, a tailored two-pass long RNA-seq read alignment approach, which constructs graph-based alignment skeletons to sensitively infer exons, and use them to generate spliced reference sequence to produce refined alignments. deSALT addresses several difficult issues, such as small exons, serious sequencing errors and consensus spliced alignment. Benchmarks demonstrate that this approach has a better ability to produce high-quality full-length alignments, which has enormous potentials to transcriptomics studies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-Molecule Sequencing: Towards Clinical Applications.

In the past several years, single-molecule sequencing platforms, such as those by Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, have become available to researchers and are currently being tested for clinical applications. They offer exceptionally long reads that permit direct sequencing through regions of the genome inaccessible or difficult to analyze by short-read platforms. This includes disease-causing long repetitive elements, extreme GC content regions, and complex gene loci. Similarly, these platforms enable structural variation characterization at previously unparalleled resolution and direct detection of epigenetic marks in native DNA. Here, we review how these technologies are opening up new clinical avenues that are being applied to pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, constitutional disorders, pharmacogenomics, cancer, and more.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive identification of the full-length transcripts and alternative splicing related to the secondary metabolism pathways in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

Flavonoids, theanine and caffeine are the main secondary metabolites of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), which account for the tea’s unique flavor quality and health benefits. The biosynthesis pathways of these metabolites have been extensively studied at the transcriptional level, but the regulatory mechanisms are still unclear. In this study, to explore the transcriptome diversity and complexity of tea plant, PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis were combined to obtain full-length transcripts and to profile the changes in gene expression during the leaf development. A total of 1,388,066 reads of insert (ROI) were generated with an average length of 1,762?bp, and more than 54% (755,716) of the ROIs were full-length non-chimeric (FLNC) reads. The Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologue (BUSCO) completeness was 92.7%. A total of 93,883 non-redundant transcripts were obtained, and 87,395 (93.1%) were new alternatively spliced isoforms. Meanwhile, 7,650 differential expression transcripts (DETs) were identified. A total of 28,980 alternative splicing (AS) events were predicted, including 1,297 differential AS (DAS) events. The transcript isoforms of the key genes involved in the flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis pathways were characterized. Additionally, 5,777 fusion transcripts and 9,052 long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were also predicted. Our results revealed that AS potentially plays a crucial role in the regulation of the secondary metabolism of the tea plant. These findings enhanced our understanding of the complexity of the secondary metabolic regulation of tea plants and provided a basis for the subsequent exploration of the regulatory mechanisms of flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis in tea plants.


April 21, 2020  |  

Getting the Entire Message: Progress in Isoform Sequencing

The advent of second-generation sequencing and its application to RNA sequencing has revolutionized the field of genomics by allowing the quantification of expression of entire genes as well as single TSS, exons and splice sites, RNA-editing sites as well as polyA-sites. However, due to the sequencing of fragments of cDNAs these methods have not given a reliable picture of complete RNA isoforms. Third-generation sequencing has filled this gap and allows end-to-end sequencing of entire RNA/cDNA molecules. This approach to transcriptomics has been a ‘niche’ technology for a couple of years but now is becoming mainstream with many different applications. Here, we review the background and progress made to date in this rapidly growing field. We start by reviewing the progressive realization that alternative splicing is omnipresent. We then focus on long-non-coding RNA isoforms and the distinct combination patterns of exons in non-coding and coding genes. We consider the implications of the recent technologies of direct RNA sequencing and single-cell isoform RNA sequencing. Finally, we discuss the parameters that define the success of long-read RNA sequencing experiments and strategies commonly used to make the most of such data.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-Read Sequencing Emerging in Medical Genetics

The wide implementation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the field of medical genetics. However, the short read lengths of currently used sequencing approaches pose a limitation for identification of structural variants, sequencing repetitive regions, phasing alleles and distinguishing highly homologous genomic regions. These limitations may significantly contribute to the diagnostic gap in patients with genetic disorders who have undergone standard NGS, like whole exome or even genome sequencing. Now, the emerging long-read sequencing (LRS) technologies may offer improvements in the characterization of genetic variation and regions that are difficult to assess with the currently prevailing NGS approaches. LRS has so far mainly been used to investigate genetic disorders with previously known or strongly suspected disease loci. While these targeted approaches already show the potential of LRS, it remains to be seen whether LRS technologies can soon enable true whole genome sequencing routinely. Ultimately, this could allow the de novo assembly of individual whole genomes used as a generic test for genetic disorders. In this article, we summarize the current LRS-based research on human genetic disorders and discuss the potential of these technologies to facilitate the next major advancements in medical genetics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Analysis of Transcriptome and Epitranscriptome in Plants Using PacBio Iso-Seq and Nanopore-Based Direct RNA Sequencing.

Nanopore sequencing from Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) and Pacific BioSciences (PacBio) single-molecule real-time (SMRT) long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) are revolutionizing the way transcriptomes are analyzed. These methods offer many advantages over most widely used high-throughput short-read RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) approaches and allow a comprehensive analysis of transcriptomes in identifying full-length splice isoforms and several other post-transcriptional events. In addition, direct RNA-Seq provides valuable information about RNA modifications, which are lost during the PCR amplification step in other methods. Here, we present a comprehensive summary of important applications of these technologies in plants, including identification of complex alternative splicing (AS), full-length splice variants, fusion transcripts, and alternative polyadenylation (APA) events. Furthermore, we discuss the impact of the newly developed nanopore direct RNA-Seq in advancing epitranscriptome research in plants. Additionally, we summarize computational tools for identifying and quantifying full-length isoforms and other co/post-transcriptional events and discussed some of the limitations with these methods. Sequencing of transcriptomes using these new single-molecule long-read methods will unravel many aspects of transcriptome complexity in unprecedented ways as compared to previous short-read sequencing approaches. Analysis of plant transcriptomes with these new powerful methods that require minimum sample processing is likely to become the norm and is expected to uncover novel co/post-transcriptional gene regulatory mechanisms that control biological outcomes during plant development and in response to various stresses.


September 22, 2019  |  

Global dissection of alternative splicing uncovers transcriptional diversity in tissues and associates with the flavonoid pathway in tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

Alternative splicing (AS) regulates mRNA at the post-transcriptional level to change gene function in organisms. However, little is known about the AS and its roles in tea plant (Camellia sinensis), widely cultivated for making a popular beverage tea.In our study, the AS landscape and dynamics were characterized in eight tissues (bud, young leaf, summer mature leaf, winter old leaf, stem, root, flower, fruit) of tea plant by Illumina RNA-Seq and confirmed by Iso-Seq. The most abundant AS (~?20%) was intron retention and involved in RNA processes. The some alternative splicings were found to be tissue specific in stem and root etc. Thirteen co-expressed modules of AS transcripts were identified, which revealed a similar pattern between the bud and young leaves as well as a distinct pattern between seasons. AS events of structural genes including anthocyanidin reductase and MYB transcription factors were involved in biosynthesis of flavonoid, especially in vegetative tissues. The AS isoforms rather than the full-length ones were the major transcripts involved in flavonoid synthesis pathway, and is positively correlated with the catechins content conferring the tea taste. We propose that the AS is an important functional mechanism in regulating flavonoid metabolites.Our study provides the insight into the AS events underlying tea plant’s uniquely different developmental process and highlights the important contribution and efficacy of alternative splicing regulatory function to biosynthesis of flavonoids.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-wide transcriptome profiling of the medicinal plant Zanthoxylum planispinum using a single-molecule direct RNA sequencing approach.

High-throughput RNA sequencing has revolutionized transcriptome-based studies of candidate genes, key pathways and gene regulation in non-model organisms. We analyzed full-length cDNA sequences in Zanthoxylum planispinum (Z. planispinum), a medicinal herb in major parts of East Asia. The full-length mRNA derived from tissues of leaf, early fruit and maturing fruit stage were sequenced using PacBio RSII platform to identify isoform transcriptome. We obtained 51,402 unigenes, with average 1781?bp per gene in 82.473?Mb gene lengths. Among 51,402, 3963 unigenes showed variety of isoform. By selection of one representative gene among each of the various isoforms, we finalized 46,306 unique gene set for this herb. We identified 76 cytochrome P450 (CYP450) and related isoforms that are of the wide diversity in the molecular function and biological process. These transcriptome data of Z. planispinum will provide a good resource to study metabolic engineering for the production of valuable medicinal drugs and phytochemicals. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Dynamic transcriptome profiling dataset of vaccinia virus obtained from long-read sequencing techniques.

Poxviruses are large DNA viruses that infect humans and animals. Vaccinia virus (VACV) has been applied as a live vaccine for immunization against smallpox, which was eradicated by 1980 as a result of worldwide vaccination. VACV is the prototype of poxviruses in the investigation of the molecular pathogenesis of the virus. Short-read sequencing methods have revolutionized transcriptomics; however, they are not efficient in distinguishing between the RNA isoforms and transcript overlaps. Long-read sequencing (LRS) is much better suited to solve these problems and also allow direct RNA sequencing. Despite the scientific relevance of VACV, no LRS data have been generated for the viral transcriptome to date.For the deep characterization of the VACV RNA profile, various LRS platforms and library preparation approaches were applied. The raw reads were mapped to the VACV reference genome and also to the host (Chlorocebus sabaeus) genome. In this study, we applied the Pacific Biosciences RSII and Sequel platforms, which altogether resulted in 937,531 mapped reads of inserts (1.42 Gb), while we obtained 2,160,348 aligned reads (1.75 Gb) from the different library preparation methods using the MinION device from Oxford Nanopore Technologies.By applying cutting-edge technologies, we were able to generate a large dataset that can serve as a valuable resource for the investigation of the dynamic VACV transcriptome, the virus-host interactions, and RNA base modifications. These data can provide useful information for novel gene annotations in the VACV genome. Our dataset can also be used to analyze the currently available LRS platforms, library preparation methods, and bioinformatics pipelines.


September 22, 2019  |  

Alternative polyadenylation: methods, findings, and impacts.

Alternative polyadenylation (APA), a phenomenon that RNA molecules with different 3′ ends originate from distinct polyadenylation sites of a single gene, is emerging as a mechanism widely used to regulate gene expression. In the present review, we first summarized various methods prevalently adopted in APA study, mainly focused on the next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based techniques specially designed for APA identification, the related bioinformatics methods, and the strategies for APA study in single cells. Then we summarized the main findings and advances so far based on these methods, including the preferences of alternative polyA (pA) site, the biological processes involved, and the corresponding consequences. We especially categorized the APA changes discovered so far and discussed their potential functions under given conditions, along with the possible underlying molecular mechanisms. With more in-depth studies on extensive samples, more signatures and functions of APA will be revealed, and its diverse roles will gradually heave in sight. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

The third revolution in sequencing technology.

Forty years ago the advent of Sanger sequencing was revolutionary as it allowed complete genome sequences to be deciphered for the first time. A second revolution came when next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies appeared, which made genome sequencing much cheaper and faster. However, NGS methods have several drawbacks and pitfalls, most notably their short reads. Recently, third-generation/long-read methods appeared, which can produce genome assemblies of unprecedented quality. Moreover, these technologies can directly detect epigenetic modifications on native DNA and allow whole-transcript sequencing without the need for assembly. This marks the third revolution in sequencing technology. Here we review and compare the various long-read methods. We discuss their applications and their respective strengths and weaknesses and provide future perspectives. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transcriptome profiling using single-molecule direct RNA sequencing approach for in-depth understanding of genes in secondary metabolism pathways of Camellia sinensis.

Characteristic secondary metabolites, including flavonoids, theanine and caffeine, are important components of Camellia sinensis, and their biosynthesis has attracted widespread interest. Previous studies on the biosynthesis of these major secondary metabolites using next-generation sequencing technologies limited the accurately prediction of full-length (FL) splice isoforms. Herein, we applied single-molecule sequencing to pooled tea plant tissues, to provide a more complete transcriptome of C. sinensis. Moreover, we identified 94 FL transcripts and four alternative splicing events for enzyme-coding genes involved in the biosynthesis of flavonoids, theanine and caffeine. According to the comparison between long-read isoforms and assemble transcripts, we improved the quality and accuracy of genes sequenced by short-read next-generation sequencing technology. The resulting FL transcripts, together with the improved assembled transcripts and identified alternative splicing events, enhance our understanding of genes involved in the biosynthesis of characteristic secondary metabolites in C. sinensis.


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.


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