June 1, 2021  |  

High-throughput analysis of full-length proviral HIV-1 genomes from PBMCs.

Background: HIV-1 proviruses in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are felt to be an important reservoir of HIV-1 infection. Given that this pool represents an archival library, it can be used to study virus evolution and CD4+ T cell survival. Accurate study of this pool is burdened by difficulties encountered in sequencing a full-length proviral genome, typically accomplished by assembling overlapping pieces and imputing the full genome. Methodology: Cryopreserved PBMCs collected from a total of 8 HIV+ patients from 1997-2001 were used for genomic DNA extraction. Patients had been receiving cART for 2-8 years at the time samples were obtained. 7 patients had pVL >50 copies/mL (mean: 312,282, range: 18,372-683,400) and 1 had pVL <50. Genomic DNA was subjected to limiting dilution prior to amplification of near-full-length genomes by a newly developed nested PCR. The predicted size of the PCR product was 9.0 kb, spanning from the 5’ LTR through the 3’ LTR. Single molecules were sequenced as near-full-length amplicons directly from PCR products without shearing using commercially available P4-C2 reagents and standard protocols on a PacBio RS II instrument. Quality of the genomes was validated by clonal positive controls and synthetic mixtures. Results: Near-full-length provirus genome sequences were successfully obtained from all 8 patients as continuous long reads from single molecules. PacBio sequencing required approximately 10% of the PCR product needed for Sanger sequencing and generated 325 MB per 3-hour run including 1,800 full-length intact genome reads on average. One patient’s sample was not at a limiting dilution and analysis revealed multiple subspecies. For 8 near-fulllength provirus genomes derived from the other 7 patients, large internal deletions were noted in 2 proviruses; APOBEC-mediated hypermutations were seen in 2 proviruses; and 4 proviruses appeared to be intact genomes. All of the defective proviruses showed a complete absence of resistance mutations in either RT or protease, even after 2-8 years of cART. On the contrary, all of the intact proviruses contained evidence of ART-resistance associated mutations suggesting that they represented relatively recent variants. Conclusions: Combining a novel protocol for full-length limiting dilution amplification of proviruses with PacBio SMRT sequencing allowed for the generation of near-full-length genomes with good quality and an ability to detect minor variants at the 1-10% level. Preliminary data analyses suggest that defective proviruses may represent archival variants that persist long-term in host cells, while intact proviruses within the PBMC pool showing evidence of active virus replication may represent more recent variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete telomere-to-telomere de novo assembly of the Plasmodium falciparum genome using long-read sequencing

Sequence-based estimation of genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal malarial parasite, has proved challenging due to a lack of a complete genomic assembly. The skewed AT-richness (~80.6% (A+T)) of its genome and the lack of technology to assemble highly polymorphic sub-telomeric regions that contain clonally variant, multigene virulence families (i.e. var and rifin) have confounded attempts using short-read NGS technologies. Using single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing, we successfully compiled all 14 nuclear chromosomes of the P. falciparum genome from telomere-to-telomere in single contigs. Specifically, amplification-free sequencing generated reads of average length 12 kb, with =50% of the reads between 15.5 and 50 kb in length. A hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP), was used to assemble the P. falciparum genome de novo. This assembly accurately resolved centromeres (~90-99% (A+T)) and sub-telomeric regions, and identified large insertions and duplications in the genome that added extra genes to the var and rifin virulence families, along with smaller structural variants such as homopolymer tract expansions. These regions can be used as markers for genetic diversity during comparative genome analyses. Moreover, identifying the polymorphic and repetitive sub-telomeric sequences of parasite populations from endemic areas might inform the link between structural variation and phenotypes such as virulence, drug resistance and disease transmission.


June 1, 2021  |  

Mitochondrial DNA sequencing using PacBio SMRT technology

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a compact, double-stranded circular genome of 16,569 bp with a cytosine-rich light (L) chain and a guanine-rich heavy (H) chain. mtDNA mutations have been increasingly recognized as important contributors to an array of human diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and Kearns–Sayre syndrome. mtDNA mutations can affect all of the 1000-10,000 copies of the mitochondrial genome present in a cell (homoplasmic mutation) or only a subset of copies (heteroplasmic mutation). The ratio of normal to mutant mtDNAs within cells is a significant factor in whether mutations will result in disease, as well as the clinical presentation, penetrance, and severity of the phenotype. Over time, heteroplasmic mutations can become homoplastic due to differential replication and random assortment. Full characterization of the mitochondrial genome would involve detection of not only homoplastic but heteroplasmic mutations, as well as complete phasing. Previously, we sequenced human mtDNA on the PacBio RS II System with two partially overlapping amplicons. Here, we present amplification-free, full-length sequencing of linearized mtDNA using the Sequel System. Full-length sequencing allows variant phasing along the entire mitochondrial genome, identification of heteroplasmic variants, and detection of epigenetic modifications that are lost in amplicon-based methods.


June 1, 2021  |  

Single chromosomal genome assemblies on the Sequel System with Circulomics high molecular weight DNA extraction for microbes

Background: The Nanobind technology from Circulomics provides an elegant HMW DNA extraction solution for genome sequencing of Gram-positive and -negative microbes. Nanobind is a nanostructured magnetic disk that can be used for rapid extraction of high molecular weight (HMW) DNA from diverse sample types including cultured cells, blood, plant nuclei, and bacteria. Processing can be completed in <1 hour for most sample types and can be performed manually or automated with common instruments. Methods:We have validated several critical steps for generating high-quality microbial genome assemblies in a streamlined microbial multiplexing workflow. This new workflow enables high-volume, cost-effective sequencing of up to 16 microbes totaling 30 Mb in genome size on a single SMRT Cell 1M using a target shear size of 10 kb. We also evaluated this method on a pool of four “class 3” microbes that contain >7 kb repeats. Fragment size was increased to ~14 kb, with some fragments >30 kb. Results: Here we present a demonstration of these capabilities using isolates relevant to high-throughput sequencing applications, including common foodborne pathogens (Shigella, Listeria, Salmonella), and species often seen in hospital settings (Klebsiella, Staphylococcus). For nearly all microbes, including difficult-to-assemble class III microbes, we achieved complete de novo microbial assemblies of =5 chromosomal contigs with minimum quality scores of 40 (99.99% accuracy) using data from multiplexed SMRTbell libraries. Each library was sequenced on a single SMRT Cell 1M with the PacBio Sequel System and analyzed with streamlined SMRT Analysis assembly methods. Conclusions: We achieved high-quality, closed microbial genomes using a combination of Circulomics Nanobind extraction and PacBio SMRT Sequencing, along with a newly streamlined workflow that includes automated demultiplexing and push-button assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

A low DNA input protocol for high-quality PacBio de novo genome assemblies

A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for studying the genetics of traits and disease, organismal, comparative and conservation biology, and population genomics. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. Improvements in throughput and concomitant reductions in cost have made PacBio an attractive core technology for many large genome initiatives. However, relatively high DNA input requirements (3 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small organisms that may have lower DNA content or on projects with limited input DNA for other reasons. Here we present a modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing or size selection that can be used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 150 ng of starting genomic DNA. Remarkably, the protocol enables high quality de novo assemblies from single invertebrate individuals and is applied to taxonomically diverse samples. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes are present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. The libraries were run on the Sequel System with chemistry v3.0 and software v6.0, generating ~11 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 10 hour movies, and followed by de novo genome assembly with FALCON. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 1 Mb) and completeness (as determined by conserved BUSCO gene analysis) when at least 30-fold unique molecular coverage is obtained. This new low-input approach now puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. The method presented here is scalable and can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts of 150 ng per 300 Mb genome size.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparison of sequencing approaches applied to complex soil metagenomes to resolve proteins of interest

Background: Long-read sequencing presents several potential advantages for providing more complete gene profiling of metagenomic samples. Long reads can capture multiple genes in a single read, and longer reads typically result in assemblies with better contiguity, especially for higher abundance organisms. However, a major challenge with using long reads has been the higher cost per base, which may lead to insufficient coverage of low-abundance species. Additionally, lower single-pass accuracy can make gene discovery for low-abundance organisms difficult. Methods: To evaluate the pros and cons of long reads for metagenomics, we directly compared PacBio and Illumina sequencing on a soil-derived sample, which included spike-in controls of known concentrations of pure referenced samples. For PacBio sequencing, a 10 kb library was sequenced on the Sequel System with 3.0 chemistry. Highly accurate long reads (HiFi reads) with Q20 and higher were generated for downstream analyses using PacBio Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) mode. Results were assessed according to the following criteria: DNA extraction capacity, bioinformatics pipeline status, % of proteins with ambiguous AA’s, total unique error-free genes/$1000, total proteins observed in spike-ins/$1000, proteins of interest/$1000, median length of contigs with proteins, and assembly requirements. Results: Both methods had areas of superior performance. DNA extraction capacity was higher for Illumina, the bioinformatics pipeline is well-tested, and there was a lower proportion of proteins with ambiguous AA’s. On the other hand, with PacBio, twice as many unique error-free genes, twice as many total proteins from spike-ins, and ~6 times more proteins of interest were found per $1000 cost. PacBio data produced on average 5 times longer contigs capturing proteins of interest. Additionally, assembly was not required for gene or protein finding, as was the case with Illumina data. Conclusions: In this comparison of PacBio Sequel System with Illumina NextSeq on a complex microbiome, we conclude that the sequencing system of choice may vary, depending on the goals and resources for the project. PacBio sequencing requires a longer DNA extraction method, and the bioinformatics pipeline may require development. On the other hand, the Sequel System generates hundreds of thousands of long HiFi reads per SMRT Cell, producing more genes, more proteins, and longer contigs, thereby offering more information about the metagenomic samples for a lower cost.


June 1, 2021  |  

Every species can be a model: Reference-quality PacBio genomes from single insects

A high-quality reference genome is an essential resource for primary and applied research across the tree of life. Genome projects for small-bodied, non-model organisms such as insects face several unique challenges including limited DNA input quantities, high heterozygosity, and difficulty of culturing or inbreeding in the lab. Recent progress in PacBio library preparation protocols, sequencing throughput, and read accuracy address these challenges. We present several case studies including the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus), and Anopheles malaria mosquitoes that highlight the benefits of sequencing single individuals for de novo genome assembly projects, and the ease at which these projects can be conducted by individual research labs. Sampled individuals may originate from lab colonies of interest to the research community or be sourced from the wild to better capture natural variation in a focal population. Where genomic DNA quantities are limited, the PacBio Low DNA Input Protocol requires ~100 ng of input DNA. Low DNA input samples with 500 Mb genome size or less can be multiplexed on a single SMRT Cell 8M on the Sequel II System. For samples with more abundant DNA quantity, size-selected libraries may be constructed to maximize sequencing yield. Both low DNA input and size-selected libraries can be used to generate HiFi reads, whose quality is Q20 or above (1% error or less) and lengths range from 10 – 25 kb. With HiFi reads, de novo assembly computation is greatly simplified relative to long read methods due to smaller sequence file sizes and more rapid analysis, resulting in highly accurate, contiguous, complete, and haplotype-resolved assemblies.


June 1, 2021  |  

Low-input single molecule HiFi sequencing for metagenomic samples

HiFi sequencing on the PacBio Sequel II System enables complete microbial community profiling of complex metagenomic samples using whole genome shotgun sequences. With HiFi sequencing, highly accurate long reads overcome the challenges posed by the presence of intergenic and extragenic repeat elements in microbial genomes, thus greatly improving phylogenetic profiling and sequence assembly. Recent improvements in library construction protocols enable HiFi sequencing starting from as low as 5 ng of input DNA. Here, we demonstrate comparative analyses of a control sample of known composition and a human fecal sample from varying amounts of input genomic DNA (1 ug, 200 ng, 5 ng), and present the corresponding library preparation workflows for standard, low input, and Ultra-Low methods. We demonstrate that the metagenome assembly, taxonomic assignment, and gene finding analyses are comparable across all methods for both samples, providing access to HiFi sequencing even for DNA-limited sample types.


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