June 1, 2021  |  

Direct sequencing and identification of damaged DNA bases.

DNA is under constant stress from both endogenous and exogenous sources. DNA base modifications resulting from various types of DNA damage are wide-spread and play important roles in affecting physiological states and disease phenotypes. Examples include oxidative damage (8- oxoguanine, 8-oxoadenine; aging, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), alkylation (1-methyladenine, 6-O- methylguanine; cancer), adduct formation (benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE), pyrimidine dimers; smoking, industrial chemical exposure, chemical UV light exposure, cancer), and ionizing radiation damage (5-hydroxycytosine, 5- hydroxyuracil, 5-hydroxymethyluracil; cancer). Currently, these and other products of DNA damage cannot be sequenced with existing sequencing methods. In contrast, single molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing can report on modified DNA bases through an analysis of the DNA polymerase kinetics that is affected by a modified base in the template. We demonstrate the DNA strand-resolved sequencing of over 8 different DNA-damage associated base modifications, with base pair resolution and single DNA molecule sensitivity. We also report on the application of this sequencing capability to biological samples and the development of a generic, open-source algorithm to analyze kinetic information from SMRT sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete microbial genomes, epigenomes, and transcriptomes using long-read PacBio Sequencing.

For comprehensive metabolic reconstructions and a resulting understanding of the pathways leading to natural products, it is desirable to obtain complete information about the genetic blueprint of the organisms used. Traditional Sanger and next-generation, short-read sequencing technologies have shortcomings with respect to read lengths and DNA-sequence context bias, leading to fragmented and incomplete genome information. The development of long-read, single molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing from Pacific Biosciences, with >10,000 bp average read lengths and a lack of sequence context bias, now allows for the generation of complete genomes in a fully automated workflow. In addition to the genome sequence, DNA methylation is characterized in the process of sequencing. PacBio® sequencing has also been applied to microbial transcriptomes. Long reads enable sequencing of full-length cDNAs allowing for identification of complete gene and operon sequences without the need for transcript assembly. We will highlight several examples where these capabilities have been leveraged in the areas of industrial microbiology, including biocommodities, biofuels, bioremediation, new bacteria with potential commercial applications, antibiotic discovery, and livestock/plant microbiome interactions.


June 1, 2021  |  

Amplification-free targeted enrichment and SMRT Sequencing of repeat-expansion genomic regions

Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification. Amplification removes the epigenetic marks present in native DNA, and some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, a large number of genetic disorders are caused by expansions of repeat sequences. Furthermore, for some disorders, methylation status has been shown to be a key factor in the mechanism of disease.


June 1, 2021  |  

Amplification-free, CRISPR-Cas9 targeted enrichment and SMRT Sequencing of repeat-expansion disease causative genomic regions

Targeted sequencing has proven to be economical for obtaining sequence information for defined regions of the genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification which can negatively impact downstream analysis. For example, amplification removes epigenetic marks present in native DNA, including nucleotide methylation, which are hypothesized to contribute to disease mechanisms in some disorders. In addition, some genomic regions known to be causative of many genetic disorders have extreme GC content and/or repetitive sequences that tend to be recalcitrant to faithful amplification. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system to target individual genes. This method, in conjunction with the long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage of SMRT Sequencing, allows accurate sequence analysis of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies. Using this strategy, we have successfully targeted a number of repeat expansion disorder loci (HTT, FMR1, ATXN10, C9orf72).With this data, we demonstrate the ability to isolate thousands of individual on-target molecules and, using the Sequel System, accurately sequence through long repeats regardless of the extreme GC-content. The method is compatible with multiplexing of multiple target loci and multiple samples in a single reaction. Furthermore, because there is no amplification step, this technique also preserves native DNA molecules for sequencing, allowing for the direct detection and characterization of epigenetic signatures. To this end, we demonstrate the detection of 5-mC in the CGG repeat of the FMR1 gene that is responsible for Fragile X syndrome.


June 1, 2021  |  

No-amp targeted SMRT sequencing using a CRISPR-Cas9 enrichment method

Targeted sequencing of genomic DNA requires an enrichment method to generate detectable amounts of sequencing products. Genomic regions with extreme composition bias and repetitive sequences can pose a significant enrichment challenge. Many genetic diseases caused by repeat element expansions are representative of these challenging enrichment targets. PCR amplification, used either alone or in combination with a hybridization capture method, is a common approach for target enrichment. While PCR amplification can be used successfully with genomic regions of moderate to high complexity, it is the low-complexity regions and regions containing repetitive elements sometimes of indeterminate lengths due to repeat expansions that can lead to poor or failed PCR enrichment. We have developed an enrichment method for targeted SMRT Sequencing on the PacBio Sequel System using the CRISPR-Cas9 system that requires no PCR amplification. Briefly, a preformed SMRTbell library containing the target region of interest is cleaved with Cas9 through direct interaction with a sequence-specific guide RNA. After ligation with new poly(A) hairpin adapters, the asymmetric SMRTbell templates are enriched by magnetic bead separation. This method, paired with SMRT Sequencing’s long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage, allows sequencing of genomic regions regardless of challenging sequence context that cannot be investigated with other technologies. The method is amenable to analyzing multiple samples and/or targets in a single reaction. In addition, this method also preserves epigenetic modifications allowing for the detection and characterization of DNA methylation which has been shown to be a key factor in the disease mechanism for some repeat expansion diseases. Here we present results of our latest No-Amp Targeted Sequencing procedure applied to the characterization of CAG triplet repeat expansions in the HTT gene responsible for Huntington’s Disease.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection with long read sequencing reveals driver and passenger mutations in a melanoma cell line

Past large scale cancer genome sequencing efforts, including The Cancer Genome Atlas and the International Cancer Genome Consortium, have utilized short-read sequencing, which is well-suited for detecting single nucleotide variants (SNVs) but far less reliable for detecting variants larger than 20 base pairs, including insertions, deletions, duplications, inversions and translocations. Recent same-sample comparisons of short- and long-read human reference genome data have revealed that short-read resequencing typically uncovers only ~4,000 structural variants (SVs, =50 bp) per genome and is biased towards deletions, whereas sequencing with PacBio long-reads consistently finds ~20,000 SVs, evenly balanced between insertions and deletions. This discovery has important implications for cancer research, as it is clear that SVs are both common and biologically important in many cancer subtypes, including colorectal, breast and ovarian cancer. Without confident and comprehensive detection of structural variants, it is unlikely we have a sufficiently complete picture of all the genomic changes that impact cancer development, disease progression, treatment response, drug resistance, and relapse. To begin to address this unmet need, we have sequenced the COLO829 tumor and matched normal lymphoblastoid cell lines to 49- and 51-fold coverage, respectively, with PacBio SMRT Sequencing, with the goal of developing a high-confidence structural variant call set that can be used to empirically evaluate cost-effective experimental designs for larger scale studies and develop structural variation calling software suitable for cancer genomics. Structural variant calling revealed over 21,000 deletions and 19,500 insertions larger than 20 bp, nearly four times the number of events detected with short-read sequencing. The vast majority of events are shared between the tumor and normal, with about 100 putative somatic deletions and 400 insertions, primarily in microsatellites. A further 40 rearrangements were detected, nearly exclusively in the tumor. One rearrangement is shared between the tumor and normal, t(5;X) which disrupts the mismatch repeat gene MSH3, and is likely a driver mutation. Generating high-confidence call sets that cover the entire size-spectrum of somatic variants from a range of cancer model systems is the first step in determining what will be the best approach for addressing an ongoing blind spot in our current understanding of cancer genomes. Here the application of PacBio sequencing to a melanoma cancer cell line revealed thousands of previously overlooked variants, including a mutation likely involved in tumorogenesis.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of Reference Materials for Genetic Testing of CYP2D6 Alleles: A GeT-RM Collaborative Project.

Pharmacogenetic testing increasingly is available from clinical and research laboratories. However, only a limited number of quality control and other reference materials currently are available for the complex rearrangements and rare variants that occur in the CYP2D6 gene. To address this need, the Division of Laboratory Systems, CDC-based Genetic Testing Reference Material Coordination Program, in collaboration with members of the pharmacogenetic testing and research communities and the Coriell Cell Repositories (Camden, NJ), has characterized 179 DNA samples derived from Coriell cell lines. Testing included the recharacterization of 137 genomic DNAs that were genotyped in previous Genetic Testing Reference Material Coordination Program studies and 42 additional samples that had not been characterized previously. DNA samples were distributed to volunteer testing laboratories for genotyping using a variety of commercially available and laboratory-developed tests. These publicly available samples will support the quality-assurance and quality-control programs of clinical laboratories performing CYP2D6 testing.Published by Elsevier Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

Convergent horizontal gene transfer and cross-talk of mobile nucleic acids in parasitic plants.

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), the movement and genomic integration of DNA across species boundaries, is commonly associated with bacteria and other microorganisms, but functional HGT (fHGT) is increasingly being recognized in heterotrophic parasitic plants that obtain their nutrients and water from their host plants through direct haustorial feeding. Here, in the holoparasitic stem parasite Cuscuta, we identify 108?transcribed and probably functional HGT events in Cuscuta campestris and related species, plus 42?additional regions with host-derived transposon, pseudogene and non-coding sequences. Surprisingly, 18?Cuscuta fHGTs were acquired from the same gene families by independent HGT events in Orobanchaceae parasites, and the majority are highly expressed in the haustorial feeding structures in both lineages. Convergent retention and expression of HGT sequences suggests an adaptive role for specific additional genes in parasite biology. Between 16 and 20 of the transcribed HGT events are inferred as ancestral in Cuscuta based on transcriptome sequences from species across the phylogenetic range of the genus, implicating fHGT in the successful radiation of Cuscuta parasites. Genome sequencing of C. campestris supports transfer of genomic DNA-rather than retroprocessed RNA-as the mechanism of fHGT. Many of the C. campestris genes horizontally acquired are also frequent sources of 24-nucleotide small RNAs that are typically associated with RNA-directed DNA methylation. One HGT encoding a leucine-rich repeat protein kinase overlaps with a microRNA that has been shown to regulate host gene expression, suggesting that HGT-derived parasite small RNAs may function in the parasite-host interaction. This study enriches our understanding of HGT by describing a parasite-host system with unprecedented gene exchange that points to convergent evolution of HGT events and the functional importance of horizontally transferred coding and non-coding sequences.


April 21, 2020  |  

Variant Phasing and Haplotypic Expression from Single-molecule Long-read Sequencing in Maize

Haplotype phasing of genetic variants is important for interpretation of the maize genome, population genetic analysis, and functional genomic analysis of allelic activity. Accordingly, accurate methods for phasing full-length isoforms are essential for functional genomics study. In this study, we performed an isoform-level phasing study in maize, using two inbred lines and their reciprocal crosses, based on single-molecule full-length cDNA sequencing. To phase and analyze full-length transcripts between hybrids and parents, we developed a tool called IsoPhase. Using this tool, we validated the majority of SNPs called against matching short read data and identified cases of allele-specific, gene-level, and isoform-level expression. Our results revealed that maize parental and hybrid lines exhibit different splicing activities. After phasing 6,847 genes in two reciprocal hybrids using embryo, endosperm and root tissues, we annotated the SNPs and identified large-effect genes. In addition, based on single-molecule sequencing, we identified parent-of-origin isoforms in maize hybrids, different novel isoforms between maize parent and hybrid lines, and imprinted genes from different tissues. Finally, we characterized variation in cis- and trans-regulatory effects. Our study provides measures of haplotypic expression that could increase power and accuracy in studies of allelic expression.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing and gene expression profiling reveal broad involvement of natural antisense transcript gene pairs in pepper development and response to stresses.

Pepper is an important vegetable with great economic value and unique biological features. In the past few years, significant development has been made towards understanding the huge complex pepper genome; however, pepper functional genomics has not been well studied. To better understand the pepper gene structure and pepper gene regulation, we conducted full-length mRNA sequencing by PacBio sequencing and obtained 57862 high-quality full-length mRNA sequences derived from 18362 previously annotated and 5769 newly detected genes. New gene models were built that combined the full-length mRNA sequences and corrected approximately 500 fragmented gene models from previous annotations. Based on the full-length mRNA, we identified 4114 and 5880 pepper genes forming natural antisense transcript (NAT) genes in-cis and in-trans, respectively. Most of these genes accumulate small RNAs in their overlapping regions. By analyzing these NAT gene expression patterns in our transcriptome data, we identified many NAT pairs responsive to a variety of biological processes in pepper. Pepper formate dehydrogenase 1 (FDH1), which is required for R-gene-mediated disease resistance, may be regulated by nat-siRNAs and participate in a positive feedback loop in salicylic acid biosynthesis during resistance responses. Several cis-NAT pairs and subgroups of trans-NAT genes were responsive to pepper pericarp and placenta development, which may play roles in capsanthin and capsaicin biosynthesis. Using a comparative genomics approach, the evolutionary mechanisms of cis-NATs were investigated, and we found that an increase in intergenic sequences accounted for the loss of most cis-NATs, while transposon insertion contributed to the formation of most new cis-NATs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome screening of clinical MRSA isolates identifies lineage diversity and provides full resolution of transmission and outbreak events

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of Staphylococcus aureus is increasingly used as part of infection prevention practices, but most applications are focused on conserved core genomic regions due to limitations of short-read technologies. In this study we established a long-read technology-based WGS screening program of all first-episode MRSA blood infections at a major urban hospital. A survey of 132 MRSA genomes assembled from long reads revealed widespread gain/loss of accessory mobile genetic elements among established hospital- and community-associated lineages impacting >10% of each genome, and frequent megabase-scale inversions between endogenous prophages. We also characterized an outbreak of a CC5/ST105/USA100 clone among 3 adults and 18 infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) lasting 7 months. The pattern of changes among complete outbreak genomes provided full spatiotemporal resolution of its origins and progression, which was characterized by multiple sub-transmissions and likely precipitated by equipment sharing. Compared to other hospital strains, the outbreak strain carried distinct mutations and accessory genetic elements that impacted genes with roles in metabolism, resistance and persistence. This included a DNA-recognition domain recombination in the hsdS gene of a Type-I restriction-modification system that altered DNA methylation. RNA-Seq profiling showed that the (epi)genetic changes in the outbreak clone attenuated agr gene expression and upregulated genes involved in stress response and biofilm formation. Overall our findings demonstrate that long-read sequencing substantially improves our ability to characterize accessory genomic elements that impact MRSA virulence and persistence, and provides valuable information for infection control efforts.


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