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  |  

Single-molecule sequencing detection of N6-methyladenine in microbial reference materials.

The DNA base modification N6-methyladenine (m6A) is involved in many pathways related to the survival of bacteria and their interactions with hosts. Nanopore sequencing offers a new, portable method to detect base modifications. Here, we show that a neural network can improve m6A detection at trained sequence contexts compared to previously published methods using deviations between measured and expected current values as each adenine travels through a pore. The model, implemented as the mCaller software package, can be extended to detect known or confirm suspected methyltransferase target motifs based on predictions of methylation at untrained contexts. We use PacBio, Oxford Nanopore, methylated DNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (MeDIP-seq), and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data to generate and orthogonally validate methylomes for eight microbial reference species. These well-characterized microbial references can serve as controls in the development and evaluation of future methods for the identification of base modifications from single-molecule sequencing data.

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.

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