June 1, 2021  |  

Resolving the ‘dark matter’ in genomes.

Second-generation sequencing has brought about tremendous insights into the genetic underpinnings of biology. However, there are many functionally important and medically relevant regions of genomes that are currently difficult or impossible to sequence, resulting in incomplete and fragmented views of genomes. Two main causes are (i) limitations to read DNA of extreme sequence content (GC-rich or AT-rich regions, low complexity sequence contexts) and (ii) insufficient read lengths which leave various forms of structural variation unresolved and result in mapping ambiguities.


June 1, 2021  |  

Epigenome characterization of human genomes using the PacBio platform

In addition to the genome and transcriptome, epigenetic information is essential to understand biological processes and their regulation, and their misregulation underlying disease. Traditionally, epigenetic DNA modifications are detected using upfront sample preparation steps such as bisulfite conversion, followed by sequencing. Bisulfite sequencing has provided a wealth of knowledge about human epigenetics, however it does not access the entire genome due to limitations in read length and GC- bias of the sequencing technologies used. In contrast, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) DNA Sequencing is unique in that it can detect DNA base modifications as part of the sequencing process. It can thereby leverage the long read lengths and lack of GC bias for more comprehensive views of the human epigenome. I will highlight several examples of this capability towards the generation of new biological insights, including the resolution of methylation states in repetitive and GC-rich regions of the genome, and large-scale changes in the methylation status across a cancer genome as a function of drug sensitivity.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection with low-coverage Pacbio sequencing

Despite amazing progress over the past quarter century in the technology to detect genetic variants, intermediate-sized structural variants (50 bp to 50 kb) have remained difficult to identify. Such variants are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization, but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Recent de novo assemblies of human genomes have demonstrated the power of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing to fill this technology gap and sensitively identify structural variants in the human genome. While de novo assembly is the ideal method to identify variants in a genome, it requires high depth of coverage. A structural variant discovery approach that utilizes lower coverage would facilitate evaluation of large patient and population cohorts. Here we introduce such an approach and apply it to 10-fold coverage of several human genomes generated on the PacBio Sequel System. To identify structural variants in low-fold coverage whole genome sequencing data, we apply a reference-based, re-sequencing workflow. First, reads are mapped to the human reference genome with a local aligner. The local alignments often end at structural variant loci. To connect co-linear local alignments across structural variants, we apply a novel algorithm that merges alignments into “chains” and refines the alignment edges. Then, the chained alignments are scanned for windows with an excess of insertions or deletions to identify candidate structural variant loci. Finally, the read support at each putative variant locus is evaluated to produce a variant call. Single nucleotide information is incorporated to phase and evaluate the zygosity of each structural variant. In 10-fold coverage human genome sequence, we identify the vast majority of the structural variants found by de novo assembly, thus demonstrating the power of low-fold coverage SMRT Sequencing to affordably and effectively detect structural variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

Detecting pathogenic structural variants with low-coverage PacBio sequencing.

Though a role for structural variants in human disease has long been recognized, it has remained difficult to identify intermediate-sized variants (50 bp to 5 kb), which are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization, but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Recent studies have demonstrated that PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing fills this technology gap. SMRT sequencing detects tens of thousands of structural variants in the human genome, approximately five times the sensitivity of short-read DNA sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection with low-coverage PacBio sequencing

Structural variants (genomic differences =50 base pairs) contribute to the evolution of organisms traits and human disease. Most structural variants (SVs) are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Recent studies in human genomes show that PacBio SMRT Sequencing sensitively detects structural variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT-Cappable-seq reveals the complex operome of bacteria

SMRT-Cappable-seq combines the isolation of full-length prokaryotic primary transcripts with long read sequencing technology. It is the first experimental methodology to sequence entire prokaryotic transcripts. It identifies the transcription start site and termination site, thereby directly defines the operon structures genome-wide in prokaryotes. Applied to E.coli, SMRT-Cappable-seq identifies a total of ~2300 operons, among which ~900 are novel. Importantly, our result reveals a pervasive read-through of previous experimentally validated transcription termination sites. Termination read-through represents a powerful strategy to control gene expression. Taken together this data provides a first glance at the complexity of the ‘operome’ in bacteria and presents an invaluable resource for understanding gene regulation and function in bacteria.


June 1, 2021  |  

A simple segue from Sanger to high-throughput SMRT Sequencing with a M13 barcoding system

High-throughput NGS methods are increasingly utilized in the clinical genomics market. However, short-read sequencing data continues to remain challenged by mapping inaccuracies in low complexity regions or regions of high homology and may not provide adequate coverage within GC-rich regions of the genome. Thus, the use of Sanger sequencing remains popular in many clinical sequencing labs as the gold standard approach for orthogonal validation of variants and to interrogate missed regions poorly covered by second-generation sequencing. The use of Sanger sequencing can be less than ideal, as it can be costly for high volume assays and projects. Additionally, Sanger sequencing generates read lengths shorter than the region of interest, which limits its ability to accurately phase allelic variants. High-throughput SMRT Sequencing overcomes the challenges of both the first- and second-generation sequencing methods. PacBio’s long read capability allows sequencing of full-length amplicons


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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