June 1, 2021  |  

Single Molecule, Real-Time sequencing of full-length cDNA transcripts uncovers novel alternatively spliced isoforms.

In higher eukaryotic organisms, the majority of multi-exon genes are alternatively spliced. Different mRNA isoforms from the same gene can produce proteins that have distinct properties such as structure, function, or subcellular localization. Thus, the importance of understanding the full complement of transcript isoforms with potential phenotypic impact cannot be underscored. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences to survey transcriptome isoform diversity useful for gene discovery and annotation. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT Sequencing (avg. read length: 10-15 kb) without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Our open-source computational pipeline delivers high-quality, non-redundant sequences for unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start sites, polyA tail, and gene fusion events. The standard Iso-Seq protocol workflow available for all researchers is presented using a deep dataset of full- length cDNA sequences from the MCF-7 cancer cell line, and multiple tissues (brain, heart, and liver). Detected novel transcripts approaching 10 kb and alternative splicing events are highlighted. Even in extensively profiled samples, the method uncovered large numbers of novel alternatively spliced isoforms and previously unannotated genes.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing of alternatively spliced isoforms provides insight into human diseases.

The majority of human genes are alternatively spliced, making it possible for most genes to generate multiple proteins. The process of alternative splicing is highly regulated in a developmental-stage and tissue-specific manner. Perturbations in the regulation of these events can lead to disease in humans. Alternative splicing has been shown to play a role in human cancer, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases. Understanding these diseases requires knowing the full complement of mRNA isoforms. Microarrays and high-throughput cDNA sequencing have become highly successful tools for studying transcriptomes, however these technologies only provide small fragments of transcripts and building complete transcript isoforms has been very challenging. We have developed the Iso-Seq technique, which is capable of sequencing full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences. The method employs SMRT Sequencing to generate individual molecules with average read lengths of more than 10 kb and some as long as 40 kb. As most transcripts are from 1 to 10 kb, we can sequence through entire RNA molecules, requiring no fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Jointly with the sequencing method, we developed a computational pipeline that polishes these full-length transcript sequences into high-quality, non-redundant transcript consensus sequences. Iso-Seq sequencing enables unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start and poly-A sites, and transcripts from gene fusion events. Knowledge of the complete set of isoforms from a sample of interest is key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance when using any technology for transcriptome studies. Here we characterize the full-length transcriptome of normal human tissues, paired tumor/normal samples from breast cancer, and a brain sample from a patient with Alzheimer’s using deep Iso-Seq sequencing. We highlight numerous discoveries of novel alternatively spliced isoforms, gene-fusions events, and previously unannotated genes that will improve our understanding of human diseases.


June 1, 2021  |  

Whole genome sequencing and epigenome characterization of cancer cells using the PacBio platform.

The comprehensive characterization of cancer genomes and epigenomes for understanding drug resistance remains an important challenge in the field of oncology. For example, PC-9, a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCL) cell line, contains a deletion mutation in exon 19 (DelE746A750) of EGRF that renders it sensitive to erlotinib, an EGFR inhibitor. However, sustained treatment of these cells with erlotinib leads to drug-tolerant cell populations that grow in the presence of erlotinib. However, the resistant cells can be resensitized to erlotinib upon treatment with methyltransferase inhibitors, suggesting a role of epigenetic modification in development of drug resistance. We have characterized for the first time cancer genomes of both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant PC- 9 cells using long-read PacBio sequencing. The PacBio data allowed us to generate a high-quality, de novo assembly of this cancer genome, enabling the detection of forms of genomic variations at all size scales, including SNPs, structural variations, copy number alterations, gene fusions, and translocations. The data simultaneously provide a global view of epigenetic DNA modifications such as methylation. We will present findings on large-scale changes in the methylation status across the cancer genome as a function of drug sensitivity.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length isoform sequencing of the human MCF-7 cell line using PacBio long reads.

While advances in RNA sequencing methods have accelerated our understanding of the human transcriptome, isoform discovery remains a challenge because short read lengths require complicated assembly algorithms to infer the contiguity of full-length transcripts. With PacBio’s long reads, one can now sequence full-length transcript isoforms up to 10 kb. The PacBio Iso- Seq protocol produces reads that originate from independent observations of single molecules, meaning no assembly is needed. Here, we sequenced the transcriptome of the human MCF-7 breast cancer cell line using the Clontech SMARTer® cDNA preparation kit and the PacBio RS II. Using PacBio Iso-Seq bioinformatics software, we obtained 55,770 unique, full-length, high-quality transcript sequences that were subsequently mapped back to the human genome with = 99% accuracy. In addition, we identified both known and novel fusion transcripts. To assess our results, we compared the predicted ORFs from the PacBio data against a published mass spectrometry dataset from the same cell line. 84% of the proteins identified with the Uniprot protein database were recovered by the PacBio predictions. Notably, 251 peptides solely matched to the PacBio generated ORFs and were entirely novel, including abundant cases of single amino acid polymorphisms, cassette exon splicing and potential alternative protein coding frames.


June 1, 2021  |  

Transcriptome analysis using Hybrid-Seq

2015 SMRT Informatics Developers Conference Presentation Slides: Kin Fau Au of the University of Iowa presented on a suite of transcriptome analysis tools for junction detection, error correction, isoform detection and prediction, and gene fusion.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing of alternatively spliced isoforms provides insight into human cancer

The majority of human genes are alternatively spliced, making it possible for most genes to generate multiple proteins. The process of alternative splicing is highly regulated in a developmental-stage and tissue-specific manner. Perturbations in the regulation of these events can lead to disease in humans (1). Alternative splicing has been shown to play a role in human cancer, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases. Understanding these diseases requires knowing the full complement of mRNA isoforms. Microarrays and high-throughput cDNA sequencing have become highly successful tools for studying transcriptomes, however these technologies only provide small fragments of transcripts and building complete transcript isoforms has been very challenging (2). We have developed a technique, called Iso-Seq sequencing, that is capable of sequencing full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences. The method employs SMRT Sequencing from PacBio, which can sequence individual molecules with read lengths that average more than 10 kb and can reach as long as 40 kb. As most transcripts are from 1 – 10 kb, we can sequence through entire RNA molecules, requiring no fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Jointly with the sequencing method, we developed a computational pipeline that polishes these full-length transcript sequences into high-quality, non-redundant transcript consensus sequences. Iso-Seq sequencing enables unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start and polyA sites, and transcripts from gene fusion events. Knowledge of the complete set of isoforms from a sample of interest is key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance when using any technology for transcriptome studies (3). Here we characterize the full-length transcriptome of paired tumor/normal samples from breast cancer using deep Iso-Seq sequencing. We highlight numerous discoveries of novel alternatively spliced isoforms, gene-fusion events, and previously unannotated genes that will improve our understanding of human cancer. (1) Faustino NA and Cooper TA. Genes and Development. 2003. 17: 419-437(2) Steijger T, et al. Nat Methods. 2013 Dec;10(12):1177-84.(3) Au KF, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 10;110(50):E4821-30.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comprehensive genome and transcriptome structural analysis of a breast cancer cell line using PacBio long read sequencing

Genomic instability is one of the hallmarks of cancer, leading to widespread copy number variations, chromosomal fusions, and other structural variations. The breast cancer cell line SK-BR-3 is an important model for HER2+ breast cancers, which are among the most aggressive forms of the disease and affect one in five cases. Through short read sequencing, copy number arrays, and other technologies, the genome of SK-BR-3 is known to be highly rearranged with many copy number variations, including an approximately twenty-fold amplification of the HER2 oncogene. However, these technologies cannot precisely characterize the nature and context of the identified genomic events and other important mutations may be missed altogether because of repeats, multi-mapping reads, and the failure to reliably anchor alignments to both sides of a variation. To address these challenges, we have sequenced SK-BR-3 using PacBio long read technology. Using the new P6-C4 chemistry, we generated more than 70X coverage of the genome with average read lengths of 9-13kb (max: 71kb). Using Lumpy for split-read alignment analysis, as well as our novel assembly-based algorithms for finding complex variants, we have developed a detailed map of structural variations in this cell line. Taking advantage of the newly identified breakpoints and combining these with copy number assignments, we have developed an algorithm to reconstruct the mutational history of this cancer genome. From this we have discovered a complex series of nested duplications and translocations between chr17 and chr8, two of the most frequent translocation partners in primary breast cancers, resulting in amplification of HER2. We have also carried out full-length transcriptome sequencing using PacBio’s Iso-Seq technology, which has revealed a number of previously unrecognized gene fusions and isoforms. Combining long-read genome and transcriptome sequencing technologies enables an in-depth analysis of how changes in the genome affect the transcriptome, including how gene fusions are created across multiple chromosomes. This analysis has established the most complete cancer reference genome available to date, and is already opening the door to applying long-read sequencing to patient samples with complex genome structures.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing for genome annotation and analysis of alternative splicing

In higher eukaryotic organisms, the majority of multi-exon genes are alternatively spliced. Different mRNA isoforms from the same gene can produce proteins that have distinct properties and functions. Thus, the importance of understanding the full complement of transcript isoforms with potential phenotypic impact cannot be understated. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences to survey transcriptome isoform diversity useful for gene discovery and annotation. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Our open-source computational pipeline delivers high-quality, non-redundant sequences for unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start sites, polyA tail, and gene fusion events. We applied the Iso-Seq method to the maize (Zea mays) inbred line B73. Full-length cDNAs from six diverse tissues were barcoded and sequenced across multiple size-fractionated SMRTbell libraries. A total of 111,151 unique transcripts were identified. More than half of these transcripts (57%) represented novel, sometimes tissue-specific, isoforms of known genes. In addition to the 2250 novel coding genes and 860 lncRNAs discovered, the Iso-Seq dataset corrected errors in existing gene models, highlighting the value of full-length transcripts for whole gene annotations.


June 1, 2021  |  

A comprehensive lincRNA analysis: From conifers to trees

We have produced an updated annotation of the Norway spruce genome on the basis of an in siliconormalised set of RNA-Seq data obtained from 1,529 samples and comprising 15.5 billion paired-end Illumina HiSeq reads complemented by 18Mbp of PacBio cDNA data (3.2M sequences). In addition to augmenting and refining the previous protein coding gene annotation, here we focus on the addition of long intergenic non-coding RNA (lincRNA) and micro RNA (miRNA) genes. In addition to non-coding loci, our analyses also identified protein coding genes that had been missed by the initial genome annotation and enabled us to update the annotation of existing gene models. In particular, splice variant information, as supported by PacBio sequencing reads, has been added to the current annotation and previously fragmented gene models have been merged by scaffolding disjoint genomic scaffolds on the basis of transcript evidence. Using this refined annotation, a targeted analysis of the lincRNAs enabled their classification as i) deeply conserved, ii) conserved in seed plants iii) gymnosperm/conifer specific. Concurrently, complementary analyses were performed as part of the aspen genome project and the results of a comparative analysis of the lincRNAs conserved in both Norway spruce and Eurasian aspen enabled us to identify conserved and diverged expression profiles. At present, we are delving further into the expression results with the aim to functionally annotate the lincRNA genes, by developing a co-expression network analyses based GO annotation.


June 1, 2021  |  

Targeted sequencing and chromosomal haplotype assembly using TLA and SMRT Sequencing

With the increasing availability of whole-genome sequencing, haplotype reconstruction of individual genomes, or haplotype assembly, remains unsolved. Like the de novo genome assembly problem, haplotype assembly is greatly simplified by having more long-range information. The Targeted Locus Amplification (TLA) technology from Cergentis has the unique capability of targeting a specific region of the genome using a single primer pair and yielding ~2 kb DNA circles that are comprised of ~500 bp fragments. Fragments from the same circle come from the same haplotype and follow an exponential decay in distance from the target region, with a span that reaches the multi-megabase range. Here, we apply TLA to the BRCA1 gene on NA12878 and then sequence the resulting 2 kb circles on a PacBio RS II. The multiple fragments per circle were iteratively mapped to hg19 and then haplotype assembled using HAPCUT. We show that the 80 kb length of BRCA1 is represented by a single haplotype block, which was validated against GIAB data. We then explored chromosomal-scale haplotype assembly by combining these data with whole genome shotgun PacBio long reads, and demonstrate haplotype blocks approaching the length of chromosome 17 on which BRCA1 lies. Finally, by performing TLA without the amplification step and size selecting for reads >5 kb to maximize the number of fragments per read, we target whole genome haplotype assembly across all chromosomes.


June 1, 2021  |  

Simplified sequencing of full-length isoforms in cancer on the PacBio Sequel platform

Tremendous flexibility is maintained in the human proteome via alternative splicing, and cancer genomes often subvert this flexibility to promote survival. Identification and annotation of cancer-specific mRNA isoforms is critical to understanding how mutations in the genome affect the biology of cancer cells. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. In cancer proteomics studies, the identification of biomarkers from mass spectroscopy data is often limited by incomplete gene isoform expression information to support protein to transcript mapping. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences needed to discover biomarkers for early detection and cancer stratification, to fully characterize gene fusion events, and to elucidate drug resistance mechanisms. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT® Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. However, some cancer research applications have presented a challenge for the Iso-Seq protocol, due to the combination of limited sample input and the need to deeply sequence heterogenous samples. Here we report the optimization of the Iso-Seq library preparation protocol for the PacBio Sequel platform and its application to cancer cell lines and tumor samples. We demonstrate how loading enhancements on the higher-throughput Sequel instrument have decreased the need for size fractionation steps, reducing sample input requirements while simultaneously simplifying the sample preparation workflow and increasing the number of full-length transcripts per SMRT Cell.


June 1, 2021  |  

Scalability and reliability improvements to the Iso-Seq analysis pipeline enables higher throughput sequencing of full-length cancer transcripts

The characterization of gene expression profiles via transcriptome sequencing has proven to be an important tool for characterizing how genomic rearrangements in cancer affect the biological pathways involved in cancer progression and treatment response. More recently, better resolution of transcript isoforms has shown that this additional level of information may be useful in stratifying patients into cancer subtypes with different outcomes and responses to treatment.1 The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio is uniquely able to deliver full-length, high-quality cDNA sequences, allowing the unambiguous determination of splice variants, identifying potential biomarkers and yielding new insights into gene fusion events. Recent improvements to the Iso-Seq bioinformatics pipeline increases the speed and scalability of data analysis while boosting the reliability of isoform detection and cross-platform usability. Here we report evaluation of Sequel Iso-Seq runs of human UHRR samples with spiked-in synthetic RNA controls and show that the new pipeline is more CPU efficient and recovers more human and synthetic isoforms while reducing the number of false positives. We also share the results of sequencing the well-characterized HCC-1954 breast cancer and normal breast cell lines, which will be made publicly available. Combined with the recent simplification of the Iso-Seq sample preparation2, the new analysis pipeline completes a streamlined workflow for revealing the most comprehensive picture of transcriptomes at the throughput needed to characterize cancer samples.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


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.


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