June 1, 2021  |  

Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing of genes implicated in autosomal recessive diseases.

In today’s clinical diagnostic laboratories, the detection of the disease causing mutations is either done through genotyping or Sanger sequencing. Whether done singly or in a multiplex assay, genotyping works only if the exact molecular change is known. Sanger sequencing is the gold standard method that captures both known and novel molecular changes in the disease gene of interest. Most clinical Sanger sequencing assays involve PCR-amplifying the coding sequences of the disease target gene followed by bi-directional sequencing of the amplified products. Therefore for every patient sample, one generates multiple amplicons singly and each amplicon leads to two separate sequencing reactions. Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing offers several advantages to Sanger sequencing including long read lengths, first-in-first-out processing, fast time to result, high-levels of multiplexing and substantially reduced costs. For our first proof-of-concept experiment, we queried 3 known disease-associated mutations in de-identified clinical samples. We started off with 3 autosomal recessive diseases found at an increased frequency in the Ashkenazi Jewish population: Tay Sachs disease, Niemann-Pick disease and Canavan disease. The mutated gene in Tays Sachs is HEXA, Niemann-Pick is SMPD1 and Canavan is ASPA. Coding exons were amplified in multiple (6-13) amplicons for each gene from both non-carrier and carriers. Amplicons were purified, concentrations normalized, and combined prior to SMRTbell™ Library prep. A single SMRTbell library was sequenced for each gene from each patient using standard Pacific Biosciences C2 chemistry and protocols. Average read lengths of 4,000 bp across samples allowed for high-quality Circular Consensus Sequences (CCS) across all amplicons (all less than 1 kb). This high quality CCS data permitted the clean partitioning of reads from a patient in the presence of heterozygous events. Using non-carrier sequencing as a control, we were able to correctly identify the known events in carrier genes. This suggests the potential utility of SMRT sequencing in a clinical setting, enabling a cost-effective method of replacing targeted mutation detection with sequencing of the entire gene.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing for the detection of low-frequency somatic variants

The sensitivity, speed, and reduced cost associated with Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies have made them indispensable for the molecular profiling of cancer samples. For effective use, it is critical that the NGS methods used are not only robust but can also accurately detect low frequency somatic mutations. Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing offers several advantages, including the ability to sequence single molecules with very high accuracy (>QV40) using the circular consensus sequencing (CCS) approach. The availability of genetically defined, human genomic reference standards provides an industry standard for the development and quality control of molecular assays. Here we characterize SMRT Sequencing for the detection of low-frequency somatic variants using the Quantitative Multiplex DNA Reference Standard from Horizon Diagnostics, combined with amplification of the variants using the Multiplicom Tumor Hotspot MASTR Plus assay. The Horizon Diagnostics reference sample contains precise allelic frequencies from 1% to 24.5% for major oncology targets verified using digital PCR. It recapitulates the complexity of tumor composition and serves as a well-characterized control. The control sample was amplified using the Multiplicom Tumor Hotspot Master Plus assay that targets 252 amplicons (121-254 bp) from 26 relevant cancer genes, which includes all 11 variants in the control sample. The amplicons were sequenced and analyzed using SMRT Sequencing to identify the variants and determine the observed frequency. The random error profile and high accuracy CCS reads make it possible to accurately detect low frequency somatic variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

Multiplex target enrichment using barcoded multi-kilobase fragments and probe-based capture technologies

Target enrichment capture methods allow scientists to rapidly interrogate important genomic regions of interest for variant discovery, including SNPs, gene isoforms, and structural variation. Custom targeted sequencing panels are important for characterizing heterogeneous, complex diseases and uncovering the genetic basis of inherited traits with more uniform coverage when compared to PCR-based strategies. With the increasing availability of high-quality reference genomes, customized gene panels are readily designed with high specificity to capture genomic regions of interest, thus enabling scientists to expand their research scope from a single individual to larger cohort studies or population-wide investigations. Coupled with PacBio® long-read sequencing, these technologies can capture 5 kb fragments of genomic DNA (gDNA), which are useful for interrogating intronic, exonic, and regulatory regions, characterizing complex structural variations, distinguishing between gene duplications and pseudogenes, and interpreting variant haplotyes. In addition, SMRT® Sequencing offers the lowest GC-bias and can sequence through repetitive regions. We demonstrate the additional insights possible by using in-depth long read capture sequencing for key immunology, drug metabolizing, and disease causing genes such as HLA, filaggrin, and cancer associated genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

The landscape of SNCA transcripts across synucleinopathies: New insights from long reads sequencing analysis

Dysregulation of alpha-synuclein expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, in particular Parkinsontextquoterights Disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Previous studies have shown that the alternatively spliced isoforms of the SNCA gene are differentially expressed in different parts of the brain for PD and DLB patients. Similarly, SNCA isoforms with skipped exons can have a functional impact on the protein domains. The large intronic region of the SNCA gene was also shown to harbor structural variants that affect transcriptional levels. Here we apply the first study of using long read sequencing with targeted capture of both the gDNA and cDNA of the SNCA gene in brain tissues of PD, DLB, and control samples using the PacBio Sequel system. The targeted full-length cDNA (Iso-Seq) data confirmed complex usage of known alternative start sites and variable 3textquoteright UTR lengths, as well as novel 5textquoteright starts and 3textquoteright ends not previously described. The targeted gDNA data allowed phasing of up to 81% of the ~114kb SNCA region, with the longest phased block excedding 54 kb. We demonstrate that long gDNA and cDNA reads have the potential to reveal long-range information not previously accessible using traditional sequencing methods. This approach has a potential impact in studying disease risk genes such as SNCA, providing new insights into the genetic etiologies, including perturbations to the landscape the gene transcripts, of human complex diseases such as synucleinopathies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Copy-number variants in clinical genome sequencing: deployment and interpretation for rare and undiagnosed disease.

Current diagnostic testing for genetic disorders involves serial use of specialized assays spanning multiple technologies. In principle, genome sequencing (GS) can detect all genomic pathogenic variant types on a single platform. Here we evaluate copy-number variant (CNV) calling as part of a clinically accredited GS test.We performed analytical validation of CNV calling on 17 reference samples, compared the sensitivity of GS-based variants with those from a clinical microarray, and set a bound on precision using orthogonal technologies. We developed a protocol for family-based analysis of GS-based CNV calls, and deployed this across a clinical cohort of 79 rare and undiagnosed cases.We found that CNV calls from GS are at least as sensitive as those from microarrays, while only creating a modest increase in the number of variants interpreted (~10 CNVs per case). We identified clinically significant CNVs in 15% of the first 79 cases analyzed, all of which were confirmed by an orthogonal approach. The pipeline also enabled discovery of a uniparental disomy (UPD) and a 50% mosaic trisomy 14. Directed analysis of select CNVs enabled breakpoint level resolution of genomic rearrangements and phasing of de novo CNVs.Robust identification of CNVs by GS is possible within a clinical testing environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-Read Sequencing Emerging in Medical Genetics

The wide implementation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the field of medical genetics. However, the short read lengths of currently used sequencing approaches pose a limitation for identification of structural variants, sequencing repetitive regions, phasing alleles and distinguishing highly homologous genomic regions. These limitations may significantly contribute to the diagnostic gap in patients with genetic disorders who have undergone standard NGS, like whole exome or even genome sequencing. Now, the emerging long-read sequencing (LRS) technologies may offer improvements in the characterization of genetic variation and regions that are difficult to assess with the currently prevailing NGS approaches. LRS has so far mainly been used to investigate genetic disorders with previously known or strongly suspected disease loci. While these targeted approaches already show the potential of LRS, it remains to be seen whether LRS technologies can soon enable true whole genome sequencing routinely. Ultimately, this could allow the de novo assembly of individual whole genomes used as a generic test for genetic disorders. In this article, we summarize the current LRS-based research on human genetic disorders and discuss the potential of these technologies to facilitate the next major advancements in medical genetics.


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