June 1, 2021  |  

High-throughput SMRT Sequencing of clinically relevant targets

Targeted sequencing with Sanger as well as short read based high throughput sequencing methods is standard practice in clinical genetic testing. However, many applications beyond SNP detection have remained somewhat obstructed due to technological challenges. With the advent of long reads and high consensus accuracy, SMRT Sequencing overcomes many of the technical hurdles faced by Sanger and NGS approaches, opening a broad range of untapped clinical sequencing opportunities. Flexible multiplexing options, highly adaptable sample preparation method and newly improved two well-developed analysis methods that generate highly-accurate sequencing results, make SMRT Sequencing an adept method for clinical grade targeted sequencing. The Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) analysis pipeline produces QV 30 data from each single intra-molecular multi-pass polymerase read, making it a reliable solution for detecting minor variant alleles with frequencies as low as 1 %. Long Amplicon Analysis (LAA) makes use of insert spanning full-length subreads originating from multiple individual copies of the target to generate highly accurate and phased consensus sequences (>QV50), offering a unique advantage for imputation free allele segregation and haplotype phasing. Here we present workflows and results for a range of SMRT Sequencing clinical applications. Specifically, we illustrate how the flexible multiplexing options, simple sample preparation methods and new developments in data analysis tools offered by PacBio in support of Sequel System 5.1 can come together in a variety of experimental designs to enable applications as diverse as high throughput HLA typing, mitochondrial DNA sequencing and viral vector integrity profiling of recombinant adeno-associated viral genomes (rAAV).


April 21, 2020  |  

Large Fragment Deletions Induced by Cas9 Cleavage While Not in BEs System in Rabbit

CRISPR-Cas9 and BEs system are poised to become the gene editing tool of choice in clinical contexts, however large fragment deletion was found in Cas9-mediated mutation cells without animal level validation. By analyzing 16 gene-edited rabbit lines (including 112 rabbits) generated using SpCas9, BEs, xCas9 and xCas9-BEs with long-range PCR genotyping and long-read sequencing by PacBio platform, we show that extending thousands of bases fragment deletions in single-guide RNA/Cas9 and xCas9 system mutation rabbit, but few large deletions were found in BEs-induced mutation rabbits. We firstly validated that no large fragment deletion induced by BEs system at animal level, suggesting that BE systems can be beneficial tools for the further development of highly accurate and secure gene therapy for the clinical treatment of human genetic disorders


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome assembly and annotation of the Trichoplusia ni Tni-FNL insect cell line enabled by long-read technologies.

Trichoplusiani derived cell lines are commonly used to enable recombinant protein expression via baculovirus infection to generate materials approved for clinical use and in clinical trials. In order to develop systems biology and genome engineering tools to improve protein expression in this host, we performed de novo genome assembly of the Trichoplusiani-derived cell line Tni-FNL.By integration of PacBio single-molecule sequencing, Bionano optical mapping, and 10X Genomics linked-reads data, we have produced a draft genome assembly of Tni-FNL.Our assembly contains 280 scaffolds, with a N50 scaffold size of 2.3 Mb and a total length of 359 Mb. Annotation of the Tni-FNL genome resulted in 14,101 predicted genes and 93.2% of the predicted proteome contained recognizable protein domains. Ortholog searches within the superorder Holometabola provided further evidence of high accuracy and completeness of the Tni-FNL genome assembly.This first draft Tni-FNL genome assembly was enabled by complementary long-read technologies and represents a high-quality, well-annotated genome that provides novel insight into the complexity of this insect cell line and can serve as a reference for future large-scale genome engineering work in this and other similar recombinant protein production hosts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Precise therapeutic gene correction by a simple nuclease-induced double-stranded break.

Current programmable nuclease-based methods (for example, CRISPR-Cas9) for the precise correction of a disease-causing genetic mutation harness the homology-directed repair pathway. However, this repair process requires the co-delivery of an exogenous DNA donor to recode the sequence and can be inefficient in many cell types. Here we show that disease-causing frameshift mutations that result from microduplications can be efficiently reverted to the wild-type sequence simply by generating a DNA double-stranded break near the centre of the duplication. We demonstrate this in patient-derived cell lines for two diseases: limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2G (LGMD2G)1 and Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome type 1 (HPS1)2. Clonal analysis of inducible pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from the LGMD2G cell line, which contains a mutation in TCAP, treated with the Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) nuclease revealed that about 80% contained at least one wild-type TCAP allele; this correction also restored TCAP expression in LGMD2G iPS cell-derived myotubes. SpCas9 also efficiently corrected the genotype of an HPS1 patient-derived B-lymphoblastoid cell line. Inhibition of polyADP-ribose polymerase 1 (PARP-1) suppressed the nuclease-mediated collapse of the microduplication to the wild-type sequence, confirming that precise correction is mediated by the microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ) pathway. Analysis of editing by SpCas9 and Lachnospiraceae bacterium ND2006 Cas12a (LbCas12a) at non-pathogenic 4-36-base-pair microduplications within the genome indicates that the correction strategy is broadly applicable to a wide range of microduplication lengths and can be initiated by a variety of nucleases. The simplicity, reliability and efficacy of this MMEJ-based therapeutic strategy should permit the development of nuclease-based gene correction therapies for a variety of diseases that are associated with microduplications.


April 21, 2020  |  

The CF Canada-Sick Kids Program in individual CF therapy: A resource for the advancement of personalized medicine in CF.

Therapies targeting certain CFTR mutants have been approved, yet variations in clinical response highlight the need for in-vitro and genetic tools that predict patient-specific clinical outcomes. Toward this goal, the CF Canada-Sick Kids Program in Individual CF Therapy (CFIT) is generating a “first of its kind”, comprehensive resource containing patient-specific cell cultures and data from 100 CF individuals that will enable modeling of therapeutic responses.The CFIT program is generating: 1) nasal cells from drug naïve patients suitable for culture and the study of drug responses in vitro, 2) matched gene expression data obtained by sequencing the RNA from the primary nasal tissue, 3) whole genome sequencing of blood derived DNA from each of the 100 participants, 4) induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from each participant’s blood sample, 5) CRISPR-edited isogenic control iPSC lines and 6) prospective clinical data from patients treated with CF modulators.To date, we have recruited 57 of 100 individuals to CFIT, most of whom are homozygous for F508del (to assess in-vitro: in-vivo correlations with respect to ORKAMBI response) or heterozygous for F508del and a minimal function mutation. In addition, several donors are homozygous for rare nonsense and missense mutations. Nasal epithelial cell cultures and matched iPSC lines are available for many of these donors.This accessible resource will enable development of tools that predict individual outcomes to current and emerging modulators targeting F508del-CFTR and facilitate therapy discovery for rare CF causing mutations.Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


October 23, 2019  |  

Altering tropism of rAAV by directed evolution.

Directed evolution represents an attractive approach to derive AAV capsid variants capable of selectively infect specific tissue or cell targets. It involves the generation of an initial library of high complexity followed by cycles of selection during which the library is progressively enriched for target-specific variants. Each selection cycle consists of the following: reconstitution of complete AAV genomes within plasmid molecules; production of virions for which each particular capsid variant is matched with the particular capsid gene encoding it; recovery of capsid gene sequences from target tissue after systemic administration. Prevalent variants are then analyzed and evaluated.


October 23, 2019  |  

TALENs facilitate targeted genome editing in human cells with high specificity and low cytotoxicity.

Designer nucleases have been successfully employed to modify the genomes of various model organisms and human cell types. While the specificity of zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) and RNA-guided endonucleases has been assessed to some extent, little data are available for transcription activator-like effector-based nucleases (TALENs). Here, we have engineered TALEN pairs targeting three human loci (CCR5, AAVS1 and IL2RG) and performed a detailed analysis of their activity, toxicity and specificity. The TALENs showed comparable activity to benchmark ZFNs, with allelic gene disruption frequencies of 15-30% in human cells. Notably, TALEN expression was overall marked by a low cytotoxicity and the absence of cell cycle aberrations. Bioinformatics-based analysis of designer nuclease specificity confirmed partly substantial off-target activity of ZFNs targeting CCR5 and AAVS1 at six known and five novel sites, respectively. In contrast, only marginal off-target cleavage activity was detected at four out of 49 predicted off-target sites for CCR5- and AAVS1-specific TALENs. The rational design of a CCR5-specific TALEN pair decreased off-target activity at the closely related CCR2 locus considerably, consistent with fewer genomic rearrangements between the two loci. In conclusion, our results link nuclease-associated toxicity to off-target cleavage activity and corroborate TALENs as a highly specific platform for future clinical translation. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


October 23, 2019  |  

AAV-mediated delivery of zinc finger nucleases targeting hepatitis B virus inhibits active replication.

Despite an existing effective vaccine, hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a major public health concern. There are effective suppressive therapies for HBV, but they remain expensive and inaccessible to many, and not all patients respond well. Furthermore, HBV can persist as genomic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) that remains in hepatocytes even during otherwise effective therapy and facilitates rebound in patients after treatment has stopped. Therefore, the need for an effective treatment that targets active and persistent HBV infections remains. As a novel approach to treat HBV, we have targeted the HBV genome for disruption to prevent viral reactivation and replication. We generated 3 zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) that target sequences within the HBV polymerase, core and X genes. Upon the formation of ZFN-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSB), imprecise repair by non-homologous end joining leads to mutations that inactivate HBV genes. We delivered HBV-specific ZFNs using self-complementary adeno-associated virus (scAAV) vectors and tested their anti-HBV activity in HepAD38 cells. HBV-ZFNs efficiently disrupted HBV target sites by inducing site-specific mutations. Cytotoxicity was seen with one of the ZFNs. scAAV-mediated delivery of a ZFN targeting HBV polymerase resulted in complete inhibition of HBV DNA replication and production of infectious HBV virions in HepAD38 cells. This effect was sustained for at least 2 weeks following only a single treatment. Furthermore, high specificity was observed for all ZFNs, as negligible off-target cleavage was seen via high-throughput sequencing of 7 closely matched potential off-target sites. These results show that HBV-targeted ZFNs can efficiently inhibit active HBV replication and suppress the cellular template for HBV persistence, making them promising candidates for eradication therapy.


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