The study of genomics has revolutionized our understanding of science, but the field of transcriptomics grew with the need to explore the functional impacts of genetic variation. While different tissues in an organism may share the same genomic DNA, they can differ greatly in what regions are transcribed into RNA and in their patterns of RNA processing. By reviewing the history of transcriptomics, we can see the advantages of RNA sequencing using a full-length transcript approach become clearer.
With Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing and the Sequel Systems, you can easily and affordably sequence complete transcript isoforms in genes of interest or across the entire transcriptome. The Iso-Seq method allows users to generate full-length cDNA sequences up to 10 kb in length — with no assembly required — to confidently characterize full-length transcript isoforms.
Arabica coffee, revered for its taste and aroma, has a complex genome. It is an allotetraploid (2n=4x=44) with a genome size of approximately 1.3 Gb, derived from the recent (< 0.6 Mya) hybridization of two diploid progenitors (2n=2x=22), C. canephora (710 Mb) and C. eugenioides (670 Mb). Both parental species diverged recently (< 4.2Mya) and their genomes are highly homologous. To facilitate assembly, a dihaploid plant was chosen for sequencing. Initial genome assembly attempts with short read data produced an assembly covering 1,031 Mb of the C. arabica genome with a contig L50 of 9kb. By implementation of long read PacBio at greater than 50x coverage and cutting-edge PacBio software, a de novo PacBio-only genome assembly was constructed that covers 1,042 Mb of the genome with an L50 of 267 kb. The two assemblies were assessed and compared to determine gene content, chimeric regions, and the ability to separate the parental genomes. A genetic map that contains 600 SSRs is being used for anchoring the contigs and improve the sub-genome differentiation together with the search of sub-genome specific SNPs. PacBio transcriptome sequencing is currently being added to finalize gene annotation of the polished assembly. The finished genome assembly will be used to guide re-sequencing assemblies of parental genomes (C. canephora and C. eugenioides) as well as a template for GBS analysis and whole genome re-sequencing of a set of C. arabica accessions representative of the species diversity. The obtained data will provide powerful genomic tools to enable more efficient coffee breeding strategies for this crop, which is highly susceptible to climate change and is the main source of income for millions of small farmers in producing countries.
Profiling metagenomic communities using circular consensus and Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing.
There are many sequencing-based approaches to understanding complex metagenomic communities spanning targeted amplification to whole-sample shotgun sequencing. While targeted approaches provide valuable data at low sequencing depth, they are limited by primer design and PCR amplification. Whole-sample shotgun experiments generally use short-read, second-generation sequencing, which results in data processing difficulties. For example, reads less than 1 kb in length will likely not cover a complete gene or region of interest, and will require assembly. This not only introduces the possibility of incorrectly combining sequence from different community members, it requires a high depth of coverage. As such, rare community members may not be represented in the resulting assembly. Circular-consensus, single molecule, real-time (SMRT) Sequencing reads in the 1-2 kb range, with >99% accuracy can be efficiently generated for low amounts of input DNA. 10 ng of input DNA sequenced in 4 SMRT Cells would generate >100,000 such reads. While throughput is low compared to second-generation sequencing, the reads are a true random sampling of the underlying community, since SMRT Sequencing has been shown to have no sequence-context bias. Long read lengths mean that that it would be reasonable to expect a high number of the reads to include gene fragments useful for analysis.
Profiling metagenomic communities using circular consensus and Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing
There are many sequencing-based approaches to understanding complex metagenomic communities, spanning targeted amplification to whole-sample shotgun sequencing. While targeted approaches provide valuable data at low sequencing depth, they are limited by primer design and PCR amplification. Whole-sample shotgun experiments require a high depth of coverage. As such, rare community members may not be represented in the resulting assembly. Circular-consensus, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing reads in the 1-2 kb range, with >99% consensus accuracy, can be efficiently generated for low amounts of input DNA, e.g. as little as 10 ng of input DNA sequenced in 4 SMRT Cells can generate >100,000 such reads. While throughput is low compared to second-generation sequencing, the reads are a true random sampling of the underlying community. Long read lengths translate to a high number of the reads harboring full genes or even full operons for downstream analysis. Here we present the results of circular-consensus sequencing on a mock metagenomic community with an abundance range of multiple orders of magnitude, and compare the results with both 16S and shotgun assembly methods. We show that even with relatively low sequencing depth, the long-read, assembly-free, random sampling allows to elucidate meaningful information from the very low-abundance community members. For example, given the above low-input sequencing approach, a community member at 1/1,000 relative abundance would generate 100 1-2 kb sequence fragments having 99% consensus accuracy, with a high probability of containing a gene fragment useful for taxonomic classification or functional insight.
For highly complex and large genomes, a well-annotated genome may be computationally challenging and costly, yet the study of alternative splicing events and gene annotations usually rely on the existence of a genome. Long-read sequencing technology provides new opportunities to sequence full-length cDNAs, avoiding computational challenges that short read transcript assembly brings. The use of single molecule, real-time sequencing from Pacific Biosciences to sequence transcriptomes (the Iso-SeqTM method), which produces de novo, high-quality, full-length transcripts, has revealed an astonishing amount of alternative splicing in eukaryotic species. With the Iso-Seq method, it is now possible to reconstruct the transcribed regions of the genome using just the transcripts themselves. We present Cogent, a tool for finding gene families and reconstructing the coding genome in the absence of a reference genome. Cogent uses k-mer similarities to first partition the transcripts into different gene families. Then, for each gene family, the transcripts are used to build a splice graph. Cogent identifies bubbles resulting from sequencing errors, minor variants, and exon skipping events, and attempts to resolve each splice graph down to the minimal set of reconstructed contigs. We apply Cogent to a Cuttlefish Iso-Seq dataset, for which there is a highly fragmented, Illumina-based draft genome assembly and little annotation. We show that Cogent successfully discovers gene families and can reconstruct the coding region of gene loci. The reconstructed contigs can then be used to visualize alternative splicing events, identify minor variants, and even be used to improve genome assemblies.
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.
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.
Over the last few years, several advances were implemented in the PacBio RS II System to maximize throughput and efficiency while reducing the cost per sample. The number of useable bases per SMRT Cell now exceeds 1 Gb with the latest P6-C4 chemistry and 6-hour movies. For applications such as microbial sequencing, targeted sequencing, Iso-Seq (full-length isoform sequencing) and Nimblegen’s target enrichment method, current SMRT Cell yields could be an excess relative to project requirements. To this end, barcoding is a viable option for multiplexing samples. For microbial sequencing, multiplexing can be accomplished by tagging sheared genomic DNA during library construction with modified SMRTbell adapters. We studied the performance of 2- to 8-plex microbial sequencing. For full-length amplicon sequencing such as HLA typing, amplicons as large as 5 kb may be barcoded during amplification using barcoded locus-specific primers. Alternatively, amplicons may be barcoded during SMRTbell library construction using barcoded SMRTbell adapters. The preferred barcoding strategy depends on the user’s existing workflow and flexibility to changing and/or updating existing workflows. Using barcoded adapters, five Class I and II genes (3.3 – 5.8 kb) x 96 patients can be multiplexed and typed. For Iso-Seq full-length cDNA sequencing, barcodes are incorporated during 1st-strand synthesis and are enabled by tailing the oligo-dT primer with any PacBio published 16-bp barcode sequences. RNA samples from 6 maize tissues were multiplexed to generate barcoded cDNA libraries. The NimbleGen SeqCap Target Enrichment method, combined with PacBio’s long-read sequencing, provides comprehensive view of multi-kilobase contiguous regions, both exonic and intronic regions. To make this cost effective, we recommend barcoding samples for pooling prior to target enrichment and capture. Here, we present specific examples of strategies and best practices for multiplexing samples for different applications for SMRT Sequencing. Additionally, we describe recommendations for analyzing barcoded samples.
The increased sequencing throughput creates a need for multiplexing for several applications. We are here detailing different barcoding strategies for microbial sequencing, targeted sequencing, Iso-Seq full-length isoform sequencing, and Roche NimbleGen’s target enrichment method.
A high-quality genome assembly of SMRT Sequences reveals long-range haplotype structure in the diploid mosquito Aedes aegypti
Aedes aegypti is a tropical and subtropical mosquito vector for Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and other diseases. The outbreak of Zika in the Americas, which can cause microcephaly in the fetus of infected women, adds urgency to the need for a high-quality reference genome in order to better understand the organism’s biology and its role in transmitting human disease. We describe the first diploid assembly of an insect genome, using SMRT sequencing and the open-source assembler FALCON-Unzip. This assembly has high contiguity (contig N50 1.3 Mb), is more complete than previous assemblies (Length 1.45 Gb with 87% BUSCO genes complete), and is high quality (mean base >QV30). Long-range haplotype structure, in some cases encompassing more than 4 Mb of extremely divergent homologous sequence, is resolved using a combination of the FALCON-Unzip assembler, genome annotation, coverage depth, and pairwise nucleotide alignments.
A high-quality genome assembly of SMRT sequences reveals long range haplotype structure in the diploid mosquito Aedes aegypti
Aedes aegypti is a tropical and subtropical mosquito vector for Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever, and chikungunya. We describe the first diploid assembly of an insect genome, using SMRT Sequencing and the open-source assembler FALCON-Unzip. This assembly has high contiguity (contig N50 1.3 Mb), is more complete than previous assemblies (Length 1.45 Gb with 87% BUSCO genes complete), and is high quality (mean base >QV30 after polishing). Long-range haplotype structure, in some cases encompassing more than 4 Mb of extremely divergent homologous sequence with dramatic differences in coding sequence content, is resolved using a combination of the FALCON-Unzip assembler, genome annotation, coverage depth, and pairwise nucleotide alignments.
From RNA to full-length transcripts: The PacBio Iso-Seq method for transcriptome analysis and genome annotation
A single gene may encode a surprising number of proteins, each with a distinct biological function. This is especially true in complex eukaryotes. Short- read RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) works by physically shearing transcript isoforms into smaller pieces and bioinformatically reassembling them, leaving opportunity for misassembly or incomplete capture of the full diversity of isoforms from genes of interest. The PacBio Isoform Sequencing (Iso-Seq™) method employs long reads to sequence transcript isoforms from the 5’ end to their poly-A tails, eliminating the need for transcript reconstruction and inference. These long reads result in complete, unambiguous information about alternatively spliced exons, transcriptional start sites, and poly- adenylation sites. This allows for the characterization of the full complement of isoforms within targeted genes, or across an entire transcriptome. Here we present improved genome annotations for two avian models of vocal learning, Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), using the Iso-Seq method. We present graphical user interface and command line analysis workflows for the data sets. From brain total RNA, we characterize more than 15,000 isoforms in each species, 9% and 5% of which were previously unannotated in hummingbird and zebra finch, respectively. We highlight one example where capturing full-length transcripts identifies additional exons and UTRs.
Maize is an amazingly diverse crop. A study in 20051 demonstrated that half of the genome sequence and one-third of the gene content between two inbred lines of maize were not shared. This diversity, which is more than two orders of magnitude larger than the diversity found between humans and chimpanzees, highlights the inability of a single reference genome to represent the full pan-genome of maize and all its variants. Here we present and review several efforts to characterize the complete diversity within maize using the highly accurate long reads of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. These methods provide a framework for a pan-genomic approach that can be applied to studies of a wide variety of important crop species.
Incomplete annotation of genomes represents a major impediment to understanding biological processes, functional differences between species, and evolutionary mechanisms. Often, genes that are large, embedded within duplicated genomic regions, or associated with repeats are difficult to study by short-read expression profiling and assembly. In addition, most genes in eukaryotic organisms produce alternatively spliced isoforms, broadening the diversity of proteins encoded by the genome, which are difficult to resolve with short-read methods. Short-read RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) works by physically shearing transcript isoforms into smaller pieces and bioinformatically reassembling them, leaving opportunity for misassembly or incomplete capture of the full diversity of isoforms from genes of interest. In contrast, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing directly sequences full-length transcripts without the need for assembly and imputation. Here we apply the Iso-Seq method (long-read RNA sequencing) to detect full-length isoforms and the new IsoPhase algorithm to retrieve allele-specific isoform information for two avian models of vocal learning, Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).