June 1, 2021  |  

Highly sensitive, non-invasive detection of colorectal cancer mutations using single molecule, third generation sequencing.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents one of the most prevalent and lethal malignant neoplasms and every individual of age 50 and above should undergo regular CRC screening. Currently, the most effective procedure to detect adenomas, the precursors to CRC, is colonoscopy, which reduces CRC incidence by 80%. However, it is an invasive approach that is unpleasant for the patient, expensive, and poses some risk of complications such as colon perforation. A non-invasive screening approach with detection rates comparable to those of colonoscopy has not yet been established. The current study applies Pacific Biosciences third generation, single molecule sequencing to the inspection of CRC-driving mutations. Our approach combines the screening power and the extremely high accuracy of circular consensus (CCS) third generation sequencing with the non-invasiveness of using stool DNA to detect CRC-associated mutations present at extremely low frequencies and establishes a foundation for a non-invasive, highly sensitive assay to screen the population for CRC and early stage adenomas. We performed a series of experiments using a pool of fifteen amplicons covering the genes most frequently mutated in CRC (APC, Beta Catenin, KRAS, BRAF, and TP53), ensuring a theoretical screening coverage of over 97% for both CRC and adenomas. The assay was able to detect mutations in DNA isolated from stool samples from patients diagnosed with CRC at frequencies below 0.5 % with no false positives. The mutations were then confirmed by sequencing DNA isolated from the excised tumor samples. Our assay should be sensitive enough to allow the early identification of adenomatous polyps using stool DNA as analyte. In conclusion, we have developed an assay to detect mutations in the genes associated with CRC and adenomas using Pacific Biosciences RS Single Molecule, Real Time Circular Consensus Sequencing (SMRT-CCS). With no systematic bias and a much higher raw base-calling quality (CCS) compared to other sequencing methods, the assay was able to detect mutations in stool DNA at frequencies below 0.5 % with no false positives. This level of sensitivity should be sufficient to allow the detection of most adenomatous polyps using stool DNA as analyte, a feature that would make our approach the first non-invasive assay with a sensitivity comparable to that of colonoscopy and a strong candidate for the non-invasive preventive CRC screening of the general population.


June 1, 2021  |  

Highly sensitive and cost-effective detection of BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer variants in FFPE samples using Multiplicom’s MASTR technology & Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing

Specific mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been shown to be associated with several types of cancers. Molecular profiling of cancer samples requires assays capable of accurately detecting the entire spectrum of variants, including those at relatively low frequency. Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) has been a powerful tool for researchers to better understand cancer genetics. Here we describe a targeted re-sequencing workflow that combines barcoded amplification of BRCA1 and BRCA2 exons from 12 FFPE tumor samples using Multiplicom’s MASTR technology with PacBio SMRT Sequencing. This combination allows for the accurate detection of variants in a cost-effective and timely manner.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome in a Bottle: You’ve sequenced. How well did you do?

Purpose: Clinical laboratories, research laboratories and technology developers all need DNA samples with reliably known genotypes in order to help validate and improve their methods. The Genome in a Bottle Consortium (genomeinabottle.org) has been developing Reference Materials with high-accuracy whole genome sequences to support these efforts.Methodology: Our pilot reference material is based on Coriell sample NA12878 and was released in May 2015 as NIST RM 8398 (tinyurl.com/giabpilot). To minimize bias and improve accuracy, 11 whole-genome and 3 exome data sets produced using 5 different technologies were integrated using a systematic arbitration method [1]. The Genome in a Bottle Analysis Group is adapting these methods and developing new methods to characterize 2 families, one Asian and one Ashkenazi Jewish from the Personal Genome Project, which are consented for public release of sequencing and phenotype data. We have generated a larger and even more diverse data set on these samples, including high-depth Illumina paired-end and mate-pair, Complete Genomics, and Ion Torrent short-read data, as well as Moleculo, 10X, Oxford Nanopore, PacBio, and BioNano Genomics long-read data. We are analyzing these data to provide an accurate assessment of not just small variants but also large structural variants (SVs) in both “easy” regions of the genome and in some “hard” repetitive regions. We have also made all of the input data sources publicly available for download, analysis, and publication.Results: Our arbitration method produced a reference data set of 2,787,291 single nucleotide variants (SNVs), 365,135 indels, 2744 SVs, and 2.2 billion homozygous reference calls for our pilot genome. We found that our call set is highly sensitive and specific in comparison to independent reference data sets. We have also generated preliminary assemblies and structural variant calls for the next 2 trios from long read data and are currently integrating and validating these.Discussion: We combined the strengths of each of our input datasets to develop a comprehensive and accurate benchmark call set. In the short time it has been available, over 20 published or submitted papers have used our data. Many challenges exist in comparing to our benchmark calls, and thus we have worked with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health to develop standardized methods, performance metrics, and software to assist in its use.[1] Zook et al, Nat Biotech. 2014.


June 1, 2021  |  

Highly sensitive and cost-effective detection of somatic cancer variants using single-molecule, real-time sequencing

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies allow for molecular profiling of cancer samples with high sensitivity and speed at reduced cost. For efficient profiling of cancer samples, it is important that the NGS methods used are not only robust, but capable of accurately detecting 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 for studying cancer variants. Here we characterize SMRT Sequencing for the detection of low-frequency somatic variants using the Quantitative Multiplex DNA Reference Standards from Horizon Discovery, combined with amplification of the variants using the Multiplicom Tumor Hotspot MASTR Plus assay. First, we sequenced a reference standard containing precise allelic frequencies from 1% to 24.5% for major oncology targets verified using digital PCR. This reference material recapitulates the complexity of tumor composition and serves as a well-characterized control. The control sample was amplified using the Multiplicom Tumor Hotspot MASTR Plus assay that targets 252 amplicons (121-254 bp) from 26 relevant cancer genes, which includes all 11 variants in the control sample. Next, we sequenced control samples prepared by SeraCare Life Sciences, which contained a defined mutation at allelic frequencies from 10% down to 0.1%. The wild type and mutant amplicons were serially diluted, 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.


April 21, 2020  |  

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions such as when and where transcription occurs to the folding and intermolecular interactions that govern RNA function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid transcriptional responses to serum exposure are associated with sensitivity and resistance to antibody-mediated complement killing in invasive Salmonella Typhimurium ST313

Background: Salmonella Typhimurium ST313 exhibits signatures of adaptation to invasive human infection, including higher resistance to humoral immune responses than gastrointestinal isolates. Full resistance to antibody-mediated complement killing (serum resistance) among nontyphoidal Salmonellae is uncommon, but selection of highly resistant strains could compromise vaccine-induced antibody immunity. Here, we address the hypothesis that serum resistance is due to a distinct genotype or transcriptome response in S. Typhimurium ST313.


April 21, 2020  |  

Assembly of allele-aware, chromosomal-scale autopolyploid genomes based on Hi-C data.

Construction of chromosome-level assembly is a vital step in achieving the goal of a ‘Platinum’ genome, but it remains a major challenge to assemble and anchor sequences to chromosomes in autopolyploid or highly heterozygous genomes. High-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) technology serves as a robust tool to dramatically advance chromosome scaffolding; however, existing approaches are mostly designed for diploid genomes and often with the aim of reconstructing a haploid representation, thereby having limited power to reconstruct chromosomes for autopolyploid genomes. We developed a novel algorithm (ALLHiC) that is capable of building allele-aware, chromosomal-scale assembly for autopolyploid genomes using Hi-C paired-end reads with innovative ‘prune’ and ‘optimize’ steps. Application on simulated data showed that ALLHiC can phase allelic contigs and substantially improve ordering and orientation when compared to other mainstream Hi-C assemblers. We applied ALLHiC on an autotetraploid and an autooctoploid sugar-cane genome and successfully constructed the phased chromosomal-level assemblies, revealing allelic variations present in these two genomes. The ALLHiC pipeline enables de novo chromosome-level assembly of autopolyploid genomes, separating each allele. Haplotype chromosome-level assembly of allopolyploid and heterozygous diploid genomes can be achieved using ALLHiC, overcoming obstacles in assembling complex genomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of Jaltomata Addresses Rapid Reproductive Trait Evolution and Enhances Comparative Genomics in the Hyper-Diverse Solanaceae.

Within the economically important plant family Solanaceae, Jaltomata is a rapidly evolving genus that has extensive diversity in flower size and shape, as well as fruit and nectar color, among its ~80 species. Here, we report the whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation, of one representative species (Jaltomata sinuosa) from this genus. Combining PacBio long reads (25×) and Illumina short reads (148×) achieved an assembly of ~1.45?Gb, spanning ~96% of the estimated genome. Ninety-six percent of curated single-copy orthologs in plants were detected in the assembly, supporting a high level of completeness of the genome. Similar to other Solanaceous species, repetitive elements made up a large fraction (~80%) of the genome, with the most recently active element, Gypsy, expanding across the genome in the last 1-2 Myr. Computational gene prediction, in conjunction with a merged transcriptome data set from 11 tissues, identified 34,725 protein-coding genes. Comparative phylogenetic analyses with six other sequenced Solanaceae species determined that Jaltomata is most likely sister to Solanum, although a large fraction of gene trees supported a conflicting bipartition consistent with substantial introgression between Jaltomata and Capsicum after these species split. We also identified gene family dynamics specific to Jaltomata, including expansion of gene families potentially involved in novel reproductive trait development, and loss of gene families that accompanied the loss of self-incompatibility. This high-quality genome will facilitate studies of phenotypic diversification in this rapidly radiating group and provide a new point of comparison for broader analyses of genomic evolution across the Solanaceae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Toxin and genome evolution in a Drosophila defensive symbiosis.

Defenses conferred by microbial symbionts play a vital role in the health and fitness of their animal hosts. An important outstanding question in the study of defensive symbiosis is what determines long term stability and effectiveness against diverse natural enemies. In this study, we combine genome and transcriptome sequencing, symbiont transfection and parasite protection experiments, and toxin activity assays to examine the evolution of the defensive symbiosis between Drosophila flies and their vertically transmitted Spiroplasma bacterial symbionts, focusing in particular on ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), symbiont-encoded toxins that have been implicated in protection against both parasitic wasps and nematodes. Although many strains of Spiroplasma, including the male-killing symbiont (sMel) of Drosophila melanogaster, protect against parasitic wasps, only the strain (sNeo) that infects the mycophagous fly Drosophila neotestacea appears to protect against parasitic nematodes. We find that RIP repertoire is a major differentiating factor between strains that do and do not offer nematode protection, and that sMel RIPs do not show activity against nematode ribosomes in vivo. We also discovered a strain of Spiroplasma infecting a mycophagous phorid fly, Megaselia nigra. Although both the host and its Spiroplasma are distantly related to D. neotestacea and its symbiont, genome sequencing revealed that the M. nigra symbiont encodes abundant and diverse RIPs, including plasmid-encoded toxins that are closely related to the RIPs in sNeo. Our results suggest that distantly related Spiroplasma RIP toxins may perform specialized functions with regard to parasite specificity and suggest an important role for horizontal gene transfer in the emergence of novel defensive phenotypes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Vaccine-induced protection from homologous tier 2 SHIV challenge in nonhuman primates depends on serum-neutralizing antibody titers.

Passive administration of HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) can protect macaques from hard-to-neutralize (tier 2) chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. However, conditions for nAb-mediated protection after vaccination have not been established. Here, we selected groups of 6 rhesus macaques with either high or low serum nAb titers from a total of 78 animals immunized with recombinant native-like (SOSIP) Env trimers. Repeat intrarectal challenge with homologous tier 2 SHIVBG505 led to rapid infection in unimmunized and low-titer animals. High-titer animals, however, demonstrated protection that was gradually lost as nAb titers waned over time. An autologous serum ID50 nAb titer of ~1:500 afforded more than 90% protection from medium-dose SHIV infection. In contrast, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and T cell activity did not correlate with protection. Therefore, Env protein-based vaccination strategies can protect against hard-to-neutralize SHIV challenge in rhesus macaques by inducing tier 2 nAbs, provided appropriate neutralizing titers can be reached and maintained. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of an early flowering Mini-Citrus (Fortunella hindsii).

Hongkong kumquat (Fortunella hindsii) is a wild citrus species characterized by dwarf plant height and early flowering. Here, we identified the monoembryonic F. hindsii (designated as ‘Mini-Citrus’) for the first time and constructed its selfing lines. This germplasm constitutes an ideal model for the genetic and functional genomics studies of citrus, which have been severely hindered by the long juvenility and inherent apomixes of citrus. F. hindsii showed a very short juvenile period (~8 months) and stable monoembryonic phenotype under cultivation. We report the first de novo assembled 373.6 Mb genome sequences (Contig-N50 2.2 Mb and Scaffold-N50 5.2 Mb) for F. hindsii. In total, 32 257 protein-coding genes were annotated, 96.9% of which had homologues in other eight Citrinae species. The phylogenomic analysis revealed a close relationship of F. hindsii with cultivated citrus varieties, especially with mandarin. Furthermore, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was demonstrated to be an efficient strategy to generate target mutagenesis on F. hindsii. The modifications of target genes in the CRISPR-modified F. hindsii were predominantly 1-bp insertions or small deletions. This genetic transformation system based on F. hindsii could shorten the whole process from explant to T1 mutant to about 15 months. Overall, due to its short juvenility, monoembryony, close genetic background to cultivated citrus and applicability of CRISPR, F. hindsii shows unprecedented potentials to be used as a model species for citrus research. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Multiple modes of convergent adaptation in the spread of glyphosate-resistant Amaranthus tuberculatus.

The selection pressure exerted by herbicides has led to the repeated evolution of herbicide resistance in weeds. The evolution of herbicide resistance on contemporary timescales in turn provides an outstanding opportunity to investigate key questions about the genetics of adaptation, in particular the relative importance of adaptation from new mutations, standing genetic variation, or geographic spread of adaptive alleles through gene flow. Glyphosate-resistant Amaranthus tuberculatus poses one of the most significant threats to crop yields in the Midwestern United States, with both agricultural populations and herbicide resistance only recently emerging in Canada. To understand the evolutionary mechanisms driving the spread of resistance, we sequenced and assembled the A. tuberculatus genome and investigated the origins and population genomics of 163 resequenced glyphosate-resistant and susceptible individuals from Canada and the United States. In Canada, we discovered multiple modes of convergent evolution: in one locality, resistance appears to have evolved through introductions of preadapted US genotypes, while in another, there is evidence for the independent evolution of resistance on genomic backgrounds that are historically nonagricultural. Moreover, resistance on these local, nonagricultural backgrounds appears to have occurred predominantly through the partial sweep of a single haplotype. In contrast, resistant haplotypes arising from the Midwestern United States show multiple amplification haplotypes segregating both between and within populations. Therefore, while the remarkable species-wide diversity of A. tuberculatus has facilitated geographic parallel adaptation of glyphosate resistance, more recently established agricultural populations are limited to adaptation in a more mutation-limited framework.Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.


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.


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