June 1, 2021  |  

Sequencing of expanded CGG repeats in the FMR1 gene.

Alleles of the FMR1 gene with more than 200 CGG repeats generally undergo methylation-coupled gene silencing, resulting in fragile X syndrome, the leading heritable form of cognitive impairment. Smaller expansions (55-200 CGG repeats) result in elevated levels of FMR1 mRNA, which is directly responsible for the late-onset neurodegenerative disorder, fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). For mechanistic studies and genetic counseling, it is important to know with precision the number of CGG repeats; however, no existing DNA sequencing method is capable of sequencing through more than ~100 CGG repeats, thus limiting the ability to precisely characterize the disease-causing alleles. The recent development of single molecule, real-time sequencing represents a novel approach to DNA sequencing that couples the intrinsic processivity of DNA polymerase with the ability to read polymerase activity on a single-molecule basis. Further, the accuracy of the method is improved through the use of circular templates, such that each molecule can be read multiple times to produce a circular consensus sequence (CCS). We have succeeded in generating CCS reads representing multiple passes through both strands of repeat tracts exceeding 700 CGGs (>2 kb of 100 percent CG) flanked by native FMR1 sequence, with single-molecule readlengths exceeding 12 kb. This sequencing approach thus enables us to fully characterize the previously intractable CGG-repeat sequence, leading to a better understanding of the distinct associated molecular pathologies. Real-time kinetic data also provides insight into the activity of DNA polymerase inside this unique sequence. The methodology should be widely applicable for studies of the molecular pathogenesis of an increasing number of repeat expansion-associated neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, and for the efficient identification of such disorders in the clinical setting.


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  |  

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.


June 1, 2021  |  

Enrichment of unamplified DNA and long-read SMRT Sequencing to unlock repeat expansion disorders

Nucleotide repeat expansions are a major cause of neurological and neuromuscular disease in humans, however, the nature of these genomic regions makes characterizing them extremely challenging. Accurate DNA sequencing of repeat expansions using short-read sequencing technologies is difficult, as short-read technologies often cannot read through regions of low sequence complexity. Additionally, these short reads do not span the entire region of interest and therefore sequence assembly is required. Lastly, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon amplification which adds the additional caveat of PCR bias. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system for specific targeting of individual human genes. This method, in conjunction with PacBio’s long reads and uniform coverage, enables sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies. Using human genomic DNA samples and this strategy, we have successfully targeted the loci of Huntington’s Disease (HTT; CAG repeat), Fragile X (FMR1; CGG repeat), ALS (C9orf72; GGGGCC repeat), and Spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10; variable ATTCT repeat) for examination. With this data, we demonstrate the ability to isolate hundreds of individual on-target molecules in a single SMRT Cell and accurately sequence through long repeat stretches, regardless of the extreme GC-content. The method is compatible with multiplexing of multiple targets and multiple samples in a single reaction. This technique also captures native DNA molecules for sequencing, allowing for the possibility of direct detection and characterization of epigenetic signatures.


June 1, 2021  |  

Phased human genome assemblies with Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing

In recent years, human genomic research has focused on comparing short-read data sets to a single human reference genome. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that significant structural variations present in individual human genomes are missed or ignored by this approach. Additionally, remapping short-read data limits the phasing of variation among individual chromosomes. This reduces the newly sequenced genome to a table of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with little to no information as to the co-linearity (phasing) of these variants, resulting in a “mosaic” reference representing neither of the parental chromosomes. The variation between the homologous chromosomes is lost in this representation, including allelic variations, structural variations, or even genes present in only one chromosome, leading to lost information regarding allelic-specific gene expression and function. To address these limitations, we have made significant progress integrating haplotype information directly into genome assembly process with long reads. The FALCON-Unzip algorithm leverages a string graph assembly approach to facilitate identification and separation of heterozygosity during the assembly process to produce a highly contiguous assembly with phased haplotypes representing the genome in its diploid state. The outputs of the assembler are pairs of sequences (haplotigs) containing the allelic differences, including SNPs and structural variations, present in the two sets of chromosomes. The development and testing of our de-novo diploid assembler was facilitated and carefully validated using inbred reference model organisms and F1 progeny, which allowed us to ascertain the accuracy and concordance of haplotigs relative to the two inbred parental assemblies. Examination of the results confirmed that our haplotype-resolved assemblies are “Gold Level” reference genomes having a quality similar to that of Sanger-sequencing, BAC-based assembly approaches. We further sequenced and assembled two well-characterized human samples into their respective phased diploid genomes with gap-free contig N50 sizes greater than 23 Mb and haplotig N50 sizes greater than 380 kb. Results of these assemblies and a comparison between the haplotype sets are presented.


June 1, 2021  |  

Targeted SMRT Sequencing of difficult regions of the genome using a Cas9, non-amplification based method

Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification. Amplification removes the epigenetic marks present in native DNA, and some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, a large number of genetic disorders are caused by expansions of repeat sequences. Furthermore, for some disorders, methylation status has been shown to be a key factor in the mechanism of disease. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system for specific targeting of individual human genes. This method, in conjunction with SMRT Sequencing’s long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage, allows the sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies.


June 1, 2021  |  

Targeted enrichment without amplification and SMRT Sequencing of repeat-expansion disease causative genomic regions

Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification. Amplification removes the epigenetic marks present in native DNA, and some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, a large number of genetic disorders are caused by expansions of repeat sequences. Furthermore, for some disorders, methylation status has been shown to be a key factor in the mechanism of disease. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system for specific targeting of individual human genes. This method, in conjunction with SMRT Sequencing’s long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage, allows the sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies. Using human genomic DNA samples and this strategy, we have successfully targeted the loci of a number of repeat expansion disorders (HTT, FMR1, ATXN10, C9orf72). With this data, we demonstrate the ability to isolate hundreds of individual on-target molecules and accurately sequence through long repeat stretches, regardless of the extreme GC-content, followed by accurate sequencing on a single PacBio RS II SMRT Cell or Sequel SMRT Cell 1M. The method is compatible with multiplexing of multiple targets and multiple samples in a single reaction. Furthermore, this technique also preserves native DNA molecules for sequencing, allowing for the possibility of direct detection and characterization of epigenetic signatures. We demonstrate detection of 5-mC in human promoter sequences and CpG islands.


June 1, 2021  |  

Amplification-free targeted enrichment and SMRT Sequencing of repeat-expansion genomic regions

Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification. Amplification removes the epigenetic marks present in native DNA, and some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, a large number of genetic disorders are caused by expansions of repeat sequences. Furthermore, for some disorders, methylation status has been shown to be a key factor in the mechanism of disease.


June 1, 2021  |  

Best practices for whole genome sequencing using the Sequel System

Plant and animal whole genome sequencing has proven to be challenging, particularly due to genome size, high density of repetitive elements and heterozygosity. The Sequel System delivers long reads, high consensus accuracy and uniform coverage, enabling more complete, accurate, and contiguous assemblies of these large complex genomes. The latest Sequel chemistry increases yield up to 8 Gb per SMRT Cell for long insert libraries >20 kb and up to 10 Gb per SMRT Cell for libraries >40 kb. In addition, the recently released SMRTbell Express Template Prep Kit reduces the time (~3 hours) and DNA input (~3 µg), making the workflow easy to use for multi- SMRT Cell projects. Here, we recommend the best practices for whole genome sequencing and de novo assembly of complex plant and animal genomes. Guidelines for constructing large-insert SMRTbell libraries (>30 kb) to generate optimal read lengths and yields using the latest Sequel chemistry are presented. We also describe ways to maximize library yield per preparation from as littles as 3 µg of sheared genomic DNA. The combination of these advances makes plant and animal whole genome sequencing a practical application of the Sequel System.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comprehensive variant detection in a human genome with PacBio high-fidelity reads

Human genomic variations range in size from single nucleotide substitutions to large chromosomal rearrangements. Sequencing technologies tend to be optimized for detecting particular variant types and sizes. Short reads excel at detecting SNVs and small indels, while long or linked reads are typically used to detect larger structural variants or phase distant loci. Long reads are more easily mapped to repetitive regions, but tend to have lower per-base accuracy, making it difficult to call short variants. The PacBio Sequel System produces two main data types: long continuous reads (up to 100 kbp), generated by single passes over a long template, and Circular Consensus Sequence (CCS) reads, generated by calculating the consensus of many sequencing passes over a single shorter template (500 bp to 20 kbp). The long-range information in continuous reads is useful for genome assembly and structural variant detection. The higher base accuracy of CCS effectively detects and phases short variants in single molecules. Recent improvements in library preparation protocols and sequencing chemistry have increased the length, accuracy, and throughput of CCS reads. For the human sample HG002, we collected 28-fold coverage 15 kbp high-fidelity CCS reads with an average read quality above Q20 (99% accuracy). The length and accuracy of these reads allow us to detect SNVs, indels, and structural variants not only in the Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) high confidence regions, but also in segmental duplications, HLA loci, and clinically relevant “difficult-to-map” genes. As with continuous long reads, we call structural variants at 90.0% recall compared to the GIAB structural variant benchmark “truth” set, with the added advantages of base pair resolution for variant calls and improved recall at compound heterozygous loci. With minimap2 alignments, GATK4 HaplotypeCaller variant calls, and simple variant filtration, we have achieved a SNP F-Score of 99.51% and an INDEL F-Score of 80.10% against the GIAB short variant benchmark “truth” set, in addition to calling variants outside of the high confidence region established by GIAB using previous technologies. With the long-range information available in 15 kbp reads, we applied the read-backed phasing tool WhatsHap to generate phase blocks with a mean length of 65 kbp across the entire genome. Using an alignment-based approach, we typed all major MHC class I and class II genes to at least 3-field precision. This new data type has the potential to expand the GIAB high confidence regions and “truth” benchmark sets to many previously difficult-to-map genes and allow a single sequencing protocol to address both short variants and large structural variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comprehensive variant detection in a human genome with highly accurate long reads

Introduction: Long-read sequencing has revealed more than 20,000 structural variants spanning over 12 Mb in a healthy human genome. Short-read sequencing fails to detect most structural variants but has remained the more effective approach for small variants, due to 10-15% error rates in long reads, and copy-number variants (CNVs), due to lack of effective long-read variant callers. The development of PacBio highly accurate long reads (HiFi reads) with read lengths of 10-25 kb and quality >99% presents the opportunity to capture all classes of variation with one approach.Methods: We sequence the Genome in a Bottle benchmark sample HG002 and an individual with a presumed Mendelian disease with HiFi reads. We call SNVs and indels with DeepVariant and extend the structural variant caller pbsv to call CNVs using read depth and clipping signatures. Results: For 18-fold coverage with 13 kb HiFi reads, variant calling in HG002 achieves an F1 score of 99.7% for SNVs, 96.6% for indels, and 96.4% for structural variants. Additionally, we detect more than 300 CNVs spanning around 10 Mb. For the Mendelian disease case, HiFi reads reveal thousands of variants that were overlooked by short-read sequencing, including a candidate causative structural variant. Conclusions: These results illustrate the ability of HiFi reads to comprehensively detect variants, including those associated with human disease.


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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