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  |  

Gammaherpesvirus Readthrough Transcription Generates a Long Non-Coding RNA That Is Regulated by Antisense miRNAs and Correlates with Enhanced Lytic Replication In Vivo.

Gammaherpesviruses, including the human pathogens Epstein?Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) are oncogenic viruses that establish lifelong infections in hosts and are associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases and lymphomas. Recent studies have shown that the majority of the mammalian genome is transcribed and gives rise to numerous long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Likewise, the large double-stranded DNA virus genomes of herpesviruses undergo pervasive transcription, including the expression of many as yet uncharacterized lncRNAs. Murine gammaperherpesvirus 68 (MHV68, MuHV-4, ?HV68) is a natural pathogen of rodents, and is genetically and pathogenically related to EBV and KSHV, providing a highly tractable model for studies of gammaherpesvirus biology and pathogenesis. Through the integrated use of parallel data sets from multiple sequencing platforms, we previously resolved transcripts throughout the MHV68 genome, including at least 144 novel transcript isoforms. Here, we sought to molecularly validate novel transcripts identified within the M3/M2 locus, which harbors genes that code for the chemokine binding protein M3, the latency B cell signaling protein M2, and 10 microRNAs (miRNAs). Using strand-specific northern blots, we validated the presence of M3-04, a 3.91 kb polyadenylated transcript that initiates at the M3 transcription start site and reads through the M3 open reading frame (ORF), the M3 poly(a) signal sequence, and the M2 ORF. This unexpected transcript was solely localized to the nucleus, strongly suggesting that it is not translated and instead may function as a lncRNA. Use of an MHV68 mutant lacking two M3-04-antisense pre-miRNA stem loops resulted in highly increased expression of M3-04 and increased virus replication in the lungs of infected mice, demonstrating a key role for these RNAs in regulation of lytic infection. Together these findings suggest the possibility of a tripartite regulatory relationship between the lncRNA M3-04, antisense miRNAs, and the latency gene M2.


April 21, 2020  |  

Parallels between natural selection in the cold-adapted crop-wild relative Tripsacum dactyloides and artificial selection in temperate adapted maize.

Artificial selection has produced varieties of domesticated maize that thrive in temperate climates around the world. However, the direct progenitor of maize, teosinte, is indigenous only to a relatively small range of tropical and subtropical latitudes and grows poorly or not at all outside of this region. Tripsacum, a sister genus to maize and teosinte, is naturally endemic to the majority of areas in the western hemisphere where maize is cultivated. A full-length reference transcriptome for Tripsacum dactyloides generated using long-read Iso-Seq data was used to characterize independent adaptation to temperate climates in this clade. Genes related to phospholipid biosynthesis, a critical component of cold acclimation in other cold-adapted plant lineages, were enriched among those genes experiencing more rapid rates of protein sequence evolution in T. dactyloides. In contrast with previous studies of parallel selection, we find that there is a significant overlap between the genes that were targets of artificial selection during the adaptation of maize to temperate climates and those that were targets of natural selection in temperate-adapted T. dactyloides. Genes related to growth, development, response to stimulus, signaling, and organelles were enriched in the set of genes identified as both targets of natural and artificial selection. © 2019 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma (Silver-Seed Gourd) Reveals Faster Rates of Protein-Coding Gene and Long Noncoding RNA Turnover and Neofunctionalization within Cucurbita.

Whole-genome duplications are an important source of evolutionary novelties that change the mode and tempo at which genetic elements evolve within a genome. The Cucurbita genus experienced a whole-genome duplication around 30 million years ago, although the evolutionary dynamics of the coding and noncoding genes in this genus have not yet been scrutinized. Here, we analyzed the genomes of four Cucurbita species, including a newly assembled genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma, and compared the gene contents of these species with those of five other members of the Cucurbitaceae family to assess the evolutionary dynamics of protein-coding and long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) genes after the genome duplication. We report that Cucurbita genomes have a higher protein-coding gene birth-death rate compared with the genomes of the other members of the Cucurbitaceae family. C. argyrosperma gene families associated with pollination and transmembrane transport had significantly faster evolutionary rates. lincRNA families showed high levels of gene turnover throughout the phylogeny, and 67.7% of the lincRNA families in Cucurbita showed evidence of birth from the neofunctionalization of previously existing protein-coding genes. Collectively, our results suggest that the whole-genome duplication in Cucurbita resulted in faster rates of gene family evolution through the neofunctionalization of duplicated genes. Copyright © 2019 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potential use of the Pteris vittata arsenic hyperaccumulation-regulation network for phytoremediation.

Arsenic accumulation in soil is a global problem typically addressed using phytoremediation methods. Pteris vittata, a model arsenic hyperaccumulator, has great potential as a genetically engineered plant for phytoremediation. However, the lack of omic information on this species has severely limited the identification and application of its arsenic hyperaccumulation and regulation components. In this study, we used an optimized single-molecular real-time (SMRT) strategy to create a de novo full-length transcriptomic-tonoplast proteomic database for this unsequenced fern and to determine the genetic components underlying its arsenic hyperaccumulation-regulation mechanisms. We established a comprehensive network consisting of six major transporter families, two novel resistance pathways, and a regulatory system by examining alternative splicing (AS) and long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) in different tissues following As(III) and As(V) treatment. The database and network established in this study will deepen our understanding of the unique hyperaccumulation and regulation mechanisms of P. vittata, ultimately providing a valuable resource for futher research on phytoremediation of arsenic-contaminated soil. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

The developmental dynamics of the Populus stem transcriptome.

The Populus shoot undergoes primary growth (longitudinal growth) followed by secondary growth (radial growth), which produces biomass that is an important source of energy worldwide. We adopted joint PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis to identify differentially expressed transcripts along a developmental gradient from the shoot apex to the fifth internode of Populus Nanlin895. We obtained 87 150 full-length transcripts, including 2081 new isoforms and 62 058 new alternatively spliced isoforms, most of which were produced by intron retention, that were used to update the Populus annotation. Among these novel isoforms, there are 1187 long non-coding RNAs and 356 fusion genes. Using this annotation, we found 15 838 differentially expressed transcripts along the shoot developmental gradient, of which 1216 were transcription factors (TFs). Only a few of these genes were reported previously. The differential expression of these TFs suggests that they may play important roles in primary and secondary growth. AP2, ARF, YABBY and GRF TFs are highly expressed in the apex, whereas NAC, bZIP, PLATZ and HSF TFs are likely to be important for secondary growth. Overall, our findings provide evidence that long-read sequencing can complement short-read sequencing for cataloguing and quantifying eukaryotic transcripts and increase our understanding of the vital and dynamic process of shoot development. © 2018 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  |  

A global survey of full-length transcriptome of Ginkgo biloba reveals transcript variants involved in flavonoid biosynthesis

Ginkgo biloba, which contains flavonoids as bioactive components, is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Increasing the flavonoid production of medicinal plants through genetic engineering generally focuses on the key genes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying such biosynthesis are not yet well understood. To understand these mechanisms, a combination of second-generation sequencing (SGS) and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing was applied to G. biloba. Eight tissues were sampled for SMRT sequencing to generate a high-quality, full-length transcriptome database. From 23.36 Gb clean reads, 12,954 alternative polyadenylation events, 12,290 alternative splicing events, 929 fusion transcripts, 2,286 novel transcripts, and 1,270 lncRNAs were predicted by removing redundant reads. Further studies reveal that 7 AS, 5 lncRNA, and 6 fusion gene events were identified in flavonoid biosynthesis. A total of 12 gene modules were revealed to be involved in flavonoid metabolism structural genes and transcription factors by constructing co-expression networks. Weighted gene coexpression network analysis (WGCNA) analysis reveals that some hub genes operate during the biosynthesis by identifying transcription factors (TFs) and structure genes. Seven key hub genes were also identified by analyzing the correlation between gene expression level and flavonoids content. The results highlight the importance of SMRT sequencing of the full-length transcriptome in improving genome annotation and elucidating the gene regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis in G. biloba by providing a comprehensive set of reference transcripts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Getting the Entire Message: Progress in Isoform Sequencing

The advent of second-generation sequencing and its application to RNA sequencing has revolutionized the field of genomics by allowing the quantification of expression of entire genes as well as single TSS, exons and splice sites, RNA-editing sites as well as polyA-sites. However, due to the sequencing of fragments of cDNAs these methods have not given a reliable picture of complete RNA isoforms. Third-generation sequencing has filled this gap and allows end-to-end sequencing of entire RNA/cDNA molecules. This approach to transcriptomics has been a ‘niche’ technology for a couple of years but now is becoming mainstream with many different applications. Here, we review the background and progress made to date in this rapidly growing field. We start by reviewing the progressive realization that alternative splicing is omnipresent. We then focus on long-non-coding RNA isoforms and the distinct combination patterns of exons in non-coding and coding genes. We consider the implications of the recent technologies of direct RNA sequencing and single-cell isoform RNA sequencing. Finally, we discuss the parameters that define the success of long-read RNA sequencing experiments and strategies commonly used to make the most of such data.


April 21, 2020  |  

Improved annotation of the domestic pig genome through integration of Iso-Seq and RNA-seq data.

Our understanding of the pig transcriptome is limited. RNA transcript diversity among nine tissues was assessed using poly(A) selected single-molecule long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-seq) and Illumina RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) from a single White cross-bred pig. Across tissues, a total of 67,746 unique transcripts were observed, including 60.5% predicted protein-coding, 36.2% long non-coding RNA and 3.3% nonsense-mediated decay transcripts. On average, 90% of the splice junctions were supported by RNA-seq within tissue. A large proportion (80%) represented novel transcripts, mostly produced by known protein-coding genes (70%), while 17% corresponded to novel genes. On average, four transcripts per known gene (tpg) were identified; an increase over current EBI (1.9 tpg) and NCBI (2.9 tpg) annotations and closer to the number reported in human genome (4.2 tpg). Our new pig genome annotation extended more than 6000 known gene borders (5′ end extension, 3′ end extension, or both) compared to EBI or NCBI annotations. We validated a large proportion of these extensions by independent pig poly(A) selected 3′-RNA-seq data, or human FANTOM5 Cap Analysis of Gene Expression data. Further, we detected 10,465 novel genes (81% non-coding) not reported in current pig genome annotations. More than 80% of these novel genes had transcripts detected in >?1 tissue. In addition, more than 80% of novel intergenic genes with at least one transcript detected in liver tissue had H3K4me3 or H3K36me3 peaks mapping to their promoter and gene body, respectively, in independent liver chromatin immunoprecipitation data. These validated results show significant improvement over current pig genome annotations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Systematic analysis of dark and camouflaged genes reveals disease-relevant genes hiding in plain sight.

The human genome contains “dark” gene regions that cannot be adequately assembled or aligned using standard short-read sequencing technologies, preventing researchers from identifying mutations within these gene regions that may be relevant to human disease. Here, we identify regions with few mappable reads that we call dark by depth, and others that have ambiguous alignment, called camouflaged. We assess how well long-read or linked-read technologies resolve these regions.Based on standard whole-genome Illumina sequencing data, we identify 36,794 dark regions in 6054 gene bodies from pathways important to human health, development, and reproduction. Of these gene bodies, 8.7% are completely dark and 35.2% are =?5% dark. We identify dark regions that are present in protein-coding exons across 748 genes. Linked-read or long-read sequencing technologies from 10x Genomics, PacBio, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies reduce dark protein-coding regions to approximately 50.5%, 35.6%, and 9.6%, respectively. We present an algorithm to resolve most camouflaged regions and apply it to the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project. We rescue a rare ten-nucleotide frameshift deletion in CR1, a top Alzheimer’s disease gene, found in disease cases but not in controls.While we could not formally assess the association of the CR1 frameshift mutation with Alzheimer’s disease due to insufficient sample-size, we believe it merits investigating in a larger cohort. There remain thousands of potentially important genomic regions overlooked by short-read sequencing that are largely resolved by long-read technologies.


October 23, 2019  |  

CRISPR/Cas9-mediated scanning for regulatory elements required for HPRT1 expression via thousands of large, programmed genomic deletions.

The extent to which non-coding mutations contribute to Mendelian disease is a major unknown in human genetics. Relatedly, the vast majority of candidate regulatory elements have yet to be functionally validated. Here, we describe a CRISPR-based system that uses pairs of guide RNAs (gRNAs) to program thousands of kilobase-scale deletions that deeply scan across a targeted region in a tiling fashion (“ScanDel”). We applied ScanDel to HPRT1, the housekeeping gene underlying Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, an X-linked recessive disorder. Altogether, we programmed 4,342 overlapping 1 and 2 kb deletions that tiled 206 kb centered on HPRT1 (including 87 kb upstream and 79 kb downstream) with median 27-fold redundancy per base. We functionally assayed programmed deletions in parallel by selecting for loss of HPRT function with 6-thioguanine. As expected, sequencing gRNA pairs before and after selection confirmed that all HPRT1 exons are needed. However, HPRT1 function was robust to deletion of any intergenic or deeply intronic non-coding region, indicating that proximal regulatory sequences are sufficient for HPRT1 expression. Although our screen did identify the disruption of exon-proximal non-coding sequences (e.g., the promoter) as functionally consequential, long-read sequencing revealed that this signal was driven by rare, imprecise deletions that extended into exons. Our results suggest that no singular distal regulatory element is required for HPRT1 expression and that distal mutations are unlikely to contribute substantially to Lesch-Nyhan syndrome burden. Further application of ScanDel could shed light on the role of regulatory mutations in disease at other loci while also facilitating a deeper understanding of endogenous gene regulation. Copyright © 2017 American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Searching for convergent pathways in autism spectrum disorders: insights from human brain transcriptome studies.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most heritable neuropsychiatric conditions. The complex genetic landscape of the disorder includes both common and rare variants at hundreds of genetic loci. This marked heterogeneity has thus far hampered efforts to develop genetic diagnostic panels and targeted pharmacological therapies. Here, we give an overview of the current literature on the genetic basis of ASD, and review recent human brain transcriptome studies and their role in identifying convergent pathways downstream of the heterogeneous genetic variants. We also discuss emerging evidence on the involvement of non-coding genomic regions and non-coding RNAs in ASD.


September 22, 2019  |  

The state of long non-coding RNA biology.

Transcriptomic studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of the genomes of mammals and other complex organisms is expressed in highly dynamic and cell-specific patterns to produce large numbers of intergenic, antisense and intronic long non-protein-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Despite well characterized examples, their scaling with developmental complexity, and many demonstrations of their association with cellular processes, development and diseases, lncRNAs are still to be widely accepted as major players in gene regulation. This may reflect an underappreciation of the extent and precision of the epigenetic control of differentiation and development, where lncRNAs appear to have a central role, likely as organizational and guide molecules: most lncRNAs are nuclear-localized and chromatin-associated, with some involved in the formation of specialized subcellular domains. I suggest that a reassessment of the conceptual framework of genetic information and gene expression in the 4-dimensional ontogeny of spatially organized multicellular organisms is required. Together with this and further studies on their biology, the key challenges now are to determine the structure?function relationships of lncRNAs, which may be aided by emerging evidence of their modular structure, the role of RNA editing and modification in enabling epigenetic plasticity, and the role of RNA signaling in transgenerational inheritance of experience.


September 22, 2019  |  

Uncovering full-length transcript isoforms of sugarcane cultivar Khon Kaen 3 using single-molecule long-read sequencing.

Sugarcane is an important global food crop and energy resource. To facilitate the sugarcane improvement program, genome and gene information are important for studying traits at the molecular level. Most currently available transcriptome data for sugarcane were generated using second-generation sequencing platforms, which provide short reads. The de novo assembled transcripts from these data are limited in length, and hence may be incomplete and inaccurate, especially for long RNAs.We generated a transcriptome dataset of leaf tissue from a commercial Thai sugarcane cultivar Khon Kaen 3 (KK3) using PacBio RS II single-molecule long-read sequencing by the Iso-Seq method. Short-read RNA-Seq data were generated from the same RNA sample using the Ion Proton platform for reducing base calling errors.A total of 119,339 error-corrected transcripts were generated with the N50 length of 3,611 bp, which is on average longer than any previously reported sugarcane transcriptome dataset. 110,253 sequences (92.4%) contain an open reading frame (ORF) of at least 300 bp long with ORF N50 of 1,416 bp. The mean lengths of 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions in 73,795 sequences with complete ORFs are 1,249 and 1,187 bp, respectively. 4,774 transcripts are putatively novel full-length transcripts which do not match with a previous Iso-Seq study of sugarcane. We annotated the functions of 68,962 putative full-length transcripts with at least 90% coverage when compared with homologous protein coding sequences in other plants.The new catalog of transcripts will be useful for genome annotation, identification of splicing variants, SNP identification, and other research pertaining to the sugarcane improvement program. The putatively novel transcripts suggest unique features of KK3, although more data from different tissues and stages of development are needed to establish a reference transcriptome of this cultivar.


September 22, 2019  |  

A high-quality annotated transcriptome of swine peripheral blood.

High throughput gene expression profiling assays of peripheral blood are widely used in biomedicine, as well as in animal genetics and physiology research. Accurate, comprehensive, and precise interpretation of such high throughput assays relies on well-characterized reference genomes and/or transcriptomes. However, neither the reference genome nor the peripheral blood transcriptome of the pig have been sufficiently assembled and annotated to support such profiling assays in this emerging biomedical model organism. We aimed to assemble published and novel RNA-seq data to provide a comprehensive, well-annotated blood transcriptome for pigs by integrating a de novo assembly with a genome-guided assembly.A de novo and a genome-guided transcriptome of porcine whole peripheral blood was assembled with ~162 million pairs of paired-end and ~183 million single-end, trimmed and normalized Illumina RNA-seq reads (~6 billion initial reads from 146 RNA-seq libraries) from five independent studies by using the Trinity and Cufflinks software, respectively. We then removed putative transcripts (PTs) of low confidence from both assemblies and merged the remaining PTs into an integrated transcriptome consisting of 132,928 PTs, with 126,225 (~95%) PTs from the de novo assembly and more than 91% of PTs spliced. In the integrated transcriptome, ~90% and 63% of PTs had significant sequence similarity to sequences in the NCBI NT and NR databases, respectively; 68,754 (~52%) PTs were annotated with 15,965 unique gene ontology (GO) terms; and 7618 PTs annotated with Enzyme Commission codes were assigned to 134 pathways curated by the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG). Full exon-intron junctions of 17,528 PTs were validated by PacBio IsoSeq full-length cDNA reads from 3 other porcine tissues, NCBI pig RefSeq mRNAs and transcripts from Ensembl Sscrofa10.2 annotation. Completeness of the 5′ termini of 37,569 PTs was validated by public cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE) data. By comparison to the Ensembl transcripts, we found that (1) the deduced precursors of 54,402 PTs shared at least one intron or exon with those of 18,437 Ensembl transcripts; (2) 12,262 PTs had both longer 5′ and 3′ termini than their maximally overlapping Ensembl transcripts; and (3) 41,838 spliced PTs were totally missing from the Sscrofa10.2 annotation. Similar results were obtained when the PTs were compared to the pig NCBI RefSeq mRNA collection.We built, validated and annotated a comprehensive porcine blood transcriptome with significant improvement over the annotation of Ensembl Sscrofa10.2 and the pig NCBI RefSeq mRNAs, and laid a foundation for blood-based high throughput transcriptomic assays in pigs and for advancing annotation of the pig genome.


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