April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequencing for rare human genetic diseases.

During the past decade, the search for pathogenic mutations in rare human genetic diseases has involved huge efforts to sequence coding regions, or the entire genome, using massively parallel short-read sequencers. However, the approximate current diagnostic rate is <50% using these approaches, and there remain many rare genetic diseases with unknown cause. There may be many reasons for this, but one plausible explanation is that the responsible mutations are in regions of the genome that are difficult to sequence using conventional technologies (e.g., tandem-repeat expansion or complex chromosomal structural aberrations). Despite the drawbacks of high cost and a shortage of standard analytical methods, several studies have analyzed pathogenic changes in the genome using long-read sequencers. The results of these studies provide hope that further application of long-read sequencers to identify the causative mutations in unsolved genetic diseases may expand our understanding of the human genome and diseases. Such approaches may also be applied to molecular diagnosis and therapeutic strategies for patients with genetic diseases in the future.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-scale assembly of the major African malaria vector Anopheles funestus.

Anopheles funestus is one of the 3 most consequential and widespread vectors of human malaria in tropical Africa. However, the lack of a high-quality reference genome has hindered the association of phenotypic traits with their genetic basis in this important mosquito.Here we present a new high-quality A. funestus reference genome (AfunF3) assembled using 240× coverage of long-read single-molecule sequencing for contigging, combined with 100× coverage of short-read Hi-C data for chromosome scaffolding. The assembled contigs total 446 Mbp of sequence and contain substantial duplication due to alternative alleles present in the sequenced pool of mosquitos from the FUMOZ colony. Using alignment and depth-of-coverage information, these contigs were deduplicated to a 211 Mbp primary assembly, which is closer to the expected haploid genome size of 250 Mbp. This primary assembly consists of 1,053 contigs organized into 3 chromosome-scale scaffolds with an N50 contig size of 632 kbp and an N50 scaffold size of 93.811 Mbp, representing a 100-fold improvement in continuity versus the current reference assembly, AfunF1.This highly contiguous and complete A. funestus reference genome assembly will serve as an improved basis for future studies of genomic variation and organization in this important disease vector. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-Molecule Sequencing: Towards Clinical Applications.

In the past several years, single-molecule sequencing platforms, such as those by Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, have become available to researchers and are currently being tested for clinical applications. They offer exceptionally long reads that permit direct sequencing through regions of the genome inaccessible or difficult to analyze by short-read platforms. This includes disease-causing long repetitive elements, extreme GC content regions, and complex gene loci. Similarly, these platforms enable structural variation characterization at previously unparalleled resolution and direct detection of epigenetic marks in native DNA. Here, we review how these technologies are opening up new clinical avenues that are being applied to pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, constitutional disorders, pharmacogenomics, cancer, and more.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

TranscriptClean: variant-aware correction of indels, mismatches and splice junctions in long-read transcripts.

Long-read, single-molecule sequencing platforms hold great potential for isoform discovery and characterization of multi-exon transcripts. However, their high error rates are an obstacle to distinguishing novel transcript isoforms from sequencing artifacts. Therefore, we developed the package TranscriptClean to correct mismatches, microindels and noncanonical splice junctions in mapped transcripts using the reference genome while preserving known variants.Our method corrects nearly all mismatches and indels present in a publically available human PacBio Iso-seq dataset, and rescues 39% of noncanonical splice junctions.All Python and R scripts used in this paper are available at https://github.com/dewyman/TranscriptClean.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read based de novo assembly of low-complexity metagenome samples results in finished genomes and reveals insights into strain diversity and an active phage system.

Complete and contiguous genome assemblies greatly improve the quality of subsequent systems-wide functional profiling studies and the ability to gain novel biological insights. While a de novo genome assembly of an isolated bacterial strain is in most cases straightforward, more informative data about co-existing bacteria as well as synergistic and antagonistic effects can be obtained from a direct analysis of microbial communities. However, the complexity of metagenomic samples represents a major challenge. While third generation sequencing technologies have been suggested to enable finished metagenome-assembled genomes, to our knowledge, the complete genome assembly of all dominant strains in a microbiome sample has not been demonstrated. Natural whey starter cultures (NWCs) are used in cheese production and represent low-complexity microbiomes. Previous studies of Swiss Gruyère and selected Italian hard cheeses, mostly based on amplicon metagenomics, concurred that three species generally pre-dominate: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii.Two NWCs from Swiss Gruyère producers were subjected to whole metagenome shotgun sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences Sequel and Illumina MiSeq platforms. In addition, longer Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION reads had to be generated for one to resolve repeat regions. Thereby, we achieved the complete assembly of all dominant bacterial genomes from these low-complexity NWCs, which was corroborated by a 16S rRNA amplicon survey. Moreover, two distinct L. helveticus strains were successfully co-assembled from the same sample. Besides bacterial chromosomes, we could also assemble several bacterial plasmids and phages and a corresponding prophage. Biologically relevant insights were uncovered by linking the plasmids and phages to their respective host genomes using DNA methylation motifs on the plasmids and by matching prokaryotic CRISPR spacers with the corresponding protospacers on the phages. These results could only be achieved by employing long-read sequencing data able to span intragenomic as well as intergenomic repeats.Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of complete de novo genome assembly of all dominant strains from low-complexity NWCs based on whole metagenomics shotgun sequencing data. This allowed to gain novel biological insights and is a fundamental basis for subsequent systems-wide omics analyses, functional profiling and phenotype to genotype analysis of specific microbial communities.


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