June 1, 2021  |  

Mitochondrial DNA sequencing using PacBio SMRT technology

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a compact, double-stranded circular genome of 16,569 bp with a cytosine-rich light (L) chain and a guanine-rich heavy (H) chain. mtDNA mutations have been increasingly recognized as important contributors to an array of human diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and Kearns–Sayre syndrome. mtDNA mutations can affect all of the 1000-10,000 copies of the mitochondrial genome present in a cell (homoplasmic mutation) or only a subset of copies (heteroplasmic mutation). The ratio of normal to mutant mtDNAs within cells is a significant factor in whether mutations will result in disease, as well as the clinical presentation, penetrance, and severity of the phenotype. Over time, heteroplasmic mutations can become homoplastic due to differential replication and random assortment. Full characterization of the mitochondrial genome would involve detection of not only homoplastic but heteroplasmic mutations, as well as complete phasing. Previously, we sequenced human mtDNA on the PacBio RS II System with two partially overlapping amplicons. Here, we present amplification-free, full-length sequencing of linearized mtDNA using the Sequel System. Full-length sequencing allows variant phasing along the entire mitochondrial genome, identification of heteroplasmic variants, and detection of epigenetic modifications that are lost in amplicon-based methods.


June 1, 2021  |  

Scalability and reliability improvements to the Iso-Seq analysis pipeline enables higher throughput sequencing of full-length cancer transcripts

The characterization of gene expression profiles via transcriptome sequencing has proven to be an important tool for characterizing how genomic rearrangements in cancer affect the biological pathways involved in cancer progression and treatment response. More recently, better resolution of transcript isoforms has shown that this additional level of information may be useful in stratifying patients into cancer subtypes with different outcomes and responses to treatment.1 The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio is uniquely able to deliver full-length, high-quality cDNA sequences, allowing the unambiguous determination of splice variants, identifying potential biomarkers and yielding new insights into gene fusion events. Recent improvements to the Iso-Seq bioinformatics pipeline increases the speed and scalability of data analysis while boosting the reliability of isoform detection and cross-platform usability. Here we report evaluation of Sequel Iso-Seq runs of human UHRR samples with spiked-in synthetic RNA controls and show that the new pipeline is more CPU efficient and recovers more human and synthetic isoforms while reducing the number of false positives. We also share the results of sequencing the well-characterized HCC-1954 breast cancer and normal breast cell lines, which will be made publicly available. Combined with the recent simplification of the Iso-Seq sample preparation2, the new analysis pipeline completes a streamlined workflow for revealing the most comprehensive picture of transcriptomes at the throughput needed to characterize cancer samples.


June 1, 2021  |  

Single chromosomal genome assemblies on the Sequel System with Circulomics high molecular weight DNA extraction for microbes

Background: The Nanobind technology from Circulomics provides an elegant HMW DNA extraction solution for genome sequencing of Gram-positive and -negative microbes. Nanobind is a nanostructured magnetic disk that can be used for rapid extraction of high molecular weight (HMW) DNA from diverse sample types including cultured cells, blood, plant nuclei, and bacteria. Processing can be completed in <1 hour for most sample types and can be performed manually or automated with common instruments. Methods:We have validated several critical steps for generating high-quality microbial genome assemblies in a streamlined microbial multiplexing workflow. This new workflow enables high-volume, cost-effective sequencing of up to 16 microbes totaling 30 Mb in genome size on a single SMRT Cell 1M using a target shear size of 10 kb. We also evaluated this method on a pool of four “class 3” microbes that contain >7 kb repeats. Fragment size was increased to ~14 kb, with some fragments >30 kb. Results: Here we present a demonstration of these capabilities using isolates relevant to high-throughput sequencing applications, including common foodborne pathogens (Shigella, Listeria, Salmonella), and species often seen in hospital settings (Klebsiella, Staphylococcus). For nearly all microbes, including difficult-to-assemble class III microbes, we achieved complete de novo microbial assemblies of =5 chromosomal contigs with minimum quality scores of 40 (99.99% accuracy) using data from multiplexed SMRTbell libraries. Each library was sequenced on a single SMRT Cell 1M with the PacBio Sequel System and analyzed with streamlined SMRT Analysis assembly methods. Conclusions: We achieved high-quality, closed microbial genomes using a combination of Circulomics Nanobind extraction and PacBio SMRT Sequencing, along with a newly streamlined workflow that includes automated demultiplexing and push-button assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

A simple segue from Sanger to high-throughput SMRT Sequencing with a M13 barcoding system

High-throughput NGS methods are increasingly utilized in the clinical genomics market. However, short-read sequencing data continues to remain challenged by mapping inaccuracies in low complexity regions or regions of high homology and may not provide adequate coverage within GC-rich regions of the genome. Thus, the use of Sanger sequencing remains popular in many clinical sequencing labs as the gold standard approach for orthogonal validation of variants and to interrogate missed regions poorly covered by second-generation sequencing. The use of Sanger sequencing can be less than ideal, as it can be costly for high volume assays and projects. Additionally, Sanger sequencing generates read lengths shorter than the region of interest, which limits its ability to accurately phase allelic variants. High-throughput SMRT Sequencing overcomes the challenges of both the first- and second-generation sequencing methods. PacBio’s long read capability allows sequencing of full-length amplicons


June 1, 2021  |  

No-amp targeted SMRT sequencing using a CRISPR-Cas9 enrichment method

Targeted sequencing of genomic DNA requires an enrichment method to generate detectable amounts of sequencing products. Genomic regions with extreme composition bias and repetitive sequences can pose a significant enrichment challenge. Many genetic diseases caused by repeat element expansions are representative of these challenging enrichment targets. PCR amplification, used either alone or in combination with a hybridization capture method, is a common approach for target enrichment. While PCR amplification can be used successfully with genomic regions of moderate to high complexity, it is the low-complexity regions and regions containing repetitive elements sometimes of indeterminate lengths due to repeat expansions that can lead to poor or failed PCR enrichment. We have developed an enrichment method for targeted SMRT Sequencing on the PacBio Sequel System using the CRISPR-Cas9 system that requires no PCR amplification. Briefly, a preformed SMRTbell library containing the target region of interest is cleaved with Cas9 through direct interaction with a sequence-specific guide RNA. After ligation with new poly(A) hairpin adapters, the asymmetric SMRTbell templates are enriched by magnetic bead separation. This method, paired with SMRT Sequencing’s long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage, allows sequencing of genomic regions regardless of challenging sequence context that cannot be investigated with other technologies. The method is amenable to analyzing multiple samples and/or targets in a single reaction. In addition, this method also preserves epigenetic modifications allowing for the detection and characterization of DNA methylation which has been shown to be a key factor in the disease mechanism for some repeat expansion diseases. Here we present results of our latest No-Amp Targeted Sequencing procedure applied to the characterization of CAG triplet repeat expansions in the HTT gene responsible for Huntington’s Disease.


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  |  

Library prep and bioinformatics improvements for full-length transcript sequencing on the PacBio Sequel System

The PacBio Iso-Seq method produces high-quality, full-length transcripts of up to 10 kb and longer and has been used to annotate many important plant and animal genomes. Here we describe an improved, simplified library workflow and analysis pipeline that reduces library preparation time, RNA input, and cost. The Iso-Seq V2 Express workflow is a one day protocol that requires only ~300 ng of total RNA input while also reducing the number of reverse transcription and amplification steps down to single reactions. Compared with the previous workflow, the Iso-Seq V2 Express workflow increases the percentage of full-length (FL) reads while achieving a higher average transcript length. At the same time, the Iso-Seq 3 analysis recently released in the SMRT Link 6.0 software is a major improvement over previous versions. Iso-Seq 3 is highly accurate at detecting and removing library artifacts (TSO and RT artifacts) as well as differentiating barcodes on multiplexed samples. Iso-Seq 3 achieves the same output performance in high-quality transcript sequences compared to previous versions while reducing the runtime and memory usage dramatically.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection with long read sequencing reveals driver and passenger mutations in a melanoma cell line

Past large scale cancer genome sequencing efforts, including The Cancer Genome Atlas and the International Cancer Genome Consortium, have utilized short-read sequencing, which is well-suited for detecting single nucleotide variants (SNVs) but far less reliable for detecting variants larger than 20 base pairs, including insertions, deletions, duplications, inversions and translocations. Recent same-sample comparisons of short- and long-read human reference genome data have revealed that short-read resequencing typically uncovers only ~4,000 structural variants (SVs, =50 bp) per genome and is biased towards deletions, whereas sequencing with PacBio long-reads consistently finds ~20,000 SVs, evenly balanced between insertions and deletions. This discovery has important implications for cancer research, as it is clear that SVs are both common and biologically important in many cancer subtypes, including colorectal, breast and ovarian cancer. Without confident and comprehensive detection of structural variants, it is unlikely we have a sufficiently complete picture of all the genomic changes that impact cancer development, disease progression, treatment response, drug resistance, and relapse. To begin to address this unmet need, we have sequenced the COLO829 tumor and matched normal lymphoblastoid cell lines to 49- and 51-fold coverage, respectively, with PacBio SMRT Sequencing, with the goal of developing a high-confidence structural variant call set that can be used to empirically evaluate cost-effective experimental designs for larger scale studies and develop structural variation calling software suitable for cancer genomics. Structural variant calling revealed over 21,000 deletions and 19,500 insertions larger than 20 bp, nearly four times the number of events detected with short-read sequencing. The vast majority of events are shared between the tumor and normal, with about 100 putative somatic deletions and 400 insertions, primarily in microsatellites. A further 40 rearrangements were detected, nearly exclusively in the tumor. One rearrangement is shared between the tumor and normal, t(5;X) which disrupts the mismatch repeat gene MSH3, and is likely a driver mutation. Generating high-confidence call sets that cover the entire size-spectrum of somatic variants from a range of cancer model systems is the first step in determining what will be the best approach for addressing an ongoing blind spot in our current understanding of cancer genomes. Here the application of PacBio sequencing to a melanoma cancer cell line revealed thousands of previously overlooked variants, including a mutation likely involved in tumorogenesis.


June 1, 2021  |  

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

Introduction: Long-read sequencing has been applied successfully to assemble genomes and detect structural variants. However, due to high raw-read error rates (10-15%), it has remained difficult to call small variants from long reads. Recent improvements in library preparation and sequencing chemistry have increased length, accuracy, and throughput of PacBio circular consensus sequencing (CCS) reads, resulting in 10-20kb reads with average read quality above 99%. Materials and Methods: We sequenced a 12kb library from human reference sample HG002 to 18-fold coverage on the PacBio Sequel II System with three SMRT Cells 8M. The CCS algorithm was used to generate highly-accurate (average 99.8%) 11.4kb reads, which were mapped to the hg19 reference with pbmm2. We detected small variants using Google DeepVariant with a model trained for CCS and phased the variants using WhatsHap. Structural variants were detected with pbsv. Variant calls were evaluated against Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) benchmarks. Results: With these reads, DeepVariant achieves SNP and Indel F1 scores of 99.82% and 96.70% against the GIAB truth set, and pbsv achieves 95.94% recall on structural variants longer than 50bp. Using WhatsHap, small variants were phased into haplotype blocks with 105kb N50. The improved mappability of long reads allows us to align to and detect variants in medically relevant genes such as CYP2D6 and PMS2 that have proven “difficult-to-map” with short reads. Conclusions: These highly-accurate long reads combine the mappability and ability to detect structural variants of long reads with the accuracy and ability to detect small variants of short reads.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparison of sequencing approaches applied to complex soil metagenomes to resolve proteins of interest

Background: Long-read sequencing presents several potential advantages for providing more complete gene profiling of metagenomic samples. Long reads can capture multiple genes in a single read, and longer reads typically result in assemblies with better contiguity, especially for higher abundance organisms. However, a major challenge with using long reads has been the higher cost per base, which may lead to insufficient coverage of low-abundance species. Additionally, lower single-pass accuracy can make gene discovery for low-abundance organisms difficult. Methods: To evaluate the pros and cons of long reads for metagenomics, we directly compared PacBio and Illumina sequencing on a soil-derived sample, which included spike-in controls of known concentrations of pure referenced samples. For PacBio sequencing, a 10 kb library was sequenced on the Sequel System with 3.0 chemistry. Highly accurate long reads (HiFi reads) with Q20 and higher were generated for downstream analyses using PacBio Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) mode. Results were assessed according to the following criteria: DNA extraction capacity, bioinformatics pipeline status, % of proteins with ambiguous AA’s, total unique error-free genes/$1000, total proteins observed in spike-ins/$1000, proteins of interest/$1000, median length of contigs with proteins, and assembly requirements. Results: Both methods had areas of superior performance. DNA extraction capacity was higher for Illumina, the bioinformatics pipeline is well-tested, and there was a lower proportion of proteins with ambiguous AA’s. On the other hand, with PacBio, twice as many unique error-free genes, twice as many total proteins from spike-ins, and ~6 times more proteins of interest were found per $1000 cost. PacBio data produced on average 5 times longer contigs capturing proteins of interest. Additionally, assembly was not required for gene or protein finding, as was the case with Illumina data. Conclusions: In this comparison of PacBio Sequel System with Illumina NextSeq on a complex microbiome, we conclude that the sequencing system of choice may vary, depending on the goals and resources for the project. PacBio sequencing requires a longer DNA extraction method, and the bioinformatics pipeline may require development. On the other hand, the Sequel System generates hundreds of thousands of long HiFi reads per SMRT Cell, producing more genes, more proteins, and longer contigs, thereby offering more information about the metagenomic samples for a lower cost.


June 1, 2021  |  

Microbiome profiling at the strain level using rRNA amplicons

Strain level microbiome profiling is needed for a full understanding of how microbial communities influence human health. Microbiome profiling of rRNA gene amplicons is a well-understood method that is rapid and inexpensive, but standard 16S rRNA gene methods generally cannot differentiate closely related strains. Whole genome/shotgun microbiome profiling is considered a higher-resolution alternative, but with decreased throughput and significantly increased sequencing costs and analysis burden. With both methods there are also challenges with microbial lysis, DNA preparation, and taxonomic analysis. Specialized microbiome-focused protocols were developed to achieve strain-level taxonomic differentiation using a rapid, high throughput rRNA gene assay. The protocol integrates lysis and DNA preparation improvements with a unique high information content amplicon and associated novel database to enable taxonomic differentiation of closely related microbial strains.


June 1, 2021  |  

Single cell isoform sequencing (scIso-Seq) identifies novel full-length mRNAs and cell type-specific expression

Single cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) is an emerging field for characterizing cell heterogeneity in complex tissues. However, most scRNA-seq methodologies are limited to gene count information due to short read lengths. Here, we combine the microfluidics scRNA-seq technique, Drop-Seq, with PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing to generate full-length transcript isoforms that can be confidently assigned to individual cells. We generated single cell Iso-Seq (scIso-Seq) libraries for chimp and human cerebral organoid samples on the Dolomite Nadia platform and sequenced each library with two SMRT Cells 8M on the PacBio Sequel II System. We developed a bioinformatics pipeline to identify, classify, and filter full-length isoforms at the single-cell level. We show that scIso-Seq reveals full-length isoform information not accessible using short reads that can reveal differences between cell types and amongst different species.


June 1, 2021  |  

Unbiased characterization of metagenome composition and function using HiFi sequencing on the PacBio Sequel II System

Recent work comparing metagenomic sequencing methods indicates that a comprehensive picture of the taxonomic and functional diversity of complex communities will be difficult to achieve with short-read technology alone. While the lower cost of short reads has enabled greater sequencing depth, the greater contiguity of long-read assemblies and lack of GC bias in SMRT Sequencing has enabled better gene finding. However, since long-read assembly requires high coverage for error correction, the benefits of unbiased coverage have in the past been lost for low abundance species. SMRT Sequencing performance improvements and the introduction of the Sequel II System has enabled a new, high throughput data type uniquely suited to metagenome characterization: HiFi reads. HiFi reads combine high accuracy with read lengths up to 15 kb, eliminating the need for assembly for most microbiome applications, including functional profiling, gene discovery, and metabolic pathway reconstruction. Here we present the application of the HiFi data type to enable a new method of analyzing metagenomes that does not require assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

High-quality human genomes achieved through HiFi sequence data and FALCON-Unzip assembly

De novo assemblies of human genomes from accurate (85-90%), continuous long reads (CLR) now approach the human reference genome in contiguity, but the assembly base pair accuracy is typically below QV40 (99.99%), an order-of-magnitude lower than the standard for finished references. The base pair errors complicate downstream interpretation, particularly false positive indels that lead to false gene loss through frameshifts. PacBio HiFi sequence data, which are both long (>10 kb) and very accurate (>99.9%) at the individual sequence read level, enable a new paradigm in human genome assembly. Haploid human assemblies using HiFi data achieve similar contiguity to those using CLR data and are highly accurate at the base level1. Furthermore, HiFi assemblies resolve more high-identity sequences such as segmental duplications2. To enable HiFi assembly in diploid human samples, we have extended the FALCON-Unzip assembler to work directly with HiFi reads. Here we present phased human diploid genome assemblies from HiFi sequencing of HG002, HG005, and the Vertebrate Genome Project (VGP) mHomSap1 trio on the PacBio Sequel II System. The HiFi assemblies all exceed the VGP’s quality guidelines, approaching QV50 (99.999%) accuracy. For HG002, 60% of the genome was haplotype-resolved, with phase-block N50 of 143Kbp and phasing accuracy of 99.6%. The overall mean base accuracy of the assembly was QV49.7. In conclusion, HiFi data show great promise towards complete, contiguous, and accurate diploid human assemblies.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-Length RNA-seq of Alzheimer brain on the PacBio Sequel II System

The PacBio Iso-Seq method produces high-quality, full-length transcripts and can characterize a whole transcriptome with a single SMRT Cell 8M. We sequenced an Alzheimer whole brain sample on a single SMRT Cell 8M on the Sequel II System. Using the Iso-Seq bioinformatics pipeline followed by SQANTI2 analysis, we detected 162,290 transcripts for 17,670 genes up to 14 kb in length. More than 60% of the transcripts are novel isoforms, the vast majority of which have supporting cage peak data and polyadenylation signals, demonstrating the utility of long-read sequencing for human disease research.


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