June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non-pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA sequencing with short, high-accuracy reads (SMRT (circular consensus sequencing) CCS or second-generation reads) to generate long, highly accurate reads that are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which long SMRT sequencing reads (average readlengths >5,000 bases) are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) to numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. The process has been automated and requires less than 1 day from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome.


June 1, 2021  |  

A comparison of 454 GS FLX Ti and PacBio RS in the context of characterizing HIV-1 intra-host diversity.

PacBio 2013 User Group Meeting Presentation Slides: Lance Hepler from UC San Diego’s Center for AIDS Research used the PacBio RS to study intra-host diversity in HIV-1. He compared PacBio’s performance to that of 454® sequencer, the platform he and his team previously used. Hepler noted that in general, there was strong agreement between the platforms; where results differed, he said that PacBio data had significantly better reproducibility and accuracy. “PacBio does not suffer from local coverage loss post-processing, whereas 454 has homopolymer problems,” he noted. Hepler said they are moving away from using 454 in favor of the PacBio system.


June 1, 2021  |  

Next generation sequencing of full-length HIV-1 env during primary infection.

Background: The use of next generation sequencing (NGS) to examine circulating HIV env variants has been limited due to env’s length (2.6 kb), extensive indel polymorphism, GC deficiency, and long homopolymeric regions. We developed and standardized protocols for isolation, RT-PCR amplification, single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, and haplotype analysis of circulating HIV-1 env variants to evaluate viral diversity in primary infection. Methodology: HIV RNA was extracted from 7 blood plasma samples (1 mL) collected from 5 subjects (one individual sampled and sequenced at 3 time points) in the San Diego Primary Infection Cohort between 3-33 months from their estimated date of infection (EDI). Median viral load per sample was 50,118 HIV RNA copies/mL (range: 22,387-446,683). Full-length (3.2 kb) env amplicons were constructed into SMRTbell templates without shearing, and sequenced on the PacBio RS II using P4/C2 chemistry and 180 minute movie collection without stage start. To examine viral diversity in each sample, we determined haplotypes by clustering circular consensus sequences (CCS), and reconstructing a cluster consensus sequence using a partial order alignment approach. We measured sample diversity both as the mean pairwise distance among reads, and the fraction of reads containing indel polymorphisms. Results: We collected a median of 8,775 CCS reads per SMRT Cell (range: 4243-12234). A median of 7 haplotypes per subject (range: 1-55) were inferred at baseline. For the one subject with longitudinal samples analyzed, we observed an increasing number of distinct haplotypes (8 to 55 haplotypes over the course of 30 months), and an increasing mean pairwise distance among reads (from 0.8% to 1.6%, Tamura-Nei 93). We also observed significant indel polymorphism, with 16% of reads from one sample later in infection (33 months post-EDI) exhibiting deletions of more than 10% of env with respect to the reference strain, HXB2. Conclusions: This study developed a standardized NGS procedure (PacBio SMRT) to deep sequence full-length HIV RNA env variants from the circulating viral population, achieving good coverage, confirming low env diversity during primary infection that increased over time, and revealing significant indel polymorphism that highlights structural variation as important to env evolution. The long, accurate reads greatly simplified downstream bioinformatics analyses, especially haplotype phasing, increasing our confidence in the results. The sequencing methodology and analysis tools developed here could be successfully applied to any area for which full-length HIV env analysis would be useful.


June 1, 2021  |  

Accurately surveying uncultured microbial species with SMRT Sequencing

Background: Microbial ecology is reshaping our understanding of the natural world by revealing the large phylogenetic and functional diversity of microbial life. However the vast majority of these microorganisms remain poorly understood, as most cultivated representatives belong to just four phylogenetic groups and more than half of all identified phyla remain uncultivated. Characterization of this microbial ‘dark matter’ will thus greatly benefit from new metagenomic methods for in situ analysis. For example, sensitive high throughput methods for the characterization of community composition and structure from the sequencing of conserved marker genes. Methods: Here we utilize Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing of full-length 16S rRNA amplicons to phylogenetically profile microbial communities to below the genus-level. We test this method on a mock community of known composition, as well as a previously studied microbial community from a lake known to predominantly contain poorly characterized phyla. These results are compared to traditional 16S tag sequencing from short-read technologies and subsets of the full-length data corresponding to the same regions of the 16S gene. Results: We explore the benefits of using full-length amplicons for estimating community structure and diversity. In addition, we investigate the possible effects of context-specific and GC-content biases known to affect short-read sequencing technologies on the predicted community structure. We characterize the potential benefits of profiling metagenomic communities with full-length 16S rRNA genes from SMRT sequencing relative to standard methods.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for investigative studies to understand evolutionary processes.

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing holds promise for addressing new frontiers to understand molecular mechanisms in evolution and gain insight into adaptive strategies. With read lengths exceeding 10 kb, we are able to sequence high-quality, closed microbial genomes with associated plasmids, and investigate large genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and multiple tandem-duplication events. Improved genome quality, observed at 99.9999% (QV60) consensus accuracy, and significant reduction of gap regions in reference genomes (up to and beyond 50%) allow researchers to better understand coding sequences with high confidence, investigate potential regulatory mechanisms in noncoding regions, and make inferences about evolutionary strategies that are otherwise missed by the coverage biases associated with short- read sequencing technologies. Additional benefits afforded by SMRT Sequencing include the simultaneous capability to detect epigenomic modifications and obtain full-length cDNA transcripts that obsolete the need for assembly. With direct sequencing of DNA in real-time, this has resulted in the identification of numerous base modifications and motifs, which genome-wide profiles have linked to specific methyltransferase activities. Our new offering, the Iso-Seq Application, allows for the accurate differentiation between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. PacBio reads easily span transcripts such that both 5’/3’ primers for cDNA library generation and the poly-A tail are observed. As such, exon configuration and intron retention events can be analyzed without ambiguity. This technological advance is useful for characterizing transcript diversity and improving gene structure annotations in reference genomes. We review solutions available with SMRT Sequencing, from targeted sequencing efforts to obtaining reference genomes (>100 Mb). This includes strategies for identifying microsatellites and conducting phylogenetic comparisons with targeted gene families. We highlight how to best leverage our long reads that have exceeded 20 kb in length for research investigations, as well as currently available bioinformatics strategies for analysis. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science as demonstrated in our genome improvement projects. Using the latest P5-C3 chemistry on model organisms, these efforts have yielded an observed contig N50 of ~6 Mb, with the longest contig exceeding 12.5 Mb and an average base quality of QV50.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome analysis of a bacterium that causes lameness.

Lameness is a significant problem resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue annually. In commercial broilers, the most common cause of lameness is bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis (BCO). We are using a wire flooring model to induce lameness attributable to BCO. We used 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing to determine that Staphylococcus spp. were the main species associated with BCO. Staphylococcus agnetis, which previously had not been isolated from poultry, was the principal species isolated from the majority of the bone lesion samples. Administering S. agnetis in the drinking water to broilers reared on wire flooring increased the incidence of BCO three-fold when compared with broilers drinking tap water (P = 0.001). We found that the minimum effective dose of Staphylococcus agnetis to induce BCO in broilers grown on wire flooring experiment is 105 cfu/ml. We used PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a 2.4 Mbp contig representing the genome and a 34 kbp contig for the largest plasmid of S. agnetis. Annotation of this genome is underway through comparative genomics with other Staphylococcus genomes, and identification of virulence factors. Our goal is to elucidate genetic diversity, toxins, and pathogenicity determinants, for this poorly characterized species. Isolating pathogenic bacterial species, defining their likely route of transmission to broilers, and genomic analyses will contribute substantially to the development of measures for mitigating BCO losses in poultry.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length HIV-1 env deep sequencing in a donor with broadly neutralizing V1/V2 antibodies.

Background: Understanding the co-evolution of HIV populations and broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) may inform vaccine design. Novel long-read, next-generation sequencing methods allow, for the first time, full-length deep sequencing of HIV env populations. Methods: We longitudinally examined HIV-1 env populations (12 time points) in a subtype A infected individual from the IAVI primary infection cohort (Protocol C) who developed bNAbs (62% ID50>50 on a diverse panel of 105 viruses) targeting the V1/V2 loop region. We developed a PacBio single molecule, real-time sequencing protocol to deeply sequence full-length env from HIV RNA. Bioinformatics tools were developed to align env sequences, infer phylogenies, and interrogate escape dynamics of key residues and glycosylation sites. PacBio env sequences were compared to env sequences generated through amplification and cloning. Env dynamics and viral escape motif evolution were interpreted in the context of the development V1/V2-targeting broadly neutralizing antibodies. Results: We collected a median of 6799 (range: 1770-14727) high quality full-length HIV env circular consensus sequences (CCS) per SMRT Cell, per time point. Using only CCS reads comprised of 6 or more passes over the HIV env insert (= 16 kb read length) ensured that our median per-base accuracy was 99.7%. A phylogeny inferred with PacBio and 100 cloned env sequences (10 time points) found the cloned sequences evenly distributed among PacBio sequences. Viral escape from the V1/V2 targeted bNAbs was evident at V2 positions 160, 166, 167, 169 and 181 (HxB2 numbering), exhibiting several distinct escape pathways by 40 months post-infection. Conclusions: Our PacBio full-length env sequencing method allowed unprecedented view and ability to characterize HIV-1 env dynamics throughout the first four years of infection. Longitudinal full-length env deep sequencing allows accurate phylogenetic inference, provides a detailed picture of escape dynamics in epitope regions, and can identify minority variants, all of which will prove critical for increasing our understanding of how env evolution drives the development of antibody breadth.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length env deep sequencing in a donor with broadly neutralizing V1/V2 antibodies.

Background: Understanding the co-evolution of HIV populations and broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) lineages may inform vaccine design. Novel long-read, next-generation sequencing methods allow, for the first time, full-length deep sequencing of HIV env populations. Methods: We longitudinally examined env populations (12 time points) in a subtype A infected individual from the IAVI primary infection cohort (Protocol C) who developed bNAbs (62% ID50>50 on a diverse panel of 105 viruses) targeting the V1/V2 region. We developed a Pacific Biosciences single molecule, real-time sequencing protocol to deeply sequence full-length env from HIV RNA. Bioinformatics tools were developed to align env sequences, infer phylogenies, and interrogate escape dynamics of key residues and glycosylation sites. PacBio env sequences were compared to env sequences generated through amplification and cloning. Env dynamics were interpreted in the context of the development of a V1/V2-targeting bNAb lineage isolated from the donor. Results: We collected a median of 6799 high quality full-length env sequences per timepoint (median per-base accuracy of 99.7%). A phylogeny inferred with PacBio and 100 cloned env sequences (10 time points) found cloned env sequences evenly distributed among PacBio sequences. Phylogenetic analyses also revealed a potential transient intra-clade superinfection visible as a minority variant (~5%) at 9 months post-infection (MPI), and peaking in prevalence at 12MPI (~64%), just preceding the development of heterologous neutralization. Viral escape from the bNAb lineage was evident at V2 positions 160, 166, 167, 169 and 181 (HxB2 numbering), exhibiting several distinct escape pathways by 40MPI. Conclusions: Our PacBio full-length env sequencing method allowed unprecedented characterization of env dynamics and revealed an intra-clade superinfection that was not detected through conventional methods. The importance of superinfection in the development of this donor’s V1/V2-directed bNAb lineage is under investigation. Longitudinal full-length env deep sequencing allows accurate phylogenetic inference, provides a detailed picture of escape dynamics in epitope regions, and can identify minority variants, all of which may prove useful for understanding how env evolution can drive the development of antibody breadth.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome and transcriptome of the refeneration-competent flatworm, Macrostomum lignano

The free-living flatworm, Macrostomum lignano, much like its better known planarian relative, Schmidtea mediterranea, has an impressive regenerative capacity. Following injury, this species has the ability to regenerate almost an entirely new organism. This is attributable to the presence of an abundant somatic stem cell population, the neoblasts. These cells are also essential for the ongoing maintenance of most tissues, as their loss leads to irreversible degeneration of the animal. This set of unique properties makes a subset of flatworms attractive organisms for studying the evolution of pathways involved in tissue self-renewal, cell fate specification, and regeneration. The use of these organisms as models, however, is hampered by the lack of a well-assembled and annotated genome sequences, fundamental to modern genetic and molecular studies. Here we report the genomic sequence of Macrostomum lignano and an accompanying characterization of its transcriptome. The genome structure of M. lignano is remarkably complex, with ~75% of its sequence being comprised of simple repeats and transposon sequences. This has made high quality assembly from Illumina reads alone impossible (N50=222 bp). We therefore generated 130X coverage by long sequencing reads from the PacBio platform to create a substantially improved assembly with an N50 of 64 Kbp. We complemented the reference genome with an assembled and annotated transcriptome, and used both of these datasets in combination to probe gene expression patterns during regeneration, examining pathways important to stem cell function. As a whole, our data will provide a crucial resource for the community for the study not only of invertebrate evolution and phylogeny but also of regeneration and somatic pluripotency.


June 1, 2021  |  

How to Compare and Cluster Every Known Genome in about an Hour

Given a massive collection of sequences, it is infeasible to perform pairwise alignment for basic tasks like sequence clustering and search. To address this problem, we demonstrate that the MinHash technique, first applied to clustering web pages, can be applied to biological sequences with similar effect, and extend this idea to include biologically relevant distance and significance measures. Our new tool, Mash, uses MinHash locality-sensitive hashing to reduce large sequences to a representative sketch and rapidly estimate pairwise distances between genomes or metagenomes. Using Mash, we explored several use cases, including a 5,000-fold size reduction and clustering of all 55,000 NCBI RefSeq genomes in 46 CPU hours. The resulting 93 MB sketch database includes all RefSeq genomes, effectively delineates known species boundaries, reconstructs approximate phylogenies, and can be searched in seconds using assembled genomes or raw sequencing runs from Illumina, Pacific Biosciences, and Oxford Nanopore. For metagenomics, Mash scales to thousands of samples and can replicate Human Microbiome Project and Global Ocean Survey results in a fraction of the time. Other potential applications include any problem where an approximate, global sequence distance is acceptable, e.g. to triage and cluster sequence data, assign species labels to unknown genomes, quickly identify mis- tracked samples, and search massive genomic databases. In addition, the Mash distance metric is based on simple set intersections, which are compatible with homomorphic encryption schemes. To facilitate integration with other software, Mash is implemented as a lightweight C++ toolkit and freely released under a BSD license athttps://github.com/marbl/mash


June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing the pan-genome of maize with PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Maize is an amazingly diverse crop. A study in 20051 demonstrated that half of the genome sequence and one-third of the gene content between two inbred lines of maize were not shared. This diversity, which is more than two orders of magnitude larger than the diversity found between humans and chimpanzees, highlights the inability of a single reference genome to represent the full pan-genome of maize and all its variants. Here we present and review several efforts to characterize the complete diversity within maize using the highly accurate long reads of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. These methods provide a framework for a pan-genomic approach that can be applied to studies of a wide variety of important crop species.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative metagenome-assembled genome analysis of “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae”, formerly known as Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium – 1 (BVAB1)

Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium 1 (BVAB1) is an as-yet uncultured bacterial species found in the human vagina that belongs to the family Lachnospiraceae within the order Clostridiales. As its name suggests, this bacterium is often associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common vaginal disorder that has been shown to increase a woman’s risk for HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections as well as preterm birth. Further, BVAB1 is associated with the persistence of BV following metronidazole treatment, increased vaginal inflammation, and adverse obstetrics outcomes. There is no available complete genome sequence of BVAB1, which has made it di?cult to mechanistically understand its role in disease. We present here a circularized metagenome-assembled genome (cMAG) of B VAB1 as well as a comparative analysis including an additional six metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of this species. These sequences were derived from cervicovaginal samples of seven separate women. The cMAG is 1.649 Mb in size and encodes 1,578 genes. We propose to rename BVAB1 to “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae” based on phylogenetic analyses, and provide genomic evidence that this candidate species may metabolize D-lactate, produce trimethylamine (one of the chemicals responsible for BV-associated odor), and be motile. The cMAG and the six MAGs are valuable resources that will further contribute to our understanding of the heterogeneous etiology of bacterial vaginosis.


Talk with an expert

If you have a question, need to check the status of an order, or are interested in purchasing an instrument, we're here to help.