June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for large genomes and transcriptomes.

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing holds promise for addressing new frontiers in large genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and duplication events, and differentiating between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. We present solutions available for both reference genome improvement (>100 MB) and transcriptome research to best leverage long reads that have exceeded 20 Kb in length. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size-selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science. Highlights from our genome assembly projects using the latest P5-C3 chemistry on model organisms will be shared. Assembly contig N50 have exceeded 6 Mb and we observed longest contig exceeding 12.5 Mb with an average base quality of QV50. Additionally, the value of long, intact reads to provide a no-assembly approach to investigate transcript isoforms using our Iso-Seq Application will be presented.


June 1, 2021  |  

Isoform sequencing: Unveiling the complex landscape in eukaryotic transcriptome on the PacBio RS II.

Advances in RNA sequencing have accelerated our understanding of the transcriptome, however isoform discovery remains challenging due to short read lengths. The Iso-Seq Application provides a new alternative to sequence full-length cDNA libraries using long reads from the PacBio RS II. Identification of long and often rare isoforms is demonstrated with rat heart and lung RNA prepared using the Clontech® SMARTer® cDNA preparation kit, followed by agarose-gel size selection in fractions of 1-2 kb, 2-3 kb and 3-6 kb. For each tissue, 1.8 and 1.2 million reads were obtained from 32 and 26 SMRT Cells, respectively. Filtering for reads with both adapters and polyA tail signals yielded >50% putative full-length transcripts. To improve consensus accuracy, we developed an isoform-level clustering algorithm ICE (Iterative Clustering for Error Correction), and polished full-length consensus sequences from ICE using Quiver. This method generated full-length transcripts up to 4.5 kb with = 99% post-correction accuracy. Compared with known rat genes, the Iso-Seq method not only recovered the majority of currently annotated isoforms, but also several unannotated novel isoforms with identified homologs in the RefSeq database. Additionally, alternative stop sites, extended UTRs, and retained introns were detected.


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  |  

SMRT Sequencing of DNA and RNA samples extracted from formalin-fixed and paraffin embedded tissues using adaptive focused acoustics by Covaris.

Recent advances in next-generation sequencing have led to an increased use of formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues for medical samples in disease and scientific research. Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing offers a unique advantage for direct analysis of FFPE samples without amplification. However, obtaining ample long-read information from FFPE samples has been a challenge due to the quality and quantity of the extracted DNA. FFPE samples often contain damaged sites, including breaks in the backbone and missing or altered nucleotide bases, which directly impact sequencing and target enrichment. Additionally, the quality and quantity of the recovered DNA vary depending on the extraction methods used. We have evaluated the Covaris® Adaptive Focused Acoustics (AFA) system as a method for obtaining high molecular weight DNA suitable for SMRTbell™ template preparation and subsequent PacBio RS II sequencing. To test the Covaris system, we extracted DNA from normal kidney FFPE scrolls acquired from the Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN), University of Pennsylvania. Damaged sites in the extracted DNA were repaired using a DNA Damage Repair step, and the treated DNA was constructed into SMRTbell libraries for sequencing on the PacBio System. Using the same repaired DNA, we also tested the efficiency of PCR in amplifying targets of up to 10 kb. The resulting amplicons were also constructed into SMRTbell templates for full-length sequencing on the PacBio System. We found the Adaptive Focused Acoustics (AFA) system by Covaris to be effective. This system is easy and simple to use, and the resulting DNA is compatible with SMRTbell library preparation for targeted and whole genome SMRT Sequencing. The data presented here demonstrates feasibility of SMRT Sequencing with FFPE samples.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing of alternatively spliced isoforms provides insight into human diseases.

The majority of human genes are alternatively spliced, making it possible for most genes to generate multiple proteins. The process of alternative splicing is highly regulated in a developmental-stage and tissue-specific manner. Perturbations in the regulation of these events can lead to disease in humans. Alternative splicing has been shown to play a role in human cancer, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases. Understanding these diseases requires knowing the full complement of mRNA isoforms. Microarrays and high-throughput cDNA sequencing have become highly successful tools for studying transcriptomes, however these technologies only provide small fragments of transcripts and building complete transcript isoforms has been very challenging. We have developed the Iso-Seq technique, which is capable of sequencing full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences. The method employs SMRT Sequencing to generate individual molecules with average read lengths of more than 10 kb and some as long as 40 kb. As most transcripts are from 1 to 10 kb, we can sequence through entire RNA molecules, requiring no fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Jointly with the sequencing method, we developed a computational pipeline that polishes these full-length transcript sequences into high-quality, non-redundant transcript consensus sequences. Iso-Seq sequencing enables unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start and poly-A sites, and transcripts from gene fusion events. Knowledge of the complete set of isoforms from a sample of interest is key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance when using any technology for transcriptome studies. Here we characterize the full-length transcriptome of normal human tissues, paired tumor/normal samples from breast cancer, and a brain sample from a patient with Alzheimer’s using deep Iso-Seq sequencing. We highlight numerous discoveries of novel alternatively spliced isoforms, gene-fusions events, and previously unannotated genes that will improve our understanding of human diseases.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing of alternatively spliced isoforms provides insight into human cancer

The majority of human genes are alternatively spliced, making it possible for most genes to generate multiple proteins. The process of alternative splicing is highly regulated in a developmental-stage and tissue-specific manner. Perturbations in the regulation of these events can lead to disease in humans (1). Alternative splicing has been shown to play a role in human cancer, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases. Understanding these diseases requires knowing the full complement of mRNA isoforms. Microarrays and high-throughput cDNA sequencing have become highly successful tools for studying transcriptomes, however these technologies only provide small fragments of transcripts and building complete transcript isoforms has been very challenging (2). We have developed a technique, called Iso-Seq sequencing, that is capable of sequencing full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences. The method employs SMRT Sequencing from PacBio, which can sequence individual molecules with read lengths that average more than 10 kb and can reach as long as 40 kb. As most transcripts are from 1 – 10 kb, we can sequence through entire RNA molecules, requiring no fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Jointly with the sequencing method, we developed a computational pipeline that polishes these full-length transcript sequences into high-quality, non-redundant transcript consensus sequences. Iso-Seq sequencing enables unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start and polyA sites, and transcripts from gene fusion events. Knowledge of the complete set of isoforms from a sample of interest is key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance when using any technology for transcriptome studies (3). Here we characterize the full-length transcriptome of paired tumor/normal samples from breast cancer using deep Iso-Seq sequencing. We highlight numerous discoveries of novel alternatively spliced isoforms, gene-fusion events, and previously unannotated genes that will improve our understanding of human cancer. (1) Faustino NA and Cooper TA. Genes and Development. 2003. 17: 419-437(2) Steijger T, et al. Nat Methods. 2013 Dec;10(12):1177-84.(3) Au KF, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 10;110(50):E4821-30.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing for genome annotation and analysis of alternative splicing

In higher eukaryotic organisms, the majority of multi-exon genes are alternatively spliced. Different mRNA isoforms from the same gene can produce proteins that have distinct properties and functions. Thus, the importance of understanding the full complement of transcript isoforms with potential phenotypic impact cannot be understated. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences to survey transcriptome isoform diversity useful for gene discovery and annotation. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. Our open-source computational pipeline delivers high-quality, non-redundant sequences for unambiguous identification of alternative splicing events, alternative transcriptional start sites, polyA tail, and gene fusion events. We applied the Iso-Seq method to the maize (Zea mays) inbred line B73. Full-length cDNAs from six diverse tissues were barcoded and sequenced across multiple size-fractionated SMRTbell libraries. A total of 111,151 unique transcripts were identified. More than half of these transcripts (57%) represented novel, sometimes tissue-specific, isoforms of known genes. In addition to the 2250 novel coding genes and 860 lncRNAs discovered, the Iso-Seq dataset corrected errors in existing gene models, highlighting the value of full-length transcripts for whole gene annotations.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing on the PacBio Sequel platform

The protein coding potential of most plant and animal genomes is dramatically increased via alternative splicing. Identification and annotation of expressed mRNA isoforms is critical to the understanding of these complex organisms. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences to survey transcriptome isoform diversity useful for gene discovery and annotation. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. The PacBio Sequel platform has improved throughput thereby increasing the number of full-length transcripts per SMRT Cell. Furthermore, loading enhancements on the Sequel instrument have decreased the need for size fractionation steps. We have optimized the Iso-Seq library preparation process for use on the Sequel platform. Here, we demonstrate the capabilities of the Iso-Seq method on the Sequel system using cDNAs from the maize (Zea mays) inbred line B73. Full-length cDNA from six diverse tissues were barcoded, pooled, and sequenced on the PacBio Sequel system using a combination of size-selected and non-size-selected SMRTbell libraries. The results highlight the value of full-length transcripts for genome annotations and analysis of alternative splicing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Simplified sequencing of full-length isoforms in cancer on the PacBio Sequel platform

Tremendous flexibility is maintained in the human proteome via alternative splicing, and cancer genomes often subvert this flexibility to promote survival. Identification and annotation of cancer-specific mRNA isoforms is critical to understanding how mutations in the genome affect the biology of cancer cells. While microarrays and other NGS-based methods have become useful for studying transcriptomes, these technologies yield short, fragmented transcripts that remain a challenge for accurate, complete reconstruction of splice variants. In cancer proteomics studies, the identification of biomarkers from mass spectroscopy data is often limited by incomplete gene isoform expression information to support protein to transcript mapping. The Iso-Seq protocol developed at PacBio offers the only solution for direct sequencing of full-length, single-molecule cDNA sequences needed to discover biomarkers for early detection and cancer stratification, to fully characterize gene fusion events, and to elucidate drug resistance mechanisms. Knowledge of the complete isoform repertoire is also key for accurate quantification of isoform abundance. As most transcripts range from 1 – 10 kb, fully intact RNA molecules can be sequenced using SMRT® Sequencing without requiring fragmentation or post-sequencing assembly. However, some cancer research applications have presented a challenge for the Iso-Seq protocol, due to the combination of limited sample input and the need to deeply sequence heterogenous samples. Here we report the optimization of the Iso-Seq library preparation protocol for the PacBio Sequel platform and its application to cancer cell lines and tumor samples. We demonstrate how loading enhancements on the higher-throughput Sequel instrument have decreased the need for size fractionation steps, reducing sample input requirements while simultaneously simplifying the sample preparation workflow and increasing the number of full-length transcripts per SMRT Cell.


June 1, 2021  |  

From RNA to full-length transcripts: The PacBio Iso-Seq method for transcriptome analysis and genome annotation

A single gene may encode a surprising number of proteins, each with a distinct biological function. This is especially true in complex eukaryotes. Short- read RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) works by physically shearing transcript isoforms into smaller pieces and bioinformatically reassembling them, leaving opportunity for misassembly or incomplete capture of the full diversity of isoforms from genes of interest. The PacBio Isoform Sequencing (Iso-Seq™) method employs long reads to sequence transcript isoforms from the 5’ end to their poly-A tails, eliminating the need for transcript reconstruction and inference. These long reads result in complete, unambiguous information about alternatively spliced exons, transcriptional start sites, and poly- adenylation sites. This allows for the characterization of the full complement of isoforms within targeted genes, or across an entire transcriptome. Here we present improved genome annotations for two avian models of vocal learning, Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), using the Iso-Seq method. We present graphical user interface and command line analysis workflows for the data sets. From brain total RNA, we characterize more than 15,000 isoforms in each species, 9% and 5% of which were previously unannotated in hummingbird and zebra finch, respectively. We highlight one example where capturing full-length transcripts identifies additional exons and UTRs.


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  |  

Full-length cDNA sequencing of prokaryotic transcriptome and metatranscriptome samples

Next-generation sequencing has become a useful tool for studying transcriptomes. However, these methods typically rely on sequencing short fragments of cDNA, then attempting to assemble the pieces into full-length transcripts. Here, we describe a method that uses PacBio long reads to sequence full-length cDNAs from individual transcriptomes and metatranscriptome samples. We have adapted the PacBio Iso-Seq protocol for use with prokaryotic samples by incorporating RNA polyadenylation and rRNA-depletion steps. In conjunction with SMRT Sequencing, which has average readlengths of 10-15 kb, we are able to sequence entire transcripts, including polycistronic RNAs, in a single read. Here, we show full-length bacterial transcriptomes with the ability to visualize transcription of operons. In the area of metatranscriptomics, long reads reveal unambiguous gene sequences without the need for post-sequencing transcript assembly. We also show full-length bacterial transcripts sequenced after being treated with NEB’s Cappable-Seq, which is an alternative method for depleting rRNA and enriching for full-length transcripts with intact 5’ ends. Combining Cappable-Seq with PacBio long reads allows for the detection of transcription start sites, with the additional benefit of sequencing entire transcripts.


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.


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