June 1, 2021  |  

Joint calling and PacBio SMRT Sequencing for indel and structural variant detection in populations

Fast and effective variant calling algorithms have been crucial to the successful application of DNA sequencing in human genetics. In particular, joint calling – in which reads from multiple individuals are pooled to increase power for shared variants – is an important tool for population surveys of variation. Joint calling was applied by the 1000 Genomes Project to identify variants across many individuals each sequenced to low coverage (about 5-fold). This approach successfully found common small variants, but broadly missed structural variants and large indels for which short-read sequencing has limited sensitivity. To support use of large variants in rare disease and common trait association studies, it is necessary to perform population-scale surveys with a technology effective at detecting indels and structural variants, such as PacBio SMRT Sequencing. For these studies, it is important to have a joint calling workflow that works with PacBio reads. We have developed pbsv, an indel and structural variant caller for PacBio reads, that provides a two-step joint calling workflow similar to that used to build the ExAC database. The first stage, discovery, is performed separately for each sample and consolidates whole genome alignments into a sparse representation of potentially variant loci. The second stage, calling, is performed on all samples together and considers only the signatures identified in the discovery stage. We applied the pbsv joint calling workflow to PacBio reads from twenty human genomes, with coverage ranging from 5-fold to 80-fold per sample for a total of 460-fold. The analysis required only 102 CPU hours, and identified over 800,000 indels and structural variants, including hundreds of inversions and translocations, many times more than discovered with short-read sequencing. The workflow is scalable to thousands of samples. The ongoing application of this workflow to thousands of samples will provide insight into the evolution and functional importance of large variants in human evolution and disease.


April 21, 2020  |  

Fast and accurate genomic analyses using genome graphs.

The human reference genome serves as the foundation for genomics by providing a scaffold for alignment of sequencing reads, but currently only reflects a single consensus haplotype, thus impairing analysis accuracy. Here we present a graph reference genome implementation that enables read alignment across 2,800 diploid genomes encompassing 12.6 million SNPs and 4.0 million insertions and deletions (indels). The pipeline processes one whole-genome sequencing sample in 6.5?h using a system with 36?CPU cores. We show that using a graph genome reference improves read mapping sensitivity and produces a 0.5% increase in variant calling recall, with unaffected specificity. Structural variations incorporated into a graph genome can be genotyped accurately under a unified framework. Finally, we show that iterative augmentation of graph genomes yields incremental gains in variant calling accuracy. Our implementation is an important advance toward fulfilling the promise of graph genomes to radically enhance the scalability and accuracy of genomic analyses.


April 21, 2020  |  

Construction of full-length Japanese reference panel of class I HLA genes with single-molecule, real-time sequencing.

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) is a gene complex known for its exceptional diversity across populations, importance in organ and blood stem cell transplantation, and associations of specific alleles with various diseases. We constructed a Japanese reference panel of class I HLA genes (ToMMo HLA panel), comprising a distinct set of HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, and HLA-H alleles, by single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing of 208 individuals included in the 1070 whole-genome Japanese reference panel (1KJPN). For high-quality allele reconstruction, we developed a novel pipeline, Primer-Separation Assembly and Refinement Pipeline (PSARP), in which the SMRT sequencing and additional short-read data were used. The panel consisted of 139 alleles, which were all extended from known IPD-IMGT/HLA sequences, contained 40 with novel variants, and captured more than 96.5% of allelic diversity in 1KJPN. These newly available sequences would be important resources for research and clinical applications including high-resolution HLA typing, genetic association studies, and analyzes of cis-regulatory elements.


April 21, 2020  |  

One reference genome is not enough

A recent study on human structural variation indicates insufficiencies and errors in the human reference genome, GRCh38, and argues for the construction of a human pan-genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Construction of JRG (Japanese reference genome) with single-molecule real-time sequencing

In recent genome analyses, population-specific reference panels have indicated important. However, reference panels based on short-read sequencing data do not sufficiently cover long insertions. Therefore, the nature of long insertions has not been well documented. Here, we assembled a Japanese genome using single-molecule real-time sequencing data and characterized insertions found in the assembled genome. We identified 3691 insertions ranging from 100?bps to ~10,000?bps in the assembled genome relative to the international reference sequence (GRCh38). To validate and characterize these insertions, we mapped short-reads from 1070 Japanese individuals and 728 individuals from eight other populations to insertions integrated into GRCh38. With this result, we constructed JRGv1 (Japanese Reference Genome version 1) by integrating the 903 verified insertions, totaling 1,086,173 bases, shared by at least two Japanese individuals into GRCh38. We also constructed decoyJRGv1 by concatenating 3559 verified insertions, totaling 2,536,870 bases, shared by at least two Japanese individuals or by six other assemblies. This assembly improved the alignment ratio by 0.4% on average. These results demonstrate the importance of refining the reference assembly and creating a population-specific reference genome. JRGv1 and decoyJRGv1 are available at the JRG website.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long reads: their purpose and place.

In recent years long-read technologies have moved from being a niche and specialist field to a point of relative maturity likely to feature frequently in the genomic landscape. Analogous to next generation sequencing, the cost of sequencing using long-read technologies has materially dropped whilst the instrument throughput continues to increase. Together these changes present the prospect of sequencing large numbers of individuals with the aim of fully characterizing genomes at high resolution. In this article, we will endeavour to present an introduction to long-read technologies showing: what long reads are; how they are distinct from short reads; why long reads are useful and how they are being used. We will highlight the recent developments in this field, and the applications and potential of these technologies in medical research, and clinical diagnostics and therapeutics.


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