June 1, 2021  |  

Highly contiguous de novo human genome assembly and long-range haplotype phasing using SMRT Sequencing

The long reads, random error, and unbiased sampling of SMRT Sequencing enables high quality, de novo assembly of the human genome. PacBio long reads are capable of resolving genomic variations at all size scales, including SNPs, insertions, deletions, inversions, translocations, and repeat expansions, all of which are important in understanding the genetic basis for human disease and difficult to access via other technologies. In demonstration of this, we report a new high-quality, diploid aware de novo assembly of Craig Venter’s well-studied genome.


June 1, 2021  |  

Enrichment of unamplified DNA and long-read SMRT Sequencing in unlocking the underlying biological disease mechanisms of repeat expansion disorders

For many of the repeat expansion disorders, the disease gene has been discovered, however the underlying biological mechanisms have not yet been fully understood. This is mainly due to technological limitations that do not allow for the needed base-pair resolution of the long, repetitive genomic regions. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that uses the CRISPR/Cas9 system to target large repeat expansions. This method, in conjunction with PacBio’s long reads and uniform coverage, enables sequencing of these complex genomic regions. By using a PCR-free amplification method, we are able to access not only the repetitive elements and interruption sequences accurately, but also the epigenetic information.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection with low-coverage Pacbio sequencing

Despite amazing progress over the past quarter century in the technology to detect genetic variants, intermediate-sized structural variants (50 bp to 50 kb) have remained difficult to identify. Such variants are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization, but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Recent de novo assemblies of human genomes have demonstrated the power of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing to fill this technology gap and sensitively identify structural variants in the human genome. While de novo assembly is the ideal method to identify variants in a genome, it requires high depth of coverage. A structural variant discovery approach that utilizes lower coverage would facilitate evaluation of large patient and population cohorts. Here we introduce such an approach and apply it to 10-fold coverage of several human genomes generated on the PacBio Sequel System. To identify structural variants in low-fold coverage whole genome sequencing data, we apply a reference-based, re-sequencing workflow. First, reads are mapped to the human reference genome with a local aligner. The local alignments often end at structural variant loci. To connect co-linear local alignments across structural variants, we apply a novel algorithm that merges alignments into “chains” and refines the alignment edges. Then, the chained alignments are scanned for windows with an excess of insertions or deletions to identify candidate structural variant loci. Finally, the read support at each putative variant locus is evaluated to produce a variant call. Single nucleotide information is incorporated to phase and evaluate the zygosity of each structural variant. In 10-fold coverage human genome sequence, we identify the vast majority of the structural variants found by de novo assembly, thus demonstrating the power of low-fold coverage SMRT Sequencing to affordably and effectively detect structural variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

Detecting pathogenic structural variants with low-coverage PacBio sequencing.

Though a role for structural variants in human disease has long been recognized, it has remained difficult to identify intermediate-sized variants (50 bp to 5 kb), which are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization, but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Recent studies have demonstrated that PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing fills this technology gap. SMRT sequencing detects tens of thousands of structural variants in the human genome, approximately five times the sensitivity of short-read DNA sequencing.


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.


June 1, 2021  |  

Improving the reference with a diversity panel of sequence-resolved structural variation

Although the accuracy of the human reference genome is critical for basic and clinical research, structural variants (SVs) have been difficult to assess because data capable of resolving them have been limited. To address potential bias, we sequenced a diversity panel of nine human genomes to high depth using long-read, single-molecule, real-time sequencing data. Systematically identifying and merging SVs =50 bp in length for these nine and one public genome yielded 83,909 sequence-resolved insertions, deletions, and inversions. Among these, 2,839 (2.0 Mbp) are shared among all discovery genomes with an additional 13,349 (6.9 Mbp) present in the majority of humans, indicating minor alleles or errors in the reference, which is partially explained by an enrichment for GC-content and repetitive DNA. Genotyping 83% of these in 290 additional genomes confirms that at least one allele of the most common SVs in unique euchromatin are now sequence-resolved. We observe a 9-fold increase within 5 Mbp of chromosome telomeric ends and correlation with de novo single-nucleotide variant mutations showing that such variation is nonrandomly distributed defining potential hotspots of mutation. We identify SVs affecting coding and noncoding regulatory loci improving annotation and interpretation of functional variation. To illustrate the utility of sequence-resolved SVs in resequencing experiments, we mapped 30 diverse high-coverage Illumina-sequenced samples to GRCh38 with and without contigs containing SV insertions as alternate sequences, and we found these additional sequences recover 6.4% of unmapped reads. For reads mapped within the SV insertion, 25.7% have a better mapping quality, and 18.7% improved by 1,000-fold or more. We reveal 72,964 occurrences of 15,814 unique variants that were not discoverable with the reference sequence alone, and we note that 7% of the insertions contain an SV in at least one sample indicating that there are additional alleles in the population that remain to be discovered. These data provide the framework to construct a canonical human reference and a resource for developing advanced representations capable of capturing allelic diversity. We present a summary of our findings and discuss ideas for revealing variation that was once difficult to ascertain.


June 1, 2021  |  

A workflow for the comprehensive detection and prioritization of variants in human genomes with PacBio HiFi reads

PacBio HiFi reads (minimum 99% accuracy, 15-25 kb read length) have emerged as a powerful data type for comprehensive variant detection in human genomes. The HiFi read length extends confident mapping and variant calling to repetitive regions of the genome that are not accessible with short reads. Read length also improves detection of structural variants (SVs), with recall exceeding that of short reads by over 30%. High read quality allows for accurate single nucleotide variant and small indel detection, with precision and recall matching that of short reads. While many tools have been developed to take advantage of these qualities of HiFi reads, there is no end-to-end workflow for the filtering and prioritization of variants uniquely detected with long reads for rare and undiagnosed disease research. We have developed a flexible, modular workflow and web portal for variant analysis from HiFi reads and applied it to a set of rare disease cases unsolved by short-read whole genome sequencing. We expect that broad application of long-read variant detection workflows will solve many more rare disease cases. We have made these tools available at https://github.com/williamrowell/pbRUGD-workflow, and we hope they serve a starting point for developing a robust analysis framework for long read variant detection for rare diseases.


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