June 1, 2021  |  

Evaluating the potential of new sequencing technologies for genotyping and variation discovery in human data.

A first look at Pacific Biosciences RS data Pacific Biosciences technology provides a fundamentally new data type that provides the potential to overcome these limitations by providing significantly longer reads (now averaging >1kb), enabling more unique seeds for reference alignment. In addition, the lack of amplification in the library construction step avoids a common source of base composition bias. With these potential advantages in mind, we here evaluate the utility of the Pacific Biosciences RS platform for human medical resequencing projects by assessing the quality of the raw sequencing data, as well as its use for SNP discovery and genotyping using the Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK).


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 reads (SMRT CCS (circular consensus) or second-generation reads), wherein the short reads are used to error-correct the long reads which are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which SMRT sequencing reads from a single long insert library 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%) for 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. With relatively short sequencing run times and automated analysis pipelines, it is possible to go from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome in about a day.


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  |  

Toward comprehensive genomics analysis with de novo assembly.

Whole genome sequencing can provide comprehensive information important for determining the biochemical and genetic nature of all elements inside a genome. The high-quality genome references produced from past genome projects and advances in short-read sequencing technologies have enabled quick and cheap analysis for simple variants. However even with the focus on genome-wide resequencing for SNPs, the heritability of more than 50% of human diseases remains elusive. For non-human organisms, high-contiguity references are deficient, limiting the analysis of genomic features. The long and unbiased reads from single molecule, real-time (SMRT) Sequencing and new de novo assembly approaches have demonstrated the ability to detect more complicated variants and chromosome-level phasing. Moreover, with the recent advance of bioinformatics algorithms and tools, the computation tasks for completing high-quality de novo assembly of large genomes becomes feasible with commodity hardware. Ongoing development in sequencing technologies and bioinformatics will likely lead to routine generation of high-quality reference assemblies in the future. We discuss the current state of art and the challenges in bioinformatics toward such a goal. More specifically, explicit examples of pragmatic computational requirements for assembling mammalian-size genomes and algorithms suitable for processing diploid genomes are discussed.


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete resequencing of extended genomic regions using fosmid target capture and single molecule real-time (SMRT) long read sequencing technology.

A longstanding goal of genomic analysis is the identification of causal genetic factors contributing to disease. While the common disease/common variant hypothesis has been tested in many genome-wide association studies, few advancements in identifying causal variation have been realized, and instead recent findings point away from common variants towards aggregate rare variants as causal. A challenge is obtaining complete phased genomic sequences over extended genomic regions from sufficient numbers of cases and controls to identify all potential variation causal of a disease. To address this, we modified methods for targeted DNA isolation using fosmid technology and single-molecule, long-sequence-read generaton that combine for complete, haplotype-resolved resequencing across extended genomic subregions. As proof of principal, we validated the approach by resequencing four 800 kbp segments that span a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) common extended haplotype (CEH) associated with disease. The data revealed the extent of conservation exposing a near identity among four DR4 CEHs over conserved regions, detailing rare variation and measuring sequence accuracy. In a second test, we sequenced the complete KIR haplotypes from 8 individuals within a specific timeframe and cost. Single molecule long-read sequencing technology generated contiguous full-­length fosmid sequences of 30 to 40 kb in a single read, allowing assembly of resolved haplotypes with very little data processing. All of the sequences produced from these projects were contiguous, phased, with accuracy above 99.99%. The results demonstrated that cost-effective scale-­up is possible to generate scores to hundreds of phased chromosomal sequences of extended lengths that can encompass genomic regions associated with disease.


June 1, 2021  |  

An update on goat genomics

Goats are specialized in dairy, meat and fiber production, being adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions and having a large economic impact in developing countries. In the last years, there have been dramatic advances in the knowledge of the structure and diversity of the goat genome/transcriptome and in the development of genomic tools, rapidly narrowing the gap between goat and related species such as cattle and sheep. Major advances are: 1) publication of a de novo goat genome reference sequence; 2) Development of whole genome high density RH maps, and; 3) Design of a commercial 50K SNP array. Moreover, there are currently several projects aiming at improving current genomic tools and resources. An improved assembly of the goat genome using PacBio reads is being produced, and the design of new SNP arrays is being studied to accommodate the specific needs of this species in the context of very large scale genotyping projects (i.e. breed characterization at an international scale and genomic selection) and parentage analysis. As in other species, the focus has now turned to the identification of causative mutations underlying the phenotypic variation of traits. In addition, since 2014, the ADAPTmap project (www.goatadaptmap.org) has gathered data to explore the diversity of caprine populations at a worldwide scale by using a wide variety of approaches and data.


June 1, 2021  |  

Immune regions are no longer incomprehensible with SMRT Sequencing

The complex immune regions of the genome, including MHC and KIR, contain large copy number variants (CNVs), a high density of genes, hyper-polymorphic gene alleles, and conserved extended haplotypes (CEH) with enormous linkage disequilibrium (LDs). This level of complexity and inherent biases of short-read sequencing make it challenging for extracting immune region haplotype information from reference-reliant, shotgun sequencing and GWAS methods. As NGS based genome and exome sequencing and SNP arrays have become a routine for population studies, numerous efforts are being made for developing software to extract and or impute the immune gene information from these datasets. Despite these efforts, the fine mapping of causal variants of immune genes for their well-documented association with cancer, drug-induced hypersensitivity and immune-related diseases, has been slower than expected. This has in many ways limited our understanding of the mechanisms leading to immune disease. In the present work, we demonstrate the advantages of long reads delivered by SMRT Sequencing for assembling complete haplotypes of MHC and KIR gene clusters, as well as calling correct genotypes of genes comprised within them. All the genotype information is detected at allele- level with full phasing information across SNP-poor regions. Genotypes were called correctly from targeted gene amplicons, haplotypes, as well as from a completely assembled 5 Mb contig of the MHC region from a de novo assembly of whole genome shotgun data. De novo analysis pipeline used in all these approaches allowed for reference-free analysis without imputation, a key for interrogation without prior knowledge about ethnic backgrounds. These methods are thus easily adoptable for previously uncharacterized human or non-human species.


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete telomere-to-telomere de novo assembly of the Plasmodium falciparum genome using long-read sequencing

Sequence-based estimation of genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal malarial parasite, has proved challenging due to a lack of a complete genomic assembly. The skewed AT-richness (~80.6% (A+T)) of its genome and the lack of technology to assemble highly polymorphic sub-telomeric regions that contain clonally variant, multigene virulence families (i.e. var and rifin) have confounded attempts using short-read NGS technologies. Using single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing, we successfully compiled all 14 nuclear chromosomes of the P. falciparum genome from telomere-to-telomere in single contigs. Specifically, amplification-free sequencing generated reads of average length 12 kb, with =50% of the reads between 15.5 and 50 kb in length. A hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP), was used to assemble the P. falciparum genome de novo. This assembly accurately resolved centromeres (~90-99% (A+T)) and sub-telomeric regions, and identified large insertions and duplications in the genome that added extra genes to the var and rifin virulence families, along with smaller structural variants such as homopolymer tract expansions. These regions can be used as markers for genetic diversity during comparative genome analyses. Moreover, identifying the polymorphic and repetitive sub-telomeric sequences of parasite populations from endemic areas might inform the link between structural variation and phenotypes such as virulence, drug resistance and disease transmission.


June 1, 2021  |  

Characterization of the Poly-T variants in the TOMM40 gene using PacBio long reads

Genes associated with several neurological disorders have been shown to be highly polymorphic. Targeted sequencing of these genes using NGS technologies is a powerful way to increase the cost-effectiveness of variant discovery and detection. However, for a comprehensive view of these target genes, it is necessary to have complete and uniform coverage across regions of interest. Unfortunately, short-read sequencing technologies are not ideal for these types of studies as they are prone to mis-mapping and often fail to span repetitive regions. Targeted sequencing with PacBio long reads provides the unique advantage of single-molecule observations of complex genomic regions. PacBio long reads not only provide continuous sequence data though polymorphic or repetitive regions, but also have no GC bias. Here we describe the characterization of the poly-T locus in TOMM40, a gene known to be associated with progression to Alzheimer’s, using PacBio long reads. Probes were designed to capture a 20 kb region comprising the TOMM40 and ApoE genes. Target regions were captured in multiple cell lines and sequencing libraries made using standard sample preparation methods. We will present our results on the poly-T structural variants that we observed in TOMM40 in these cell lines. We will also present our results on probe design optimization and barcoding strategies for a cost-effective solution.


June 1, 2021  |  

Phased human genome assemblies with Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing

In recent years, human genomic research has focused on comparing short-read data sets to a single human reference genome. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that significant structural variations present in individual human genomes are missed or ignored by this approach. Additionally, remapping short-read data limits the phasing of variation among individual chromosomes. This reduces the newly sequenced genome to a table of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with little to no information as to the co-linearity (phasing) of these variants, resulting in a “mosaic” reference representing neither of the parental chromosomes. The variation between the homologous chromosomes is lost in this representation, including allelic variations, structural variations, or even genes present in only one chromosome, leading to lost information regarding allelic-specific gene expression and function. To address these limitations, we have made significant progress integrating haplotype information directly into genome assembly process with long reads. The FALCON-Unzip algorithm leverages a string graph assembly approach to facilitate identification and separation of heterozygosity during the assembly process to produce a highly contiguous assembly with phased haplotypes representing the genome in its diploid state. The outputs of the assembler are pairs of sequences (haplotigs) containing the allelic differences, including SNPs and structural variations, present in the two sets of chromosomes. The development and testing of our de-novo diploid assembler was facilitated and carefully validated using inbred reference model organisms and F1 progeny, which allowed us to ascertain the accuracy and concordance of haplotigs relative to the two inbred parental assemblies. Examination of the results confirmed that our haplotype-resolved assemblies are “Gold Level” reference genomes having a quality similar to that of Sanger-sequencing, BAC-based assembly approaches. We further sequenced and assembled two well-characterized human samples into their respective phased diploid genomes with gap-free contig N50 sizes greater than 23 Mb and haplotig N50 sizes greater than 380 kb. Results of these assemblies and a comparison between the haplotype sets are presented.


June 1, 2021  |  

Target enrichment using a neurology panel for 12 barcoded genomic DNA samples on the PacBio SMRT Sequencing platform

Target enrichment is a powerful tool for studies involved in understanding polymorphic SNPs with phasing, tandem repeats, and structural variations. With increasing availability of reference genomes, researchers can easily design a cost-effective targeted investigation with custom probes specific to regions of interest. Using PacBio long-read technology in conjunction with probe capture, we were able to sequence multi-kilobase enriched regions to fully investigate intronic and exonic regions, distinguish haplotypes, and characterize structural variations. Furthermore, we demonstrate this approach is advantageous for studying complex genomic regions previously inaccessible through other sequencing platforms. In the present work, 12 barcoded genomic DNA (gDNA) samples were sheared to 6 kb for target enrichment analysis using the Neurology panel provided by Roche NimbleGen. Probe-captured DNA was used to make SMRTbell libraries for SMRT Sequencing on the PacBio RS II. Our results demonstrate the ability to multiplex 12 samples and achieve 1300x enrichment of targeted regions. In addition, we achieved an even representation of on-target rate of 70% across the 12 barcoded genomic DNA samples.


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  |  

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.


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