June 1, 2021  |  

Sequencing of expanded CGG repeats in the FMR1 gene.

Alleles of the FMR1 gene with more than 200 CGG repeats generally undergo methylation-coupled gene silencing, resulting in fragile X syndrome, the leading heritable form of cognitive impairment. Smaller expansions (55-200 CGG repeats) result in elevated levels of FMR1 mRNA, which is directly responsible for the late-onset neurodegenerative disorder, fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). For mechanistic studies and genetic counseling, it is important to know with precision the number of CGG repeats; however, no existing DNA sequencing method is capable of sequencing through more than ~100 CGG repeats, thus limiting the ability to precisely characterize the disease-causing alleles. The recent development of single molecule, real-time sequencing represents a novel approach to DNA sequencing that couples the intrinsic processivity of DNA polymerase with the ability to read polymerase activity on a single-molecule basis. Further, the accuracy of the method is improved through the use of circular templates, such that each molecule can be read multiple times to produce a circular consensus sequence (CCS). We have succeeded in generating CCS reads representing multiple passes through both strands of repeat tracts exceeding 700 CGGs (>2 kb of 100 percent CG) flanked by native FMR1 sequence, with single-molecule readlengths exceeding 12 kb. This sequencing approach thus enables us to fully characterize the previously intractable CGG-repeat sequence, leading to a better understanding of the distinct associated molecular pathologies. Real-time kinetic data also provides insight into the activity of DNA polymerase inside this unique sequence. The methodology should be widely applicable for studies of the molecular pathogenesis of an increasing number of repeat expansion-associated neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, and for the efficient identification of such disorders in the clinical setting.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative genome analysis of Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis strains provides insights into genetic diversity and virulence.

Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm) is a gram positive actinomycete, causing bacterial canker of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) a disease that can cause significant losses in tomato production. In this study, we determined the complete genome sequence of 13 California Cmm strains and one saprophytic Clavibacter strain using a combination of Ilumina and PacBio sequencing. The California Cmm strains have genome size (3.2 -3.3 mb) similar to the reference strain NCPPB382 (3.3 mb) with =98% sequence identity. Cmm strains from California share =92% genes (8-10% are noble genes) with the reference Cmm strain NCPPB382. Despite this similarity, we detected significant alternatives in California strains with respect to plasmid number, plasmid composition, and genomic island presence indicating acquisition of unique mechanisms controlling virulence. Plasmids pCM1 and pCM2, that were previously demonstrated to be required for NCPPB382 virulence, also differ in their presence and gene content across Cmm strains. pCM2 is absent in some Cmm strains and that still retain virulence in tomato. Saprophytic Clavibacter possess a novel plasmid, pSCM, and lacks the majority of characterized virulence factors. Genome sequence information was also used to design specific and sensitive primer pairs for Cmm detection. A mechanistic understanding of how genomic changes have impacted Cmm virulence and survival across diverse strains will be necessary for developing a robust disease control strategies for bacterial canker of tomato.


June 1, 2021  |  

A comprehensive study of the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) transcriptome implemented through diverse next-generation sequencing approaches

The assembly, annotation, and characterization of the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Dougl.) transcriptome represents an opportunity to study the genetic mechanisms underlying resistance to the invasive white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) as well as responses to other abiotic stresses. The assembled transcripts also provide a resource to improve the genome assembly. We selected a diverse set of tissues allowing the first comprehensive evaluation of the sugar pine gene space. We have combined short read sequencing technologies (Illumina MiSeq and HiSeq) with the relatively new Pacific Biosciences Iso-Seq approach. From the 2.5 billion and 1.6 million Illumina and PacBio (46 SMRT cells) reads, 33,720 unigenes were de novo assembled. Comparison of sequencing technologies revealed improved coverage with Illumina HiSeq reads and better splice variant detection with PacBio Iso-Seq reads. The genes identified as unique to each library ranges from 199 transcripts (basket seedling) to 3,482 transcripts (female cones). In total, 10,026 transcripts were shared by all libraries. Genes differentially expressed in response to these provided insight on abiotic and biotic stress responses. To analyze orthologous sequences, we compared the translated sequences against 19 plant species, identifying 7,229 transcripts that clustered uniquely among the conifers. We have generated here a high quality transcriptome from one WPBR susceptible and one WPBR resistant sugar pine individual. Through the comprehensive tissue sampling and the depth of the sequencing achieved, detailed information on disease resistance can be further examined.


June 1, 2021  |  

Reconstruction of the spinach coding genome using full-length transcriptome without a reference genome

For highly complex and large genomes, a well-annotated genome may be computationally challenging and costly, yet the study of alternative splicing events and gene annotations usually rely on the existence of a genome. Long-read sequencing technology provides new opportunities to sequence full-length cDNAs, avoiding computational challenges that short read transcript assembly brings. The use of single molecule, real-time sequencing from PacBio to sequence transcriptomes (the Iso-Seq method), which produces de novo, high-quality, full-length transcripts, has revealed an astonishing amount of alternative splicing in eukaryotic species. With the Iso-Seq method, it is now possible to reconstruct the transcribed regions of the genome using just the transcripts themselves. We present Cogent, a tool for finding gene families and reconstructing the coding genome in the absence of a high-quality reference genome. Cogent uses k-mer similarities to first partition the transcripts into different gene families. Then, for each gene family, the transcripts are used to build a splice graph. Cogent identifies bubbles resulting from sequencing errors, minor variants, and exon skipping events, and attempts to resolve each splice graph down to the minimal set of reconstructed contigs. We apply Cogent to the Iso-Seq data for spinach, Spinacia oleracea, for which there is also a PacBio-based draft genome to validate the reconstruction. The Iso-Seq dataset consists of 68,263 fulllength, Quiver-polished transcript sequences ranging from 528 bp to 6 kbp long (mean: 2.1 kbp). Using the genome mapping as ground truth, we found that 95% (8045/8446) of the Cogent gene families found corresponded to a single genomic loci. For families that contained multiple loci, they were often homologous genes that would be categorized as belonging to the same gene family. Coding genome reconstruction was then performed individually for each gene family. A total of 86% (7283/8446) of the gene families were resolved to a single contig by Cogent, and was validated to be also a single contig in the genome. In 59 cases, Cogent reconstructed a single contig, however the contig corresponded to 2 or more loci in the genome, suggesting possible scaffolding opportunities. In 24 cases, the transcripts had no hits to the genome, though Pfam and BLAST searches of the transcripts show that they were indeed coding, suggesting that the genome is missing certain coding portions. Given the high quality of the spinach genome, we were not surprised to find that Cogent only minorly improved the genome space. However the ability of Cogent to accurately identify gene families and reconstruct the coding genome in a de novo fashion shows that it will be extremely powerful when applied to datasets for which there is no or low-quality reference genome.


June 1, 2021  |  

Alternative splicing in FMR1 premutations carriers

Over 40% of males and ~16% of female carriers of a FMR1 premutation allele (55-200 CGG repeats) are at risk for developing Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS), an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder while, about 20% of female carriers will develop Fragile X-associated Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (FXPOI), in addition to a number of adult-onset clinical problems (FMR1 associated disorders). Marked elevation in FMR1 mRNA levels have been observed with premutation alleles and the resulting RNA toxicity is believed to be the leading molecular mechanism proposed for these disorders. The FMR1 gene, as many housekeeping genes, undergoes alternative splicing. Using long-read isoform sequencing (SMRT) and qRT-PCR we have recently reported that, although the relative abundance of all FMR1 mRNA isoforms is significantly increased in the premutation group compared to controls, there is a disproportionate increase, relative to the overall increase in mRNA, in the abundance of isoforms spliced at both exons 12 and 14. In total, we confirmed the existence of 16 out of 24 predicted isoforms in our samples. However, it is unknown, which isoforms, when overexpressed, may contribute to the premutation pathology. To address this question we have further defined the transcriptional FMR1 isoforms distribution pattern in different tissues, including heart, muscle, brain and testis derived from FXTAS premutation carriers and age-matched controls. Preliminary data indicates the presence of a transcriptional signature of the FMR1 gene, which clusters more by individual than by tissue type. We identified additional isoforms than the 16 reported in our previous study, including a group with particular splice patterns that were observed only in premutations but not in controls. Our findings suggest that the characterization of expression levels of the different FMR1 isoforms is fundamental for understanding the regulation of the FMR1 gene as well as for elucidating the mechanism(s) by which “toxic gain of function” of the FMR1 mRNA may play a role in FXTAS and/or in the other FMR1-associated conditions. In addition to the elevated levels of FMR1 isoforms, the altered abundance/ratio of the corresponding FMRP isomers may affect the overall function of FMRP in premutations.


June 1, 2021  |  

Phased diploid genome assembly with single-molecule real-time sequencing

While genome assembly projects have been successful in many haploid and inbred species, the assembly of non-inbred or rearranged heterozygous genomes remains a major challenge. To address this challenge, we introduce the open-source FALCON and FALCON-Unzip algorithms (https://github.com/PacificBiosciences/FALCON/) to assemble long-read sequencing data into highly accurate, contiguous, and correctly phased diploid genomes. We generate new reference sequences for heterozygous samples including an F1 hybrid of Arabidopsis thaliana, the widely cultivated Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon, and the coral fungus Clavicorona pyxidata, samples that have challenged short-read assembly approaches. The FALCON-based assemblies are substantially more contiguous and complete than alternate short- or long-read approaches. The phased diploid assembly enabled the study of haplotype structure and heterozygosities between homologous chromosomes, including the identification of widespread heterozygous structural variation within coding sequences.


June 1, 2021  |  

Single molecule high-fidelity (HiFi) Sequencing with >10 kb libraries

Recent improvements in sequencing chemistry and instrument performance combine to create a new PacBio data type, Single Molecule High-Fidelity reads (HiFi reads). Increased read length and improvement in library construction enables average read lengths of 10-20 kb with average sequence identity greater than 99% from raw single molecule reads. The resulting reads have the accuracy comparable to short read NGS but with 50-100 times longer read length. Here we benchmark the performance of this data type by sequencing and genotyping the Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) HG0002 human reference sample from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We further demonstrate the general utility of HiFi reads by analyzing multiple clones of Cabernet Sauvignon. Three different clones were sequenced and de novo assembled with the CANU assembly algorithm, generating draft assemblies of very high contiguity equal to or better than earlier assembly efforts using PacBio long reads. Using the Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 8 assembly as a reference, we mapped the HiFi reads generated from Clone 6 and Clone 47 to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and structural variants (SVs) that are specific to each of the three samples.


June 1, 2021  |  

A high-quality PacBio insect genome from 5 ng of input DNA

High-quality insect genomes are essential resources to understand insect biology and to combat them as disease vectors and agricultural pests. It is desirable to sequence a single individual for a reference genome to avoid complications from multiple alleles during de novo assembly. However, the small body size of many insects poses a challenge for the use of long-read sequencing technologies which often have high DNA-input requirements. The previously described PacBio Low DNA Input Protocol starts with ~100 ng of DNA and allows for high-quality assemblies of single mosquitoes among others and represents a significant step in reducing such requirements. Here, we describe a new library protocol with a further 20-fold reduction in the DNA input quantity. Starting with just 5 ng of high molecular weight DNA, we describe the successful sequencing and de novo genome assembly of a single male sandfly (Phlebotomus papatasi, the main vector of the Old World cutaneous leishmaniasis), using HiFi data generated on the PacBio Sequel II System and assembled with FALCON. The assembly shows a high degree of completeness (>97% of BUSCO genes are complete), contiguity (contig N50 of 1 Mb), and sequence accuracy (>98% of BUSCO genes without frameshift errors). This workflow has general utility for small-bodied insects and other plant and animal species for both focused research studies or in conjunction with large-scale genome projects.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid evolution of a-gliadin gene family revealed by analyzing Gli-2 locus regions of wild emmer wheat.

a-Gliadins are a major group of gluten proteins in wheat flour that contribute to the end-use properties for food processing and contain major immunogenic epitopes that can cause serious health-related issues including celiac disease (CD). a-Gliadins are also the youngest group of gluten proteins and are encoded by a large gene family. The majority of the gene family members evolved independently in the A, B, and D genomes of different wheat species after their separation from a common ancestral species. To gain insights into the origin and evolution of these complex genes, the genomic regions of the Gli-2 loci encoding a-gliadins were characterized from the tetraploid wild emmer, a progenitor of hexaploid bread wheat that contributed the AABB genomes. Genomic sequences of Gli-2 locus regions for the wild emmer A and B genomes were first reconstructed using the genome sequence scaffolds along with optical genome maps. A total of 24 and 16 a-gliadin genes were identified for the A and B genome regions, respectively. a-Gliadin pseudogene frequencies of 86% for the A genome and 69% for the B genome were primarily caused by C to T substitutions in the highly abundant glutamine codons, resulting in the generation of premature stop codons. Comparison with the homologous regions from the hexaploid wheat cv. Chinese Spring indicated considerable sequence divergence of the two A genomes at the genomic level. In comparison, conserved regions between the two B genomes were identified that included a-gliadin pseudogenes containing shared nested TE insertions. Analyses of the genomic organization and phylogenetic tree reconstruction indicate that although orthologous gene pairs derived from speciation were present, large portions of a-gliadin genes were likely derived from differential gene duplications or deletions after the separation of the homologous wheat genomes ~?0.5 MYA. The higher number of full-length intact a-gliadin genes in hexaploid wheat than that in wild emmer suggests that human selection through domestication might have an impact on a-gliadin evolution. Our study provides insights into the rapid and dynamic evolution of genomic regions harboring the a-gliadin genes in wheat.


April 21, 2020  |  

Updated assembly resource of Phytophthora ramorum Pr102 isolate incorporating long reads from PacBio sequencing.

The NA1 clonal lineage of Phytophthora ramorum is responsible for Sudden Oak Death, an epidemic that has devastated California’s coastal forest ecosystems. An NA1 isolate Pr102 derived from coast live oak in California was previously sequenced and reported with 65 Mb assembly containing 12 Mb gaps in 2576 scaffolds. Here we report an improved 70 Mb genome in 1512 scaffolds with 6752 bp gaps after incorporating PacBio P5-C3 longreads. This assembly contains 19494 gene models (average gene length 2515 bp) compared to 16134 genes (average gene length of 1673 bp) in the previous version. We predicted 29 new RXLRs and 76 new paralogs of a total 392 RXLRs from this assembly. We predicted 35 CRNs compared to 19 in earlier version with six paralogs. Our lncRNAs prediction identified 255 candidates. This new resource will be invaluable for future evolution studies on the invasive plant pathogen.


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