Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing is unique in that nucleotide incorporation events are monitored in real time, leading to a wealth of kinetic information in addition to the extraction of the primary DNA sequence. The dynamics of the DNA polymerase that is observed adds an additional dimension of sequence-dependent information, and can be used to learn more about the molecule under study. First, the primary sequence itself can be determined more accurately. The kinetic data can be used to corroborate or overturn consensus calls and even enable calling bases in problematic sequence contexts. Second, using the kinetic information, we can detect and discriminate numerous chemical base modifications as a by-product of ordinary sequencing. Examples of applying these capabilities include (i) the characterization of the epigenome of microorganisms by directly sequencing the three common prokaryotic epigenetic base modifications of 4-methylcytosine, 5- methylcytosine and 6-methyladenine; (ii) the characterization of known and novel methyltransferase activities; (iii) the direct sequencing and differentiation of the four eukaryotic epigenetic forms of cytosine (5-methyl, 5-hydroxymethyl, 5-formyl, and 5-carboxylcytosine) with first applications to map them with single base-pair and DNA strand resolution across mammalian genomes; (iv) the direct sequencing and identification of numerous modified DNA bases arising from DNA damage; and (v) an exploration of the mitochondrial genome for known and novel base modifications. We will show our progress towards a generic, open-source algorithm for exploiting kinetic information for any of these purposes.
The assembly of metagenomes is dramatically improved by the long read lengths of SMRT Sequencing. This is demonstrated in an experimental design to sequence a mock community from the Human Microbiome Project, and assemble the data using the hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP) at Pacific Biosciences. Results of this analysis are promising, and display much improved contiguity in the assembly of the mock community as compared to publicly available short-read data sets and assemblies. Additionally, the use of base modification information to make further associations between contigs provides additional data to improve assemblies, and to distinguish between members within a microbial community. The epigenetic approach is a novel validation method unique to SMRT Sequencing. In addition to whole-genome shotgun sequencing, SMRT Sequencing also offers improved classification resolution and reliability of metagenomic and microbiome samples by the full-length sequencing of 16S rRNA (~1500 bases long). Microbial communities can be detected at the species level in some cases, rather than being limited to the genus taxonomic classification as constrained by short-read technologies. The performance of SMRT Sequencing for these metagenomic samples achieved >99% predicted concordance to reference sequences in cecum, soil, water, and mock control investigations for bacterial 16S. Community samples are estimated to contain from 2.3 and up to 15 times as many species with abundance levels as low as 0.05% compared to the identification of phyla groups.
As a cost-effective alternative to whole genome human sequencing, targeted sequencing of specific regions, such as exomes or panels of relevant genes, has become increasingly common. These methods typically include direct PCR amplification of the genomic DNA of interest, or the capture of these targets via probe-based hybridization. Commonly, these approaches are designed to amplify or capture exonic regions and thereby result in amplicons or fragments that are a few hundred base pairs in length, a length that is well-addressed with short-read sequencing technologies. These approaches typically provide very good coverage and can identify SNPs in the targeted region, but are unable to haplotype these variants. Here we describe a targeted sequencing workflow that combines Roche NimbleGen’s SeqCap EZ enrichment technology with Pacific Biosciences’ SMRT Sequencing to provide a more comprehensive view of variants and haplotype information over multi-kilobase regions. While the SeqCap EZ technology is typically used to capture 200 bp fragments, we demonstrate that 6 kb fragments can also be utilized to enrich for long fragments that extend beyond the targeted capture site and well into (and often across) the flanking intronic regions. When combined with the long reads of SMRT Sequencing, multi-kilobase regions of the human genome can be phased and variants detected in exons, introns and intergenic regions.
In 2012, NIST convened the Genome in a Bottle Consortium to develop the metrology infrastructure needed to enable confidence in human whole genome variant calls.
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.
2015 SMRT Informatics Developers Conference Presentation Slides: Jason Chin of PacBio highlighted some of the challenges for shotgun assembly while suggesting some potential solutions to obtain diploid assemblies, including the FALCON method.
The Genome in a Bottle Consortium is developing the reference materials, reference methods , and reference data n
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 Pacific Biosciences to sequence transcriptomes (the Iso-SeqTM 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 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 a Cuttlefish Iso-Seq dataset, for which there is a highly fragmented, Illumina-based draft genome assembly and little annotation. We show that Cogent successfully discovers gene families and can reconstruct the coding region of gene loci. The reconstructed contigs can then be used to visualize alternative splicing events, identify minor variants, and even be used to improve genome assemblies.
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.
Outside of the simplest cases (haploid, bacteria, or inbreds), genomic information is not carried in a single reference per individual, but rather has higher ploidy (n=>2) for almost all organisms. The existence of two or more highly related sequences within an individual makes it extremely difficult to build high quality, highly contiguous genome assemblies from short DNA fragments. Based on the earlier work on a polyploidy aware assembler, FALCON ( https://github.com/PacificBiosciences/FALCON) , we developed new algorithms and software (“FALCON-unzip”) for de novo haplotype reconstructions from SMRT Sequencing data. We generate two datasets for developing the algorithms and the prototype software: (1) whole genome sequencing data from a highly repetitive diploid fungal (Clavicorona pyxidata) and (2) whole genome sequencing data from an F1 hybrid from two inbred Arabidopsis strains: Cvi-0 and Col-0. For the fungal genome, we achieved an N50 of 1.53 Mb (of the 1n assembly contigs) of the ~42 Mb 1n genome and an N50 of the haplotigs (haplotype specific contigs) of 872 kb from a 95X read length N50 ~16 kb dataset. We found that ~ 45% of the genome was highly heterozygous and ~55% of the genome was highly homozygous. We developed methods to assess the base-level accuracy and local haplotype phasing accuracy of the assembly with short-read data from the Illumina® platform. For the ArabidopsisF1 hybrid genome, we found that 80% of the genome could be separated into haplotigs. The long range accuracy of phasing haplotigs was evaluated by comparing them to the assemblies from the two inbred parental lines. We show that a more complete view of all haplotypes could provide useful biological insights through improved annotation, characterization of heterozygous variants of all sizes, and resolution of differential allele expression. The current Falcon-Unzip method will lead to understand how to solve more difficult polyploid genome assembly problems and improve the computational efficiency for large genome assemblies. Based on this work, we can develop a pipeline enabling routinely assemble diploid or polyploid genomes as haplotigs, representing a comprehensive view of the genomes that can be studied with the information at hand.
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.
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 both 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.
Effect of coverage depth and haplotype phasing on structural variant detection with PacBio long reads
Each human genome has thousands of structural variants compared to the reference assembly, up to 85% of which are difficult or impossible to detect with Illumina short reads and are only visible with long, multi-kilobase reads. The PacBio RS II and Sequel single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing platforms have made it practical to generate long reads at high throughput. These platforms enable the discovery of structural variants just as short-read platforms did for single nucleotide variants. Numerous software algorithms call structural variants effectively from PacBio long reads, but algorithm sensitivity is lower for insertion variants and all heterozygous variants. Furthermore, the impact of coverage depth and read lengths on sensitivity is not fully characterized. To quantify how zygosity, coverage depth, and read lengths impact the sensitivity of structural variant detection, we obtained high coverage PacBio sequences for three human samples: haploid CHM1, diploid NA12878, and diploid SK-BR-3. For each dataset, reads were randomly subsampled to titrate coverage from 0.5- to 50-fold. The structural variants detected at each coverage were compared to the set at “full” 50-fold coverage. For the diploid samples, additional titrations were performed with reads first partitioned by phase using single nucleotide variants for essentially haploid structural variant discovery. Even at low coverages (1- to 5-fold), PacBio long reads reveal hundreds of structural variants that are not seen in deep 50-fold Illumina whole genome sequences. At moderate 10-fold PacBio coverage, a majority of structural variants are detected. Sensitivity begins to level off at around 40-fold coverage, though it does not fully saturate before 50-fold. Phasing improves sensitivity for all variant types, especially at moderate 10- to 20-fold coverage. Long reads are an effective tool to identify and phase structural variants in the human genome. The majority of variants are detected at moderate 10-fold coverage, and even extremely low long-read coverage (1- to 5-fold) reveals variants that are invisible to short-read sequencing. Performance will continue to improve with better software and longer reads, which will empower studies to connect structural variants to healthy and disease traits in the human population.
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.
Targeted SMRT Sequencing of difficult regions of the genome using a Cas9, non-amplification based method
Targeted sequencing has proven to be an economical means of obtaining sequence information for one or more defined regions of a larger genome. However, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon some form of amplification. Amplification removes the epigenetic marks present in native DNA, and some genomic regions, such as those with extreme GC content and repetitive sequences, are recalcitrant to faithful amplification. Yet, a large number of genetic disorders are caused by expansions of repeat sequences. Furthermore, for some disorders, methylation status has been shown to be a key factor in the mechanism of disease. We have developed a novel, amplification-free enrichment technique that employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system for specific targeting of individual human genes. This method, in conjunction with SMRT Sequencing’s long reads, high consensus accuracy, and uniform coverage, allows the sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies.