June 1, 2021  |  

From RNA to full-length transcripts: The PacBio Iso-Seq method for transcriptome analysis and genome annotation

A single gene may encode a surprising number of proteins, each with a distinct biological function. This is especially true in complex eukaryotes. Short- read RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) works by physically shearing transcript isoforms into smaller pieces and bioinformatically reassembling them, leaving opportunity for misassembly or incomplete capture of the full diversity of isoforms from genes of interest. The PacBio Isoform Sequencing (Iso-Seq™) method employs long reads to sequence transcript isoforms from the 5’ end to their poly-A tails, eliminating the need for transcript reconstruction and inference. These long reads result in complete, unambiguous information about alternatively spliced exons, transcriptional start sites, and poly- adenylation sites. This allows for the characterization of the full complement of isoforms within targeted genes, or across an entire transcriptome. Here we present improved genome annotations for two avian models of vocal learning, Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), using the Iso-Seq method. We present graphical user interface and command line analysis workflows for the data sets. From brain total RNA, we characterize more than 15,000 isoforms in each species, 9% and 5% of which were previously unannotated in hummingbird and zebra finch, respectively. We highlight one example where capturing full-length transcripts identifies additional exons and UTRs.


June 1, 2021  |  

Full-length transcript profiling with the Iso-Seq method for improved genome annotations

Incomplete annotation of genomes represents a major impediment to understanding biological processes, functional differences between species, and evolutionary mechanisms. Often, genes that are large, embedded within duplicated genomic regions, or associated with repeats are difficult to study by short-read expression profiling and assembly. In addition, most genes in eukaryotic organisms produce alternatively spliced isoforms, broadening the diversity of proteins encoded by the genome, which are difficult to resolve with short-read methods. Short-read RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) works by physically shearing transcript isoforms into smaller pieces and bioinformatically reassembling them, leaving opportunity for misassembly or incomplete capture of the full diversity of isoforms from genes of interest. In contrast, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing directly sequences full-length transcripts without the need for assembly and imputation. Here we apply the Iso-Seq method (long-read RNA sequencing) to detect full-length isoforms and the new IsoPhase algorithm to retrieve allele-specific isoform information for two avian models of vocal learning, Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Phylogenomics, a Stepping Stone for Bird Biodiversity Studies

Birds are a group with immense availability of genomic resources, and hundreds of forthcoming genomes at the doorstep. We review recent developments in whole genome sequencing, phylogenomics, and comparative genomics of birds. Short read based genome assemblies are common, largely due to efforts of the Bird 10K genome project (B10K). Chromosome-level assemblies are expected to increase due to improved long-read sequencing. The available genomic data has enabled the reconstruction of the bird tree of life with increasing confidence and resolution, but challenges remain in the early splits of Neoaves due to their explosive diversification after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) event. Continued genomic sampling of the bird tree of life will not just better reflect their evolutionary history but also shine new light onto the organization of phylogenetic signal and conflict across the genome. The comparatively simple architecture of avian genomes makes them a powerful system to study the molecular foundation of bird specific traits. Birds are on the verge of becoming an extremely resourceful system to study biodiversity from the nucleotide up.


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