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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Fam83F induces p53 stabilisation and promotes its activity.

p53 is one of the most important tumour suppressor proteins currently known. It is activated in response to DNA damage and this activation leads to proliferation arrest and cell death. The abundance and activity of p53 are tightly controlled and reductions in p53’s activity can contribute to the development of cancer. Here, we show that Fam83F increases p53 protein levels by protein stabilisation. Fam83F interacts with p53 and decreases its ubiquitination and degradation. Fam83F is induced in response to DNA damage and its overexpression also increases p53 activity in cell culture experiments and in zebrafish embryos. Downregulation of Fam83F decreases transcription of p53 target genes in response to DNA damage and increases cell proliferation, identifying Fam83F as an important regulator of the DNA damage response. Overexpression of Fam83F also enhances migration of cells harbouring mutant p53 demonstrating that it can also activate mutant forms of p53.


April 21, 2020  |  

Harnessing long-read amplicon sequencing to uncover NRPS and Type I PKS gene sequence diversity in polar desert soils.

The severity of environmental conditions at Earth’s frigid zones present attractive opportunities for microbial biomining due to their heightened potential as reservoirs for novel secondary metabolites. Arid soil microbiomes within the Antarctic and Arctic circles are remarkably rich in Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, bacterial phyla known to be prolific producers of natural products. Yet the diversity of secondary metabolite genes within these cold, extreme environments remain largely unknown. Here, we employed amplicon sequencing using PacBio RS II, a third generation long-read platform, to survey over 200 soils spanning twelve east Antarctic and high Arctic sites for natural product-encoding genes, specifically targeting non-ribosomal peptides (NRPS) and Type I polyketides (PKS). NRPS-encoding genes were more widespread across the Antarctic, whereas PKS genes were only recoverable from a handful of sites. Many recovered sequences were deemed novel due to their low amino acid sequence similarity to known protein sequences, particularly throughout the east Antarctic sites. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a high proportion were most similar to antifungal and biosurfactant-type clusters. Multivariate analysis showed that soil fertility factors of carbon, nitrogen and moisture displayed significant negative relationships with natural product gene richness. Our combined results suggest that secondary metabolite production is likely to play an important physiological component of survival for microorganisms inhabiting arid, nutrient-starved soils. © FEMS 2019.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-scale assemblies reveal the structural evolution of African cichlid genomes.

African cichlid fishes are well known for their rapid radiations and are a model system for studying evolutionary processes. Here we compare multiple, high-quality, chromosome-scale genome assemblies to elucidate the genetic mechanisms underlying cichlid diversification and study how genome structure evolves in rapidly radiating lineages.We re-anchored our recent assembly of the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) genome using a new high-density genetic map. We also developed a new de novo genome assembly of the Lake Malawi cichlid, Metriaclima zebra, using high-coverage Pacific Biosciences sequencing, and anchored contigs to linkage groups (LGs) using 4 different genetic maps. These new anchored assemblies allow the first chromosome-scale comparisons of African cichlid genomes. Large intra-chromosomal structural differences (~2-28 megabase pairs) among species are common, while inter-chromosomal differences are rare (<10 megabase pairs total). Placement of the centromeres within the chromosome-scale assemblies identifies large structural differences that explain many of the karyotype differences among species. Structural differences are also associated with unique patterns of recombination on sex chromosomes. Structural differences on LG9, LG11, and LG20 are associated with reduced recombination, indicative of inversions between the rock- and sand-dwelling clades of Lake Malawi cichlids. M. zebra has a larger number of recent transposable element insertions compared with O. niloticus, suggesting that several transposable element families have a higher rate of insertion in the haplochromine cichlid lineage.This study identifies novel structural variation among East African cichlid genomes and provides a new set of genomic resources to support research on the mechanisms driving cichlid adaptation and speciation. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Modern View of B Chromosomes Under the Impact of High Scale Omics Analyses.

Supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) are extra karyotype units in addition to A chromosomes, and are found in some fungi and thousands of animals and plant species. Bs are uniquely characterized due to their non-Mendelian inheritance, and represent one of the best examples of genomic conflict. Over the last decades, their genetic composition, function and evolution have remained an unresolved query, although a few successful attempts have been made to address these phenomena. A classical concept based on cytogenetics and genetics is that Bs are selfish and abundant with DNA repeats and transposons, and in most cases, they do not carry any function. However, recently, the modern quantum development of high scale multi-omics techniques has shifted B research towards a new-born field that we call “B-omics”. We review the recent literature and add novel perspectives to the B research, discussing the role of new technologies to understand the mechanistic perspectives of the molecular evolution and function of Bs. The modern view states that B chromosomes are enriched with genes for many significant biological functions, including but not limited to the interesting set of genes related to cell cycle and chromosome structure. Furthermore, the presence of B chromosomes could favor genomic rearrangements and influence the nuclear environment affecting the function of other chromatin regions. We hypothesize that B chromosomes might play a key function in driving their transmission and maintenance inside the cell, as well as offer an extra genomic compartment for evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

De novo assembly of the goldfish (Carassius auratus) genome and the evolution of genes after whole-genome duplication.

For over a thousand years, the common goldfish (Carassius auratus) was raised throughout Asia for food and as an ornamental pet. As a very close relative of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), goldfish share the recent genome duplication that occurred approximately 14 million years ago in their common ancestor. The combination of centuries of breeding and a wide array of interesting body morphologies provides an exciting opportunity to link genotype to phenotype and to understand the dynamics of genome evolution and speciation. We generated a high-quality draft sequence and gene annotations of a “Wakin” goldfish using 71X PacBio long reads. The two subgenomes in goldfish retained extensive synteny and collinearity between goldfish and zebrafish. However, genes were lost quickly after the carp whole-genome duplication, and the expression of 30% of the retained duplicated gene diverged substantially across seven tissues sampled. Loss of sequence identity and/or exons determined the divergence of the expression levels across all tissues, while loss of conserved noncoding elements determined expression variance between different tissues. This assembly provides an important resource for comparative genomics and understanding the causes of goldfish variants.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genes of the pig, Sus scrofa, reconstructed with EvidentialGene.

The pig is a well-studied model animal of biomedical and agricultural importance. Genes of this species, Sus scrofa, are known from experiments and predictions, and collected at the NCBI reference sequence database section. Gene reconstruction from transcribed gene evidence of RNA-seq now can accurately and completely reproduce the biological gene sets of animals and plants. Such a gene set for the pig is reported here, including human orthologs missing from current NCBI and Ensembl reference pig gene sets, additional alternate transcripts, and other improvements. Methodology for accurate and complete gene set reconstruction from RNA is used: the automated SRA2Genes pipeline of EvidentialGene project.


April 21, 2020  |  

Inter-chromosomal coupling between vision and pigmentation genes during genomic divergence.

Recombination between loci underlying mate choice and ecological traits is a major evolutionary force acting against speciation with gene flow. The evolution of linkage disequilibrium between such loci is therefore a fundamental step in the origin of species. Here, we show that this process can take place in the absence of physical linkage in hamlets-a group of closely related reef fishes from the wider Caribbean that differ essentially in colour pattern and are reproductively isolated through strong visually-based assortative mating. Using full-genome analysis, we identify four narrow genomic intervals that are consistently differentiated among sympatric species in a backdrop of extremely low genomic divergence. These four intervals include genes involved in pigmentation (sox10), axial patterning (hoxc13a), photoreceptor development (casz1) and visual sensitivity (SWS and LWS opsins) that develop islands of long-distance and inter-chromosomal linkage disequilibrium as species diverge. The relatively simple genomic architecture of species differences facilitates the evolution of linkage disequilibrium in the presence of gene flow.


April 21, 2020  |  

Do the toll-like receptors and complement systems play equally important roles in freshwater adapted Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma)?

Unlike the normal anadromous lifestyle, Chinese native Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma) is locked in land and lives in fresh water lifetime. To explore the effect of freshwater adaption on its immune system, we constructed a pooled cDNA library of hepatopancreas and spleen of Chinese freshwater Dolly Varden char (S. malma). A total of 27,829 unigenes were generated from 31,233 high-quality transcripts and 17,670 complete open reading frames (ORF) were identified. Totally 25,809 unigenes were successfully annotated and it classified more native than adaptive immunity-associated genes, and more genes involved in toll-like receptor signal pathway than those in complement and coagulation cascades (51 vs 3), implying the relative more important role of toll-like receptors than the complement system under bacterial injection for the freshwater Dolly Varden char. These huge different numbers of TLR and complement system identified in freshwater Dolly Varden char probably caused by distinct evolution pressure patterns between fish TLR and complement system, representative by TLR3 and TLR5 as well as C4 and C6, respectively, which were under purifying and positively selecting pressure, respectively. Further seawater adaptation experiment and the comparison study with our library will no doubt be helpful to elucidate the effect of freshwater adaption of Chinese native Dolly Varden char on its immune system.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Finding Nemo’s Genes: A chromosome-scale reference assembly of the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula.

The iconic orange clownfish, Amphiprion percula, is a model organism for studying the ecology and evolution of reef fishes, including patterns of population connectivity, sex change, social organization, habitat selection and adaptation to climate change. Notably, the orange clownfish is the only reef fish for which a complete larval dispersal kernel has been established and was the first fish species for which it was demonstrated that antipredator responses of reef fishes could be impaired by ocean acidification. Despite its importance, molecular resources for this species remain scarce and until now it lacked a reference genome assembly. Here, we present a de novo chromosome-scale assembly of the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula. We utilized single-molecule real-time sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences to produce an initial polished assembly comprised of 1,414 contigs, with a contig N50 length of 1.86 Mb. Using Hi-C-based chromatin contact maps, 98% of the genome assembly were placed into 24 chromosomes, resulting in a final assembly of 908.8 Mb in length with contig and scaffold N50s of 3.12 and 38.4 Mb, respectively. This makes it one of the most contiguous and complete fish genome assemblies currently available. The genome was annotated with 26,597 protein-coding genes and contains 96% of the core set of conserved actinopterygian orthologs. The availability of this reference genome assembly as a community resource will further strengthen the role of the orange clownfish as a model species for research on the ecology and evolution of reef fishes. © 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Antarctic blackfin icefish genome reveals adaptations to extreme environments.

Icefishes (suborder Notothenioidei; family Channichthyidae) are the only vertebrates that lack functional haemoglobin genes and red blood cells. Here, we report a high-quality genome assembly and linkage map for the Antarctic blackfin icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus, highlighting evolved genomic features for its unique physiology. Phylogenomic analysis revealed that Antarctic fish of the teleost suborder Notothenioidei, including icefishes, diverged from the stickleback lineage about 77 million years ago and subsequently evolved cold-adapted phenotypes as the Southern Ocean cooled to sub-zero temperatures. Our results show that genes involved in protection from ice damage, including genes encoding antifreeze glycoprotein and zona pellucida proteins, are highly expanded in the icefish genome. Furthermore, genes that encode enzymes that help to control cellular redox state, including members of the sod3 and nqo1 gene families, are expanded, probably as evolutionary adaptations to the relatively high concentration of oxygen dissolved in cold Antarctic waters. In contrast, some crucial regulators of circadian homeostasis (cry and per genes) are absent from the icefish genome, suggesting compromised control of biological rhythms in the polar light environment. The availability of the icefish genome sequence will accelerate our understanding of adaptation to extreme Antarctic environments.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of an early flowering Mini-Citrus (Fortunella hindsii).

Hongkong kumquat (Fortunella hindsii) is a wild citrus species characterized by dwarf plant height and early flowering. Here, we identified the monoembryonic F. hindsii (designated as ‘Mini-Citrus’) for the first time and constructed its selfing lines. This germplasm constitutes an ideal model for the genetic and functional genomics studies of citrus, which have been severely hindered by the long juvenility and inherent apomixes of citrus. F. hindsii showed a very short juvenile period (~8 months) and stable monoembryonic phenotype under cultivation. We report the first de novo assembled 373.6 Mb genome sequences (Contig-N50 2.2 Mb and Scaffold-N50 5.2 Mb) for F. hindsii. In total, 32 257 protein-coding genes were annotated, 96.9% of which had homologues in other eight Citrinae species. The phylogenomic analysis revealed a close relationship of F. hindsii with cultivated citrus varieties, especially with mandarin. Furthermore, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was demonstrated to be an efficient strategy to generate target mutagenesis on F. hindsii. The modifications of target genes in the CRISPR-modified F. hindsii were predominantly 1-bp insertions or small deletions. This genetic transformation system based on F. hindsii could shorten the whole process from explant to T1 mutant to about 15 months. Overall, due to its short juvenility, monoembryony, close genetic background to cultivated citrus and applicability of CRISPR, F. hindsii shows unprecedented potentials to be used as a model species for citrus research. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative polyadenylation coordinates embryonic development, sexual dimorphism and longitudinal growth in Xenopus tropicalis.

RNA alternative polyadenylation contributes to the complexity of information transfer from genome to phenome, thus amplifying gene function. Here, we report the first X. tropicalis resource with 127,914 alternative polyadenylation (APA) sites derived from embryos and adults. Overall, APA networks play central roles in coordinating the maternal-zygotic transition (MZT) in embryos, sexual dimorphism in adults and longitudinal growth from embryos to adults. APA sites coordinate reprogramming in embryos before the MZT, but developmental events after the MZT due to zygotic genome activation. The APA transcriptomes of young adults are more variable than growing adults and male frog APA transcriptomes are more divergent than females. The APA profiles of young females were similar to embryos before the MZT. Enriched pathways in developing embryos were distinct across the MZT and noticeably segregated from adults. Briefly, our results suggest that the minimal functional units in genomes are alternative transcripts as opposed to genes.


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