June 1, 2021  |  

Enrichment of unamplified DNA and long-read SMRT Sequencing to unlock repeat expansion disorders

Nucleotide repeat expansions are a major cause of neurological and neuromuscular disease in humans, however, the nature of these genomic regions makes characterizing them extremely challenging. Accurate DNA sequencing of repeat expansions using short-read sequencing technologies is difficult, as short-read technologies often cannot read through regions of low sequence complexity. Additionally, these short reads do not span the entire region of interest and therefore sequence assembly is required. Lastly, most target enrichment methods are reliant upon amplification which adds the additional caveat of PCR bias. 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 PacBio’s long reads and uniform coverage, enables sequencing of complex genomic regions that cannot be investigated with other technologies. Using human genomic DNA samples and this strategy, we have successfully targeted the loci of Huntington’s Disease (HTT; CAG repeat), Fragile X (FMR1; CGG repeat), ALS (C9orf72; GGGGCC repeat), and Spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10; variable ATTCT repeat) for examination. With this data, we demonstrate the ability to isolate hundreds of individual on-target molecules in a single SMRT Cell and accurately sequence through long repeat stretches, regardless of the extreme GC-content. The method is compatible with multiplexing of multiple targets and multiple samples in a single reaction. This technique also captures native DNA molecules for sequencing, allowing for the possibility of direct detection and characterization of epigenetic signatures.

April 21, 2020  |  

Porous Zero-Mode Waveguides for Picogram-Level DNA Capture.

We have recently shown that nanopore zero-mode waveguides are effective tools for capturing picogram levels of long DNA fragments for single-molecule DNA sequencing. Despite these key advantages, the manufacturing of large arrays is not practical due to the need for serial nanopore fabrication. To overcome this challenge, we have developed an approach for the wafer-scale fabrication of waveguide arrays on low-cost porous membranes, which are deposited using molecular-layer deposition. The membrane at each waveguide base contains a network of serpentine pores that allows for efficient electrophoretic DNA capture at picogram levels while eliminating the need for prohibitive serial pore milling. Here, we show that the loading efficiency of these porous waveguides is up to 2 orders of magnitude greater than their nanopore predecessors. This new device facilitates the scaling-up of the process, greatly reducing the cost and effort of manufacturing. Furthermore, the porous zero-mode waveguides can be used for applications that benefit from low-input single-molecule real-time sequencing.

April 21, 2020  |  

Tools and Strategies for Long-Read Sequencing and De Novo Assembly of Plant Genomes.

The commercial release of third-generation sequencing technologies (TGSTs), giving long and ultra-long sequencing reads, has stimulated the development of new tools for assembling highly contiguous genome sequences with unprecedented accuracy across complex repeat regions. We survey here a wide range of emerging sequencing platforms and analytical tools for de novo assembly, provide background information for each of their steps, and discuss the spectrum of available options. Our decision tree recommends workflows for the generation of a high-quality genome assembly when used in combination with the specific needs and resources of a project.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards.

Monitor lizards are unique among ectothermic reptiles in that they have high aerobic capacity and distinctive cardiovascular physiology resembling that of endothermic mammals. Here, we sequence the genome of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, the largest extant monitor lizard, and generate a high-resolution de novo chromosome-assigned genome assembly for V. komodoensis using a hybrid approach of long-range sequencing and single-molecule optical mapping. Comparing the genome of V. komodoensis with those of related species, we find evidence of positive selection in pathways related to energy metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, and haemostasis. We also show species-specific expansions of a chemoreceptor gene family related to pheromone and kairomone sensing in V. komodoensis and other lizard lineages. Together, these evolutionary signatures of adaptation reveal the genetic underpinnings of the unique Komodo dragon sensory and cardiovascular systems, and suggest that selective pressure altered haemostasis genes to help Komodo dragons evade the anticoagulant effects of their own saliva. The Komodo dragon genome is an important resource for understanding the biology of monitor lizards and reptiles worldwide.

April 21, 2020  |  

Recompleting the Caenorhabditis elegans genome.

Caenorhabditis elegans was the first multicellular eukaryotic genome sequenced to apparent completion. Although this assembly employed a standard C. elegans strain (N2), it used sequence data from several laboratories, with DNA propagated in bacteria and yeast. Thus, the N2 assembly has many differences from any C. elegans available today. To provide a more accurate C. elegans genome, we performed long-read assembly of VC2010, a modern strain derived from N2. Our VC2010 assembly has 99.98% identity to N2 but with an additional 1.8 Mb including tandem repeat expansions and genome duplications. For 116 structural discrepancies between N2 and VC2010, 97 structures matching VC2010 (84%) were also found in two outgroup strains, implying deficiencies in N2. Over 98% of N2 genes encoded unchanged products in VC2010; moreover, we predicted =53 new genes in VC2010. The recompleted genome of C. elegans should be a valuable resource for genetics, genomics, and systems biology. © 2019 Yoshimura et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

April 21, 2020  |  

Long-Read Sequencing Emerging in Medical Genetics

The wide implementation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the field of medical genetics. However, the short read lengths of currently used sequencing approaches pose a limitation for identification of structural variants, sequencing repetitive regions, phasing alleles and distinguishing highly homologous genomic regions. These limitations may significantly contribute to the diagnostic gap in patients with genetic disorders who have undergone standard NGS, like whole exome or even genome sequencing. Now, the emerging long-read sequencing (LRS) technologies may offer improvements in the characterization of genetic variation and regions that are difficult to assess with the currently prevailing NGS approaches. LRS has so far mainly been used to investigate genetic disorders with previously known or strongly suspected disease loci. While these targeted approaches already show the potential of LRS, it remains to be seen whether LRS technologies can soon enable true whole genome sequencing routinely. Ultimately, this could allow the de novo assembly of individual whole genomes used as a generic test for genetic disorders. In this article, we summarize the current LRS-based research on human genetic disorders and discuss the potential of these technologies to facilitate the next major advancements in medical genetics.

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