DNA sequencing is the process of determining the nucleic acid sequence – the order of nucleotides in DNA. It includes any method or technology that is used to determine the order of the four bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. The advent of rapid DNA sequencing methods has greatly accelerated biological and medical research and discovery.
Knowledge of DNA sequences has become indispensable for basic biological research, and in numerous applied fields such as medical diagnosis, biotechnology, forensic biology, virology and biological systematics. The rapid speed of sequencing attained with modern DNA sequencing technology has been instrumental in the sequencing of complete DNA sequences, or genomes, of numerous types and species of life, including the human genome and other complete DNA sequences of many animal, plant, and microbial species.
The first DNA sequences were obtained in the early 1970s by academic researchers using laborious methods based on two-dimensional chromatography. Following the development of fluorescence-based sequencing methods with a DNA sequencer, DNA sequencing has become easier and orders of magnitude faster.
DNA sequencing may be used to determine the sequence of individual genes, larger genetic regions (i.e. clusters of genes or operons), full chromosomes, or entire genomes of any organism. DNA sequencing is also the most efficient way to indirectly sequence RNA or proteins (via their open reading frames). In fact, DNA sequencing has become a key technology in many areas of biology and other sciences such as medicine, forensics, and anthropology.
Sequencing is used in molecular biology to study genomes and the proteins they encode. Information obtained using sequencing allows researchers to identify changes in genes, associations with diseases and phenotypes, and identify potential drug targets.
Since DNA is an informative macromolecule in terms of transmission from one generation to another, DNA sequencing is used in evolutionary biology to study how different organisms are related and how they evolved.
The field of metagenomics involves identification of organisms present in a body of water, sewage, dirt, debris filtered from the air, or swab samples from organisms. Knowing which organisms are present in a particular environment is critical to research in ecology, epidemiology, microbiology, and other fields. Sequencing enables researchers to determine which types of microbes may be present in a microbiome, for example.
Medical technicians may sequence genes (or, theoretically, full genomes) from patients to determine if there is risk of genetic diseases. This is a form of genetic testing, though some genetic tests may not involve DNA sequencing.
DNA sequencing may be used along with DNA profiling methods for forensic identification and paternity testing. DNA testing has evolved tremendously in the last few decades to ultimately link a DNA print to what is under investigation. The DNA patterns in fingerprint, saliva, hair follicles, etc. uniquely separate each living organism from another. Testing DNA is a technique which can detect specific genomes in a DNA strand to produce a unique and individualized pattern. Every living organism ever created has a one of a kind DNA pattern, which can be determined through DNA testing. It is extremely rare that two people have exactly the same DNA pattern, therefore DNA testing is highly successful.
The canonical structure of DNA has four bases: thymine (T), adenine (A), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). DNA sequencing is the determination of the physical order of these bases in a molecule of DNA. However, there are many other bases that may be present in a molecule. In some viruses (specifically, bacteriophage), cytosine may be replaced by hydroxy methyl or hydroxy methyl glucose cytosine. In mammalian DNA, variant bases with methyl groups or phosphosulfate may be found. Depending on the sequencing technique, a particular modification, e.g., the 5mC (5 methyl cytosine) common in humans, may or may not be detected.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was first discovered and isolated by Friedrich Miescher in 1869, but it remained understudied for many decades because proteins, rather than DNA, were thought to hold the genetic blueprint to life. This situation changed after 1944 as a result of some experiments by Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty demonstrating that purified DNA could change one strain of bacteria into another. This was the first time that DNA was shown capable of transforming the properties of cells.
In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick put forward their double-helix model of DNA, based on crystallized X-ray structures being studied by Rosalind Franklin – and without crediting her. According to the model, DNA is composed of two strands of nucleotides coiled around each other, linked together by hydrogen bonds and running in opposite directions. Each strand is composed of four complementary nucleotides – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) – with an A on one strand always paired with T on the other, and C always paired with G. They proposed such a structure allowed each strand to be used to reconstruct the other, an idea central to the passing on of hereditary information between generations.
The foundation for sequencing proteins was first laid by the work of Frederick Sanger who by 1955 had completed the sequence of all the amino acids in insulin, a small protein secreted by the pancreas. This provided the first conclusive evidence that proteins were chemical entities with a specific molecular pattern rather than a random mixture of material suspended in fluid. Sanger's success in sequencing insulin greatly electrified x-ray crystallographers, including Watson and Crick who by now were trying to understand how DNA directed the formation of proteins within a cell. Soon after attending a series of lectures given by Frederick Sanger in October 1954, Crick began to develop a theory which argued that the arrangement of nucleotides in DNA determined the sequence of amino acids in proteins which in turn helped determine the function of a protein. He published this theory in 1958.
RNA sequencing was one of the earliest forms of nucleotide sequencing. The major landmark of RNA sequencing is the sequence of the first complete gene and the complete genome of Bacteriophage MS2, identified and published by Walter Fiers and his coworkers at the University of Ghent (Ghent, Belgium), in 1972 and 1976. Traditional RNA sequencing methods require the creation of a cDNA molecule which must be sequenced.
The first method for determining DNA sequences involved a location-specific primer extension strategy established by Ray Wu at Cornell University in 1970. DNA polymerase catalysis and specific nucleotide labeling, both of which figure prominently in current sequencing schemes, were used to sequence the cohesive ends of lambda phage DNA. Between 1970 and 1973, Wu, R Padmanabhan and colleagues demonstrated that this method can be employed to determine any DNA sequence using synthetic location-specific primers. Frederick Sanger then adopted this primer-extension strategy to develop more rapid DNA sequencing methods at the MRC Centre, Cambridge, UK and published a method for "DNA sequencing with chain-terminating inhibitors" in 1977. Walter Gilbert and Allan Maxam at Harvard also developed sequencing methods, including one for "DNA sequencing by chemical degradation". In 1973, Gilbert and Maxam reported the sequence of 24 basepairs using a method known as wandering-spot analysis. Advancements in sequencing were aided by the concurrent development of recombinant DNA technology, allowing DNA samples to be isolated from sources other than viruses.
The first full DNA genome to be sequenced was that of bacteriophage φX174 in 1977. Medical Research Council scientists deciphered the complete DNA sequence of the Epstein-Barr virus in 1984, finding it contained 172,282 nucleotides. Completion of the sequence marked a significant turning point in DNA sequencing because it was achieved with no prior genetic profile knowledge of the virus.
A non-radioactive method for transferring the DNA molecules of sequencing reaction mixtures onto an immobilizing matrix during electrophoresis was developed by Pohl and co-workers in the early 1980s. Followed by the commercialization of the DNA sequencer "Direct-Blotting-Electrophoresis-System GATC 1500" by GATC Biotech, which was intensively used in the framework of the EU genome-sequencing programme, the complete DNA sequence of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome II. Leroy E. Hood's laboratory at the California Institute of Technology announced the first semi-automated DNA sequencing machine in 1986. This was followed by Applied Biosystems' marketing of the first fully automated sequencing machine, the ABI 370, in 1987 and by Dupont's Genesis 2000 which used a novel fluorescent labeling technique enabling all four dideoxynucleotides to be identified in a single lane. By 1990, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) had begun large-scale sequencing trials on Mycoplasma capricolum, Escherichia coli, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae at a cost of US$0.75 per base. Meanwhile, sequencing of human cDNA sequences called expressed sequence tags began in Craig Venter's lab, an attempt to capture the coding fraction of the human genome. In 1995, Venter, Hamilton Smith, and colleagues at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) published the first complete genome of a free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. The circular chromosome contains 1,830,137 bases and its publication in the journal Science marked the first published use of whole-genome shotgun sequencing, eliminating the need for initial mapping efforts.
Several new methods for DNA sequencing were developed in the mid to late 1990s and were implemented in commercial DNA sequencers by the year 2000. Together these were called the "next-generation" or "second-generation" sequencing (NGS) methods, in order to distinguish them from the aforementioned earlier methods, like Sanger Sequencing. In contrast to the first generation of sequencing, NGS technology is typically characterized by being highly scalable, allowing the entire genome to be sequenced at once. Usually, this is accomplished by fragmenting the genome into small pieces, randomly sampling for a fragment, and sequencing it using one of a variety of technologies, such as those described below. An entire genome is possible because multiple fragments are sequenced at once (giving it the name "massively parallel" sequencing) in an automated process.
NGS technology has tremendously empowered researchers to look for insights into health, anthropologists to investigate human origins, and is catalyzing the "Personalized Medicine" movement. However, it has also opened the door to more room for error. There are many software tools to carry out the computational analysis of NGS data, each with its own algorithm. Even the parameters within one software package can change the outcome of the analysis. In addition, the large quantities of data produced by DNA sequencing have also required development of new methods and programs for sequence analysis. Several efforts to develop standards in the NGS field have been attempted to address these challenges, most of which have been small-scale efforts arising from individual labs. Most recently, a large, organized, FDA-funded effort has culminated in the BioCompute standard.
On 26 October 1990, Roger Tsien, Pepi Ross, Margaret Fahnestock and Allan J Johnston filed a patent describing stepwise ("base-by-base") sequencing with removable 3' blockers on DNA arrays (blots and single DNA molecules). In 1996, Pål Nyrén and his student Mostafa Ronaghi at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm published their method of pyrosequencing.
On 1 April 1997, Pascal Mayer and Laurent Farinelli submitted patents to the World Intellectual Property Organization describing DNA colony sequencing. The DNA sample preparation and random surface-PCR arraying methods described in this patent, coupled to Roger Tsien et al.'s "base-by-base" sequencing method, is now implemented in Illumina's Hi-Seq genome sequencers.
In 1998, Phil Green and Brent Ewing of the University of Washington described their phred quality score for sequencer data analysis, a landmark analysis technique that gained widespread adoption, and which is still the most common metric for assessing the accuracy of a sequencing platform.
Lynx Therapeutics published and marketed Massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS), in 2000. This method incorporated a parallelized, adapter/ligation-mediated, bead-based sequencing technology and served as the first commercially available "next-generation" sequencing method, though no DNA sequencers were sold to independent laboratories.
Allan Maxam and Walter Gilbert published a DNA sequencing method in 1977 based on chemical modification of DNA and subsequent cleavage at specific bases. Also known as chemical sequencing, this method allowed purified samples of double-stranded DNA to be used without further cloning. This method's use of radioactive labeling and its technical complexity discouraged extensive use after refinements in the Sanger methods had been made.
Maxam-Gilbert sequencing requires radioactive labeling at one 5' end of the DNA and purification of the DNA fragment to be sequenced. Chemical treatment then generates breaks at a small proportion of one or two of the four nucleotide bases in each of four reactions (G, A+G, C, C+T). The concentration of the modifying chemicals is controlled to introduce on average one modification per DNA molecule. Thus a series of labeled fragments is generated, from the radiolabeled end to the first "cut" site in each molecule. The fragments in the four reactions are electrophoresed side by side in denaturing acrylamide gels for size separation. To visualize the fragments, the gel is exposed to X-ray film for autoradiography, yielding a series of dark bands each corresponding to a radiolabeled DNA fragment, from which the sequence may be inferred.
The chain-termination method developed by Frederick Sanger and coworkers in 1977 soon became the method of choice, owing to its relative ease and reliability. When invented, the chain-terminator method used fewer toxic chemicals and lower amounts of radioactivity than the Maxam and Gilbert method. Because of its comparative ease, the Sanger method was soon automated and was the method used in the first generation of DNA sequencers.
Sanger sequencing is the method which prevailed from the 1980s until the mid-2000s. Over that period, great advances were made in the technique, such as fluorescent labelling, capillary electrophoresis, and general automation. These developments allowed much more efficient sequencing, leading to lower costs. The Sanger method, in mass production form, is the technology which produced the first human genome in 2001, ushering in the age of genomics. However, later in the decade, radically different approaches reached the market, bringing the cost per genome down from $100 million in 2001 to $10,000 in 2011.
Large-scale sequencing often aims at sequencing very long DNA pieces, such as whole chromosomes, although large-scale sequencing can also be used to generate very large numbers of short sequences, such as found in phage display. For longer targets such as chromosomes, common approaches consist of cutting (with restriction enzymes) or shearing (with mechanical forces) large DNA fragments into shorter DNA fragments. The fragmented DNA may then be cloned into a DNA vector and amplified in a bacterial host such as Escherichia coli. Short DNA fragments purified from individual bacterial colonies are individually sequenced and assembled electronically into one long, contiguous sequence. Studies have shown that adding a size selection step to collect DNA fragments of uniform size can improve sequencing efficiency and accuracy of the genome assembly. In these studies, automated sizing has proven to be more reproducible and precise than manual gel sizing.
The term "de novo sequencing" specifically refers to methods used to determine the sequence of DNA with no previously known sequence. De novo translates from Latin as "from the beginning". Gaps in the assembled sequence may be filled by primer walking. The different strategies have different tradeoffs in speed and accuracy; shotgun methods are often used for sequencing large genomes, but its assembly is complex and difficult, particularly with sequence repeats often causing gaps in genome assembly.
Most sequencing approaches use an in vitro cloning step to amplify individual DNA molecules, because their molecular detection methods are not sensitive enough for single molecule sequencing. Emulsion PCR isolates individual DNA molecules along with primer-coated beads in aqueous droplets within an oil phase. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) then coats each bead with clonal copies of the DNA molecule followed by immobilization for later sequencing. Emulsion PCR is used in the methods developed by Marguilis et al. (commercialized by 454 Life Sciences), Shendure and Porreca et al. (also known as "Polony sequencing") and SOLiD sequencing, (developed by Agencourt, later Applied Biosystems, now Life Technologies). Emulsion PCR is also used in the GemCode and Chromium platforms developed by 10x Genomics.
Shotgun sequencing is a sequencing method designed for analysis of DNA sequences longer than 1000 base pairs, up to and including entire chromosomes. This method requires the target DNA to be broken into random fragments. After sequencing individual fragments, the sequences can be reassembled on the basis of their overlapping regions.
Another method for in vitro clonal amplification is bridge PCR, in which fragments are amplified upon primers attached to a solid surface and form "DNA colonies" or "DNA clusters". This method is used in the Illumina Genome Analyzer sequencers. Single-molecule methods, such as that developed by Stephen Quake's laboratory (later commercialized by Helicos) are an exception: they use bright fluorophores and laser excitation to detect base addition events from individual DNA molecules fixed to a surface, eliminating the need for molecular amplification.
High-throughput, or next-generation,[nt 1] sequencing applies to genome sequencing, genome resequencing, transcriptome profiling (RNA-Seq), DNA-protein interactions (ChIP-sequencing), and epigenome characterization. Resequencing is necessary, because the genome of a single individual of a species will not indicate all of the genome variations among other individuals of the same species.
The high demand for low-cost sequencing has driven the development of high-throughput sequencing technologies that parallelize the sequencing process, producing thousands or millions of sequences concurrently. High-throughput sequencing technologies are intended to lower the cost of DNA sequencing beyond what is possible with standard dye-terminator methods. In ultra-high-throughput sequencing as many as 500,000 sequencing-by-synthesis operations may be run in parallel. Such technologies led to the ability to sequence an entire human genome in as little as one day. As of 2019, corporate leaders in the development of high-throughput sequencing products included Illumina, Qiagen and ThermoFisher Scientific.
|Method||Read length||Accuracy (single read not consensus)||Reads per run||Time per run||Cost per 1 million bases (in US$)||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Single-molecule real-time sequencing (Pacific Biosciences)||30,000 bp (N50);||87% raw-read accuracy||500,000 per Sequel SMRT cell, 10–20 gigabases||30 minutes to 20 hours||$0.05–$0.08||Fast. Detects 4mC, 5mC, 6mA.||Moderate throughput. Equipment can be very expensive.|
|Ion semiconductor (Ion Torrent sequencing)||up to 600 bp||99.6%||up to 80 million||2 hours||$1||Less expensive equipment. Fast.||Homopolymer errors.|
|Pyrosequencing (454)||700 bp||99.9%||1 million||24 hours||$10||Long read size. Fast.||Runs are expensive. Homopolymer errors.|
|Sequencing by synthesis (Illumina)||MiniSeq, NextSeq: 75–300 bp;
MiSeq: 50–600 bp;
HiSeq 2500: 50–500 bp;
HiSeq 3/4000: 50–300 bp;
HiSeq X: 300 bp
|99.9% (Phred30)||MiniSeq/MiSeq: 1–25 Million;
NextSeq: 130-00 Million;
HiSeq 2500: 300 million – 2 billion;
HiSeq 3/4000 2.5 billion;
HiSeq X: 3 billion
|1 to 11 days, depending upon sequencer and specified read length||$0.05 to $0.15||Potential for high sequence yield, depending upon sequencer model and desired application.||Equipment can be very expensive. Requires high concentrations of DNA.|
|Combinatorial probe anchor synthesis (cPAS- BGI/MGI)||BGISEQ-50: 35-50bp;
MGISEQ 200: 50-200bp;
BGISEQ-500, MGISEQ-2000: 50-300bp
|99.9% (Phred30)||BGISEQ-50: 160M;
MGISEQ 200: 300M;
BGISEQ-500: 1300M per flow cell;
MGISEQ-2000: 375M FCS flow cell, 1500M FCL flow cell per flow cell.
|1 to 9 days depending on instrument, read length and number of flow cells run at a time.||$0.035- $0.12|
|Sequencing by ligation (SOLiD sequencing)||50+35 or 50+50 bp||99.9%||1.2 to 1.4 billion||1 to 2 weeks||$0.13||Low cost per base.||Slower than other methods. Has issues sequencing palindromic sequences.|
|Nanopore Sequencing||Dependent on library prep, not the device, so user chooses read length. (up to 500 kb reported)||~92–97% single read||dependent on read length selected by user||data streamed in real time. Choose 1 min to 48 hrs||$500–999 per Flow Cell, base cost dependent on expt||Longest individual reads. Accessible user community. Portable (Palm sized).||Lower throughput than other machines, Single read accuracy in 90s.|
|Chain termination (Sanger sequencing)||400 to 900 bp||99.9%||N/A||20 minutes to 3 hours||$2400||Useful for many applications.||More expensive and impractical for larger sequencing projects. This method also requires the time consuming step of plasmid cloning or PCR.|
The first of the high-throughput sequencing technologies, massively parallel signature sequencing (or MPSS), was developed in the 1990s at Lynx Therapeutics, a company founded in 1992 by Sydney Brenner and Sam Eletr. MPSS was a bead-based method that used a complex approach of adapter ligation followed by adapter decoding, reading the sequence in increments of four nucleotides. This method made it susceptible to sequence-specific bias or loss of specific sequences. Because the technology was so complex, MPSS was only performed 'in-house' by Lynx Therapeutics and no DNA sequencing machines were sold to independent laboratories. Lynx Therapeutics merged with Solexa (later acquired by Illumina) in 2004, leading to the development of sequencing-by-synthesis, a simpler approach acquired from Manteia Predictive Medicine, which rendered MPSS obsolete. However, the essential properties of the MPSS output were typical of later high-throughput data types, including hundreds of thousands of short DNA sequences. In the case of MPSS, these were typically used for sequencing cDNA for measurements of gene expression levels.
The Polony sequencing method, developed in the laboratory of George M. Church at Harvard, was among the first high-throughput sequencing systems and was used to sequence a full E. coli genome in 2005. It combined an in vitro paired-tag library with emulsion PCR, an automated microscope, and ligation-based sequencing chemistry to sequence an E. coli genome at an accuracy of >99.9999% and a cost approximately 1/9 that of Sanger sequencing. The technology was licensed to Agencourt Biosciences, subsequently spun out into Agencourt Personal Genomics, and eventually incorporated into the Applied Biosystems SOLiD platform. Applied Biosystems was later acquired by Life Technologies, now part of Thermo Fisher Scientific.
A parallelized version of pyrosequencing was developed by 454 Life Sciences, which has since been acquired by Roche Diagnostics. The method amplifies DNA inside water droplets in an oil solution (emulsion PCR), with each droplet containing a single DNA template attached to a single primer-coated bead that then forms a clonal colony. The sequencing machine contains many picoliter-volume wells each containing a single bead and sequencing enzymes. Pyrosequencing uses luciferase to generate light for detection of the individual nucleotides added to the nascent DNA, and the combined data are used to generate sequence reads. This technology provides intermediate read length and price per base compared to Sanger sequencing on one end and Solexa and SOLiD on the other.
Solexa, now part of Illumina, was founded by Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman in 1998, and developed a sequencing method based on reversible dye-terminators technology, and engineered polymerases. The reversible terminated chemistry concept was invented by Bruno Canard and Simon Sarfati at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. It was developed internally at Solexa by those named on the relevant patents. In 2004, Solexa acquired the company Manteia Predictive Medicine in order to gain a massively parallel sequencing technology invented in 1997 by Pascal Mayer and Laurent Farinelli. It is based on "DNA Clusters" or "DNA colonies", which involves the clonal amplification of DNA on a surface. The cluster technology was co-acquired with Lynx Therapeutics of California. Solexa Ltd. later merged with Lynx to form Solexa Inc.
In this method, DNA molecules and primers are first attached on a slide or flow cell and amplified with polymerase so that local clonal DNA colonies, later coined "DNA clusters", are formed. To determine the sequence, four types of reversible terminator bases (RT-bases) are added and non-incorporated nucleotides are washed away. A camera takes images of the fluorescently labeled nucleotides. Then the dye, along with the terminal 3' blocker, is chemically removed from the DNA, allowing for the next cycle to begin. Unlike pyrosequencing, the DNA chains are extended one nucleotide at a time and image acquisition can be performed at a delayed moment, allowing for very large arrays of DNA colonies to be captured by sequential images taken from a single camera.
Decoupling the enzymatic reaction and the image capture allows for optimal throughput and theoretically unlimited sequencing capacity. With an optimal configuration, the ultimately reachable instrument throughput is thus dictated solely by the analog-to-digital conversion rate of the camera, multiplied by the number of cameras and divided by the number of pixels per DNA colony required for visualizing them optimally (approximately 10 pixels/colony). In 2012, with cameras operating at more than 10 MHz A/D conversion rates and available optics, fluidics and enzymatics, throughput can be multiples of 1 million nucleotides/second, corresponding roughly to 1 human genome equivalent at 1x coverage per hour per instrument, and 1 human genome re-sequenced (at approx. 30x) per day per instrument (equipped with a single camera).
This method is an upgraded modification to combinatorial probe anchor ligation technology (cPAL) described by Complete Genomics which has since become part of Chinese genomics company BGI in 2013. The two companies have refined the technology to allow for longer read lengths, reaction time reductions and faster time to results. In addition, data are now generated as contiguous full-length reads in the standard FASTQ file format and can be used as-is in most short-read-based bioinformatics analysis pipelines.
The two technologies that form the basis for this high-throughput sequencing technology are DNA nanoballs (DNB) and patterned arrays for nanoball attachment to a solid surface. DNA nanoballs are simply formed by denaturing double stranded, adapter ligated libraries and ligating the forward strand only to a splint oligonucleotide to form a ssDNA circle. Faithful copies of the circles containing the DNA insert are produced utilizing Rolling Circle Amplification that generates approximately 300–500 copies. The long strand of ssDNA folds upon itself to produce a three-dimensional nanoball structure that is approximately 220 nm in diameter. Making DNBs replaces the need to generate PCR copies of the library on the flow cell and as such can remove large proportions of duplicate reads, adapter-adapter ligations and PCR induced errors.
The patterned array of positively charged spots is fabricated through photolithography and etching techniques followed by chemical modification to generate a sequencing flow cell. Each spot on the flow cell is approximately 250 nm in diameter, are separated by 700 nm (centre to centre) and allows easy attachment of a single negatively charged DNB to the flow cell and thus reducing under or over-clustering on the flow cell.
Sequencing is then performed by addition of an oligonucleotide probe that attaches in combination to specific sites within the DNB. The probe acts as an anchor that then allows one of four single reversibly inactivated, labelled nucleotides to bind after flowing across the flow cell. Unbound nucleotides are washed away before laser excitation of the attached labels then emit fluorescence and signal is captured by cameras that is converted to a digital output for base calling. The attached base has its terminator and label chemically cleaved at completion of the cycle. The cycle is repeated with another flow of free, labelled nucleotides across the flow cell to allow the next nucleotide to bind and have its signal captured. This process is completed a number of times (usually 50 to 300 times) to determine the sequence of the inserted piece of DNA at a rate of approximately 40 million nucleotides per second as of 2018.
Applied Biosystems' (now a Life Technologies brand) SOLiD technology employs sequencing by ligation. Here, a pool of all possible oligonucleotides of a fixed length are labeled according to the sequenced position. Oligonucleotides are annealed and ligated; the preferential ligation by DNA ligase for matching sequences results in a signal informative of the nucleotide at that position. Before sequencing, the DNA is amplified by emulsion PCR. The resulting beads, each containing single copies of the same DNA molecule, are deposited on a glass slide. The result is sequences of quantities and lengths comparable to Illumina sequencing. This sequencing by ligation method has been reported to have some issue sequencing palindromic sequences.
Ion Torrent Systems Inc. (now owned by Life Technologies) developed a system based on using standard sequencing chemistry, but with a novel, semiconductor-based detection system. This method of sequencing is based on the detection of hydrogen ions that are released during the polymerisation of DNA, as opposed to the optical methods used in other sequencing systems. A microwell containing a template DNA strand to be sequenced is flooded with a single type of nucleotide. If the introduced nucleotide is complementary to the leading template nucleotide it is incorporated into the growing complementary strand. This causes the release of a hydrogen ion that triggers a hypersensitive ion sensor, which indicates that a reaction has occurred. If homopolymer repeats are present in the template sequence, multiple nucleotides will be incorporated in a single cycle. This leads to a corresponding number of released hydrogens and a proportionally higher electronic signal.
DNA nanoball sequencing is a type of high throughput sequencing technology used to determine the entire genomic sequence of an organism. The company Complete Genomics uses this technology to sequence samples submitted by independent researchers. The method uses rolling circle replication to amplify small fragments of genomic DNA into DNA nanoballs. Unchained sequencing by ligation is then used to determine the nucleotide sequence. This method of DNA sequencing allows large numbers of DNA nanoballs to be sequenced per run and at low reagent costs compared to other high-throughput sequencing platforms. However, only short sequences of DNA are determined from each DNA nanoball which makes mapping the short reads to a reference genome difficult. This technology has been used for multiple genome sequencing projects and is scheduled to be used for more.
Heliscope sequencing is a method of single-molecule sequencing developed by Helicos Biosciences. It uses DNA fragments with added poly-A tail adapters which are attached to the flow cell surface. The next steps involve extension-based sequencing with cyclic washes of the flow cell with fluorescently labeled nucleotides (one nucleotide type at a time, as with the Sanger method). The reads are performed by the Heliscope sequencer. The reads are short, averaging 35 bp. In 2009 a human genome was sequenced using the Heliscope, however in 2012 the company went bankrupt.
SMRT sequencing is based on the sequencing by synthesis approach. The DNA is synthesized in zero-mode wave-guides (ZMWs) – small well-like containers with the capturing tools located at the bottom of the well. The sequencing is performed with use of unmodified polymerase (attached to the ZMW bottom) and fluorescently labelled nucleotides flowing freely in the solution. The wells are constructed in a way that only the fluorescence occurring by the bottom of the well is detected. The fluorescent label is detached from the nucleotide upon its incorporation into the DNA strand, leaving an unmodified DNA strand. According to Pacific Biosciences (PacBio), the SMRT technology developer, this methodology allows detection of nucleotide modifications (such as cytosine methylation). This happens through the observation of polymerase kinetics. This approach allows reads of 20,000 nucleotides or more, with average read lengths of 5 kilobases. In 2015, Pacific Biosciences announced the launch of a new sequencing instrument called the Sequel System, with 1 million ZMWs compared to 150,000 ZMWs in the PacBio RS II instrument. SMRT sequencing is referred to as "third-generation" or "long-read" sequencing.
The DNA passing through the nanopore changes its ion current. This change is dependent on the shape, size and length of the DNA sequence. Each type of the nucleotide blocks the ion flow through the pore for a different period of time. The method does not require modified nucleotides and is performed in real time. Nanopore sequencing is referred to as "third-generation" or "long-read" sequencing, along with SMRT sequencing.
Early industrial research into this method was based on a technique called 'Exonuclease sequencing', where the readout of electrical signals occurring at nucleotides passing by alpha(α)-hemolysin pores covalently bound with cyclodextrin. However the subsequently commercial method, 'strand sequencing' sequencing DNA bases in an intact strand.
Two main areas of nanopore sequencing in development are solid state nanopore sequencing, and protein based nanopore sequencing. Protein nanopore sequencing utilizes membrane protein complexes such as α-hemolysin, MspA (Mycobacterium smegmatis Porin A) or CssG, which show great promise given their ability to distinguish between individual and groups of nucleotides. In contrast, solid-state nanopore sequencing utilizes synthetic materials such as silicon nitride and aluminum oxide and it is preferred for its superior mechanical ability and thermal and chemical stability. The fabrication method is essential for this type of sequencing given that the nanopore array can contain hundreds of pores with diameters smaller than eight nanometers.
The concept originated from the idea that single stranded DNA or RNA molecules can be electrophoretically driven in a strict linear sequence through a biological pore that can be less than eight nanometers, and can be detected given that the molecules release an ionic current while moving through the pore. The pore contains a detection region capable of recognizing different bases, with each base generating various time specific signals corresponding to the sequence of bases as they cross the pore which are then evaluated. Precise control over the DNA transport through the pore is crucial for success. Various enzymes such as exonucleases and polymerases have been used to moderate this process by positioning them near the pore’s entrance.
DNA sequencing methods currently under development include reading the sequence as a DNA strand transits through nanopores (a method that is now commercial but subsequent generations such as solid-state nanopores are still in development), and microscopy-based techniques, such as atomic force microscopy or transmission electron microscopy that are used to identify the positions of individual nucleotides within long DNA fragments (>5,000 bp) by nucleotide labeling with heavier elements (e.g., halogens) for visual detection and recording. Third generation technologies aim to increase throughput and decrease the time to result and cost by eliminating the need for excessive reagents and harnessing the processivity of DNA polymerase.
Another approach uses measurements of the electrical tunnelling currents across single-strand DNA as it moves through a channel. Depending on its electronic structure, each base affects the tunnelling current differently, allowing differentiation between different bases.
The use of tunnelling currents has the potential to sequence orders of magnitude faster than ionic current methods and the sequencing of several DNA oligomers and micro-RNA has already been achieved.
Sequencing by hybridization is a non-enzymatic method that uses a DNA microarray. A single pool of DNA whose sequence is to be determined is fluorescently labeled and hybridized to an array containing known sequences. Strong hybridization signals from a given spot on the array identifies its sequence in the DNA being sequenced.
This method of sequencing utilizes binding characteristics of a library of short single stranded DNA molecules (oligonucleotides), also called DNA probes, to reconstruct a target DNA sequence. Non-specific hybrids are removed by washing and the target DNA is eluted. Hybrids are re-arranged such that the DNA sequence can be reconstructed. The benefit of this sequencing type is its ability to capture a large number of targets with a homogenous coverage. A large number of chemicals and starting DNA is usually required. However, with the advent of solution-based hybridization, much less equipment and chemicals are necessary.
Mass spectrometry may be used to determine DNA sequences. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, or MALDI-TOF MS, has specifically been investigated as an alternative method to gel electrophoresis for visualizing DNA fragments. With this method, DNA fragments generated by chain-termination sequencing reactions are compared by mass rather than by size. The mass of each nucleotide is different from the others and this difference is detectable by mass spectrometry. Single-nucleotide mutations in a fragment can be more easily detected with MS than by gel electrophoresis alone. MALDI-TOF MS can more easily detect differences between RNA fragments, so researchers may indirectly sequence DNA with MS-based methods by converting it to RNA first.
The higher resolution of DNA fragments permitted by MS-based methods is of special interest to researchers in forensic science, as they may wish to find single-nucleotide polymorphisms in human DNA samples to identify individuals. These samples may be highly degraded so forensic researchers often prefer mitochondrial DNA for its higher stability and applications for lineage studies. MS-based sequencing methods have been used to compare the sequences of human mitochondrial DNA from samples in a Federal Bureau of Investigation database and from bones found in mass graves of World War I soldiers.
Early chain-termination and TOF MS methods demonstrated read lengths of up to 100 base pairs. Researchers have been unable to exceed this average read size; like chain-termination sequencing alone, MS-based DNA sequencing may not be suitable for large de novo sequencing projects. Even so, a recent study did use the short sequence reads and mass spectroscopy to compare single-nucleotide polymorphisms in pathogenic Streptococcus strains.
In microfluidic Sanger sequencing the entire thermocycling amplification of DNA fragments as well as their separation by electrophoresis is done on a single glass wafer (approximately 10 cm in diameter) thus reducing the reagent usage as well as cost. In some instances researchers have shown that they can increase the throughput of conventional sequencing through the use of microchips. Research will still need to be done in order to make this use of technology effective.
This approach directly visualizes the sequence of DNA molecules using electron microscopy. The first identification of DNA base pairs within intact DNA molecules by enzymatically incorporating modified bases, which contain atoms of increased atomic number, direct visualization and identification of individually labeled bases within a synthetic 3,272 base-pair DNA molecule and a 7,249 base-pair viral genome has been demonstrated.
This method is based on use of RNA polymerase (RNAP), which is attached to a polystyrene bead. One end of DNA to be sequenced is attached to another bead, with both beads being placed in optical traps. RNAP motion during transcription brings the beads in closer and their relative distance changes, which can then be recorded at a single nucleotide resolution. The sequence is deduced based on the four readouts with lowered concentrations of each of the four nucleotide types, similarly to the Sanger method. A comparison is made between regions and sequence information is deduced by comparing the known sequence regions to the unknown sequence regions.
A method has been developed to analyze full sets of protein interactions using a combination of 454 pyrosequencing and an in vitro virus mRNA display method. Specifically, this method covalently links proteins of interest to the mRNAs encoding them, then detects the mRNA pieces using reverse transcription PCRs. The mRNA may then be amplified and sequenced. The combined method was titled IVV-HiTSeq and can be performed under cell-free conditions, though its results may not be representative of in vivo conditions.
The success of any DNA sequencing protocol relies upon the DNA or RNA sample extraction and preparation from the biological material of interest.
According to the sequencing technology to be used, the samples resulting from either the DNA or the RNA extraction require further preparation. For Sanger sequencing, either cloning procedures or PCR are required prior to sequencing. In the case of next-generation sequencing methods, library preparation is required before processing. Assessing the quality and quantity of nucleic acids both after extraction and after library preparation identifies degraded, fragmented, and low-purity samples and yields high-quality sequencing data.
In October 2006, the X Prize Foundation established an initiative to promote the development of full genome sequencing technologies, called the Archon X Prize, intending to award $10 million to "the first Team that can build a device and use it to sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less, with an accuracy of no more than one error in every 100,000 bases sequenced, with sequences accurately covering at least 98% of the genome, and at a recurring cost of no more than $10,000 (US) per genome."
Each year the National Human Genome Research Institute, or NHGRI, promotes grants for new research and developments in genomics. 2010 grants and 2011 candidates include continuing work in microfluidic, polony and base-heavy sequencing methodologies.
The sequencing technologies described here produce raw data that needs to be assembled into longer sequences such as complete genomes (sequence assembly). There are many computational challenges to achieve this, such as the evaluation of the raw sequence data which is done by programs and algorithms such as Phred and Phrap. Other challenges have to deal with repetitive sequences that often prevent complete genome assemblies because they occur in many places of the genome. As a consequence, many sequences may not be assigned to particular chromosomes. The production of raw sequence data is only the beginning of its detailed bioinformatical analysis. Yet new methods for sequencing and correcting sequencing errors were developed.
Sometimes, the raw reads produced by the sequencer are correct and precise only in a fraction of their length. Using the entire read may introduce artifacts in the downstream analyses like genome assembly, snp calling, or gene expression estimation. Two classes of trimming programs have been introduced, based on the window-based or the running-sum classes of algorithms. This is a partial list of the trimming algorithms currently available, specifying the algorithm class they belong to:
|Name of algorithm||Type of algorithm||Link|
|FASTX quality trimmer||Window based||FASTX quality trimmer|
Human genetics have been included within the field of bioethics since the early 1970s and the growth in the use of DNA sequencing (particularly high-throughput sequencing) has introduced a number of ethical issues. One key issue is the ownership of an individual's DNA and the data produced when that DNA is sequenced. Regarding the DNA molecule itself, the leading legal case on this topic, Moore v. Regents of the University of California (1990) ruled that individuals have no property rights to discarded cells or any profits made using these cells (for instance, as a patented cell line). However, individuals have a right to informed consent regarding removal and use of cells. Regarding the data produced through DNA sequencing, Moore gives the individual no rights to the information derived from their DNA.
As DNA sequencing becomes more widespread, the storage, security and sharing of genomic data has also become more important. For instance, one concern is that insurers may use an individual's genomic data to modify their quote, depending on the perceived future health of the individual based on their DNA. In May 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was signed in the United States, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment. In 2012, the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues reported that existing privacy legislation for DNA sequencing data such as GINA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act were insufficient, noting that whole-genome sequencing data was particularly sensitive, as it could be used to identify not only the individual from which the data was created, but also their relatives.
Ethical issues have also been raised by the increasing use of genetic variation screening, both in newborns, and in adults by companies such as 23andMe. It has been asserted that screening for genetic variations can be harmful, increasing anxiety in individuals who have been found to have an increased risk of disease. For example, in one case noted in Time, doctors screening an ill baby for genetic variants chose not to inform the parents of an unrelated variant linked to dementia due to the harm it would cause to the parents. However, a 2011 study in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that individuals undergoing disease risk profiling did not show increased levels of anxiety.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have revolutionized genomic research. (opening sentence of the article)
454 Life Sciences was a biotechnology company based in Branford, Connecticut that specialized in high-throughput DNA sequencing. It was acquired by Roche in 2007 and shut down by Roche in 2013 when its technology became noncompetitive, although production continued until mid-2016.Coverage (genetics)
Coverage (or depth) in DNA sequencing is the number of unique reads that include a given nucleotide in the reconstructed sequence. Deep sequencing refers to the general concept of aiming for high number of unique reads of each region of a sequence.DNA sequencer
A DNA sequencer is a scientific instrument used to automate the DNA sequencing process. Given a sample of DNA, a DNA sequencer is used to determine the order of the four bases: G (guanine), C (cytosine), A (adenine) and T (thymine). This is then reported as a text string, called a read. Some DNA sequencers can be also considered optical instruments as they analyze light signals originating from fluorochromes attached to nucleotides.
The first automated DNA sequencer, invented by Lloyd M. Smith, was introduced by Applied Biosystems in 1987. It used the Sanger sequencing method, a technology which formed the basis of the “first generation” of DNA sequencers and enabled the completion of the human genome project in 2001. This first generation of DNA sequencers are essentially automated electrophoresis systems that detect the migration of labelled DNA fragments. Therefore, these sequencers can also be used in the genotyping of genetic markers where only the length of a DNA fragment(s) needs to be determined (e.g. microsatellites, AFLPs).
The Human Genome Project catalysed the development of cheaper, high throughput and more accurate platforms known as Next Generation Sequencers (NGS) to sequence the human genome. These include the 454, SOLiD and Illumina DNA sequencing platforms. Next generation sequencing machines have increased the rate of DNA sequence substantially compared with previous Sanger methods. DNA samples can be prepared automatically in as little as 90 mins, while a human genome can be sequenced at 15 times coverage in a matter of days.More recent, third-generation DNA sequencers such as SMRT and Oxford Nanopore measure the addition of nucleotides to a single DNA molecule in real time.
Because of limitations in DNA sequencer technology these reads are short compared to the length of a genome therefore the reads must be assembled into longer contigs. The data may also contain errors, caused by limitations in the DNA sequencing technique or by errors during PCR amplification. DNA sequencer manufacturers use a number of different methods to detect which DNA bases are present. The specific protocols applied in different sequencing platforms have an impact in the final data that is generated. Therefore, comparing data quality and cost across different technologies can be a daunting task. Each manufacturer provides their own ways to inform sequencing errors and scores. However, errors and scores between different platforms cannot always be compared directly. Since these systems rely on different DNA sequencing approaches, choosing the best DNA sequencer and method will typically depend on the experiment objectives and available budget.DNA sequencing theory
DNA sequencing theory is the broad body of work that attempts to lay analytical foundations for determining the order of specific nucleotides in a sequence of DNA, otherwise known as DNA sequencing. The practical aspects revolve around designing and optimizing sequencing projects (known as "strategic genomics"), predicting project performance, troubleshooting experimental results, characterizing factors such as sequence bias and the effects of software processing algorithms, and comparing various sequencing methods to one another. In this sense, it could be considered a branch of systems engineering or operations research. The permanent archive of work is primarily mathematical, although numerical calculations are often conducted for particular problems too. DNA sequencing theory addresses physical processes related to sequencing DNA and should not be confused with theories of analyzing resultant DNA sequences, e.g. sequence alignment. Publications sometimes do not make a careful distinction, but the latter are primarily concerned with algorithmic issues. Sequencing theory is based on elements of mathematics, biology, and systems engineering, so it is highly interdisciplinary. The subject may be studied within the context of computational biology.Dideoxynucleotide
Dideoxynucleotides are chain-elongating inhibitors of DNA polymerase, used in the Sanger method for DNA sequencing. They are also known as 2',3' dideoxynucleotides, and abbreviated as ddNTPs (ddGTP, ddATP, ddTTP and ddCTP).
The absence of the 3'-hydroxyl group means that, after being added by a DNA polymerase to a growing nucleotide chain, no further nucleotides can be added as no phosphodiester bond can be created based on the fact that deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (which are the building blocks of DNA) allow DNA chain synthesis to occur through a condensation reaction between the 5' phosphate (following the cleavage of pyrophospate) of the current nucleotide with the 3' hydroxyl group of the previous nucleotide. The dideoxyribonucleotides do not have a 3' hydroxyl group, hence no further chain elongation can occur once this dideoxynucleotide is on the chain. This can lead to the termination of the DNA sequence. Thus, these molecules form the basis of the dideoxy chain-termination method of DNA sequencing, which was developed by Frederick Sanger in 1977.Dideoxynucleotides are useful in the sequencing of DNA in combination with electrophoresis. A DNA sample that undergoes PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in a mixture containing all four deoxynucleotides and one dideoxynucleotide will produce strands of length equal to the position of each base of the type that complements the type having a dideoxynucleotide present. That is, each nucleotide base of that particular type has a probability of being bonded to not a deoxynucleotide but rather a dideoxynucleotide, which ends chain elongation. Thus, if the sample then undergoes electrophoresis, there will be a band present for each length at which the complement of the dideoxynucleotide is present. It is now common to use fluorescent dideoxynucleotides such that each one of the four has a different fluorescence that can be detected by a sequencer; thus only one reaction is needed.Genetic analysis
Genetic analysis is the overall process of studying and researching in fields of science that involve genetics and molecular biology. There are a number of applications that are developed from this research, and these are also considered parts of the process. The base system of analysis revolves around general genetics. Basic studies include identification of genes and inherited disorders. This research has been conducted for centuries on both a large-scale physical observation basis and on a more microscopic scale.
Genetic analysis can be used generally to describe methods both used in and resulting from the sciences of genetics and molecular biology, or to applications resulting from this research.
Genetic analysis may be done to identify genetic/inherited disorders and also to make a differential diagnosis in certain somatic diseases such as cancer. Genetic analyses of cancer include detection of mutations, fusion genes, and DNA copy number changes.Genomics
Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes. A genome is an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. In contrast to genetics, which refers to the study of individual genes and their roles in inheritance, genomics aims at the collective characterization and quantification of genes, which direct the production of proteins with the assistance of enzymes and messenger molecules. In turn, proteins make up body structures such as organs and tissues as well as control chemical reactions and carry signals between cells. Genomics also involves the sequencing and analysis of genomes through uses of high throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to assemble and analyze the function and structure of entire genomes. Advances in genomics have triggered a revolution in discovery-based research and systems biology to facilitate understanding of even the most complex biological systems such as the brain.The field also includes studies of intragenomic (within the genome) phenomena such as epistasis (effect of one gene on another), pleiotropy (one gene affecting more than one trait), heterosis (hybrid vigour), and other interactions between loci and alleles within the genome.Illumina, Inc.
Illumina, Inc. is an American company incorporated in April 1998 that develops, manufactures and markets integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and biological function. The company provides a line of products and services that serve the sequencing, genotyping and gene expression and proteomics markets. Its headquarters are located in San Diego, California.
Illumina's technology had purportedly by 2013 reduced the cost of sequencing a human genome to US$4,000, down from a price of US$1 million in 2007. Customers include genomic research centers, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, clinical research organizations and biotechnology companies.Massive parallel sequencing
Massive parallel sequencing or massively parallel sequencing is any of several high-throughput approaches to DNA sequencing using the concept of massively parallel processing; it is also called next-generation sequencing (NGS) or second-generation sequencing. Some of these technologies emerged in 1994-1998 and have been commercially available since 2005. These technologies use miniaturized and parallelized platforms for sequencing of 1 million to 43 billion short reads (50-400 bases each) per instrument run.
Many NGS platforms differ in engineering configurations and sequencing chemistry. They share the technical paradigm of massive parallel sequencing via spatially separated, clonally amplified DNA templates or single DNA molecules in a flow cell. This design is very different from that of Sanger sequencing—also known as capillary sequencing or first-generation sequencing—that is based on electrophoretic separation of chain-termination products produced in individual sequencing reactions.Maxam–Gilbert sequencing
Maxam–Gilbert sequencing is a method of DNA sequencing developed by Allan Maxam and Walter Gilbert in 1976–1977. This method is based on nucleobase-specific partial chemical modification of DNA and subsequent cleavage of the DNA backbone at sites adjacent to the modified nucleotides.
Maxam–Gilbert sequencing was the first widely adopted method for DNA sequencing, and, along with the Sanger dideoxy method, represents the first generation of DNA sequencing methods. Maxam–Gilbert sequencing is no longer in widespread use, having been supplanted by next-generation sequencing methods.Philippine Genome Center
The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) is a multi-disciplinary research facility in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines which specializes in genomics.Picotiter plate
A picotiter plate is a flat plate with multiple wells used as small test tubes. It is a miniaturised version of the microtiter plates that are standard tools in analytical research. Picotiter plates are used in the DNA sequencing strategy first exploited by a spin-off company (454 Life Sciences) and commercially available on the market. The picotiter plate platform enables parallel sequence analysis of 1.7 million of separate DNA fragments and thus is capable of sequencing entire genomes within a couple of hours. Titerplates can be produced from photosensitive glass, such as Foturan from SCHOTT Corporation.Pyrosequencing
Pyrosequencing is a method of DNA sequencing (determining the order of nucleotides in DNA) based on the "sequencing by synthesis" principle, in which the sequencing is performed by detecting the nucleotide incorporated by a DNA polymerase. Pyrosequencing relies on light detection based on a chain reaction when pyrophosphate is released. Hence, the name pyrosequencing.
The principle of Pyrosequencing was first described in 1993 by Bertil Pettersson, Mathias Uhlen and Pål Nyren by combining the solid phase sequencing method using streptavidin coated magnetic beads with recombinant DNA polymerase lacking 3´to 5´exonuclease activity (proof-reading) and luminescence detection using the firefly luciferase enzyme. A mixture of three enzymes (DNA polymerase, ATP sulfurylase and firefly luciferase) and a nucleotide (dNTP) are added to single stranded DNA to be sequenced and the incorporation of nucleotide is followed by measuring the light emitted. The intensity of the light determines if 0, 1 or more nucleotides have been incorporated, thus showing how many complementary nucleotides are present on the template strand. The nucleotide mixture is removed before the next nucleotide mixture is added. This process is repeated with each of the four nucleotides until the DNA sequence of the single stranded template is determined.
A second solution-based method for Pyrosequencing was described in 1998 by Mostafa Ronaghi, Mathias Uhlen and Pål Nyren. In this alternative method, an additional enzyme apyrase is introduced to remove nucleotides that are not incorporated by the DNA polymerase. This enabled the enzyme mixture including the DNA polymerase, the luciferase and the apyrase to be added at the start and kept throughout the procedure, thus providing a simple set-up suitable for automation. An automated instrument based on this principle was introduced to the market the following year by the company Pyrosequencing.
A third microfluidic variant of the Pyrosequencing method was described in 2005 by Jonathan Rothberg and co-workers at the company 454 Life Sciences. This alternative approach for Pyrosequencing was based on the original principle of attaching the DNA to be sequenced to a solid support and they showed that sequencing could be performed in a highly parallel manner using a microfabricated microarray. This allowed for high-throughput DNA sequencing and an automated instrument was introduced to the market. This became the first next generation sequencing instrument starting a new era in genomics research, with rapidly falling prices for DNA sequencing allowing whole genome sequencing at affordable prices.Sanger sequencing
Sanger sequencing is a method of DNA sequencing first commercialized by Applied Biosystems, based on the selective incorporation of chain-terminating dideoxynucleotides by DNA polymerase during in vitro DNA replication. Developed by Frederick Sanger and colleagues in 1977, it was the most widely used sequencing method for approximately 40 years. More recently, higher volume Sanger sequencing has been supplanted by "Next-Gen" sequencing methods, especially for large-scale, automated genome analyses. However, the Sanger method remains in wide use, for smaller-scale projects, validation of Next-Gen results and for obtaining especially long contiguous DNA sequence reads (> 500 nucleotides).Sequence assembly
In bioinformatics, sequence assembly refers to aligning and merging fragments from a longer DNA sequence in order to reconstruct the original sequence. This is needed as DNA sequencing technology cannot read whole genomes in one go, but rather reads small pieces of between 20 and 30000 bases, depending on the technology used. Typically the short fragments, called reads, result from shotgun sequencing genomic DNA, or gene transcript (ESTs).
The problem of sequence assembly can be compared to taking many copies of a book, passing each of them through a shredder with a different cutter, and piecing the text of the book back together just by looking at the shredded pieces. Besides the obvious difficulty of this task, there are some extra practical issues: the original may have many repeated paragraphs, and some shreds may be modified during shredding to have typos. Excerpts from another book may also be added in, and some shreds may be completely unrecognizable.Sequencing
In genetics and biochemistry, sequencing means to determine the primary structure (sometimes incorrectly called the primary sequence) of an unbranched biopolymer. Sequencing results in a symbolic linear depiction known as a sequence which succinctly summarizes much of the atomic-level structure of the sequenced molecule.Sequencing by ligation
Sequencing by ligation is a DNA sequencing method that uses the enzyme DNA ligase to identify the nucleotide present at a given position in a DNA sequence. Unlike most currently popular DNA sequencing methods, this method does not use a DNA polymerase to create a second strand. Instead, the mismatch sensitivity of a DNA ligase enzyme is used to determine the underlying sequence of the target DNA molecule.Shotgun sequencing
In genetics, shotgun sequencing is a method used for sequencing long DNA strands. It is named by analogy with the rapidly expanding, quasi-random firing pattern of a shotgun.
The chain termination method of DNA sequencing ("Sanger sequencing") can only be used for short DNA strands of 100 to 1000 base pairs. Due to this size limit, longer sequences are subdivided into smaller fragments that can be sequenced separately, and these sequences are assembled to give the overall sequence.
There are two principal methods for this fragmentation and sequencing process. Primer walking (or "chromosome walking") progresses through the entire strand piece by piece, whereas shotgun sequencing is a faster but more complex process that uses random fragments.
In shotgun sequencing, DNA is broken up randomly into numerous small segments, which are sequenced using the chain termination method to obtain reads. Multiple overlapping reads for the target DNA are obtained by performing several rounds of this fragmentation and sequencing. Computer programs then use the overlapping ends of different reads to assemble them into a continuous sequence.Shotgun sequencing was one of the precursor technologies that was responsible for enabling full genome sequencing.Transmission electron microscopy DNA sequencing
Transmission electron microscopy DNA sequencing is a single-molecule sequencing technology that uses transmission electron microscopy techniques. The method was conceived and developed in the 1960s and 70s, but lost favor when the extent of damage to the sample was recognized.In order for DNA to be clearly visualized under an electron microscope, it must be labeled with heavy atoms. In addition, specialized imaging techniques and aberration corrected optics are beneficial for obtaining the resolution required to image the labeled DNA molecule. In theory, transmission electron microscopy DNA sequencing could provide extremely long read lengths, but the issue of electron beam damage may still remain and the technology has not yet been commercially developed.