Take millions of puzzle pieces containing partial words and put them back together into full words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters until the book these random parts came from is rebuilt.
That daunting process in not unlike sequencing an organism's genome, says University of Oregon biologist Eric A. Johnson, a member of the UO Institute of Molecular Biology. His lab developed a patent-pending technology for discovering differences between genomes called restriction-site associated DNA markers, or RAD. They have now shown that RAD can also be used to help put a genome sequence together.
The original RAD technique, unveiled in 2005, led to the UO spinoff company Floragenex, which uses the technology in plant genetics. More recently, Johnson and UO colleague William A. Cresko used it to identify genetic differences in threespine stickleback, a fish, which evolved separately after environmental conditions had isolated some of the saltwater fish into freshwater habitats.
Now, after three years of research, adapting it along the way as sequencing tools advanced, Johnson, Cresko and three UO colleagues provide a proof-of-principle paper in the April issue of PLoS One, a publication of the Public Library of Science. The National Institutes of Health-funded research documents that the new method, called RAD paired-end contigs, works and provides accurate sequencing results.
"The RAD sequence is a placeholder that identifies one small region of a genome," Johnson said. "We showed that this technique lets us gather together appropriate nearby sequences and piece them together." In just seconds, a section is completed, he said. In a matter of hours, he added, an entire genome's sequence emerges.
Using the book analogy, Johnson said: "We first asked if we can piece together one short sentence at a time instead of ordering all the words in the whole book at once. Next, can we put together one paragraph at a time? That's like going from, say, 1,000 letters of the genome in a row to 5,000 at a time. Here, we show that we can do this. We can put the book back together."
A RAD marker in the book analogy might be a word at the start of each sentence. Using that marker as an anchor, the rest of the words in the sentence are easily separated from all the words in the book, and then the words in the sentence are put in the right order, on an on until all the content is organized correctly, Johnson said. The end product, he added, contains few, if any, leftover or unexplained fragments, a problem occurring with current technologies that rely on clusters of computers, requiring extensive memory, to complete sequencing projects.
RAD technology can be applied to study the genetics of organisms for which genomes have not been completed, Johnson said.
The PLoS One paper detailed how RAD works on stickleback and the bacterium e-coli. Both involve small and rather simple genomes. There already is interest in its potential application in human genome sequencing, Johnson said.
At about the same time the PLoS One paper was being published, Johnson, who also is the chief scientific officer of Floragenex, was part of a company-sponsored, one-day RAD Sequencing and Genomics Symposium in Portland, Ore., on April 19. Nine researchers from five institutions (UO, Oregon State University, University of British Columbia, University of Tennessee and University of Washington) described how they are applying RAD in their sequencing projects.
"It was quite gratifying to hear them speak about this technology and how it is working for them," Johnson said.
RAD technology also is being used in a three-year project -- funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation and led by Cresko and UO colleague Hui Zong -- to identify genetic changes that occur from the formation of a single mutation to full-fledged cancer. The project could lead to a new generation of molecular diagnostics to detect cancers in their earliest stages.
Co-authors of the PLoS One paper with Johnson and Cresko were Paul D. Etter, a postdoctoral researcher, and doctoral student Jessica L. Preston, both of Johnson's lab, and Susan Bassham, a postdoctoral researcher in Cresko's lab.
About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.
Source: Eric A. Johnson, associate professor of biology, 541-346-5183, email@example.com
Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy