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1.  Discovering the RNA Transcription Landscape using Directional Approaches 
High-throughput complementary DNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) is a powerful technique that allows for sensitive digital quantification of transcript levels. Moreover, RNA-Seq enables the detection of non-canonical transcription start sites and termination sites, alternative splice isoforms and transcript mutation and edition. Standard “next-generation” RNA-sequencing approaches generally require double-stranded cDNA synthesis, which erases RNA strand information. In this approach, the synthesis of randomly primed double-stranded cDNA followed by addition of adaptors for sequencing leads to the loss of information about which strand was present in the original mRNA template. The polarity of the transcript is important for correct annotation of novel genes, identification of antisense transcripts with potential regulatory roles, and for correct determination of gene expression levels in the presence of antisense transcripts. Our objective was to address this need by developing a novel streamlined, low input method for Directional RNA-Sequencing that highly retains strand orientation information while maintaining even coverage of transcript expression. This method is based on second strand labeling and excision after adaptor ligation; allowing differential tagging of the first strand cDNA ends. As a result, we have enabled strand specific mRNA sequencing, as well as whole transcriptome sequencing (Total RNA-Seq) from ribosomal-depleted samples. Total RNA-Seq provides a much broader picture of expression dynamics including discovery of antisense transcripts. This work presents a streamlined, fast solution for complete RNA sequencing, with high quality data that illustrates the complexity and diversity of the RNA transcription landscape.
PMCID: PMC3635307
2.  A Fast Solution to NGS Library Prep with Low Nanogram DNA Input 
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) has significantly impacted human genetics, enabling a comprehensive characterization of the human genome as well as a better understanding of many genomic abnormalities. By delivering massive DNA sequences at unprecedented speed and cost, NGS promises to make personalized medicine a reality in the foreseeable future. To date, library construction with clinical samples has been a challenge, primarily due to the limited quantities of sample DNA available. Our objective here was to overcome this challenge by developing NEBNext® Ultra DNA Library Prep Kit, a fast library preparation method. Specifically, we streamlined the workflow utilizing novel NEBNext reagents and adaptors, including a new DNA polymerase that has been optimized to minimize GC bias. As a result of this work, we have developed a simple method for library construction from an amount of DNA as low as 5 ng, which can be used for both intact and fragmented DNA. Moreover, the workflow is compatible with multiple NGS platforms.
PMCID: PMC3635320
4.  MmeI: a minimal Type II restriction-modification system that only modifies one DNA strand for host protection 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(20):6558-6570.
MmeI is an unusual Type II restriction enzyme that is useful for generating long sequence tags. We have cloned the MmeI restriction-modification (R-M) system and found it to consist of a single protein having both endonuclease and DNA methyltransferase activities. The protein comprises an amino-terminal endonuclease domain, a central DNA methyltransferase domain and C-terminal DNA recognition domain. The endonuclease cuts the two DNA strands at one site simultaneously, with enzyme bound at two sites interacting to accomplish scission. Cleavage occurs more rapidly than methyl transfer on unmodified DNA. MmeI modifies only the adenine in the top strand, 5′-TCCRAC-3′. MmeI endonuclease activity is blocked by this top strand adenine methylation and is unaffected by methylation of the adenine in the complementary strand, 5′-GTYGGA-3′. There is no additional DNA modification associated with the MmeI R-M system, as is required for previously characterized Type IIG R-M systems. The MmeI R-M system thus uses modification on only one of the two DNA strands for host protection. The MmeI architecture represents a minimal approach to assembling a restriction-modification system wherein a single DNA recognition domain targets both the endonuclease and DNA methyltransferase activities.
PMCID: PMC2582602  PMID: 18931376

Results 1-4 (4)