mRNAs Coded by Most Complicated Gene Known in Nature Are Sequenced Using Hand-Held MinION Nanopore Sequencer; Single Dsc1 Gene in Drosphila Can Potentially Code for Over 38,000 Protein Isoforms

University of Connecticut (UConn) researchers have sequenced cDNA from the mRNA coded for by the most complicated gene known in nature (Dsc1 which controls brain wiring in Drosophila), using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone. Genomicists Brenton Graveley, Ph.D., from the UConn Institute of Systems Genomics, postdoctoral fellow Mohan Bolisetty, Ph.D., and graduate student Gopinath Rajadinakaran teamed up with UK-based Oxford Nanopore Technologies to show that that company's MinION nanopore sequencer can sequence genes faster, better, and at a much lower cost than the standard technology. They published their findings online on September 30, 2015 in an open-access article in Genome Biology. The article is titled “Determining Exon Connectivity in Complex mRNAs by Nanopore Sequencing.” The scientists believe their published results demonstrate that nanopore sequencing can be used to deconvolute individual isoforms and that it has the potential to be a powerful method for comprehensive transcriptome characterization. If your genome were a library and each gene was a book, some genes would be straightforward reads, but some would be more like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel. Researchers often want to know which version of the gene is actually expressed in the body, but for complicated, choose-your-own-adventure genes, that has been impossible. Dr. Graveley, Dr. Bolisetty, and Rajadinakaran solved the puzzle in two parts. The first was to find a better gene-sequencing technology. In order to sequence a gene using the old, existing technology, researchers typically first make many copies of it, using the same chemistry our bodies use.
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