How RNA sequencing innovations help scientists tackle the complexity of the transcriptome

From Biotechniques by Sarah Webb, PhD. – Biologist Chris Vollmers of the University of California, Santa Cruz relies on RNA sequencing to study the rich and unique biology of B cells, where each cell lineage recombines its genome to produce specific antibodies. As these cells modulate their response to immune challenges, they can further mutate and produce diverse transcripts, even within the same individuals. To study these cells, short-read RNA sequencing, the current gold standard, fell short…

Vollmer’s work is just one example of researchers fueling sequencing innovations for mining the rich biology of RNA. Scientists are also using sequencing to find and study chemical modifications to transcripts. Routine direct RNA sequencing is on the horizon, and that technique could boost the emerging field of epitranscriptomics, allowing researchers to explore another layer of chemical and regulatory information in these molecules…

Short-read sequencing can be a bit like trying to reconstruct paragraphs of text word by word—a daunting process. By contrast, long-read sequencing is like recording an entire paragraph instead, said Hagen Tilgner of Weill Cornell Medical College. With that context, it’s far easier to make overall sense of a transcript…

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