dsRNA is the genetic material of important viruses and a key component of RNA interference-based immunity in eukaryotes. Previous studies have noted difficulties in determining the sequence of dsRNA molecules that have affected studies of immune function and estimates of viral diversity in nature. DMSO has been used to denature dsRNA prior to the reverse-transcription stage to improve reverse transcriptase PCR and Sanger sequencing.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis systematically tested the utility of DMSO to improve the sequencing yield of a dsRNA virus (Φ6) in a short-read next-generation sequencing platform. DMSO treatment improved sequencing read recovery by over two orders of magnitude, even when RNA and cDNA concentrations were below the limit of detection. The researchers also tested the effects of DMSO on a mock eukaryotic viral community and found that dsRNA virus reads increased with DMSO treatment. Furthermore, they provide evidence that DMSO treatment does not adversely affect recovery of reads from a ssRNA viral genome (influenza A/California/07/2009). They suggest that up to 50 % DMSO treatment be used prior to cDNA synthesis when samples of interest are composed of or may contain dsRNA.
DMSO treatment greatly increases sequence coverage of the dsRNA Φ6 genome. Read depth at each position in the Φ6 genome under varying concentrations of DMSO is shown. There were insufficient reads to generate a plot for 0 % DMSO.