1887

Abstract

As transposon sequencing (TnSeq) assays have become prolific in the microbiology field, it is of interest to scrutinize their potential drawbacks. TnSeq data consist of millions of nucleotide sequence reads that are generated by PCR amplification of transposon-genomic junctions. Reads mapping to the junctions are enumerated thus providing information on the number of transposon insertion mutations in each individual gene. Here we explore the possibility that PCR amplification of transposon insertions in a TnSeq library skews the results by introducing bias into the detection and/or enumeration of insertions. We compared the detection and frequency of mapped insertions when altering the number of PCR cycles, and when including a nested PCR, in the enrichment step. Additionally, we present nCATRAs - a novel, amplification-free TnSeq method where the insertions are enriched via CRISPR/Cas9-targeted transposon cleavage and subsequent Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencing. nCATRAs achieved 54 and 23% enrichment of the transposons and transposon-genomic junctions, respectively, over background genomic DNA. These PCR-based and PCR-free experiments demonstrate that, overall, PCR amplification does not significantly bias the results of TnSeq insofar as insertions in the majority of genes represented in our library were similarly detected regardless of PCR cycle number and whether or not PCR amplification was employed. However, the detection of a small subset of genes which had been previously described as essential is sensitive to the number of PCR cycles. We conclude that PCR-based enrichment of transposon insertions in a TnSeq assay is reliable, but researchers interested in profiling putative essential genes should carefully weigh the number of amplification cycles employed in their library preparation protocols. In addition, nCATRAs is comparable to traditional PCR-based methods (Kendall’s correlation=0.896–0.897) although the latter remain superior owing to their accessibility and high sequencing depth.

Keyword(s): Cas9 , Nanopore , nCATS , PCR-bias , PCR-free , TnSeq and transposon
Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • arkansas research alliance (Award G1-53340-01)
    • Principle Award Recipient: DavidUssery
  • national institutes of health (Award R01-AI119380)
    • Principle Award Recipient: MarkS. Smeltzer
  • national science foundation (Award OIA-1946391)
    • Principle Award Recipient: DuahAlkam
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License.
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2021-10-01
2021-10-25
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