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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

Evaluating bias-reducing protocols for RNA sequencing library preparation

Thomas J Jackson12*, Ruth V Spriggs1, Nicholas J Burgoyne1, Carolyn Jones1 and Anne E Willis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, Lancaster Rd, Leicester LE1 9HN, UK

2 Current address: University of Nottingham Medical School, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:569  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-569

Published: 7 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Next-generation sequencing does not yield fully unbiased estimates for read abundance, which may impact on the conclusions that can be drawn from sequencing data. The ligation step in RNA sequencing library generation is a known source of bias, motivating developments in enzyme technology and library construction protocols. We present the first comparison of the standard duplex adaptor protocol supplied by Life Technologies for use on the Ion Torrent PGM with an alternate single adaptor approach involving CircLigase (CircLig protocol).

A correlation between over-representation in sequenced libraries and degree of secondary structure has been reported previously, therefore we also investigated whether bias could be reduced by ligation with an enzyme that functions at a temperature not permissive for such structure.

Results

A pool of small RNA fragments of known composition was converted into a sequencing library using one of three protocols and sequenced on an Ion Torrent PGM. The CircLig protocol resulted in less over-representation of specific sequences than the standard protocol. Over-represented sequences are more likely to be predicted to have secondary structure and to co-fold with adaptor sequences. However, use of the thermostable ligase Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum RNA ligase K97A (Mth K97A) was not sufficient to reduce bias.

Conclusions

The single adaptor CircLigase-based approach significantly reduces, but does not eliminate, bias in Ion Torrent data. Ligases that function at temperatures to remove the possible influence of secondary structure on library generation may be of value, although Mth K97A is not effective in this case.

Keywords:
Next-generation sequencing; Bias; Ion Torrent; Mth K97A; Thermostable; CircLigase; Small RNA