Johanna Brodin, Charlotte Hedskog, Alexander Heddini
PloS one, vol. 10, e0119123, 2015
Next generation sequencing technologies, like ultra-deep pyrosequencing (UDPS), allows detailed investigation of complex populations, like RNA viruses, but its utility is limited by errors introduced during sample preparation and sequencing. By tagging each individual cDNA molecule with barcodes, referred to as Primer IDs, before PCR and sequencing these errors could theoretically be removed. Here we evaluated the Primer ID methodology on 257,846 UDPS reads generated from a HIV-1 SG3env plasmid clone and plasma samples from three HIV-infected patients. The Primer ID consisted of 11 randomized nucleotides, 4,194,304 combinations, in the primer for cDNA synthesis that introduced a unique sequence tag into each cDNA molecule. Consensus template sequences were constructed for reads with Primer IDs that were observed three or more times. Despite high numbers of input template molecules, the number of consensus template sequences was low. With 10,000 input molecules for the clone as few as 97 consensus template sequences were obtained due to highly skewed frequency of resampling. Furthermore, the number of sequenced templates was overestimated due to PCR errors in the Primer IDs. Finally, some consensus template sequences were erroneous due to hotspots for UDPS errors. The Primer ID methodology has the potential to provide highly accurate deep sequencing. However, it is important to be aware that there are remaining challenges with the methodology. In particular it is important to find ways to obtain a more even frequency of resampling of template molecules as well as to identify and remove artefactual consensus template sequences that have been generated by PCR errors in the Primer IDs.