DNA and RNA molecules

Researchers from the lab of Bart Deplancke, PhD, at the École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) Institute of Bioengineering say they have developed a new method called Bulk RNA Barcoding and sequencing (BRB-seq) which is 25 times less expensive than conventional commercial RNA sequencing technology.

Among its many advantages, BRB-seq is quick and preserves strand-specificity, the scientists noted. As such, BRB-seq offers a low-cost approach for performing transcriptomics on hundreds of RNA samples, which can increase the number of biological replicates (and therefore experimental accuracy) in a single run, explained Deplancke, whose team’s work (“BRB-seq: ultra-affordable high-throughput transcriptomics enabled by bulk RNA barcoding and sequencing”) appears in Genome Biology.

In terms of performance, the scientists found that BRB-seq can detect the same number of genes as commercial technology at the same sequencing depth and that the technique produces reliable data even with low-quality RNA samples. Moreover, it generates genome-wide transcriptomic data at a cost that is comparable to profiling four genes using RT-qPCR, which is currently a standard, but low-throughput method for measuring gene expression, according to Deplancke.

In a test, BRB-seq could generate ready-to-sequence genomic libraries for up to 192 samples a day, requiring only two hours of hands-on time. The technique is combined with a pipeline for pre-processing and analyzing sequencing data, reportedly allowing result acquisition in a single day.

“Since its release, dozens of labs and companies have already contacted us to help them implement the BRB-seq approach,” said Deplancke. “Because of BRB-seq’s low cost, these researchers realized that they could now analyze many more samples with the same budget, thus vastly increasing the scope and reproducibility of their experiments. We, therefore, anticipate that BRB-seq or a comparable approach will over the longer term become standard in any molecular biology lab and replace RT-qPCR as the first gene expression profiling option.”

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