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Significant and pervasive effects of RNA degradation on Nanopore direct RNA sequencing

Abstract Oxford Nanopore direct RNA sequencing (DRS) is capable of sequencing complete RNA molecules and accurately measuring gene and isoform expression. However, as DRS is designed to profile intact RNA, expression quantification may be more heavily dependent upon RNA integrity than alternate RNA-seq methodologies. It is currently unclear how RNA degradation impacts DRS or if it can be corrected for. To assess the impact of RNA integrity on DRS we performed a degradation time-series using SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Our results demonstrate that degradation is a significant and pervasive factor that can bias DRS measurements, including a reduction in library complexity resulting in an overrepresentation of short genes and isoforms. Degradation also biases differential expression analyses; however, we find explicit correction can almost fully recover meaningful biological signal. In addition, DRS provided less biased profiling of partially degraded samples than nanopore cDNA-PCR sequencing. Overall, we find samples with RIN > 9.5 can be treated as undegraded and samples with RIN > 7 can be utilised for DRS with appropriate correction. These results establish the suitability of DRS for a wide range of samples, including partially degraded in-vivo clinical and post-mortem samples, whilst limiting the confounding effect of degradation on expression quantification.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001009308 PromethION 1
Publications Citations
Pervasive effects of RNA degradation on Nanopore direct RNA sequencing.
NAR Genom Bioinform 5: 2023 lqad060