Traditional approaches for interrogating the mitochondrial genome often involve laborious extraction and enrichment protocols followed by Sanger sequencing. Although preparation techniques are still demanding, the advent of next-generation or massively parallel sequencing has made it possible to routinely obtain nucleotide-level data with relative ease. These short-read sequencing platforms offer deep coverage with unparalleled read accuracy in high-complexity genomic regions but encounter numerous difficulties in the low-complexity homopolymeric sequences characteristic of the mitochondrial genome. The inability to discern identical units within monomeric repeats and resolve copy-number variations for heteroplasmy detection results in suboptimal genome assemblies that ultimately complicate downstream data analysis and interpretation of biological significance. Oxford Nanopore Technologies offers the ability to generate long-read sequencing data on a pocket-sized device known as the MinION. Nanopore-based sequencing is scalable, portable, and theoretically capable of sequencing the entire mitochondrial genome in a single contig. Furthermore, the recent development of a nanopore protein with dual reader heads allows for clear identification of nucleotides within homopolymeric stretches, significantly increasing resolution throughout these regions. The unrestricted read lengths, superior homopolymeric resolution, and affordability of the MinION device make it an attractive alternative to the labor-intensive, time-consuming, and costly mainstay deep-sequencing platforms. This article describes three approaches to extract, prepare, and sequence mitochondrial DNA on the Oxford Nanopore MinION device. Two of the workflows include enrichment of mitochondrial DNA prior to sequencing, whereas the other relies on direct sequencing of native genomic DNA to allow for simultaneous assessment of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes.
- DNA sequencing