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  1. INTRODUCTION One of the central applications of the human reference genome has been to serve as a baseline for comparison in nearly all human genomic studies. Unfortunately, many difficult regions of the reference genome have remained unresolved for decades and are affected by collapsed duplications, missing sequences, and other issues. Relative to the current human reference genome, GRCh38, the Telomere-to-Telomere CHM13 (T2T-CHM13) genome closes all remaining gaps, adds nearly 200 million base pairs (Mbp) of sequence, corrects thousands of structural errors, and unlocks the most complex regions of the human genome for scientific inquiry. RATIONALE We demonstrate how the T2T-CHM13 reference genome universally improves read mapping and variant identification in a globally diverse cohort. This cohort includes all 3202 samples from the expanded 1000 Genomes Project (1KGP), sequenced with short reads, as well as 17 globally diverse samples sequenced with long reads. By applying state-of-the-art methods for calling single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) and structural variants (SVs), we document the strengths and limitations of T2T-CHM13 relative to its predecessors and highlight its promise for revealing new biological insights within technically challenging regions of the genome. RESULTS Across the 1KGP samples, we found more than 1 million additional high-quality variants genome-wide using T2T-CHM13more »than with GRCh38. Within previously unresolved regions of the genome, we identified hundreds of thousands of variants per sample—a promising opportunity for evolutionary and biomedical discovery. T2T-CHM13 improves the Mendelian concordance rate among trios and eliminates tens of thousands of spurious SNVs per sample, including a reduction of false positives in 269 challenging, medically relevant genes by up to a factor of 12. These corrections are in large part due to improvements to 70 protein-coding genes in >9 Mbp of inaccurate sequence caused by falsely collapsed or duplicated regions in GRCh38. Using the T2T-CHM13 genome also yields a more comprehensive view of SVs genome-wide, with a greatly improved balance of insertions and deletions. Finally, by providing numerous resources for T2T-CHM13 (including 1KGP genotypes, accessibility masks, and prominent annotation databases), our work will facilitate the transition to T2T-CHM13 from the current reference genome. CONCLUSION The vast improvements in variant discovery across samples of diverse ancestries position T2T-CHM13 to succeed as the next prevailing reference for human genetics. T2T-CHM13 thus offers a model for the construction and study of high-quality reference genomes from globally diverse individuals, such as is now being pursued through collaboration with the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium. As a foundation, our work underscores the benefits of an accurate and complete reference genome for revealing diversity across human populations. Genomic features and resources available for T2T-CHM13. Comparisons to GRCh38 reveal broad improvements in SNVs, indels, and SVs discovered across diverse human populations by means of short-read (1KGP) and long-read sequencing (LRS). These improvements are due to resolution of complex genomic loci (nonsyntenic and previously unresolved), duplication errors, and discordant haplotypes, including those in medically relevant genes.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  2. Abstract High-quality and complete reference genome assemblies are fundamental for the application of genomics to biology, disease, and biodiversity conservation. However, such assemblies are available for only a few non-microbial species 1–4 . To address this issue, the international Genome 10K (G10K) consortium 5,6 has worked over a five-year period to evaluate and develop cost-effective methods for assembling highly accurate and nearly complete reference genomes. Here we present lessons learned from generating assemblies for 16 species that represent six major vertebrate lineages. We confirm that long-read sequencing technologies are essential for maximizing genome quality, and that unresolved complex repeats and haplotype heterozygosity are major sources of assembly error when not handled correctly. Our assemblies correct substantial errors, add missing sequence in some of the best historical reference genomes, and reveal biological discoveries. These include the identification of many false gene duplications, increases in gene sizes, chromosome rearrangements that are specific to lineages, a repeated independent chromosome breakpoint in bat genomes, and a canonical GC-rich pattern in protein-coding genes and their regulatory regions. Adopting these lessons, we have embarked on the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP), an international effort to generate high-quality, complete reference genomes for all of the roughly 70,000 extantmore »vertebrate species and to help to enable a new era of discovery across the life sciences.« less