State-of-the-art DNA sequencing tools

Nanopore sequencing is a technology in which DNA strands are led through tiny pore proteins, called ‘nanopores’, to determine the genetic code of the strands. The structure of the nanopore protein significantly influences many features of this sequencing process. The Han Remaut (VIB-VUB) lab and co-workers conducted groundbreaking research on the bacterial pore protein CsgG. CsgG-derivatives were found to give stable currents and generate data of superior quality compared to other nanopores.

At the beginning of 2016, VIB concluded a deal with Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a company that uses biological nanopores to sequence DNA. Oxford Nanopore Technologies licensed the CsgG nanopore from VIB and started to develop the properties of CsgG so that it can deliver optimal nanopore sequencing data. VIB and Oxford Nanopore Technologies are still collaborating on improved nanopores.

The CsgG-derivate molecule was successfully developed into a sensing nanopore by Oxford Nanopore and is now used in their MinION® DNA sequencer. MinION is a portable real-time device for sequencing, running off a laptop USB plug. The nanopore sequencers are being used all over the world, offering advantages in a wide range of research areas. Notable examples include analysis of cancer associated alterations in DNA and real-time genomic surveillance of viral disease outbreaks.