How nanopore sequencing works
Oxford Nanopore has developed a new generation of DNA/RNA sequencing technology. It is the only sequencing technology that offers real-time analysis (for rapid insights), in fully scalable formats from pocket to population scale, that can analyse native DNA or RNA and sequence any length of fragment to achieve short to ultra-long read lengths.
The only sequencing technology that offers real-time analysis
From pocket to population-scale devices
Direct DNA/RNA sequencing
Call base modifications simultaneously with nucleotide sequence
Improve assembly and characterise repetitive and difficult regions with ultra-long reads
MinION is being used outside the traditional lab environment — taking the analysis to the sample.
All Oxford Nanopore sequencing devices use flow cells which contain an array of tiny holes — nanopores — embedded in an electro-resistant membrane. Each nanopore corresponds to its own electrode connected to a channel and sensor chip, which measures the electric current that flows through the nanopore. When a molecule passes through a nanopore, the current is disrupted to produce a characteristic ‘squiggle’. The squiggle is then decoded using basecalling algorithms to determine the DNA or RNA sequence in real time.
A strand of DNA or RNA is made up of a sequence of different combinations of four nucleotide bases: A, T (or U for RNA), G and C. Each base that passes through the nanopore can be identified through the characteristic disruption it causes to the current in real-time. This makes nanopore sequencing unique, in that it is the only sequencing technology that enables direct, real-time analysis of short to ultra-long fragments of DNA/RNA, in fully scalable formats. Advantages of real-time sequencing include rapid access to time critical information (e.g. pathogen identification), the generation of early sample insights and more control over the sequencing experiment.
Why DNA / RNA?
DNA and RNA are molecules that are present in all living things. DNA is the genetic code of life, the instructions for building and operating an organism. RNA is primarily a messenger molecule, carrying instructions from the DNA code to control the synthesis of proteins — the building blocks of organisms. Sequencing can answer a range of biological questions, providing information on pathogen identity, genetic disease risk or how an organism has evolved.
The power of long reads
Traditional methods are only able to sequence short lengths of DNA which must then be reassembled. It is therefore difficult to sequence repetitive regions for accurate genome assemblies without gaps, resolve large structural variations, or differentiate isoforms. Nanopore sequencing is limited only by the length of the DNA/RNA fragment presented to the pore and can therefore span entire repetitive regions, resolve structural variants, and differentiate between different isoforms. The ability to sequence native DNA and RNA without the requirement for amplification, eliminates PCR bias and allows for the identification of base modifications, such as methylation, alongside nucleotide sequence.
Nanopore sequencing is fully scalable
Nanopore sequencing is the only sequencing technology to enable real-time analysis in fully scalable formats. From the pocket-sized MinION to the high-throughput, population-scale PromethION — scale nanopore sequencing to suit any experimental needs.
Adapting MinION and GridION for smaller, routine tests and analyses. Low plex targeted sequencing, RNA isoform analysis, and quality control applications.View Flongle
Access the benefits of nanopore technology from just $1,000 — suitable for targeted sequencing and gene expression studies.View MinION
Integrated sequencing and analysis in a powerful handheld device — suitable for targeted sequencing and gene expression studies.View MinION
From genome assembly to gene expression, run multiple experiments on-demand using 5 independent MinION flow cells.View GridION
Flexible, population-scale sequencing using up to 48 independent, high-capacity flow cells — complete genomic and transcriptomic characterisation of large sample numbers.View PromethION
Automated sample extraction and library preparation.View VolTRAX