In clinical virome research, whole-genome/transcriptome amplification is required when starting material is limited. An improved method, named “template-dependent multiple displacement amplification” (tdMDA), has recently been developed in our lab (Wang et al. in BioTechniques 63:21–25. https://doi.org/10.2144/000114566, 2017). In combination with Illumina sequencing and bioinformatics pipelines, its application in virome sequencing was explored using a serum sample from a patient with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In comparison to an amplification-free procedure, virome sequencing via tdMDA showed a 9.47-fold enrichment for HCV-mapped reads and, accordingly, an increase in HCV genome coverage from 28.5% to 70.1%. Eight serum samples from acute patients liver failure (ALF) with or without known etiology were then used for virome sequencing with an average depth at 94,913x. Both similarity-based (mapping, NCBI BLASTn, BLASTp, and profile hidden Markov model analysis) and similarity-independent methods (machine-learning algorithms) identified viruses from multiple families, including Herpesviridae, Picornaviridae, Myoviridae, and Anelloviridae. However, their commensal nature and cross-detection ruled out an etiological interpretation. Together with a lack of detection of novel viruses in a comprehensive analysis at a resolution of single reads, these data indicate that viral agents might be rare in ALF cases with indeterminate etiology.
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