Telomere-to-telomere assembly of a complete human X chromosome

Nature. 2020 Sep;585(7823):79-84. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2547-7. Epub 2020 Jul 14.


After two decades of improvements, the current human reference genome (GRCh38) is the most accurate and complete vertebrate genome ever produced. However, no single chromosome has been finished end to end, and hundreds of unresolved gaps persist1,2. Here we present a human genome assembly that surpasses the continuity of GRCh382, along with a gapless, telomere-to-telomere assembly of a human chromosome. This was enabled by high-coverage, ultra-long-read nanopore sequencing of the complete hydatidiform mole CHM13 genome, combined with complementary technologies for quality improvement and validation. Focusing our efforts on the human X chromosome3, we reconstructed the centromeric satellite DNA array (approximately 3.1 Mb) and closed the 29 remaining gaps in the current reference, including new sequences from the human pseudoautosomal regions and from cancer-testis ampliconic gene families (CT-X and GAGE). These sequences will be integrated into future human reference genome releases. In addition, the complete chromosome X, combined with the ultra-long nanopore data, allowed us to map methylation patterns across complex tandem repeats and satellite arrays. Our results demonstrate that finishing the entire human genome is now within reach, and the data presented here will facilitate ongoing efforts to complete the other human chromosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, X / genetics*
  • CpG Islands / genetics
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA, Satellite / genetics
  • Female
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hydatidiform Mole / genetics
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telomere / genetics*
  • Testis / metabolism


  • DNA, Satellite