Make the most of your Apple Silicon Mac with MacVector 18.1

We are very pleased to announce that MacVector 18.1 is now available to download. MacVector 18.1 is a Universal Binary application, which means it runs natively on both Apple Silicon M1 Macs and Intel Macs. MacVector 18.1 matches the “Big Sur” look and feel. …and for the first time in many, many years the MacVector icon has changed to match the square look of macOS Big Sur icons.

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MacVector 18.1 is supported on macOS Sierra to macOS Big Sur.

BigSurMV18 1

But it’s not just how it looks. We ran some benchmarks to see how much faster MacVector now runs on an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro. We compared this against MacVector 18.0, which runs using Rosetta2 emulation. In some cases you can see that the native Apple Silcon MacVector 18.1 runs 200% faster than the emulated MacVector 18.0. That’s an impressive speed increase!

M1 BenchmarksTable
MacVector 18.0 (X86_64) vs MacVector 18.1 (ARM64) (h:mm:ss).

Here are other new features in MacVector 18.1 and earlier releases.

The release of macOS Big Sur together with Apple Silicon Macs are a major Apple milestone and signify the end of OS X and the coming of macOS 11. At MacVector we are proud that MacVector 18.1 is fully compatible with macOS Big Sur and will run natively on Apple Silicon Macs!


How to upgrade to MacVector 18.1

If you have a maintenance contract that was active on 1st February, 2021, then you can install MacVector 18.1. However, because this release is so close after the release of MacVector 18.0 and the universal binary is a major change, then you must install it manually. MacVector 18.1 will not be available through the automatic in app updater for a few months. MacVector 18.1 is also no longer supported on OS X 10.10 El Capitan. You must be running macOS Sierra to macOS Big Sur.

If you have an older version of MacVector then download the trial and request an upgrade quote.

Even if you have downloaded the trial in the past then downloading a new trial will give you a fresh 21 days to evaluate MacVector.

When a trial license expires it becomes MacVector Free. So if you decide against upgrading then you can just delete the trial license and easily go back to your current version. It’s risk free as MacVector files are backwards compatible.

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MacVectorTip: Viewing genotype changes in Align to Reference assemblies

The latest releases of MacVector, MacVector 18.0.1 (Intel) and MacVector 18.1.1 (Intel and Apple Silicon) have some tweaks to the output of the SNPs tab in the Align to Reference assembly window. The genotypes of any SNP changes now follow a consistent standard, and short deletions are also reported. If the region containing the nucleotide change(s) is within an annotated CDS feature, then the genotype of the amino acid change is also reported. Here’s an example of some of the common SARS-CoV–2 variant “S” genes aligned against the reference Wuhan-HU–1 genome;

Align2Ref GenotypeChanges

Here you can clearly see the two characteristic deletions in the B.1.1.7 UK variant – H69_V70del and Y144del along with the two amino acid changes that are believed to be critical for the increased transmission rate – N501Y and D614G. The B.1.135 South Africa variant also contains the N501Y and D614G changes, but does not have the two deletions.

MacVector 18.1 was released at the end of February and is an Universal Binary which runs on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs. Since it follows so closely after the release of MacVector 18.0 it is not yet available through the online updater. However, if you are running an M1 Mac then you can download the installer.

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MacVector on Apple Silicon: benchmarks

MacVector 18.1 has just been released. MacVector 18.1 is a Universal Binary application, which means it runs natively on both Apple Silicon M1 Macs and Intel Macs. MacVector 18.1 also has graphical changes for a more authentic Big Sur look and feel. …and for the first time in many, many years the MacVector icon has changed to match the square look of macOS Big Sur icons.

Download the installer.

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But it’s not just how it looks. It’s how well it runs. So we ran some benchmarks on the M1 Mac. We used an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM. We ran using MacVector 18.0, which runs using Rosetta2 emulation (X86_64) and using MacVector 18.1 which runs natively on Apple Silicon (also known as ARM64).

For the benchmarks we used the following jobs:

  • A dotplot of a pair of E.coli genomes
  • A multiple sequence alignment of 16 mitochondria genomes (“Sample Files/Mammalian mtDNA genomes – DNA.msan”) with Clustalw, T-Coffee and Muscle.
  • Using Align to Reference to map sequencing reads against a subset of the L.paracasei genome (sequence are in “Tutorial Files/Contig Assembly/NextGen”)
  • Align to Folder of a section of the Campylobacter jejuni genome against a pair of compressed FASTQ files containing 750,000 pairs of reads.
  • Here are the benchmarks (times are in h:mm:ss):

    M1 BenchmarksTable

    In some cases you can see that the native Apple Silcon MacVector 18.1 runs 200% faster than the emulated MacVector 18.0. That’s an impressive speed increase!

    We also compared a Intel iMac* with the M1 MacBook Pro. Here we used Align To Reference to map a dataset of paired reads in compressed FASTQ files to the full Campylobacter jejuni genome.

    The iMac could map reads at 19,500 reads per minute. But the M1 Macbook Pro rattled through those reads at 39,400 per minute. The small 13“ ”consumer level" laptop runs faster than a considerably more expensive Desktop Mac! Wow!

    MacVector 18.1 will be released shortly.

    *iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014) with a 4 GHz Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM and a Fusion drive 12 TB.

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    CRISPR tools in MacVector 18

    If you are using CRISPR editing techniques then there are two useful functions in MacVector for you:

    • MacVector will scan Nucleic Acid sequences for Protospacer Adjacent Motifs (PAM) associated with the CRISPR Cas9 and related enzymes cleavage and modification functions.

    • MacVector’s Analyze | Align To Reference… tool is ideal for screening reads for the short insertions, deletions or substitutions resulting from CRISPR experiments. See our blog for more information.

    Finding CRISPR Cas9 PAM sites.

    • Open your sequence.
    • Choose** Analyze | CRISPR PAM sites…**
    • click on the OK.

    You can also use Scan DNA FOR.. tool to automatically show sites on all sequences.

    CloningClipboard
    CloningClipboard
    • Choose MACVECTOR | PREFERENCES | SCAN DNA
    • Choose the CRISPR PAM tab
    • Toggle Show CRISPR PAM sites on

    Screening sequences for CRISPR introduced INDELS

    • Open your reference sequence.
    • Choose** Analyze | Align To Reference…**
    • click on the Add Seqs toolbar button to add reads from different clones/experiments.
    Scan DNA For..CRISPR sites
    Scan DNA For..CRISPR sites
    • click on Align
    • Choose CRISPR INDEL DETECTION
    • Click OK to align the reads against the reference.
    • When the job has finished click VIEW to see the results.
    Analyzing CRISPR INDELS
    Analyzing CRISPR INDELS
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    Using the RE Picker to display restriction enzyme sites in your insert that do not cut your vector.

    It’s generally useful with restriction enzyme based cloning to know what restriction enzymes will cut your vector and not cut your insert, or vice versa.

    There are a few ways to accomplish this with MacVector, but a useful way is to prepare a file of enzymes that do not cut your vector. This is especially useful if you want to repeat this for multiple inserts with the same vector.

    You can quickly do this with the RE Picker. The RE Picker shows an interactive list of restriction enzymes. Only those that are shown in the table and checked are displayed in the Map tab. However, you can change the criteria to only show enzymes that do NOT cut.

    • Open up your vector and switch to the MAP tab.
    • Click on the RE Picker button again to show the RE Picker window.
    • Click SELECT ALL to select all enzymes
    • Slide both the left and right sliders off the CUTS control all the way to the left.

    The Cuts label should now indicate “0”. The enzymes now visible in the RE Picker are all those in the default restriction enzyme file that do NOT cut the target molecule.

    • Click SAVE CURRENT SET OF ENZYMES and choose a relevant name e.g. [VectorName-NoCutters).renz.
    • Open up your insert sequence.
    • Click RE Picker
    • Click SET ENZYME FILE and choose your NonCutters file.
    • Make sure the CUTS control is set appropriately.
    • Click SELECT ALL to ensure all enzymes are selected and will be displayed.

    Only enzymes that cut your insert will now be displayed.

    REPicker NoCutters

    If you are designing a screen for clones after a ligation, then check out our Agarose Gel tool video

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    MacVector, Apple Silicon and macOS Big Sur compatibility

    UPDATE – March 8, 2021 – MacVector 18.1 is now released and can be downloaded.

    Over twenty years ago Apple called an end to the Classic Mac with the release of OS X, followed five years later by the transition from PowerPC to Intel. A major step forward in the Macintosh world.

    Earlier this year Apple announced the next stage in the Apple world, Apple Silicon Macs and macOS Big Sur. Signalling the end of OS X and heralding the start of macOS Big Sur.

    This week sees the Apple Silicon macs on sale and macOS Big Sur is being released today (Thursday 12th Nov 2020).

    We are proud to announce that our upcoming release MacVector 18 will run natively on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs running macOS Big Sur.

    Here at MacVector we are proud that MacVector is a true Macintosh application. MacVector is a Mac native application and has always been designed for the Mac platform, rather than a cross platform application with the inevitable interface compromises. Right from the beginning MacVector was designed to take full advantage of the Mac’s easy to use interface to bring powerful sequence analysis tools right to your desktop. The MacVector development team always follow Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines so we know that anybody familiar with a Mac will quickly feel at home using MacVector. The Mac has always been easy to use, and any molecular biologist can start using MacVector and start designing primers, aligning sequences or making constructs straightaway.

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    MacVector 18 on an Apple Silicon Mac running macOS Big Sur

    MacVector 1.0 running on a Classic Mac running Mac OS 9

    The Apple Silicon Macs will be more powerful but consume less power than the Intel Macs. Apple Silicon and macOS Big Sur are great steps forward for the Mac and we are pleased to be part of it.

    MacVector and macOS Big Sur

    As ever full information on the compatibility with macOS Big Sur will not be fully known until after its release on 12th November, 2020. However, our developers have been developing and testing on development releases of macOS Big Sur for many months now. Please check back to this post for current information.

    Current information is always available on the compatibility table.

    MacVector 17.5 (the current release): We will be waiting until after the release of macOS Big Sur later today (12th Nov 2020) before officially supporting macOS Big Sur with the release of MacVector 17.5.6 Tests show that MacVector 17.5.5 seems to run properly. However, from experience we invariably find some minor bugs after the official release. Expect MacVector 17.5.6 later next week.

    MacVector 18.0: our upcoming release will of course be fully supported on OS X El Capitan to macOS Big Sur. As well as macOS Big Sur support there’s a lot of new features to like in this release.

    MacVector 18.1: Our last release of 2020 will be a universal binary and will run natively on both Intel and Apple Silicon macs.

    Older versions:

    MacVector 17.0: initial testing indicate that MacVector 17.0 runs OK. However, it will not be officially supported.

    MacVector 16.0 and earlier versions: Our initial tests show that MacVector 16.0 and earlier will not run at all. These versions relied on an Apple library, that has been removed from macOS Big Sur. There is no possible workaround so if your license is only valid for MacVector 16 then either upgrade MacVector, or do not upgrade to macOS Big Sur.

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    Virtual Gene Cloning from NGS RNA-Seq Data

    The NCBI Sequence Read Archive (SRA) database is a huge resource of Next Generation Sequencing experimental data. Many groups and laboratories deposit data here that they have generated for their own specific projects that can be datamined for other unrelated projects with a minimum of effort.

    MacVector contains a number of powerful tools that can be used to extract and analyze specific sequences from large quantities of NGS data. We recently used these tools to clone the sequence of 19 distinct C2H2 Zinc Finger proteins from NGS RNA-Seq data prepared from root tissue of the Aloe vera plant.

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    The basic steps to do this were;

    • Use Align to Folder to find and extract all pairs of reads that could potentially encode the conserved QALGGH domain from C2H2 Zn Finger proteins
    • Assemble the reads using phrap, velvet and/or SPAdes to generate multiple contigs
    • Analyze contigs to identify and translate protein-coding ORFs
    • Extend contigs when required using additional rounds of Align to Folder, contig assembly and Align to Reference
    • Annotate proteins using the built-in InterProScan function
    • Align proteins using ClustalW and visualize the shared QALGGH domains

    The full tutorial is available as a PDF and the required data files are also available to download direct from the SRA.

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    Working From Home: An overview of primer design workflows in MacVector.

    Working from home?. We want to help familiarize you with the wide range of functionality in MacVector that you may never have used before. Here’s an overview of workflows for designing, testing, documenting and storing primers. You may not have a PCR machine on the kitchen table, but why not take the time to store all your lab’s regularly used primers in MacVector’s Primer Database.

    Amplifying a gene

    You can design a set of primers to amplify a gene in as little as three mouse clicks.

    1. Open your sequence.
    2. Open the MAP view, and click on a feature.
    3. Go to ANALYZE | PRIMER DESIGN/TEST(PAIRS).
    4. Click OK.

    Design a single targeted primer with a tail.

    QuickTest Primer tool gives great flexibility for designing primers with tails or mismatches.

    1. Select a 20 bp region around the location you want your primer to be.
    2. Click ANALYZE > QUICKTEST PRIMER.
    3. Slide the primer along your template until the oligo is optimal.
    4. Add a restriction site or mutation in the optional tail.
    5. Hover over a green (or red) putative restriction site to view the change to your sequence.
    6. Double click on that putative site to add to your primer. Watch how the coding is changed.
    7. Click Add to Database.. to save your primer.
    MacVector

    Test a pair of primers.

    You can map a pair of primers against your template to see how well they would amplify your target.

    1. Open your template sequence
    2. Go to ANALYZE > PRIMER DESIGN/TEST(PAIRS).
    3. For the left primer click USE THIS Primer
    4. Type or paste in your forward primer
    5. Repeat for the reverse primer
    6. Click TEST

    To save a primer from QT Primer to the Primer Database.

    1. Open ANALYZE > QUICKTEST PRIMER (INDIVIDUAL)
    2. Design your primer
    3. Click ADD TO…
    4. Give the primer a name and add a comment. Click OK

    To save a primer from Primer Design to the Primer Database.

    1. Open ANALYZE > PRIMER DESIGN/TEST (PAIRS)
    2. Design your primer pair
    3. In the spreadsheet right click on a primer
    4. Choose ADD PRIMER TO DATABASE
    5. Give the primer a name and add a comment. Click OK

    To use the Primer Database Search:

    1. Open your sequence
    2. Select ANALYZE > PRIMER DATABASE SEARCH
    3. Choose parameters and click OK

    Design a primer to match an existing primer from the primer database

    The Primer database allows you to store your own collection of primers. You can design new primers to match regularly used ones.

    1. Open your template sequence
    2. Switch to the Map tab and select the region you want to amplify.
    3. Go to ANALYZE | PRIMER DESIGN/TEST(PAIRS).
    4. For the left primer click USE THIS Primer
    5. Use the drop down menu to enter the existing primer from the primer database
    6. Click OK
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    Working from home: An overview of assembling sequence data with MacVector and Assembler

    Working from home Here’s a series of blog posts on the wide range of functionality in MacVector that you may never have used before. This is an overview of the many different sequence assembly tools within MacVector. The MacVector team used these tools to mine existing sequencing archives to assemble a new Pangolin SARS-CoV–2 genome.

    To assemble various types of sequencing reads, follow these steps.

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    • Choose File | New | Assembly Project to create a new empty project file.

    Then follow one of the following:

    To create a de novo assembly from Sanger reads

    • Click on the Add Reads tool bar button, then select the sequence files you wish to assemble and click on the Open button. Read(s) file(s) can also be drag and dropped on the open Assembly Project window.
    • Click Phred to basecall sequences in the project. Note that if no sequences are selected, phred will be run on ALL of the files in the project.
    • Click Phrap to assemble the reads.

    To create a de novo assembly from NGS datasets

    • Click on the Add Reads tool bar button, then select the sequence files you wish to assemble and click on the Open button. File(s) can also be drag and dropped on the open Assembly Project window. Paired reads files are automatically detected.
    • Choose either SPAdes or Velvet to assemble the reads.

    To create a de novo assembly from PacBio or Nanopore datasets

    • Click on the Add Reads button to add PacBio or Oxford Nanopore reads in fasta, fastq or gzipped (.gz) format. File(s) can also be drag and dropped on the open Assembly Project window.
    • Double-click on the Status column of the imported read file(s) and set the data type to “PacBio” or “Oxford Nanopore” as appropriate.
    • Choose Flye to assemble all of the sequences of the project.

    To create a reference assembly

    • Click the Add Reads button, then select the sequence files you wish to assemble and click on the Open button.
    • Click Add Ref, select the sequence file(s) you wish to align the reads against and click on the Open button.
    • Click Bowtie to map all read files against all of the reference sequences in the project.

    Not sure if you have Assembler? Choose MacVector | About MacVector. If the screen that appears says MacVector with Assembler, Pro Edition then you have it. If not, you can sign up for a fully functional 21 day trial version

    Read More….

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    Working From Home: accessing video tutorials of common workflows inside MacVector

    During the Covid-19 pandemic we want to ensure that you have access to the MacVector license that you would use in the lab, if you are working from home. If you use MacVector, even an older version, and are having trouble activating it (or installing it) at home email MacVector Support and we will help. If you are in anyway connected with COVID19 research, then please have our thanks, and have an annual license free of charge. Here’s an overview of the HOW DO I menu that lists common workflows directly inside MacVector.


    MacVector has a wide array of different tools for working with protein and DNA sequences. Nonetheless, since MacVector has always been designed with the Mac’s simplicity in mind, getting started with simple tasks is quick. However, making the most of the many functions and getting familiar with MacVector’s full range of tools does require more help. Nobody has time to read manuals nowadays and so with that in mind we set out to try to help users get up to speed quicker and help more advanced users know tools they may not be that familiar with.

    MacVector 17 introduced a new menu which lists common workflows that a molecular biologist may need. Each topic has a short video and/or a short step by step guides. What’s more is every tool’s dialog now has a link to a video tutorial.

    – If you need to know how to do something then try the HOW DO I menu.

    – If you need to know more about a tool then click the help button.


    (See how we’ve been making the most of the lockdown to use existing sequencing archives to assemble a new Pangolin SARS-CoV-2 genome.)

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