Doctor of Philosophy, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (2011)
Michael Snyder, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Global RNA studies have become central to understanding biological processes, but methods such as microarrays and short-read sequencing are unable to describe an entire RNA molecule from 5' to 3' end. Here we use single-molecule long-read sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences to sequence the polyadenylated RNA complement of a pooled set of 20 human organs and tissues without the need for fragmentation or amplification. We show that full-length RNA molecules of up to 1.5 kb can readily be monitored with little sequence loss at the 5' ends. For longer RNA molecules more 5' nucleotides are missing, but complete intron structures are often preserved. In total, we identify ∼14,000 spliced GENCODE genes. High-confidence mappings are consistent with GENCODE annotations, but >10% of the alignments represent intron structures that were not previously annotated. As a group, transcripts mapping to unannotated regions have features of long, noncoding RNAs. Our results show the feasibility of deep sequencing full-length RNA from complex eukaryotic transcriptomes on a single-molecule level.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2705
View details for PubMedID 24108091
Precise identification of RNA-coding regions and transcriptomes of eukaryotes is a significant problem in biology. Currently, eukaryote transcriptomes are analyzed using deep short-read sequencing experiments of complementary DNAs. The resulting short-reads are then aligned against a genome and annotated junctions to infer biological meaning. Here we use long-read complementary DNA datasets for the analysis of a eukaryotic transcriptome and generate two large datasets in the human K562 and HeLa S3 cell lines. Both data sets comprised at least 4 million reads and had median read lengths greater than 500 bp. We show that annotation-independent alignments of these reads provide partial gene structures that are very much in-line with annotated gene structures, 15% of which have not been obtained in a previous de novo analysis of short reads. For long-noncoding RNAs (i.e., lncRNA) genes, however, we find an increased fraction of novel gene structures among our alignments. Other important aspects of transcriptome analysis, such as the description of cell type-specific splicing, can be performed in an accurate, reliable and completely annotation-free manner, making it ideal for the analysis of transcriptomes of newly sequenced genomes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that long read sequence can be assembled into full-length transcripts with considerable success. Our method is applicable to all long read sequencing technologies.
View details for DOI 10.1534/g3.112.004812
View details for Web of Science ID 000315950000002
The human genome encodes the blueprint of life, but the function of the vast majority of its nearly three billion bases is unknown. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has systematically mapped regions of transcription, transcription factor association, chromatin structure and histone modification. These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions. Many discovered candidate regulatory elements are physically associated with one another and with expressed genes, providing new insights into the mechanisms of gene regulation. The newly identified elements also show a statistical correspondence to sequence variants linked to human disease, and can thereby guide interpretation of this variation. Overall, the project provides new insights into the organization and regulation of our genes and genome, and is an expansive resource of functional annotations for biomedical research.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature11247
View details for Web of Science ID 000308347000039
View details for PubMedID 22955616
Eukaryotic cells make many types of primary and processed RNAs that are found either in specific subcellular compartments or throughout the cells. A complete catalogue of these RNAs is not yet available and their characteristic subcellular localizations are also poorly understood. Because RNA represents the direct output of the genetic information encoded by genomes and a significant proportion of a cell's regulatory capabilities are focused on its synthesis, processing, transport, modification and translation, the generation of such a catalogue is crucial for understanding genome function. Here we report evidence that three-quarters of the human genome is capable of being transcribed, as well as observations about the range and levels of expression, localization, processing fates, regulatory regions and modifications of almost all currently annotated and thousands of previously unannotated RNAs. These observations, taken together, prompt a redefinition of the concept of a gene.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature11233
View details for Web of Science ID 000308347000043
View details for PubMedID 22955620
Splicing remains an incompletely understood process. Recent findings suggest that chromatin structure participates in its regulation. Here, we analyze the RNA from subcellular fractions obtained through RNA-seq in the cell line K562. We show that in the human genome, splicing occurs predominantly during transcription. We introduce the coSI measure, based on RNA-seq reads mapping to exon junctions and borders, to assess the degree of splicing completion around internal exons. We show that, as expected, splicing is almost fully completed in cytosolic polyA+ RNA. In chromatin-associated RNA (which includes the RNA that is being transcribed), for 5.6% of exons, the removal of the surrounding introns is fully completed, compared with 0.3% of exons for which no intron-removal has occurred. The remaining exons exist as a mixture of spliced and fewer unspliced molecules, with a median coSI of 0.75. Thus, most RNAs undergo splicing while being transcribed: "co-transcriptional splicing." Consistent with co-transcriptional spliceosome assembly and splicing, we have found significant enrichment of spliceosomal snRNAs in chromatin-associated RNA compared with other cellular RNA fractions and other nonspliceosomal snRNAs. CoSI scores decrease along the gene, pointing to a "first transcribed, first spliced" rule, yet more downstream exons carry other characteristics, favoring rapid, co-transcriptional intron removal. Exons with low coSI values, that is, in the process of being spliced, are enriched with chromatin marks, consistent with a role for chromatin in splicing during transcription. For alternative exons and long noncoding RNAs, splicing tends to occur later, and the latter might remain unspliced in some cases.
View details for DOI 10.1101/gr.134445.111
View details for Web of Science ID 000308272800004
View details for PubMedID 22955974
The human genome contains many thousands of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). While several studies have demonstrated compelling biological and disease roles for individual examples, analytical and experimental approaches to investigate these genes have been hampered by the lack of comprehensive lncRNA annotation. Here, we present and analyze the most complete human lncRNA annotation to date, produced by the GENCODE consortium within the framework of the ENCODE project and comprising 9277 manually annotated genes producing 14,880 transcripts. Our analyses indicate that lncRNAs are generated through pathways similar to that of protein-coding genes, with similar histone-modification profiles, splicing signals, and exon/intron lengths. In contrast to protein-coding genes, however, lncRNAs display a striking bias toward two-exon transcripts, they are predominantly localized in the chromatin and nucleus, and a fraction appear to be preferentially processed into small RNAs. They are under stronger selective pressure than neutrally evolving sequences-particularly in their promoter regions, which display levels of selection comparable to protein-coding genes. Importantly, about one-third seem to have arisen within the primate lineage. Comprehensive analysis of their expression in multiple human organs and brain regions shows that lncRNAs are generally lower expressed than protein-coding genes, and display more tissue-specific expression patterns, with a large fraction of tissue-specific lncRNAs expressed in the brain. Expression correlation analysis indicates that lncRNAs show particularly striking positive correlation with the expression of antisense coding genes. This GENCODE annotation represents a valuable resource for future studies of lncRNAs.
View details for DOI 10.1101/gr.132159.111
View details for Web of Science ID 000308272800018
View details for PubMedID 22955988
Differentiated mammary epithelium shows apicobasal polarity, and loss of tissue organization is an early hallmark of breast carcinogenesis. In BRCA1 mutation carriers, accumulation of stem and progenitor cells in normal breast tissue and increased risk of developing tumors of basal-like type suggest that BRCA1 regulates stem/progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation. However, the function of BRCA1 in this process and its link to carcinogenesis remain unknown. Here we depict a molecular mechanism involving BRCA1 and RHAMM that regulates apicobasal polarity and, when perturbed, may increase risk of breast cancer. Starting from complementary genetic analyses across families and populations, we identified common genetic variation at the low-penetrance susceptibility HMMR locus (encoding for RHAMM) that modifies breast cancer risk among BRCA1, but probably not BRCA2, mutation carriers: n?=?7,584, weighted hazard ratio ((w)HR)?=?1.09 (95% CI 1.02-1.16), p(trend)?=?0.017; and n?=?3,965, (w)HR?=?1.04 (95% CI 0.94-1.16), p(trend)?=?0.43; respectively. Subsequently, studies of MCF10A apicobasal polarization revealed a central role for BRCA1 and RHAMM, together with AURKA and TPX2, in essential reorganization of microtubules. Mechanistically, reorganization is facilitated by BRCA1 and impaired by AURKA, which is regulated by negative feedback involving RHAMM and TPX2. Taken together, our data provide fundamental insight into apicobasal polarization through BRCA1 function, which may explain the expanded cell subsets and characteristic tumor type accompanying BRCA1 mutation, while also linking this process to sporadic breast cancer through perturbation of HMMR/RHAMM.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001199
View details for Web of Science ID 000298152600012
View details for PubMedID 22110403
RNA plays a central role in the determination of the phenotype of the cell. The molecular mechanisms involved in primary RNA synthesis and subsequent post-processing are not completely understood, but there is increasing evidence that they are more tightly coupled than previously expected. The analyses by a number of groups of recently published genome wide maps of chromatin structure have further uncovered a role for primary chromatin structure in RNA processing. Indeed, these analyses have revealed that nucleosomes show a characteristic occupancy pattern in exonic regions of metazoan genomes. The pattern is strongly indicative of an implication of nucleosome positioning in exon recognition during pre-mRNA splicing. Characteristic exonic patterns have also been observed for a number of histone modifications, suggesting the possibility that chromatin state plays a direct role in the regulation of splicing.
View details for PubMedID 20305391
Chromatin structure influences transcription, but its role in subsequent RNA processing is unclear. Here we present analyses of high-throughput data that imply a relationship between nucleosome positioning and exon definition. First, we have found stable nucleosome occupancy within human and Caenorhabditis elegans exons that is stronger in exons with weak splice sites. Conversely, we have found that pseudoexons--intronic sequences that are not included in mRNAs but are flanked by strong splice sites--show nucleosome depletion. Second, the ratio between nucleosome occupancy within and upstream from the exons correlates with exon-inclusion levels. Third, nucleosomes are positioned central to exons rather than proximal to splice sites. These exonic nucleosomal patterns are also observed in non-expressed genes, suggesting that nucleosome marking of exons exists in the absence of transcription. Our analysis provides a framework that contributes to the understanding of splicing on the basis of chromatin architecture.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nsmb.1658
View details for Web of Science ID 000269528700019
View details for PubMedID 19684599