The sheer amounts of biological data that are generated in recent years have driven the development of network analysis tools to facilitate the interpretation and representation of these data. A fundamental challenge in this domain is the reconstruction of a protein-protein subnetwork that underlies a process of interest from a genome-wide screen of associated genes. Despite intense work in this area, current algorithmic approaches are largely limited to analyzing a single screen and are, thus, unable to account for information on condition-specific genes, or reveal the dynamics (over time or condition) of the process in question.
Viruses evade detection by the host immune system through the suppression of antiviral pathways. These pathways are thus obscured when measuring the host response to viral infection and cannot be inferred by current network reconstruction methodology. Here we aim to close this gap by providing a novel computational framework for the inference of such inhibited pathways as well as the proteins targeted by the virus to achieve this inhibition. We demonstrate the power of our method by testing it on the response to influenza infection in humans, with and without the viral inhibitory protein NS1, revealing its direct targets and their inhibitory effects.
Hundreds of immune cell types work in coordination to maintain tissue homeostasis. Upon infection, dramatic changes occur with the localization, migration, and proliferation of the immune cells to first alert the body of the danger, confine it to limit spreading, and finally extinguish the threat and bring the tissue back to homeostasis. Since current technologies can follow the dynamics of only a limited number of cell types, we have yet to grasp the full complexity of global in vivo cell dynamics in normal developmental processes and disease. Here, we devise a computational method, digital cell quantification (DCQ), which combines genome-wide gene expression data with an immune cell compendium to infer in vivo changes in the quantities of 213 immune cell subpopulations. DCQ was applied to study global immune cell dynamics in mice lungs at ten time points during 7 days of flu infection. We find dramatic changes in quantities of 70 immune cell types, including various innate, adaptive, and progenitor immune cells. We focus on the previously unreported dynamics of four immune dendritic cell subtypes and suggest a specific role for CD103(+) CD11b(-) DCs in early stages of disease and CD8(+) pDC in late stages of flu infection.
Individual genetic variation affects gene responsiveness to stimuli, often by influencing complex molecular circuits. Here we combine genomic and intermediate-scale transcriptional profiling with computational methods to identify variants that affect the responsiveness of genes to stimuli (responsiveness quantitative trait loci or reQTLs) and to position these variants in molecular circuit diagrams. We apply this approach to study variation in transcriptional responsiveness to pathogen components in dendritic cells from recombinant inbred mouse strains. We identify reQTLs that correlate with particular stimuli and position them in known pathways. For example, in response to a virus-like stimulus, a trans-acting variant responds as an activator of the antiviral response; using RNA interference, we identify Rgs16 as the likely causal gene. Our approach charts an experimental and analytic path to decipher the mechanisms underlying genetic variation in circuits that control responses to stimuli.
Although genetic lesions responsible for some mendelian disorders can be rapidly discovered through massively parallel sequencing of whole genomes or exomes, not all diseases readily yield to such efforts. We describe the illustrative case of the simple mendelian disorder medullary cystic kidney disease type 1 (MCKD1), mapped more than a decade ago to a 2-Mb region on chromosome 1. Ultimately, only by cloning, capillary sequencing and de novo assembly did we find that each of six families with MCKD1 harbors an equivalent but apparently independently arising mutation in sequence markedly under-represented in massively parallel sequencing data: the insertion of a single cytosine in one copy (but a different copy in each family) of the repeat unit comprising the extremely long (?1.5-5 kb), GC-rich (>80%) coding variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) sequence in the MUC1 gene encoding mucin 1. These results provide a cautionary tale about the challenges in identifying the genes responsible for mendelian, let alone more complex, disorders through massively parallel sequencing.
Deregulation between two different cell populations manifests itself in changing gene expression patterns and changing regulatory interactions. Accumulating knowledge about biological networks creates an opportunity to study these changes in their cellular context.
Deciphering the signaling networks that underlie normal and disease processes remains a major challenge. Here, we report the discovery of signaling components involved in the Toll-like receptor (TLR) response of immune dendritic cells (DCs), including a previously unkown pathway shared across mammalian antiviral responses. By combining transcriptional profiling, genetic and small-molecule perturbations, and phosphoproteomics, we uncover 35 signaling regulators, including 16 known regulators, involved in TLR signaling. In particular, we find that Polo-like kinases (Plk) 2 and 4 are essential components of antiviral pathways in vitro and in vivo and activate a signaling branch involving a dozen proteins, among which is Tnfaip2, a gene associated with autoimmune diseases but whose role was unknown. Our study illustrates the power of combining systematic measurements and perturbations to elucidate complex signaling circuits and discover potential therapeutic targets.
The current pairwise RNA (secondary) structural alignment algorithms are based on Sankoffs dynamic programming algorithm from 1985. Sankoffs algorithm requires O(N(6)) time and O(N(4)) space, where N denotes the length of the compared sequences, and thus its applicability is very limited. The current literature offers many heuristics for speeding up Sankoffs alignment process, some making restrictive assumptions on the length or the shape of the RNA substructures. We show how to speed up Sankoffs algorithm in practice via non-heuristic methods, without compromising optimality. Our analysis shows that the expected time complexity of the new algorithm is O(N(4)sigma(N)), where sigma(N) converges to O(N), assuming a standard polymer folding model which was supported by experimental analysis. Hence, our algorithm speeds up Sankoffs algorithm by a linear factor on average. In simulations, our algorithm speeds up computation by a factor of 3-12 for sequences of length 25-250. Code and data sets are available, upon request.
DNA sequence polymorphism in a regulatory protein can have a widespread transcriptional effect. Here we present a computational approach for analyzing modules of genes with a common regulation that are affected by specific DNA polymorphisms. We identify such regulatory-linkage modules by integrating genotypic and expression data for individuals in a segregating population with complementary expression data of strains mutated in a variety of regulatory proteins. Our procedure searches simultaneously for groups of co-expressed genes, for their common underlying linkage interval, and for their shared regulatory proteins. We applied the method to a cross between laboratory and wild strains of S. cerevisiae, demonstrating its ability to correctly suggest modules and to outperform extant approaches. Our results suggest that middle sporulation genes are under the control of polymorphism in the sporulation-specific tertiary complex Sum1p/Rfm1p/Hst1p. In another example, our analysis reveals novel inter-relations between Swi3 and two mitochondrial inner membrane proteins underlying variation in a module of aerobic cellular respiration genes. Overall, our findings demonstrate that this approach provides a useful framework for the systematic mapping of quantitative trait loci and their role in gene expression variation.
During the course of a viral infection, viral proteins interact with an array of host proteins and pathways. Here, we present a systematic strategy to elucidate the dynamic interactions between H1N1 influenza and its human host. A combination of yeast two-hybrid analysis and genome-wide expression profiling implicated hundreds of human factors in mediating viral-host interactions. These factors were then examined functionally through depletion analyses in primary lung cells. The resulting data point to potential roles for some unanticipated host and viral proteins in viral infection and the host response, including a network of RNA-binding proteins, components of WNT signaling, and viral polymerase subunits. This multilayered approach provides a comprehensive and unbiased physical and regulatory model of influenza-host interactions and demonstrates a general strategy for uncovering complex host-pathogen relationships.
Signaling cascades are triggered by environmental stimulation and propagate the signal to regulate transcription. Systematic reconstruction of the underlying regulatory mechanisms requires pathway-targeted, informative experimental data. However, practical experimental design approaches are still in their infancy. Here, we propose a framework that iterates design of experiments and identification of regulatory relationships downstream of a given pathway. The experimental design component, called MEED, aims to minimize the amount of laboratory effort required in this process. To avoid ambiguity in the identification of regulatory relationships, the choice of experiments maximizes diversity between expression profiles of genes regulated through different mechanisms. The framework takes advantage of expert knowledge about the pathways under study, formalized in a predictive logical model. By considering model-predicted dependencies between experiments, MEED is able to suggest a whole set of experiments that can be carried out simultaneously. Our framework was applied to investigate interconnected signaling pathways in yeast. In comparison with other approaches, MEED suggested the most informative experiments for unambiguous identification of transcriptional regulation in this system.
Lineage-survival oncogenes are activated by somatic DNA alterations in cancers arising from the cell lineages in which these genes play a role in normal development. Here we show that a peak of genomic amplification on chromosome 3q26.33 found in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the lung and esophagus contains the transcription factor gene SOX2, which is mutated in hereditary human esophageal malformations, is necessary for normal esophageal squamous development, promotes differentiation and proliferation of basal tracheal cells and cooperates in induction of pluripotent stem cells. SOX2 expression is required for proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of lung and esophageal cell lines, as shown by RNA interference experiments. Furthermore, ectopic expression of SOX2 here cooperated with FOXE1 or FGFR2 to transform immortalized tracheobronchial epithelial cells. SOX2-driven tumors show expression of markers of both squamous differentiation and pluripotency. These characteristics identify SOX2 as a lineage-survival oncogene in lung and esophageal SCC.
In eukaryotic organisms, histones are dynamically exchanged independently of DNA replication. Recent reports show that different coding regions differ in their amount of replication-independent histone H3 exchange. The current paradigm is that this histone exchange variability among coding regions is a consequence of transcription rate. Here we put forward the idea that this variability might be also modulated in a gene-specific manner independently of transcription rate. To that end, we study transcription rate-independent replication-independent coding region histone H3 exchange. We term such events relative exchange. Our genome-wide analysis shows conclusively that in yeast, relative exchange is a novel consistent feature of coding regions. Outside of replication, each coding region has a characteristic pattern of histone H3 exchange that is either higher or lower than what was expected by its RNAPII transcription rate alone. Histone H3 exchange in coding regions might be a way to add or remove certain histone modifications that are important for transcription elongation. Therefore, our results that gene-specific coding region histone H3 exchange is decoupled from transcription rate might hint at a new epigenetic mechanism of transcription regulation.
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