Advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies have brought us into the individual genome era. Projects such as the 1000 Genomes Project have led the individual genome sequencing to become more and more popular. How to visualize, analyse and annotate individual genomes with knowledge bases to support genome studies and personalized healthcare is still a big challenge. The Personal Genome Browser (PGB) is developed to provide comprehensive functional annotation and visualization for individual genomes based on the genetic-molecular-phenotypic model. Investigators can easily view individual genetic variants, such as single nucleotide variants (SNVs), INDELs and structural variations (SVs), as well as genomic features and phenotypes associated to the individual genetic variants. The PGB especially highlights potential functional variants using the PGB built-in method or SIFT/PolyPhen2 scores. Moreover, the functional risks of genes could be evaluated by scanning individual genetic variants on the whole genome, a chromosome, or a cytoband based on functional implications of the variants. Investigators can then navigate to high risk genes on the scanned individual genome. The PGB accepts Variant Call Format (VCF) and Genetic Variation Format (GVF) files as the input. The functional annotation of input individual genome variants can be visualized in real time by well-defined symbols and shapes. The PGB is available at http://www.pgbrowser.org/.
Bidirectional promoters are shared promoter sequences between divergent gene pair (genes proximal to each other on opposite strands), and can regulate the genes in both directions. In the human genome, > 10% of protein-coding genes are arranged head-to-head on opposite strands, with transcription start sites that are separated by < 1,000 base pairs. Many transcription factor binding sites occur in the bidirectional promoters that influence the expression of 2 opposite genes. Recently, RNA polymerase II (RPol II) ChIP-seq data are used to identify the promoters of coding genes and non-coding RNAs. However, a bidirectional promoter with RPol II ChIP-Seq data has not been found.
Recent evidence suggests that many complex diseases are caused by genetic variations that play regulatory roles in controlling gene expression. Most genetic studies focus on nonsynonymous variations that can alter the amino acid composition of a protein and are therefore believed to have the highest impact on phenotype. Synonymous variations, however, can also play important roles in disease pathogenesis by regulating pre-mRNA processing and translational control. In this study, we systematically survey the effects of single-nucleotide variations (SNVs) on binding affinity of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Among the 10,113 synonymous SNVs identified in 697 individuals in the 1,000 Genomes Project and distributed by Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 (GAW17), we identified 182 variations located in alternatively spliced exons that can significantly change the binding affinity of nine RBPs whose binding preferences on 7-mer RNA sequences were previously reported. We found that the minor allele frequencies of these variations are similar to those of nonsynonymous SNVs, suggesting that they are in fact functional. We propose a workflow to identify phenotype-associated regulatory SNVs that might affect alternative splicing from exome-sequencing-derived genetic variations. Based on the affecting SNVs on the quantitative traits simulated in GAW17, we further identified two and four functional SNVs that are predicted to be involved in alternative splicing regulation in traits Q1 and Q2, respectively.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNAs with important roles in regulating gene expression. Recent studies indicate that transcription and cleavage of miRNA are coupled, and that chromatin structure may influence miRNA transcription. However, little is known about the relationship between the chromatin structure and cleavage of pre-miRNA from pri-miRNA.
Estrogens regulate diverse physiological processes in various tissues through genomic and non-genomic mechanisms that result in activation or repression of gene expression. Transcription regulation upon estrogen stimulation is a critical biological process underlying the onset and progress of the majority of breast cancer. Dynamic gene expression changes have been shown to characterize the breast cancer cell response to estrogens, the every molecular mechanism of which is still not well understood.
Potential epigenetic mechanisms underlying fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) include alcohol-induced alterations of methyl metabolism, resulting in aberrant patterns of DNA methylation and gene expression during development. Having previously demonstrated an essential role for epigenetics in neural stem cell (NSC) development and that inhibiting DNA methylation prevents NSC differentiation, here we investigated the effect of alcohol exposure on genome-wide DNA methylation patterns and NSC differentiation.
The identification of disease-related microRNAs is vital for understanding the pathogenesis of diseases at the molecular level, and is critical for designing specific molecular tools for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Experimental identification of disease-related microRNAs poses considerable difficulties. Computational analysis of microRNA-disease associations is an important complementary means for prioritizing microRNAs for further experimental examination.
Constructing and modeling the gene regulatory network is one of the central themes of systems biology. With the growing understanding of the mechanism of microRNA biogenesis and its biological function, establishing a microRNA-mediated gene regulatory network is not only desirable but also achievable.
Enabling data analysis in large data depositories for high throughput experimental data such as gene microarrays and ChIP-seq is challenging. In this paper, we discuss three methods for integrating QUEST, a data depository for epigenetic experiments, with a web-based data analysis platform GenePattern. These methods are universal and can serve as an exemplary implementation resolving the dilemma facing many similar database systems in integrating data analysis tools.
miR2Disease, a manually curated database, aims at providing a comprehensive resource of microRNA deregulation in various human diseases. The current version of miR2Disease documents 1939 curated relationships between 299 human microRNAs and 94 human diseases by reviewing more than 600 published papers. Around one-seventh of the microRNA-disease relationships represent the pathogenic roles of deregulated microRNA in human disease. Each entry in the miR2Disease contains detailed information on a microRNA-disease relationship, including a microRNA ID, the disease name, a brief description of the microRNA-disease relationship, an expression pattern of the microRNA, the detection method for microRNA expression, experimentally verified target gene(s) of the microRNA and a literature reference. miR2Disease provides a user-friendly interface for a convenient retrieval of each entry by microRNA ID, disease name, or target gene. In addition, miR2Disease offers a submission page that allows researchers to submit established microRNA-disease relationships that are not documented. Once approved by the submission review committee, the submitted records will be included in the database. miR2Disease is freely available at http://www.miR2Disease.org.
A number of empirical Bayes models (each with different statistical distribution assumptions) have now been developed to analyze differential DNA methylation using high-density oligonucleotide tiling arrays. However, it remains unclear which model performs best. For example, for analysis of differentially methylated regions for conservative and functional sequence characteristics (e.g., enrichment of transcription factor-binding sites (TFBSs)), the sensitivity of such analyses, using various empirical Bayes models, remains unclear. In this paper, five empirical Bayes models were constructed, based on either a gamma distribution or a log-normal distribution, for the identification of differential methylated loci and their cell division-(1, 3, and 5) and drug-treatment-(cisplatin) dependent methylation patterns. While differential methylation patterns generated by log-normal models were enriched with numerous TFBSs, we observed almost no TFBS-enriched sequences using gamma assumption models. Statistical and biological results suggest log-normal, rather than gamma, empirical Bayes model distribution to be a highly accurate and precise method for differential methylation microarray analysis. In addition, we presented one of the log-normal models for differential methylation analysis and tested its reproducibility by simulation study. We believe this research to be the first extensive comparison of statistical modeling for the analysis of differential DNA methylation, an important biological phenomenon that precisely regulates gene transcription.
One of the fundamental questions in genetics study is to identify functional DNA variants that are responsible to a disease or phenotype of interest. Results from large-scale genetics studies, such as genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and the availability of high-throughput sequencing technologies provide opportunities in identifying causal variants. Despite the technical advances, informatics methodologies need to be developed to prioritize thousands of variants for potential causative effects.
It is now established that, as compared to normal cells, the cancer cell genome has an overall inverse distribution of DNA methylation ("methylome"), i.e., predominant hypomethylation and localized hypermethylation, within "CpG islands" (CGIs). Moreover, although cancer cells have reduced methylation "fidelity" and genomic instability, accurate maintenance of aberrant methylomes that underlie malignant phenotypes remains necessary. However, the mechanism(s) of cancer methylome maintenance remains largely unknown. Here, we assessed CGI methylation patterns propagated over 1, 3, and 5 divisions of A2780 ovarian cancer cells, concurrent with exposure to the DNA cross-linking chemotherapeutic cisplatin, and observed cell generation-successive increases in total hyper- and hypo-methylated CGIs. Empirical bayesian modeling revealed five distinct modes of methylation propagation: (1) heritable (i.e., unchanged) high-methylation (1186 probe loci in CGI microarray); (2) heritable (i.e., unchanged) low-methylation (286 loci); (3) stochastic hypermethylation (i.e., progressively increased, 243 loci); (4) stochastic hypomethylation (i.e., progressively decreased, 247 loci); and (5) considerable "random" methylation (582 loci). These results support a "stochastic model" of DNA methylation equilibrium deriving from the efficiency of two distinct processes, methylation maintenance and de novo methylation. A role for cis-regulatory elements in methylation fidelity was also demonstrated by highly significant (p<2.2×10(-5)) enrichment of transcription factor binding sites in CGI probe loci showing heritably high (118 elements) and low (47 elements) methylation, and also in loci demonstrating stochastic hyper-(30 elements) and hypo-(31 elements) methylation. Notably, loci having "random" methylation heritability displayed nearly no enrichment. These results demonstrate an influence of cis-regulatory elements on the nonrandom propagation of both strictly heritable and stochastically heritable CGIs.
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