Genome-wide Characterization of RNA Expression and Processing
Sammanfattning: The production of fully mature protein-coding transcripts is an intricate process that involves numerous regulation steps. The complexity of these steps provides the means for multilayered control of gene expression. Comprehensive understanding of gene expression regulation is essential for interpreting the role of gene expression programs in tissue specificity, development and disease. In this thesis, we aim to provide a better global view of the human transcriptome, focusing on its content, synthesis, processing and regulation using next-generation sequencing as a read-out.In Paper I, we show that sequencing of total RNA provides unique insights into RNA processing. Our results revealed that co-transcriptional splicing is a widespread mechanism in human and chimpanzee brain tissues. We also found a correlation between slowly removed introns and alternative splicing. In Paper II, we explore the benefits of exome capture approaches in combination with RNA-sequencing to detect transcripts expressed at low-levels. Based on our results, we demonstrate that this approach increases the sensitivity for detecting low level transcripts and leads to the identification of novel exons and splice isoforms. In Paper III, we highlight the advantages of performing RNA-sequencing on separate cytoplasmic and nuclear RNA fractions. In comparison with conventional poly(A) RNA, cytoplasmic RNA contained a significantly higher fraction of exonic sequence, providing increased sensitivity for splice junction detection and for improved de novo assembly. Conversely, the nuclear fraction showed an enrichment of unprocessed RNA compared to when sequencing total RNA, making it suitable for analysis of RNA processing dynamics. In Paper IV, we used exome sequencing to sequence the DNA of a patient with unexplained intellectual disability and identified a de novo mutation in BAZ1A, which encodes the chromatin-remodeling factor ACF1. Functional studies indicated that the mutation influences the expression of genes involved in extracellular matrix organization, synaptic function and vitamin D3 metabolism. The differential expression of CYP24A, SYNGAP1 and COL1A2 correlated with the patient’s clinical diagnosis.The findings presented in this thesis contribute towards an improved understanding of the human transcriptome in health and disease, and highlight the advantages of developing novel methods to obtain global and comprehensive views of the transcriptome.
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