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1.  GenomeRNAi: a database for cell-based RNAi phenotypes. 2009 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(Database issue):D448-D452.
The GenomeRNAi database ( contains phenotypes from published cell-based RNA interference (RNAi) screens in Drosophila and Homo sapiens. The database connects observed phenotypes with annotations of targeted genes and information about the RNAi reagent used for the perturbation experiment. The availability of phenotypes from Drosophila and human screens also allows for phenotype searches across species. Besides reporting quantitative data from genome-scale screens, the new release of GenomeRNAi also enables reporting of data from microscopy experiments and curated phenotypes from published screens. In addition, the database provides an updated resource of RNAi reagents and their predicted quality that are available for the Drosophila and the human genome. The new version also facilitates the integration with other genomic data sets and contains expression profiling (RNA-Seq) data for several cell lines commonly used in RNAi experiments.
PMCID: PMC2808900  PMID: 19910367
2.  FLIGHT: database and tools for the integration and cross-correlation of large-scale RNAi phenotypic datasets 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;34(Database issue):D479-D483.
FLIGHT () is a new database designed to help researchers browse and cross-correlate data from large-scale RNAi studies. To date, the majority of these functional genomic screens have been carried out using Drosophila cell lines. These RNAi screens follow 100 years of classical Drosophila genetics, but have already revealed their potential by ascribing an impressive number of functions to known and novel genes. This has in turn given rise to a pressing need for tools to simplify the analysis of the large amount of phenotypic information generated. FLIGHT aims to do this by providing users with a gene-centric view of screen results and by making it possible to cluster phenotypic data to identify genes with related functions. Additionally, FLIGHT provides microarray expression data for many of the Drosophila cell lines commonly used in RNAi screens. This, together with information about cell lines, protocols and dsRNA primer sequences, is intended to help researchers design their own cell-based screens. Finally, although the current focus of FLIGHT is Drosophila, the database has been designed to facilitate the comparison of functional data across species and to help researchers working with other systems navigate their way through the fly genome.
PMCID: PMC1347401  PMID: 16381916
3.  GenomeRNAi: a database for cell-based and in vivo RNAi phenotypes, 2013 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(D1):D1021-D1026.
RNA interference (RNAi) represents a powerful method to systematically study loss-of-function phenotypes on a large scale with a wide variety of biological assays, constituting a rich source for the assignment of gene function. The GenomeRNAi database ( makes available RNAi phenotype data extracted from the literature for human and Drosophila. It also provides RNAi reagent information, along with an assessment as to their efficiency and specificity. This manuscript describes an update of the database previously featured in the NAR Database Issue. The new version has undergone a complete re-design of the user interface, providing an intuitive, flexible framework for additional functionalities. Screen information and gene-reagent-phenotype associations are now available for download. The integration with other resources has been improved by allowing in-links via GenomeRNAi screen IDs, or external gene or reagent identifiers. A distributed annotation system (DAS) server enables the visualization of the phenotypes and reagents in the context of a genome browser. We have added a page listing ‘frequent hitters’, i.e. genes that show a phenotype in many screens, which might guide on-going RNAi studies. Structured annotation guidelines have been established to facilitate consistent curation, and a submission template for direct submission by data producers is available for download.
PMCID: PMC3531141  PMID: 23193271
4.  GenomeRNAi: a database for cell-based RNAi phenotypes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(Database issue):D492-D497.
RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a powerful tool to generate loss-of-function phenotypes in a variety of organisms. Combined with the sequence information of almost completely annotated genomes, RNAi technologies have opened new avenues to conduct systematic genetic screens for every annotated gene in the genome. As increasing large datasets of RNAi-induced phenotypes become available, an important challenge remains the systematic integration and annotation of functional information. Genome-wide RNAi screens have been performed both in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila for a variety of phenotypes and several RNAi libraries have become available to assess phenotypes for almost every gene in the genome. These screens were performed using different types of assays from visible phenotypes to focused transcriptional readouts and provide a rich data source for functional annotation across different species. The GenomeRNAi database provides access to published RNAi phenotypes obtained from cell-based screens and maps them to their genomic locus, including possible non-specific regions. The database also gives access to sequence information of RNAi probes used in various screens. It can be searched by phenotype, by gene, by RNAi probe or by sequence and is accessible at
PMCID: PMC1747177  PMID: 17135194
5.  A network-based integrative approach to prioritize reliable hits from multiple genome-wide RNAi screens in Drosophila 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:220.
The recently developed RNA interference (RNAi) technology has created an unprecedented opportunity which allows the function of individual genes in whole organisms or cell lines to be interrogated at genome-wide scale. However, multiple issues, such as off-target effects or low efficacies in knocking down certain genes, have produced RNAi screening results that are often noisy and that potentially yield both high rates of false positives and false negatives. Therefore, integrating RNAi screening results with other information, such as protein-protein interaction (PPI), may help to address these issues.
By analyzing 24 genome-wide RNAi screens interrogating various biological processes in Drosophila, we found that RNAi positive hits were significantly more connected to each other when analyzed within a protein-protein interaction network, as opposed to random cases, for nearly all screens. Based on this finding, we developed a network-based approach to identify false positives (FPs) and false negatives (FNs) in these screening results. This approach relied on a scoring function, which we termed NePhe, to integrate information obtained from both PPI network and RNAi screening results. Using a novel rank-based test, we compared the performance of different NePhe scoring functions and found that diffusion kernel-based methods generally outperformed others, such as direct neighbor-based methods. Using two genome-wide RNAi screens as examples, we validated our approach extensively from multiple aspects. We prioritized hits in the original screens that were more likely to be reproduced by the validation screen and recovered potential FNs whose involvements in the biological process were suggested by previous knowledge and mutant phenotypes. Finally, we demonstrated that the NePhe scoring system helped to biologically interpret RNAi results at the module level.
By comprehensively analyzing multiple genome-wide RNAi screens, we conclude that network information can be effectively integrated with RNAi results to produce suggestive FPs and FNs, and to bring biological insight to the screening results.
PMCID: PMC2697172  PMID: 19435510
6.—the database of the Drosophila RNAi screening center: 2012 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(D1):D715-D719.
FlyRNAi (, the database and website of the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center (DRSC) at Harvard Medical School, serves a dual role, tracking both production of reagents for RNA interference (RNAi) screening in Drosophila cells and RNAi screen results. The database and website is used as a platform for community availability of protocols, tools, and other resources useful to researchers planning, conducting, analyzing or interpreting the results of Drosophila RNAi screens. Based on our own experience and user feedback, we have made several changes. Specifically, we have restructured the database to accommodate new types of reagents; added information about new RNAi libraries and other reagents; updated the user interface and website; and added new tools of use to the Drosophila community and others. Overall, the result is a more useful, flexible and comprehensive website and database.
PMCID: PMC3245182  PMID: 22067456
7.  web cellHTS2: A web-application for the analysis of high-throughput screening data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:185.
The analysis of high-throughput screening data sets is an expanding field in bioinformatics. High-throughput screens by RNAi generate large primary data sets which need to be analyzed and annotated to identify relevant phenotypic hits. Large-scale RNAi screens are frequently used to identify novel factors that influence a broad range of cellular processes, including signaling pathway activity, cell proliferation, and host cell infection. Here, we present a web-based application utility for the end-to-end analysis of large cell-based screening experiments by cellHTS2.
The software guides the user through the configuration steps that are required for the analysis of single or multi-channel experiments. The web-application provides options for various standardization and normalization methods, annotation of data sets and a comprehensive HTML report of the screening data analysis, including a ranked hit list. Sessions can be saved and restored for later re-analysis. The web frontend for the cellHTS2 R/Bioconductor package interacts with it through an R-server implementation that enables highly parallel analysis of screening data sets. web cellHTS2 further provides a file import and configuration module for common file formats.
The implemented web-application facilitates the analysis of high-throughput data sets and provides a user-friendly interface. web cellHTS2 is accessible online at A standalone version as a virtual appliance and source code for platforms supporting Java 1.5.0 can be downloaded from the web cellHTS2 page. web cellHTS2 is freely distributed under GPL.
PMCID: PMC3098057  PMID: 20385013
8.  Genomic Screening with RNAi: Results and Challenges 
RNA interference (RNAi) is an effective tool for genome-scale, high-throughput analysis of gene function. In the past five years, a number of genome-scale RNAi high-throughput screens (HTSs) have been done in both Drosophila and mammalian cultured cells to study diverse biological processes, including signal transduction, cancer biology, and host cell responses to infection. Results from these screens have led to the identification of new components of these processes and, importantly, have also provided insights into the complexity of biological systems, forcing new and innovative approaches to understanding functional networks in cells. Here, we review the main findings that have emerged from RNAi HTS and discuss technical issues that remain to be improved, in particular the verification of RNAi results and validation of their biological relevance. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of multiplexed and integrated experimental data analysis pipelines to RNAi HTS.
PMCID: PMC3564595  PMID: 20367032
bioinformatics; cell biology; Drosophila; high-throughput screening
9.  GUItars: A GUI Tool for Analysis of High-Throughput RNA Interference Screening Data 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49386.
High-throughput RNA interference (RNAi) screening has become a widely used approach to elucidating gene functions. However, analysis and annotation of large data sets generated from these screens has been a challenge for researchers without a programming background. Over the years, numerous data analysis methods were produced for plate quality control and hit selection and implemented by a few open-access software packages. Recently, strictly standardized mean difference (SSMD) has become a widely used method for RNAi screening analysis mainly due to its better control of false negative and false positive rates and its ability to quantify RNAi effects with a statistical basis. We have developed GUItars to enable researchers without a programming background to use SSMD as both a plate quality and a hit selection metric to analyze large data sets.
The software is accompanied by an intuitive graphical user interface for easy and rapid analysis workflow. SSMD analysis methods have been provided to the users along with traditionally-used z-score, normalized percent activity, and t-test methods for hit selection. GUItars is capable of analyzing large-scale data sets from screens with or without replicates. The software is designed to automatically generate and save numerous graphical outputs known to be among the most informative high-throughput data visualization tools capturing plate-wise and screen-wise performances. Graphical outputs are also written in HTML format for easy access, and a comprehensive summary of screening results is written into tab-delimited output files.
With GUItars, we demonstrated robust SSMD-based analysis workflow on a 3840-gene small interfering RNA (siRNA) library and identified 200 siRNAs that increased and 150 siRNAs that decreased the assay activities with moderate to stronger effects. GUItars enables rapid analysis and illustration of data from large- or small-scale RNAi screens using SSMD and other traditional analysis methods. The software is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3502531  PMID: 23185323
10.  E-RNAi: a web application for the multi-species design of RNAi reagents—2010 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W332-W339.
The design of RNA interference (RNAi) reagents is an essential step for performing loss-of-function studies in many experimental systems. The availability of sequenced and annotated genomes greatly facilitates RNAi experiments in an increasing number of organisms that were previously not genetically tractable. The E-RNAi web-service, accessible at, provides a computational resource for the optimized design and evaluation of RNAi reagents. The 2010 update of E-RNAi now covers 12 genomes, including Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans, human, emerging model organisms such as Schmidtea mediterranea and Acyrthosiphon pisum, as well as the medically relevant vectors Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti. The web service calculates RNAi reagents based on the input of target sequences, sequence identifiers or by visual selection of target regions through a genome browser interface. It identifies optimized RNAi target-sites by ranking sequences according to their predicted specificity, efficiency and complexity. E-RNAi also facilitates the design of secondary RNAi reagents for validation experiments, evaluation of pooled siRNA reagents and batch design. Results are presented online, as a downloadable HTML report and as tab-delimited files.
PMCID: PMC2896145  PMID: 20444868
11.  False negative rates in Drosophila cell-based RNAi screens: a case study 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:50.
High-throughput screening using RNAi is a powerful gene discovery method but is often complicated by false positive and false negative results. Whereas false positive results associated with RNAi reagents has been a matter of extensive study, the issue of false negatives has received less attention.
We performed a meta-analysis of several genome-wide, cell-based Drosophila RNAi screens, together with a more focused RNAi screen, and conclude that the rate of false negative results is at least 8%. Further, we demonstrate how knowledge of the cell transcriptome can be used to resolve ambiguous results and how the number of false negative results can be reduced by using multiple, independently-tested RNAi reagents per gene.
RNAi reagents that target the same gene do not always yield consistent results due to false positives and weak or ineffective reagents. False positive results can be partially minimized by filtering with transcriptome data. RNAi libraries with multiple reagents per gene also reduce false positive and false negative outcomes when inconsistent results are disambiguated carefully.
PMCID: PMC3036618  PMID: 21251254
12.  Analysis of high-throughput RNAi screening data in identifying genes mediating sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs: statistical approaches and perspectives 
BMC Genomics  2012;13(Suppl 8):S3.
High-throughput RNA interference (RNAi) screens have been used to find genes that, when silenced, result in sensitivity to certain chemotherapy drugs. Researchers therefore can further identify drug-sensitive targets and novel drug combinations that sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. Considerable uncertainty exists about the efficiency and accuracy of statistical approaches used for RNAi hit selection in drug sensitivity studies. Researchers require statistical methods suitable for analyzing high-throughput RNAi screening data that will reduce false-positive and false-negative rates.
In this study, we carried out a simulation study to evaluate four types of statistical approaches (fold-change/ratio, parametric tests/statistics, sensitivity index, and linear models) with different scenarios of RNAi screenings for drug sensitivity studies. With the simulated datasets, the linear model resulted in significantly lower false-negative and false-positive rates. Based on the results of the simulation study, we then make recommendations of statistical analysis methods for high-throughput RNAi screening data in different scenarios. We assessed promising methods using real data from a loss-of-function RNAi screen to identify hits that modulate paclitaxel sensitivity in breast cancer cells. High-confidence hits with specific inhibitors were further analyzed for their ability to inhibit breast cancer cell growth. Our analysis identified a number of gene targets with inhibitors known to enhance paclitaxel sensitivity, suggesting other genes identified may merit further investigation.
RNAi screening can identify druggable targets and novel drug combinations that can sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. However, applying an inappropriate statistical method or model to the RNAi screening data will result in decreased power to detect the true hits and increase false positive and false negative rates, leading researchers to draw incorrect conclusions. In this paper, we make recommendations to enable more objective selection of statistical analysis methods for high-throughput RNAi screening data.
PMCID: PMC3535706  PMID: 23281588
13.  An analysis of normalization methods for Drosophila RNAi genomic screens and development of a robust validation scheme 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2008;13(8):777-784.
Genome-wide RNAi screening is a powerful, yet relatively immature technology that allows investigation into the role of individual genes in a process of choice. Most RNAi screens identify a large number of genes with a continuous gradient in the assessed phenotype. Screeners must then decide whether to examine just those genes with the most robust phenotype or to examine the full gradient of genes that cause an effect and how to identify the candidate genes to be validated. We have used RNAi in Drosophila cells to examine viability in a 384-well plate format and compare two screens, untreated control and treatment. We compare multiple normalization methods, which take advantage of different features within the data, including quantile normalization, background subtraction, scaling, cellHTS2 1, and interquartile range measurement. Considering the false-positive potential that arises from RNAi technology, a robust validation method was designed for the purpose of gene selection for future investigations. In a retrospective analysis, we describe the use of validation data to evaluate each normalization method. While no normalization method worked ideally, we found that a combination of two methods, background subtraction followed by quantile normalization and cellHTS2, at different thresholds, captures the most dependable and diverse candidate genes. Thresholds are suggested depending on whether a few candidate genes are desired or a more extensive systems level analysis is sought. In summary, our normalization approaches and experimental design to perform validation experiments are likely to apply to those high-throughput screening systems attempting to identify genes for systems level analysis.
PMCID: PMC2956424  PMID: 18753689
RNAi; high-throughput screen; normalization; validation
14.  RNAi Screening: New Approaches, Understandings and Organisms 
RNA interference (RNAi) leads to sequence-specific knockdown of gene function. The approach can be used in large-scale screens to interrogate function in various model organisms and an increasing number of other species. Genome-scale RNAi screens are routinely performed in cultured or primary cells or in vivo in organisms such as C. elegans. High-throughput RNAi screening is benefitting from the development of sophisticated new instrumentation and software tools for collecting and analyzing data, including high-content image data. The results of large-scale RNAi screens have already proved useful, leading to new understandings of gene function relevant to topics such as infection, cancer, obesity and aging. Nevertheless, important caveats apply and should be taken into consideration when developing or interpreting RNAi screens. Some level of false discovery is inherent to high-throughput approaches and specific to RNAi screens, false discovery due to off-target effects (OTEs) of RNAi reagents remains a problem. The need to improve our ability to use RNAi to elucidate gene function at large scale and in additional systems continues to be addressed through improved RNAi library design, development of innovative computational and analysis tools and other approaches.
PMCID: PMC3249004  PMID: 21953743
RNAi; high-throughput screens; high-content imaging; cell-based assays
15.  DroPNet: a web portal for integrated analysis of Drosophila protein–protein interaction networks 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(Web Server issue):W134-W139.
DroPNet (Drosophila Protein Network) is a Drosophila-dedicated web portal for generating and analyzing protein–protein interaction (PPI) networks. This platform integrates users’ experimental data provided as one or two lists of genes with PPI data from Drosophila and other species. These experimental data can, for example, come from RNAi screens, for which this approach is known to be valuable. DroPNet, therefore, provides an essential basis for further biological analysis by linking functional and physical interactions and reinforcing the relevance of each. DroPNet focuses on the search of PPIs between genes of the entry list, and includes the possibility of searching for intermediate genes for which the corresponding protein indirectly links two entry data. It also offers multiple functions for editing the networks obtained, providing users with interactive possibilities to progressively improve and refine the results. This approach gives a global view of the studied process and makes it possible to highlight specific interactions that have so far been understudied. DroPNet is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3394298  PMID: 22641854
16.  FlyRNAi: the Drosophila RNAi screening center database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;34(Database issue):D489-D494.
RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful tool for genetic screening in Drosophila. At the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center (DRSC), we are using a library of over 21 000 double-stranded RNAs targeting known and predicted genes in Drosophila. This library is available for the use of visiting scientists wishing to perform full-genome RNAi screens. The data generated from these screens are collected in the DRSC database () in a flexible format for the convenience of the scientist and for archiving data. The long-term goal of this database is to provide annotations for as many of the uncharacterized genes in Drosophila as possible. Data from published screens are available to the public through a highly configurable interface that allows detailed examination of the data and provides access to a number of other databases and bioinformatics tools.
PMCID: PMC1347476  PMID: 16381918
17.  STITCH 4: integration of protein–chemical interactions with user data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(D1):D401-D407.
STITCH is a database of protein–chemical interactions that integrates many sources of experimental and manually curated evidence with text-mining information and interaction predictions. Available at, the resulting interaction network includes 390 000 chemicals and 3.6 million proteins from 1133 organisms. Compared with the previous version, the number of high-confidence protein–chemical interactions in human has increased by 45%, to 367 000. In this version, we added features for users to upload their own data to STITCH in the form of internal identifiers, chemical structures or quantitative data. For example, a user can now upload a spreadsheet with screening hits to easily check which interactions are already known. To increase the coverage of STITCH, we expanded the text mining to include full-text articles and added a prediction method based on chemical structures. We further changed our scheme for transferring interactions between species to rely on orthology rather than protein similarity. This improves the performance within protein families, where scores are now transferred only to orthologous proteins, but not to paralogous proteins. STITCH can be accessed with a web-interface, an API and downloadable files.
PMCID: PMC3964996  PMID: 24293645
18.  Protein interaction network topology uncovers melanogenesis regulatory network components within functional genomics datasets 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:84.
RNA-mediated interference (RNAi)-based functional genomics is a systems-level approach to identify novel genes that control biological phenotypes. Existing computational approaches can identify individual genes from RNAi datasets that regulate a given biological process. However, currently available methods cannot identify which RNAi screen "hits" are novel components of well-characterized biological pathways known to regulate the interrogated phenotype. In this study, we describe a method to identify genes from RNAi datasets that are novel components of known biological pathways. We experimentally validate our approach in the context of a recently completed RNAi screen to identify novel regulators of melanogenesis.
In this study, we utilize a PPI network topology-based approach to identify targets within our RNAi dataset that may be components of known melanogenesis regulatory pathways. Our computational approach identifies a set of screen targets that cluster topologically in a human PPI network with the known pigment regulator Endothelin receptor type B (EDNRB). Validation studies reveal that these genes impact pigment production and EDNRB signaling in pigmented melanoma cells (MNT-1) and normal melanocytes.
We present an approach that identifies novel components of well-characterized biological pathways from functional genomics datasets that could not have been identified by existing statistical and computational approaches.
PMCID: PMC2904735  PMID: 20550706
19.  Analysis of cell-based RNAi screens 
Genome Biology  2006;7(7):R66.
cellHTS is a new method for the analysis and documentation of RNAi screens.
RNA interference (RNAi) screening is a powerful technology for functional characterization of biological pathways. Interpretation of RNAi screens requires computational and statistical analysis techniques. We describe a method that integrates all steps to generate a scored phenotype list from raw data. It is implemented in an open-source Bioconductor/R package, cellHTS (). The method is useful for the analysis and documentation of individual RNAi screens. Moreover, it is a prerequisite for the integration of multiple experiments.
PMCID: PMC1779553  PMID: 16869968
20.  A Genetic RNAi Screen for IP3/Ca2+ Coupled GPCRs in Drosophila Identifies the PdfR as a Regulator of Insect Flight 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003849.
Insect flight is regulated by various sensory inputs and neuromodulatory circuits which function in synchrony to control and fine-tune the final behavioral outcome. The cellular and molecular bases of flight neuromodulatory circuits are not well defined. In Drosophila melanogaster, it is known that neuronal IP3 receptor mediated Ca2+ signaling and store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) are required for air-puff stimulated adult flight. However, G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that activate intracellular Ca2+ signaling in the context of flight are unknown in Drosophila. We performed a genetic RNAi screen to identify GPCRs that regulate flight by activating the IP3 receptor. Among the 108 GPCRs screened, we discovered 5 IP3/Ca2+ linked GPCRs that are necessary for maintenance of air-puff stimulated flight. Analysis of their temporal requirement established that while some GPCRs are required only during flight circuit development, others are required both in pupal development as well as during adult flight. Interestingly, our study identified the Pigment Dispersing Factor Receptor (PdfR) as a regulator of flight circuit development and as a modulator of acute flight. From the analysis of PdfR expressing neurons relevant for flight and its well-defined roles in other behavioral paradigms, we propose that PdfR signaling functions systemically to integrate multiple sensory inputs and modulate downstream motor behavior.
Author Summary
A majority of behavioral patterns in flying insects depend upon their ability to modulate flight. In Drosophila melanogaster, mutations in the IP3 receptor gene lead to loss of voluntary flight in response to a natural stimulus like a gentle air-puff. From previous genetic and cellular studies it is known that the IP3R in Drosophila is activated by G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). However, GPCRs that act upstream of the IP3R in the context of flight are not known. Therefore, we performed a genetic RNAi screen to identify GPCRs which regulate flight. This screen was followed by a secondary suppressor screen that assessed the role of each identified GPCR in activating IP3/Ca2+ signaling. We found 5 such GPCRs. Our results demonstrate that these GPCRs are required during flight circuit development and during adult flight. One flight-regulating receptor identified was the Pigment Dispersing Factor Receptor (PdfR). This receptor is known to regulate behaviors such as circadian rhythms, geotaxis and reproduction. A spatio-temporal analysis of PdfR flight function indicates that it regulates both flight circuit development and acute flight through multiple neurons. We postulate that PdfR signaling could modulate and integrate multiple behavioral inputs in Drosophila and other flying insects.
PMCID: PMC3789835  PMID: 24098151
21.  Manipulating and enhancing the RNAi response 
The phenomenon that is known as RNA mediated interference (RNAi) was first observed in the nematode C. elegans. The application of RNAi has now been widely disseminated and the mechanisms underlying the pathway have been uncovered using both genetics and biochemistry. In the worm, it has been demonstrated that RNAi is easily adapted to high throughput analysis and screening protocols. Hence, given the availability of whole genome sequences, RNAi has been used extensively as a tool for annotating gene function. Genetic screens performed with C. elegans have also led to the identification of genes that are essential for RNAi or that modulate the RNAi process. The identification of such genes has made it possible to manipulate and enhance the RNAi response. Moreover, many of the genes identified in C. elegans have been conserved in other organisms. Thus, opportunities are available for researchers to take advantage of the insights gained from the worm and apply them to their own systems in order to improve the efficiency and potency of the RNAi response.
PMCID: PMC2737212  PMID: 19771213
C. elegans; RdRP; RNA interference; siRNA; systemic RNAi
22.  Lists2Networks: Integrated analysis of gene/protein lists 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:87.
Systems biologists are faced with the difficultly of analyzing results from large-scale studies that profile the activity of many genes, RNAs and proteins, applied in different experiments, under different conditions, and reported in different publications. To address this challenge it is desirable to compare the results from different related studies such as mRNA expression microarrays, genome-wide ChIP-X, RNAi screens, proteomics and phosphoproteomics experiments in a coherent global framework. In addition, linking high-content multilayered experimental results with prior biological knowledge can be useful for identifying functional themes and form novel hypotheses.
We present Lists2Networks, a web-based system that allows users to upload lists of mammalian genes/proteins onto a server-based program for integrated analysis. The system includes web-based tools to manipulate lists with different set operations, to expand lists using existing mammalian networks of protein-protein interactions, co-expression correlation, or background knowledge co-annotation correlation, as well as to apply gene-list enrichment analyses against many gene-list libraries of prior biological knowledge such as pathways, gene ontology terms, kinase-substrate, microRNA-mRAN, and protein-protein interactions, metabolites, and protein domains. Such analyses can be applied to several lists at once against many prior knowledge libraries of gene-lists associated with specific annotations. The system also contains features that allow users to export networks and share lists with other users of the system.
Lists2Networks is a user friendly web-based software system expected to significantly ease the computational analysis process for experimental systems biologists employing high-throughput experiments at multiple layers of regulation. The system is freely available at
PMCID: PMC2843617  PMID: 20152038
23.  High-throughput RNAi screening identifies a role for TNK1 in growth and survival of pancreatic cancer cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(6):724-732.
In order to identify novel targets in pancreatic cancer cells, we utilized high-throughput RNAi (HT-RNAi) to identify genes that, when silenced, would decrease viability of pancreatic cancer cells. The HT-RNAi screen involved reverse transfecting the pancreatic cancer cell line BxPC3 with a siRNA library targeting 572 kinases. From replicate screens, approximately thirty-two kinases were designated as hits, of which twenty-two kinase targets were selected for confirmation and validation. One kinase identified as a hit from this screen was tyrosine kinase non-receptor 1 (TNK1), a kinase previously identified as having tumor suppressor-like properties in embryonic stem cells. Silencing of TNK1 with siRNA showed reduced proliferation in a panel of pancreatic cancer cell lines. Furthermore, we demonstrated that silencing of TNK1 led to increased apoptosis through a caspase-dependent pathway and that targeting TNK1 with siRNA can synergize with gemcitabine treatment. Despite previous reports that TNK1 affects Ras and NFκB signaling, we did not find similar correlations with these pathways in pancreatic cancer cells. Our results suggest that TNK1 in pancreatic cancer cells does not possess the same tumor suppressor properties seen in embryonic cells, but appears to be involved in growth and survival. The application of functional genomics using HT-RNAi screens has allowed us to identify TNK1 as a growth-associated kinase in pancreatic cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3137903  PMID: 21536687
HT-RNAi; TNK1; gemcitabine; pancreatic cancer
24.  Statistical Methods for Analysis of High-Throughput RNA Interference Screens 
Nature methods  2009;6(8):569-575.
RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful technique for reverse genetics and drug discovery and, in both of these areas, large-scale high-throughput RNAi screens are commonly performed. The statistical techniques used to analyze these screens are frequently borrowed directly from small-molecule screening; however small-molecule and RNAi data characteristics differ in meaningful ways. We examine the similarities and differences between RNAi and small-molecule screens, highlighting particular characteristics of RNAi screen data that must be addressed during analysis. Additionally, we provide guidance on selection of analysis techniques in the context of a sample workflow.
PMCID: PMC2789971  PMID: 19644458
25.  Identification of JAK/STAT pathway regulators—Insights from RNAi screens 
While many core JAK/STAT pathway components have been discovered in Drosophila via classical genetic approaches, the identification of pathway regulators has been more challenging. Recently two cell-based RNAi screens for JAK/STAT pathway regulators have been undertaken using libraries of double-stranded RNAs targeting a large proportion of the predicted Drosophila transcriptome. While both screens identified multiple regulators, only relatively few loci are common to both data sets. Here we compare the two screens and discuss these differences. Although many factors are likely to be contributory, differences in the assay design are of key importance. Low levels of stimulation favouring the identification of negative pathway regulators and high levels of stimulation favouring the identification of positively acting factors. Ultimately, the results from both screens are likely to be largely complementary and have identified a range of novel candidate regulators of JAK/STAT pathway activity as a starting point for new research directions in the future.
PMCID: PMC2631610  PMID: 18586112
RNAi; Genome-wide screen; Cell culture; Luciferase reporter; Drosophila

Results 1-25 (1006822)