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1.  Predicting RNA-Protein Interactions Using Only Sequence Information 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:489.
RNA-protein interactions (RPIs) play important roles in a wide variety of cellular processes, ranging from transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression to host defense against pathogens. High throughput experiments to identify RNA-protein interactions are beginning to provide valuable information about the complexity of RNA-protein interaction networks, but are expensive and time consuming. Hence, there is a need for reliable computational methods for predicting RNA-protein interactions.
We propose RPISeq, a family of classifiers for predicting RNA-protein interactions using only sequence information. Given the sequences of an RNA and a protein as input, RPIseq predicts whether or not the RNA-protein pair interact. The RNA sequence is encoded as a normalized vector of its ribonucleotide 4-mer composition, and the protein sequence is encoded as a normalized vector of its 3-mer composition, based on a 7-letter reduced alphabet representation. Two variants of RPISeq are presented: RPISeq-SVM, which uses a Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifier and RPISeq-RF, which uses a Random Forest classifier. On two non-redundant benchmark datasets extracted from the Protein-RNA Interface Database (PRIDB), RPISeq achieved an AUC (Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve) of 0.96 and 0.92. On a third dataset containing only mRNA-protein interactions, the performance of RPISeq was competitive with that of a published method that requires information regarding many different features (e.g., mRNA half-life, GO annotations) of the putative RNA and protein partners. In addition, RPISeq classifiers trained using the PRIDB data correctly predicted the majority (57-99%) of non-coding RNA-protein interactions in NPInter-derived networks from E. coli, S. cerevisiae, D. melanogaster, M. musculus, and H. sapiens.
Our experiments with RPISeq demonstrate that RNA-protein interactions can be reliably predicted using only sequence-derived information. RPISeq offers an inexpensive method for computational construction of RNA-protein interaction networks, and should provide useful insights into the function of non-coding RNAs. RPISeq is freely available as a web-based server at
PMCID: PMC3322362  PMID: 22192482
2.  Characterization of the retinal proteome during rod photoreceptor genesis 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:25.
The process of rod photoreceptor genesis, cell fate determination and differentiation is complex and multi-factorial. Previous studies have defined a model of photoreceptor differentiation that relies on intrinsic changes within the presumptive photoreceptor cells as well as changes in surrounding tissue that are extrinsic to the cell. We have used a proteomics approach to identify proteins that are dynamically expressed in the mouse retina during rod genesis and differentiation.
A series of six developmental ages from E13 to P5 were used to define changes in retinal protein expression during rod photoreceptor genesis and early differentiation. Retinal proteins were separated by isoelectric focus point and molecular weight. Gels were analyzed for changes in protein spot intensity across developmental time. Protein spots that peaked in expression at E17, P0 and P5 were picked from gels for identification. There were 239 spots that were picked for identification based on their dynamic expression during the developmental period of maximal rod photoreceptor genesis and differentiation. Of the 239 spots, 60 of them were reliably identified and represented a single protein. Ten proteins were represented by multiple spots, suggesting they were post-translationally modified. Of the 42 unique dynamically expressed proteins identified, 16 had been previously reported to be associated with the developing retina.
Our results represent the first proteomics study of the developing mouse retina that includes prenatal development. We identified 26 dynamically expressed proteins in the developing mouse retina whose expression had not been previously associated with retinal development.
PMCID: PMC2843734  PMID: 20181029
3.  Using a Seed-Network to Query Multiple Large-Scale Gene Expression Datasets from the Developing Retina in Order to Identify and Prioritize Experimental Targets 
Understanding the gene networks that orchestrate the differentiation of retinal progenitors into photoreceptors in the developing retina is important not only due to its therapeutic applications in treating retinal degeneration but also because the developing retina provides an excellent model for studying CNS development. Although several studies have profiled changes in gene expression during normal retinal development, these studies offer at best only a starting point for functional studies focused on a smaller subset of genes. The large number of genes profiled at comparatively few time points makes it extremely difficult to reliably infer gene networks from a gene expression dataset. We describe a novel approach to identify and prioritize from multiple gene expression datasets, a small subset of the genes that are likely to be good candidates for further experimental investigation. We report progress on addressing this problem using a novel approach to querying multiple large-scale expression datasets using a ‘seed network’ consisting of a small set of genes that are implicated by published studies in rod photoreceptor differentiation. We use the seed network to identify and sort a list of genes whose expression levels are highly correlated with those of multiple seed network genes in at least two of the five gene expression datasets. The fact that several of the genes in this list have been demonstrated, through experimental studies reported in the literature, to be important in rod photoreceptor function provides support for the utility of this approach in prioritizing experimental targets for further experimental investigation. Based on Gene Ontology and KEGG pathway annotations for the list of genes obtained in the context of other information available in the literature, we identified seven genes or groups of genes for possible inclusion in the gene network involved in differentiation of retinal progenitor cells into rod photoreceptors. Our approach to querying multiple gene expression datasets using a seed network constructed from known interactions between specific genes of interest provides a promising strategy for focusing hypothesis-driven experiments using large-scale ‘omics’ data.
PMCID: PMC2735966  PMID: 19812791
gene expression; gene network; cell fate determination; retina; photoreceptor

Results 1-3 (3)