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1.  TLR4 Activation Promotes Podocyte Injury and Interstitial Fibrosis in Diabetic Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97985.
Toll like receptor (TLR) 4 has been reported to promote inflammation in diabetic nephropathy. However the role of TLR4 in the complicated pathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy is not understood. In this study, we report elevated expression of TLR4, its endogenous ligands and downstream cytokines, chemokines and fibrogenic genes in diabetic nephropathy in WT mice with streptozotocin (STZ) diabetes. Subsequently, we demonstrated that TLR4−/− mice were protected against the development of diabetic nephropathy, exhibiting less albuminuria, inflammation, glomerular hypertrophy and hypercellularity, podocyte and tubular injury as compared to diabetic wild-type controls. Marked reductions in interstitial collagen deposition, myofibroblast activation (α-SMA) and expression of fibrogenic genes (TGF-β and fibronectin) were also evident in TLR4 deficient mice. Consistent with our in vivo results, high glucose directly promoted TLR4 activation in podocytes and tubular epithelial cells in vitro, resulting in NF-κB activation and consequent inflammatory and fibrogenic responses. Our data indicate that TLR4 activation may promote inflammation, podocyte and tubular epithelial cell injury and interstitial fibrosis, suggesting TLR4 is a potential therapeutic target for diabetic nephropathy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097985
PMCID: PMC4026484  PMID: 24842252
2.  The relationship between DNA methylation, genetic and expression inter-individual variation in untransformed human fibroblasts 
Genome Biology  2014;15(2):R37.
Background
DNA methylation plays an essential role in the regulation of gene expression. While its presence near the transcription start site of a gene has been associated with reduced expression, the variation in methylation levels across individuals, its environmental or genetic causes, and its association with gene expression remain poorly understood.
Results
We report the joint analysis of sequence variants, gene expression and DNA methylation in primary fibroblast samples derived from a set of 62 unrelated individuals. Approximately 2% of the most variable CpG sites are mappable in cis to sequence variation, usually within 5 kb. Via eQTL analysis with microarray data combined with mapping of allelic expression regions, we obtained a set of 2,770 regions mappable in cis to sequence variation. In 9.5% of these expressed regions, an associated SNP was also a methylation QTL. Methylation and gene expression are often correlated without direct discernible involvement of sequence variation, but not always in the expected direction of negative for promoter CpGs and positive for gene-body CpGs. Population-level correlation between methylation and expression is strongest in a subset of developmentally significant genes, including all four HOX clusters. The presence and sign of this correlation are best predicted using specific chromatin marks rather than position of the CpG site with respect to the gene.
Conclusions
Our results indicate a wide variety of relationships between gene expression, DNA methylation and sequence variation in untransformed adult human fibroblasts, with considerable involvement of chromatin features and some discernible involvement of sequence variation.
doi:10.1186/gb-2014-15-2-r37
PMCID: PMC4053980  PMID: 24555846
3.  Assessment of Gene-by-Sex Interaction Effect on Bone Mineral Density 
Liu, Ching-Ti | Estrada, Karol | Yerges-Armstrong, Laura M. | Amin, Najaf | Evangelou, Evangelos | Li, Guo | Minster, Ryan L. | Carless, Melanie A. | Kammerer, Candace M. | Oei, Ling | Zhou, Yanhua | Alonso, Nerea | Dailiana, Zoe | Eriksson, Joel | García-Giralt, Natalia | Giroux, Sylvie | Husted, Lise Bjerre | Khusainova, Rita I. | Koromila, Theodora | Kung, Annie WaiChee | Lewis, Joshua R. | Masi, Laura | Mencej-Bedrac, Simona | Nogues, Xavier | Patel, Millan S. | Prezelj, Janez | Richards, J Brent | Sham, Pak Chung | Spector, Timothy | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Xiao, Su-Mei | Zheng, Hou-Feng | Zhu, Kun | Balcells, Susana | Brandi, Maria Luisa | Frost, Morten | Goltzman, David | González-Macías, Jesús | Karlsson, Magnus | Khusnutdinova, Elza K. | Kollia, Panagoula | Langdahl, Bente Lomholt | Ljunggren, Östen | Lorentzon, Mattias | Marc, Janja | Mellström, Dan | Ohlsson, Claes | Olmos, José M. | Ralston, Stuart H. | Riancho, José A. | Rousseau, François | Urreizti, Roser | Van Hul, Wim | Zarrabeitia, María T. | Castano-Betancourt, Martha | Demissie, Serkalem | Grundberg, Elin | Herrera, Lizbeth | Kwan, Tony | Medina-Gómez, Carolina | Pastinen, Tomi | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | vanMeurs, Joyce B.J. | Blangero, John | Hofman, Albert | Liu, Yongmei | Mitchell, Braxton D. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Oostra, Ben A. | Rotter, Jerome I | Stefansson, Kari | Streeten, Elizabeth A. | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Tylavsky, Frances A. | Uitterlinden, Andre | Cauley, Jane A. | Harris, Tamara B. | Ioannidis, John P.A. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Robbins, John A | Zillikens, M. Carola | vanDuijn, Cornelia M. | Prince, Richard L. | Karasik, David | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Kiel, Douglas P. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Hsu, Yi-Hsiang
Background
Sexual dimorphism in various bone phenotypes, including bone mineral density (BMD), is widely observed; however the extent to which genes explain these sex differences is unclear. To identify variants with different effects by sex, we examined gene-by-sex autosomal interactions genome-wide, and performed eQTL analysis and bioinformatics network analysis.
Methods
We conducted an autosomal genome-wide meta-analysis of gene-by-sex interaction on lumbar spine (LS-) and femoral neck (FN-) BMD, in 25,353 individuals from eight cohorts. In a second stage, we followed up the 12 top SNPs (P<1×10−5) in an additional set of 24,763 individuals. Gene-by-sex interaction and sex-specific effects were examined in these 12 SNPs.
Results
We detected one novel genome-wide significant interaction associated with LS-BMD at the Chr3p26.1-p25.1 locus, near the GRM7 gene (male effect = 0.02 & p-value = 3.0×10−5; female effect = −0.007 & p-value=3.3×10−2) and eleven suggestive loci associated with either FN- or LS-BMD in discovery cohorts. However, there was no evidence for genome-wide significant (P<5×10−8) gene-by-sex interaction in the joint analysis of discovery and replication cohorts.
Conclusion
Despite the large collaborative effort, no genome-wide significant evidence for gene-by-sex interaction was found influencing BMD variation in this screen of autosomal markers. If they exist, gene-by-sex interactions for BMD probably have weak effects, accounting for less than 0.08% of the variation in these traits per implicated SNP.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.1679
PMCID: PMC3447125  PMID: 22692763
gene-by-sex; interaction; BMD; association; aging
4.  Identification of three new cis-regulatory IRF5 polymorphisms: in vitro studies 
Background
Polymorphisms in the interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene are associated with susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases through independent risk and protective haplotypes. Several functional polymorphisms are already known, but they do not account for the protective haplotypes that are tagged by the minor allele of rs729302.
Methods
Polymorphisms in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with rs729302 or particularly associated with IRF5 expression were selected for functional screening, which involved electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) and reporter gene assays.
Results
A total of 54 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the 5' region of IRF5 were genotyped. Twenty-four of them were selected for functional screening because of their high LD with rs729302 or protective haplotypes. In addition, two polymorphisms were selected for their prominent association with IRF5 expression. Seven of these twenty-six polymorphisms showed reproducible allele differences in EMSA. The seven were subsequently analyzed in gene reporter assays, and three of them showed significant differences between their two alleles: rs729302, rs13245639 and rs11269962. Haplotypes including the cis-regulatory polymorphisms correlated very well with IRF5 mRNA expression in an analysis based on previous data.
Conclusion
We have found that three polymorphisms in LD with the protective haplotypes of IRF5 have differential allele effects in EMSA and in reporter gene assays. Identification of these cis-regulatory polymorphisms will allow more accurate analysis of transcriptional regulation of IRF5 expression, more powerful genetic association studies and deeper insight into the role of IRF5 in disease susceptibility.
doi:10.1186/ar4262
PMCID: PMC3978921  PMID: 23941291
5.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 56 bone mineral density loci and reveals 14 loci associated with risk of fracture 
Estrada, Karol | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Evangelou, Evangelos | Hsu, Yi-Hsiang | Duncan, Emma L | Ntzani, Evangelia E | Oei, Ling | Albagha, Omar M E | Amin, Najaf | Kemp, John P | Koller, Daniel L | Li, Guo | Liu, Ching-Ti | Minster, Ryan L | Moayyeri, Alireza | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Willner, Dana | Xiao, Su-Mei | Yerges-Armstrong, Laura M | Zheng, Hou-Feng | Alonso, Nerea | Eriksson, Joel | Kammerer, Candace M | Kaptoge, Stephen K | Leo, Paul J | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Wilson, Scott G | Wilson, James F | Aalto, Ville | Alen, Markku | Aragaki, Aaron K | Aspelund, Thor | Center, Jacqueline R | Dailiana, Zoe | Duggan, David J | Garcia, Melissa | Garcia-Giralt, Natàlia | Giroux, Sylvie | Hallmans, Göran | Hocking, Lynne J | Husted, Lise Bjerre | Jameson, Karen A | Khusainova, Rita | Kim, Ghi Su | Kooperberg, Charles | Koromila, Theodora | Kruk, Marcin | Laaksonen, Marika | Lacroix, Andrea Z | Lee, Seung Hun | Leung, Ping C | Lewis, Joshua R | Masi, Laura | Mencej-Bedrac, Simona | Nguyen, Tuan V | Nogues, Xavier | Patel, Millan S | Prezelj, Janez | Rose, Lynda M | Scollen, Serena | Siggeirsdottir, Kristin | Smith, Albert V | Svensson, Olle | Trompet, Stella | Trummer, Olivia | van Schoor, Natasja M | Woo, Jean | Zhu, Kun | Balcells, Susana | Brandi, Maria Luisa | Buckley, Brendan M | Cheng, Sulin | Christiansen, Claus | Cooper, Cyrus | Dedoussis, George | Ford, Ian | Frost, Morten | Goltzman, David | González-Macías, Jesús | Kähönen, Mika | Karlsson, Magnus | Khusnutdinova, Elza | Koh, Jung-Min | Kollia, Panagoula | Langdahl, Bente Lomholt | Leslie, William D | Lips, Paul | Ljunggren, Östen | Lorenc, Roman S | Marc, Janja | Mellström, Dan | Obermayer-Pietsch, Barbara | Olmos, José M | Pettersson-Kymmer, Ulrika | Reid, David M | Riancho, José A | Ridker, Paul M | Rousseau, François | Slagboom, P Eline | Tang, Nelson LS | Urreizti, Roser | Van Hul, Wim | Viikari, Jorma | Zarrabeitia, María T | Aulchenko, Yurii S | Castano-Betancourt, Martha | Grundberg, Elin | Herrera, Lizbeth | Ingvarsson, Thorvaldur | Johannsdottir, Hrefna | Kwan, Tony | Li, Rui | Luben, Robert | Medina-Gómez, Carolina | Palsson, Stefan Th | Reppe, Sjur | Rotter, Jerome I | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | van Meurs, Joyce B J | Verlaan, Dominique | Williams, Frances MK | Wood, Andrew R | Zhou, Yanhua | Gautvik, Kaare M | Pastinen, Tomi | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Cauley, Jane A | Chasman, Daniel I | Clark, Graeme R | Cummings, Steven R | Danoy, Patrick | Dennison, Elaine M | Eastell, Richard | Eisman, John A | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hofman, Albert | Jackson, Rebecca D | Jones, Graeme | Jukema, J Wouter | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Lehtimäki, Terho | Liu, Yongmei | Lorentzon, Mattias | McCloskey, Eugene | Mitchell, Braxton D | Nandakumar, Kannabiran | Nicholson, Geoffrey C | Oostra, Ben A | Peacock, Munro | Pols, Huibert A P | Prince, Richard L | Raitakari, Olli | Reid, Ian R | Robbins, John | Sambrook, Philip N | Sham, Pak Chung | Shuldiner, Alan R | Tylavsky, Frances A | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Wareham, Nick J | Cupples, L Adrienne | Econs, Michael J | Evans, David M | Harris, Tamara B | Kung, Annie Wai Chee | Psaty, Bruce M | Reeve, Jonathan | Spector, Timothy D | Streeten, Elizabeth A | Zillikens, M Carola | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Ohlsson, Claes | Karasik, David | Richards, J Brent | Brown, Matthew A | Stefansson, Kari | Uitterlinden, André G | Ralston, Stuart H | Ioannidis, John P A | Kiel, Douglas P | Rivadeneira, Fernando
Nature genetics  2012;44(5):491-501.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is the most important predictor of fracture risk. We performed the largest meta-analysis to date on lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD, including 17 genome-wide association studies and 32,961 individuals of European and East Asian ancestry. We tested the top-associated BMD markers for replication in 50,933 independent subjects and for risk of low-trauma fracture in 31,016 cases and 102,444 controls. We identified 56 loci (32 novel)associated with BMD atgenome-wide significant level (P<5×10−8). Several of these factors cluster within the RANK-RANKL-OPG, mesenchymal-stem-cell differentiation, endochondral ossification and the Wnt signalling pathways. However, we also discovered loci containing genes not known to play a role in bone biology. Fourteen BMD loci were also associated with fracture risk (P<5×10−4, Bonferroni corrected), of which six reached P<5×10−8 including: 18p11.21 (C18orf19), 7q21.3 (SLC25A13), 11q13.2 (LRP5), 4q22.1 (MEPE), 2p16.2 (SPTBN1) and 10q21.1 (DKK1). These findings shed light on the genetic architecture and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying BMD variation and fracture susceptibility.
doi:10.1038/ng.2249
PMCID: PMC3338864  PMID: 22504420
6.  Interaction between genetic and epigenetic variation defines gene expression patterns at the asthma-associated locus 17q12-q21 in lymphoblastoid cell lines 
Human Genetics  2012;131(7):1161-1171.
Phenotypic variation results from variation in gene expression, which is modulated by genetic and/or epigenetic factors. To understand the molecular basis of human disease, interaction between genetic and epigenetic factors needs to be taken into account. The asthma-associated region 17q12-q21 harbors three genes, the zona pellucida binding protein 2 (ZPBP2), gasdermin B (GSDMB) and ORM1-like 3 (ORMDL3), that show allele-specific differences in expression levels in lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and CD4+ T cells. Here, we report a molecular dissection of allele-specific transcriptional regulation of the genes within the chromosomal region 17q12-q21 combining in vitro transfection, formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements, chromatin immunoprecipitation and DNA methylation assays in LCLs. We found that a single nucleotide polymorphism rs4795397 influences the activity of ZPBP2 promoter in vitro in an allele-dependent fashion, and also leads to nucleosome repositioning on the asthma-associated allele. However, variable methylation of exon 1 of ZPBP2 masks the strong genetic effect on ZPBP2 promoter activity in LCLs. In contrast, the ORMDL3 promoter is fully unmethylated, which allows detection of genetic effects on its transcription. We conclude that the cis-regulatory effects on 17q12-q21 gene expression result from interaction between several regulatory polymorphisms and epigenetic factors within the cis-regulatory haplotype region.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-012-1142-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00439-012-1142-x
PMCID: PMC3374122  PMID: 22271045
7.  Global Analysis of the Impact of Environmental Perturbation on cis-Regulation of Gene Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(1):e1001279.
Genetic variants altering cis-regulation of normal gene expression (cis-eQTLs) have been extensively mapped in human cells and tissues, but the extent by which controlled, environmental perturbation influences cis-eQTLs is unclear. We carried out large-scale induction experiments using primary human bone cells derived from unrelated donors of Swedish origin treated with 18 different stimuli (7 treatments and 2 controls, each assessed at 2 time points). The treatments with the largest impact on the transcriptome, verified on two independent expression arrays, included BMP-2 (t = 2h), dexamethasone (DEX) (t = 24h), and PGE2 (t = 24h). Using these treatments and control, we performed expression profiling for 18,144 RefSeq transcripts on biological replicates of the complete study cohort of 113 individuals (ntotal = 782) and combined it with genome-wide SNP-genotyping data in order to map treatment-specific cis-eQTLs (defined as SNPs located within the gene ±250 kb). We found that 93% of cis-eQTLs at 1% FDR were observed in at least one additional treatment, and in fact, on average, only 1.4% of the cis-eQTLs were considered as treatment-specific at high confidence. The relative invariability of cis-regulation following perturbation was reiterated independently by genome-wide allelic expression tests where only a small proportion of variance could be attributed to treatment. Treatment-specific cis-regulatory effects were, however, 2- to 6-fold more abundant among differently expressed genes upon treatment. We further followed-up and validated the DEX–specific cis-regulation of the MYO6 and TNC loci and found top cis-regulatory variants located 180 kb and 250 kb upstream of the transcription start sites, respectively. Our results suggest that, as opposed to tissue-specificity of cis-eQTLs, the interactions between cellular environment and cis-variants are relatively rare (∼1.5%), but that detection of such specific interactions can be achieved by a combination of functional genomic approaches as described here.
Author Summary
Population variation in normal gene expression has been convincingly shown to be under strong genetic control where the main genetic variants are located within close proximity to the gene itself (so called cis-acting). However, the extent to which controlled, environmental stimuli influences cis-regulation of gene expression is unclear. Here, we combine different functional genomic approaches and examine the role of common genetic variants on induced gene expression in a population panel of primary human cells derived from ∼100 unrelated donors treated under multiple conditions. Using these approaches, we find that the interaction between cellular environment and cis-variants are relatively rare, with only a small proportion of the identified genetic variants being specific to treatment. However, although treatment-specific genetic regulation of gene expression seems to be infrequent, we prove its existence by thorough validation of treatment-specific effects of the glucocorticoid-specific regulation of TNC expression. Taken together, these findings indicate that the regulatory landscape within a cell is very stable but, by combining functional genomic tools gene-environmental interactions of clinical importance, can be detected and possibly used as biomarkers in future pharmacogenomic studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001279
PMCID: PMC3024267  PMID: 21283786
8.  Inhibition of Transcription in Staphylococcus aureus by a Primary Sigma Factor-Binding Polypeptide from Phage G1▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(12):3763-3771.
The primary sigma factor of Staphylococcus aureus, σSA, regulates the transcription of many genes, including several essential genes, in this bacterium via specific recognition of exponential growth phase promoters. In this study, we report the existence of a novel staphylococcal phage G1-derived growth inhibitory polypeptide, referred to as G1ORF67, that interacts with σSA both in vivo and in vitro and regulates its activity. Delineation of the minimal domain of σSA that is required for its interaction with G1ORF67 as amino acids 294 to 360 near the carboxy terminus suggests that the G1 phage-encoded anti-σ factor may occlude the −35 element recognition domain of σSA. As would be predicted by this hypothesis, the G1ORF67 polypeptide abolished both RNA polymerase core-dependent binding of σSA to DNA and σSA-dependent transcription in vitro. While G1ORF67 profoundly inhibits transcription when expressed in S. aureus cells in mode of action studies, our finding that G1ORF67 was unable to inhibit transcription when expressed in Escherichia coli concurs with its inability to inhibit transcription by the E. coli holoenzyme in vitro. These features demonstrate the selectivity of G1ORF67 for S. aureus RNA polymerase. We predict that G1ORF67 is one of the central polypeptides in the phage G1 strategy to appropriate host RNA polymerase and redirect it to phage reproduction.
doi:10.1128/JB.00241-09
PMCID: PMC2698411  PMID: 19376864
9.  Tissue Effect on Genetic Control of Transcript Isoform Variation 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(8):e1000608.
Current genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are moving towards the use of large cohorts of primary cell lines to study a disease of interest and to assign biological relevance to the genetic signals identified. Here, we use a panel of human osteoblasts (HObs) to carry out a transcriptomic survey, similar to recent studies in lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). The distinct nature of HObs and LCLs is reflected by the preferential grouping of cell type–specific genes within biologically and functionally relevant pathways unique to each tissue type. We performed cis-association analysis with SNP genotypes to identify genetic variations of transcript isoforms, and our analysis indicates that differential expression of transcript isoforms in HObs is also partly controlled by cis-regulatory genetic variants. These isoforms are regulated by genetic variants in both a tissue-specific and tissue-independent fashion, and these associations have been confirmed by RT–PCR validation. Our study suggests that multiple transcript isoforms are often present in both tissues and that genetic control may affect the relative expression of one isoform to another, rather than having an all-or-none effect. Examination of the top SNPs from a GWAS of bone mineral density show overlap with probeset associations observed in this study. The top hit corresponding to the FAM118A gene was tested for association studies in two additional clinical studies, revealing a novel transcript isoform variant. Our approach to examining transcriptome variation in multiple tissue types is useful for detecting the proportion of genetic variation common to different cell types and for the identification of cell-specific isoform variants that may be functionally relevant, an important follow-up step for GWAS.
Author Summary
The transcriptome of any given cell type is a complex program of controlled gene expression underlying its biological function. An additional layer of molecular complexity involving individual genetic variation can modulate the transcriptome within the same tissue type, conferring potential phenotypic differences between individuals at the cellular level. This study highlights common and unique aspects of the transcriptome between the well-characterized lymphoblastoid cell lines from the International HapMap Project and those of a cultured primary cell type, human osteoblasts. We observe that inter-individual genetic variation can regulate transcript isoform expression in tissue-specific and tissue-independent manners, indicating that genetic differences among individuals can alter the transcriptome in one or more tissues, ultimately leading to altered biological functions within the lymphoblasts and/or osteoblasts. Pursuant to this, genome wide association studies on bone mineral density (BMD) have identified a number of significant loci and polymorphisms highly linked to the BMD quantitative phenotype. A small proportion of these polymorphisms overlap with our highly significant SNPs regulating the osteoblast transcriptome, revealing a potential molecular basis for this phenotype at the transcriptional level. This study highlights the importance of examining the differing transcriptomes and cis-regulatory mechanisms governing the biological and functional roles of varied tissue types.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000608
PMCID: PMC2719916  PMID: 19680542
10.  Gene expression and isoform variation analysis using Affymetrix exon arrays 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:121.
Correction to Bemmo A, Benovoy D, Kwan T, Gaffney DJ, Jensen RV, Majewski J: Gene expression and isoform variation analysis using Affymetrix Exon Arrays. BMC Genomics 2008, 9: 529.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-121
PMCID: PMC2666767
11.  Gene Expression and Isoform Variation Analysis using Affymetrix Exon Arrays 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:529.
Background
Alternative splicing and isoform level expression profiling is an emerging field of interest within genomics. Splicing sensitive microarrays, with probes targeted to individual exons or exon-junctions, are becoming increasingly popular as a tool capable of both expression profiling and finer scale isoform detection. Despite their intuitive appeal, relatively little is known about the performance of such tools, particularly in comparison with more traditional 3' targeted microarrays. Here, we use the well studied Microarray Quality Control (MAQC) dataset to benchmark the Affymetrix Exon Array, and compare it to two other popular platforms: Illumina, and Affymetrix U133.
Results
We show that at the gene expression level, the Exon Array performs comparably with the two 3' targeted platforms. However, the interplatform correlation of the results is slightly lower than between the two 3' arrays. We show that some of the discrepancies stem from the RNA amplification protocols, e.g. the Exon Array is able to detect expression of non-polyadenylated transcripts. More importantly, we show that many other differences result from the ability of the Exon Array to monitor more detailed isoform-level changes; several examples illustrate that changes detected by the 3' platforms are actually isoform variations, and that the nature of these variations can be resolved using Exon Array data. Finally, we show how the Exon Array can be used to detect alternative isoform differences, such as alternative splicing, transcript termination, and alternative promoter usage. We discuss the possible pitfalls and false positives resulting from isoform-level analysis.
Conclusion
The Exon Array is a valuable tool that can be used to profile gene expression while providing important additional information regarding the types of gene isoforms that are expressed and variable. However, analysis of alternative splicing requires much more hands on effort and visualization of results in order to correctly interpret the data, and generally results in considerably higher false positive rates than expression analysis. One of the main sources of error in the MAQC dataset is variation in amplification efficiency across transcripts, most likely caused by joint effects of elevated GC content in the 5' ends of genes and reduced likelihood of random-primed first strand synthesis in the 3' ends of genes. These effects are currently not adequately corrected using existing statistical methods. We outline approaches to reduce such errors by filtering out potentially problematic data.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-529
PMCID: PMC2585104  PMID: 18990248
12.  Effect of polymorphisms within probe–target sequences on olignonucleotide microarray experiments 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(13):4417-4423.
Hybridization-based technologies, such as microarrays, rely on precise probe-target interactions to ensure specific and accurate measurement of RNA expression. Polymorphisms present in the probe–target sequences have been shown to alter probe- hybridization affinities, leading to reduced signal intensity measurements and resulting in false-positive results. Here, we characterize this effect on exon and gene expression estimates derived from the Affymetrix Exon Array. We conducted an association analysis between expression levels of probes, exons and transcripts and the genotypes of neighboring SNPs in 57 CEU HapMap individuals. We quantified the dependence of the effect of genotype on signal intensity with respect to the number of polymorphisms within target sequences, number of affected probes and position of the polymorphism within each probe. The effect of SNPs is quite severe and leads to considerable false-positive rates, particularly when the analysis is performed at the exon level and aimed at detecting alternative splicing events. Finally, we propose simple solutions, based on ‘masking’ probes, which are putatively affected by polymorphisms and show that such strategy results in a large decrease in false-positive rates, with a very modest reduction in coverage of the transcriptome.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn409
PMCID: PMC2490733  PMID: 18596082
13.  A risk haplotype of STAT4 for systemic lupus erythematosus is over-expressed, correlates with anti-dsDNA and shows additive effects with two risk alleles of IRF5 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(18):2868-2876.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the prototype autoimmune disease where genes regulated by type I interferon (IFN) are over-expressed and contribute to the disease pathogenesis. Because signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4) plays a key role in the type I IFN receptor signaling, we performed a candidate gene study of a comprehensive set of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in STAT4 in Swedish patients with SLE. We found that 10 out of 53 analyzed SNPs in STAT4 were associated with SLE, with the strongest signal of association (P = 7.1 × 10−8) for two perfectly linked SNPs rs10181656 and rs7582694. The risk alleles of these 10 SNPs form a common risk haplotype for SLE (P = 1.7 × 10−5). According to conditional logistic regression analysis the SNP rs10181656 or rs7582694 accounts for all of the observed association signal. By quantitative analysis of the allelic expression of STAT4 we found that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed in primary human cells of mesenchymal origin, but not in B-cells, and that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed (P = 8.4 × 10−5) in cells carrying the risk haplotype for SLE compared with cells with a non-risk haplotype. The risk allele of the SNP rs7582694 in STAT4 correlated to production of anti-dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) antibodies and displayed a multiplicatively increased, 1.82-fold risk of SLE with two independent risk alleles of the IRF5 (interferon regulatory factor 5) gene.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn184
PMCID: PMC2525501  PMID: 18579578
14.  Comparative Genomic Analysis of 18 Pseudomonas aeruginosa Bacteriophages†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(3):1184-1187.
A genomic analysis of 18 P. aeruginosa phages, including nine newly sequenced DNA genomes, indicates a tremendous reservoir of proteome diversity, with 55% of open reading frames (ORFs) being novel. Comparative sequence analysis and ORF map organization revealed that most of the phages analyzed displayed little relationship to each other.
doi:10.1128/JB.188.3.1184-1187.2006
PMCID: PMC1347338  PMID: 16428425
15.  p28 Bap31, a Bcl-2/Bcl-XL- and Procaspase-8–associated Protein in the Endoplasmic Reticulum  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;139(2):327-338.
We have identified a human Bcl-2–interacting protein, p28 Bap31. It is a 28-kD (p28) polytopic integral protein of the endoplasmic reticulum whose COOH-terminal cytosolic region contains overlapping predicted leucine zipper and weak death effector homology domains, flanked on either side by identical caspase recognition sites. In cotransfected 293T cells, p28 is part of a complex that includes Bcl-2/Bcl-XL and procaspase-8 (pro-FLICE). Bax, a pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, does not associate with the complex; however, it prevents Bcl-2 from doing so. In the absence (but not presence) of elevated Bcl-2 levels, apoptotic signaling by adenovirus E1A oncoproteins promote cleavage of p28 at the two caspase recognition sites. Purified caspase-8 (FLICE/MACH/Mch5) and caspase-1(ICE), but not caspase-3 (CPP32/apopain/ Yama), efficiently catalyze this reaction in vitro. The resulting NH2-terminal p20 fragment induces apoptosis when expressed ectopically in otherwise normal cells. Taken together, the results suggest that p28 Bap31 is part of a complex in the endoplasmic reticulum that mechanically bridges an apoptosis-initiating caspase, like procaspase-8, with the anti-apoptotic regulator Bcl-2 or Bcl-XL. This raises the possibility that the p28 complex contributes to the regulation of procaspase-8 or a related caspase in response to E1A, dependent on the status of the Bcl-2 setpoint within the complex.
PMCID: PMC2139787  PMID: 9334338

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