The ENCODE Project has generated a wealth of experimental information mapping diverse chromatin properties in several human cell lines. Although each such data track is independently informative toward the annotation of regulatory elements, their interrelations contain much richer information for the systematic annotation of regulatory elements. To uncover these interrelations and to generate an interpretable summary of the massive datasets of the ENCODE Project, we apply unsupervised learning methodologies, converting dozens of chromatin datasets into discrete annotation maps of regulatory regions and other chromatin elements across the human genome. These methods rediscover and summarize diverse aspects of chromatin architecture, elucidate the interplay between chromatin activity and RNA transcription, and reveal that a large proportion of the genome lies in a quiescent state, even across multiple cell types. The resulting annotation of non-coding regulatory elements correlate strongly with mammalian evolutionary constraint, and provide an unbiased approach for evaluating metrics of evolutionary constraint in human. Lastly, we use the regulatory annotations to revisit previously uncharacterized disease-associated loci, resulting in focused, testable hypotheses through the lens of the chromatin landscape.
The Ensembl project (http://www.ensembl.org) provides genome information for sequenced chordate genomes with a particular focus on human, mouse, zebrafish and rat. Our resources include evidenced-based gene sets for all supported species; large-scale whole genome multiple species alignments across vertebrates and clade-specific alignments for eutherian mammals, primates, birds and fish; variation data resources for 17 species and regulation annotations based on ENCODE and other data sets. Ensembl data are accessible through the genome browser at http://www.ensembl.org and through other tools and programmatic interfaces.
The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) consortium aims to identify all functional elements in the human genome including transcripts, transcriptional regulatory regions, along with their chromatin states and DNA methylation patterns. The ENCODE project generates data utilizing a variety of techniques that can enrich for regulatory regions, such as chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), micrococcal nuclease (MNase) digestion and DNase I digestion, followed by deeply sequencing the resulting DNA. As part of the ENCODE project, we have developed a Web-accessible repository accessible at http://factorbook.org. In Wiki format, factorbook is a transcription factor (TF)-centric repository of all ENCODE ChIP-seq datasets on TF-binding regions, as well as the rich analysis results of these data. In the first release, factorbook contains 457 ChIP-seq datasets on 119 TFs in a number of human cell lines, the average profiles of histone modifications and nucleosome positioning around the TF-binding regions, sequence motifs enriched in the regions and the distance and orientation preferences between motif sites.
Marine stickleback fish have colonized and adapted to innumerable streams and lakes formed since the last ice age, providing an exceptional opportunity to characterize genomic mechanisms underlying repeated ecological adaptation in nature. Here we develop a high quality reference genome assembly for threespine sticklebacks. By sequencing the genomes of 20 additional individuals from a global set of marine and freshwater populations, we identify a genome-wide set of loci that are consistently associated with marine-freshwater divergence. Our results suggest that reuse of globally-shared standing genetic variation, including chromosomal inversions, plays an important role in repeated evolution of distinct marine and freshwater sticklebacks, and in the maintenance of divergent ecotypes during early stages of reproductive isolation. Both coding and regulatory changes occur in the set of loci underlying marine-freshwater evolution, with regulatory changes likely predominating in this classic example of repeated adaptive evolution in nature.
Transcription factors function by binding different classes of regulatory elements. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has recently produced binding data for more than 100 transcription factors from about 500 ChIP-seq experiments in multiple cell types. While this large amount of data creates a valuable resource, it is nonetheless overwhelmingly complex and simultaneously incomplete since it covers only a small fraction of all human transcription factors.
As part of the consortium effort in providing a concise abstraction of the data for facilitating various types of downstream analyses, we constructed statistical models that capture the genomic features of three paired types of regions by machine-learning methods: firstly, regions with active or inactive binding; secondly, those with extremely high or low degrees of co-binding, termed HOT and LOT regions; and finally, regulatory modules proximal or distal to genes. From the distal regulatory modules, we developed computational pipelines to identify potential enhancers, many of which were validated experimentally. We further associated the predicted enhancers with potential target transcripts and the transcription factors involved. For HOT regions, we found a significant fraction of transcription factor binding without clear sequence motifs and showed that this observation could be related to strong DNA accessibility of these regions.
Overall, the three pairs of regions exhibit intricate differences in chromosomal locations, chromatin features, factors that bind them, and cell-type specificity. Our machine learning approach enables us to identify features potentially general to all transcription factors, including those not included in the data.
Advances in sequencing technology have boosted population genomics and made it possible to map the positions of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) with high precision. Here we investigate TFBS variability by combining transcription factor binding maps generated by ENCODE, modENCODE, our previously published data and other sources with genomic variation data for human individuals and Drosophila isogenic lines.
We introduce a metric of TFBS variability that takes into account changes in motif match associated with mutation and makes it possible to investigate TFBS functional constraints instance-by-instance as well as in sets that share common biological properties. We also take advantage of the emerging per-individual transcription factor binding data to show evidence that TFBS mutations, particularly at evolutionarily conserved sites, can be efficiently buffered to ensure coherent levels of transcription factor binding.
Our analyses provide insights into the relationship between individual and interspecies variation and show evidence for the functional buffering of TFBS mutations in both humans and flies. In a broad perspective, these results demonstrate the potential of combining functional genomics and population genetics approaches for understanding gene regulation.
Previous work has demonstrated that chromatin feature levels correlate with gene expression. The ENCODE project enables us to further explore this relationship using an unprecedented volume of data. Expression levels from more than 100,000 promoters were measured using a variety of high-throughput techniques applied to RNA extracted by different protocols from different cellular compartments of several human cell lines. ENCODE also generated the genome-wide mapping of eleven histone marks, one histone variant, and DNase I hypersensitivity sites in seven cell lines.
We built a novel quantitative model to study the relationship between chromatin features and expression levels. Our study not only confirms that the general relationships found in previous studies hold across various cell lines, but also makes new suggestions about the relationship between chromatin features and gene expression levels. We found that expression status and expression levels can be predicted by different groups of chromatin features, both with high accuracy. We also found that expression levels measured by CAGE are better predicted than by RNA-PET or RNA-Seq, and different categories of chromatin features are the most predictive of expression for different RNA measurement methods. Additionally, PolyA+ RNA is overall more predictable than PolyA- RNA among different cell compartments, and PolyA+ cytosolic RNA measured with RNA-Seq is more predictable than PolyA+ nuclear RNA, while the opposite is true for PolyA- RNA.
Our study provides new insights into transcriptional regulation by analyzing chromatin features in different cellular contexts.
We report genome sequences of 17 inbred strains of laboratory mice and identify almost ten times more variants than previously known. We use these genomes to explore the phylogenetic history of the laboratory mouse and to examine the functional consequences of allele-specific variation on transcript abundance, revealing that at least 12% of transcripts show a significant tissue-specific expression bias. By identifying candidate functional variants at 718 quantitative trait loci we show that the molecular nature of functional variants and their position relative to genes vary according to the effect size of the locus. These sequences provide a starting point for a new era in the functional analysis of a key model organism.
Motivation: High-throughput sequencing has made the analysis of new model organisms more affordable. Although assembling a new genome can still be costly and difficult, it is possible to use RNA-seq to sequence mRNA. In the absence of a known genome, it is necessary to assemble these sequences de novo, taking into account possible alternative isoforms and the dynamic range of expression values.
Results: We present a software package named Oases designed to heuristically assemble RNA-seq reads in the absence of a reference genome, across a broad spectrum of expression values and in presence of alternative isoforms. It achieves this by using an array of hash lengths, a dynamic filtering of noise, a robust resolution of alternative splicing events and the efficient merging of multiple assemblies. It was tested on human and mouse RNA-seq data and is shown to improve significantly on the transABySS and Trinity de novo transcriptome assemblers.
Availability and implementation: Oases is freely available under the GPL license at www.ebi.ac.uk/~zerbino/oases/
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
A response to 2x genomes - depth does matter by MC Milinkovitch, R Helaers, E Depiereux, AC Tzika and T Gabaldón. Genome Biol 2010, 11:R16.
The Ensembl project (http://www.ensembl.org) provides genome resources for chordate genomes with a particular focus on human genome data as well as data for key model organisms such as mouse, rat and zebrafish. Five additional species were added in the last year including gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) and Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) bringing the total number of supported species to 61 as of Ensembl release 64 (September 2011). Of these, 55 species appear on the main Ensembl website and six species are provided on the Ensembl preview site (Pre!Ensembl; http://pre.ensembl.org) with preliminary support. The past year has also seen improvements across the project.
The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena), Europe's primary nucleotide sequence resource, captures and presents globally comprehensive nucleic acid sequence and associated information. Covering the spectrum from raw data to assembled and functionally annotated genomes, the ENA has witnessed a dramatic growth resulting from advances in sequencing technology and ever broadening application of the methodology. During 2011, we have continued to operate and extend the broad range of ENA services. In particular, we have released major new functionality in our interactive web submission system, Webin, through developments in template-based submissions for annotated sequences and support for raw next-generation sequence read submissions.
Ensembl Genomes (http://www.ensemblgenomes.org) is an integrative resource for genome-scale data from non-vertebrate species. The project exploits and extends technology (for genome annotation, analysis and dissemination) developed in the context of the (vertebrate-focused) Ensembl project and provides a complementary set of resources for non-vertebrate species through a consistent set of programmatic and interactive interfaces. These provide access to data including reference sequence, gene models, transcriptional data, polymorphisms and comparative analysis. Since its launch in 2009, Ensembl Genomes has undergone rapid expansion, with the goal of providing coverage of all major experimental organisms, and additionally including taxonomic reference points to provide the evolutionary context in which genes can be understood. Against the backdrop of a continuing increase in genome sequencing activities in all parts of the tree of life, we seek to work, wherever possible, with the communities actively generating and using data, and are participants in a growing range of collaborations involved in the annotation and analysis of genomes.
Next-generation sequencing-based assays to detect gene regulatory elements are enabling the analysis of individual-to-individual and allele-specific variation of chromatin status and transcription factor binding in humans. Recently, a number of studies have explored this area, using lymphoblastoid cell lines. Around 10% of chromatin sites show either individual-level differences or allele-specific behavior. Future studies are likely to be limited by cell line accessibility, meaning that white-bloodcell-based studies are likely to continue to be the main source of samples. A detailed understanding of the relationship between normal genetic variation and chromatin variation can shed light on how polymorphisms in non-coding regions in the human genome might underlie phenotypic variation and disease.
Genomic experiments produce multiple views of biological systems, among them DNA sequence and copy number variation, mRNA and protein abundance. Understanding these systems requires integrated bioinformatic analysis. Public databases such as Ensembl provide relationships and mappings between the relevant sets of probe and target molecules. However, the relationships can be biologically complex and the content of the databases is dynamic. We demonstrate how to use the computational environment R to integrate and jointly analyse experimental datasets, employing BioMart web services to provide the molecule mappings. We also discuss typical problems that are encountered in making gene to transcript to protein mappings. The approach provides a flexible, programmable and reproducible basis for state-of-the-art bioinformatic data integration.
Data Integration; Mapping; Identifiers; Ensembl; BioMart; Bioconductor
Maintaining up-to-date annotation on reference genomes is becoming more important, not less, as the ability to rapidly and cheaply resequence genomes expands.
Reactome (http://www.reactome.org) is a collaboration among groups at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York University School of Medicine and The European Bioinformatics Institute, to develop an open source curated bioinformatics database of human pathways and reactions. Recently, we developed a new web site with improved tools for pathway browsing and data analysis. The Pathway Browser is an Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN)-based visualization system that supports zooming, scrolling and event highlighting. It exploits PSIQUIC web services to overlay our curated pathways with molecular interaction data from the Reactome Functional Interaction Network and external interaction databases such as IntAct, BioGRID, ChEMBL, iRefIndex, MINT and STRING. Our Pathway and Expression Analysis tools enable ID mapping, pathway assignment and overrepresentation analysis of user-supplied data sets. To support pathway annotation and analysis in other species, we continue to make orthology-based inferences of pathways in non-human species, applying Ensembl Compara to identify orthologs of curated human proteins in each of 20 other species. The resulting inferred pathway sets can be browsed and analyzed with our Species Comparison tool. Collaborations are also underway to create manually curated data sets on the Reactome framework for chicken, Drosophila and rice.
The Ensembl project (http://www.ensembl.org) seeks to enable genomic science by providing high quality, integrated annotation on chordate and selected eukaryotic genomes within a consistent and accessible infrastructure. All supported species include comprehensive, evidence-based gene annotations and a selected set of genomes includes additional data focused on variation, comparative, evolutionary, functional and regulatory annotation. The most advanced resources are provided for key species including human, mouse, rat and zebrafish reflecting the popularity and importance of these species in biomedical research. As of Ensembl release 59 (August 2010), 56 species are supported of which 5 have been added in the past year. Since our previous report, we have substantially improved the presentation and integration of both data of disease relevance and the regulatory state of different cell types.
The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena) is Europe’s primary nucleotide-sequence repository. The ENA consists of three main databases: the Sequence Read Archive (SRA), the Trace Archive and EMBL-Bank. The objective of ENA is to support and promote the use of nucleotide sequencing as an experimental research platform by providing data submission, archive, search and download services. In this article, we outline these services and describe major changes and improvements introduced during 2010. These include extended EMBL-Bank and SRA-data submission services, extended ENA Browser functionality, support for submitting data to the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) through SRA, and the launch of a new sequence similarity search service.
The extent to which variation in chromatin structure and transcription factor binding may influence gene expression, and thus underlie or contribute to variation in phenotype, is unknown. To address this question, we cataloged both individual-to-individual variation and differences between homologous chromosomes within the same individual (allele-specific variation) in chromatin structure and transcription factor binding in lymphoblastoid cells derived from individuals of geographically diverse ancestry. Ten percent of active chromatin sites were individual-specific; a similar proportion were allele-specific. Both individual-specific and allele-specific sites were commonly transmitted from parent to child, which suggests that they are heritable features of the human genome. Our study shows that heritable chromatin status and transcription factor binding differ as a result of genetic variation and may underlie phenotypic variation in humans.
Reactome is an open-source, freely available database of human biological pathways and processes. A major goal of our work is to provide an integrated view of cellular signalling processes that spans from ligand–receptor interactions to molecular readouts at the level of metabolic and transcriptional events. To this end, we have built the first catalogue of all human G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) known to bind endogenous or natural ligands. The UniProt database has records for 797 proteins classified as GPCRs and sorted into families A/1, B/2 and C/3 on the basis of amino accid sequence. To these records we have added details from the IUPHAR database and our own manual curation of relevant literature to create reactions in which 563 GPCRs bind ligands and also interact with specific G-proteins to initiate signalling cascades. We believe the remaining 234 GPCRs are true orphans. The Reactome GPCR pathway can be viewed as a detailed interactive diagram and can be exported in many forms. It provides a template for the orthology-based inference of GPCR reactions for diverse model organism species, and can be overlaid with protein–protein interaction and gene expression datasets to facilitate overrepresentation studies and other forms of pathway analysis.
Database URL: http://www.reactome.org
Cancer is driven by mutation. Worldwide, tobacco smoking is the major lifestyle exposure that causes cancer, exerting carcinogenicity through >60 chemicals that bind and mutate DNA. Using massively parallel sequencing technology, we sequenced a small cell lung cancer cell line, NCI-H209, to explore the mutational burden associated with tobacco smoking. 22,910 somatic substitutions were identified, including 132 in coding exons. Multiple mutation signatures testify to the cocktail of carcinogens in tobacco smoke and their proclivities for particular bases and surrounding sequence context. Effects of transcription-coupled repair and a second, more general expression-linked repair pathway were evident. We identified a tandem duplication that duplicates exons 3-8 of CHD7 in-frame, and another two lines carrying PVT1-CHD7 fusion genes, suggesting that CHD7 may be recurrently rearranged in this disease. These findings illustrate the potential for next-generation sequencing to provide unprecedented insights into mutational processes, cellular repair pathways and gene networks associated with cancer.
The recent explosion of biological data and the concomitant proliferation of distributed databases make it challenging for biologists and bioinformaticians to discover the best data resources for their needs, and the most efficient way to access and use them. Despite a rapid acceleration in uptake of syntactic and semantic standards for interoperability, it is still difficult for users to find which databases support the standards and interfaces that they need. To solve these problems, several groups are developing registries of databases that capture key metadata describing the biological scope, utility, accessibility, ease-of-use and existence of web services allowing interoperability between resources. Here, we describe some of these initiatives including a novel formalism, the Database Description Framework, for describing database operations and functionality and encouraging good database practise. We expect such approaches will result in improved discovery, uptake and utilization of data resources.
Database URL: http://www.casimir.org.uk/casimir_ddf
Advances in sequencing and genotyping technologies are leading to the widespread availability of multi-species variation data, dense genotype data and large-scale resequencing projects. The 1000 Genomes Project and similar efforts in other species are challenging the methods previously used for storage and manipulation of such data necessitating the redesign of existing genome-wide bioinformatics resources.
Ensembl has created a database and software library to support data storage, analysis and access to the existing and emerging variation data from large mammalian and vertebrate genomes. These tools scale to thousands of individual genome sequences and are integrated into the Ensembl infrastructure for genome annotation and visualisation. The database and software system is easily expanded to integrate both public and non-public data sources in the context of an Ensembl software installation and is already being used outside of the Ensembl project in a number of database and application environments.
Ensembl's powerful, flexible and open source infrastructure for the management of variation, genotyping and resequencing data is freely available at http://www.ensembl.org.
The maturing field of genomics is rapidly increasing the number of sequenced genomes and producing more information from those previously sequenced. Much of this additional information is variation data derived from sampling multiple individuals of a given species with the goal of discovering new variants and characterising the population frequencies of the variants that are already known. These data have immense value for many studies, including those designed to understand evolution and connect genotype to phenotype. Maximising the utility of the data requires that it be stored in an accessible manner that facilitates the integration of variation data with other genome resources such as gene annotation and comparative genomics.
The Ensembl project provides comprehensive and integrated variation resources for a wide variety of chordate genomes. This paper provides a detailed description of the sources of data and the methods for creating the Ensembl variation databases. It also explores the utility of the information by explaining the range of query options available, from using interactive web displays, to online data mining tools and connecting directly to the data servers programmatically. It gives a good overview of the variation resources and future plans for expanding the variation data within Ensembl.
Variation data is an important key to understanding the functional and phenotypic differences between individuals. The development of new sequencing and genotyping technologies is greatly increasing the amount of variation data known for almost all genomes. The Ensembl variation resources are integrated into the Ensembl genome browser and provide a comprehensive way to access this data in the context of a widely used genome bioinformatics system. All Ensembl data is freely available at http://www.ensembl.org and from the public MySQL database server at ensembldb.ensembl.org.