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1.  Analysis of long non-coding RNAs highlights tissue-specific expression patterns and epigenetic profiles in normal and psoriatic skin 
Genome Biology  2015;16(1):24.
Background
Although analysis pipelines have been developed to use RNA-seq to identify long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), inference of their biological and pathological relevance remains a challenge. As a result, most transcriptome studies of autoimmune disease have only assessed protein-coding transcripts.
Results
We used RNA-seq data from 99 lesional psoriatic, 27 uninvolved psoriatic, and 90 normal skin biopsies, and applied computational approaches to identify and characterize expressed lncRNAs. We detect 2,942 previously annotated and 1,080 novel lncRNAs which are expected to be skin specific. Notably, over 40% of the novel lncRNAs are differentially expressed and the proportions of differentially expressed transcripts among protein-coding mRNAs and previously-annotated lncRNAs are lower in psoriasis lesions versus uninvolved or normal skin. We find that many lncRNAs, in particular those that are differentially expressed, are co-expressed with genes involved in immune related functions, and that novel lncRNAs are enriched for localization in the epidermal differentiation complex. We also identify distinct tissue-specific expression patterns and epigenetic profiles for novel lncRNAs, some of which are shown to be regulated by cytokine treatment in cultured human keratinocytes.
Conclusions
Together, our results implicate many lncRNAs in the immunopathogenesis of psoriasis, and our results provide a resource for lncRNA studies in other autoimmune diseases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0570-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0570-4
PMCID: PMC4311508
2.  A Novel RNA In Situ Hybridization Assay for the Long Noncoding RNA SChLAP1 Predicts Poor Clinical Outcome After Radical Prostatectomy in Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(12):1121-1127.
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are an emerging class of oncogenic molecules implicated in a diverse range of human malignancies. We recently identified SChLAP1 as a novel lncRNA that demonstrates outlier expression in a subset of prostate cancers, promotes tumor cell invasion and metastasis, and associates with lethal disease. Based on these findings, we sought to develop an RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) assay for SChLAP1 to 1) investigate the spectrum of SChLAP1 expression from benign prostatic tissue to metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and 2) to determine whether SChLAP1 expression by ISH is associated with outcome after radical prostatectomy in patients with clinically localized disease. The results from our current study demonstrate that SChLAP1 expression increases with prostate cancer progression, and high SChLAP1 expression by ISH is associated with poor outcome after radical prostatectomy in patients with clinically localized prostate cancer by both univariate (hazard ratio = 2.343, P = .005) and multivariate (hazard ratio = 1.99, P = .032) Cox regression analyses. This study highlights a potential clinical utility for SChLAP1 ISH as a novel tissue-based biomarker assay for outcome prognostication after radical prostatectomy.
doi:10.1016/j.neo.2014.11.006
PMCID: PMC4309259  PMID: 25499224
3.  The Long Non-Coding RNA PCAT-1 Promotes Prostate Cancer Cell Proliferation through cMyc12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(11):900-908.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) represent an emerging layer of cancer biology, contributing to tumor proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. Here, we describe a role for the oncogenic lncRNA PCAT-1 in prostate cancer proliferation through cMyc. We find that PCAT-1–mediated proliferation is dependent on cMyc protein stabilization, and using expression profiling, we observed that cMyc is required for a subset of PCAT-1–induced expression changes. The PCAT-1–cMyc relationship is mediated through the post-transcriptional activity of the MYC 3′ untranslated region, and we characterize a role for PCAT-1 in the disruption of MYC-targeting microRNAs. To further elucidate a role for post-transcriptional regulation, we demonstrate that targeting PCAT-1 with miR-3667-3p, which does not target MYC, is able to reverse the stabilization of cMyc by PCAT-1. This work establishes a basis for the oncogenic role of PCAT-1 in cancer cell proliferation and is the first study to implicate lncRNAs in the regulation of cMyc in prostate cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.neo.2014.09.001
PMCID: PMC4240923  PMID: 25425964
PCAT-1; lncRNA; cell proliferation; 3’UTR; cMyc
5.  The lncRNAs PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 are not implicated in castration resistant prostate cancer 
Oncotarget  2014;5(6):1434-1438.
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are increasingly implicated in cancer biology, contributing to essential cancer cell functions such as proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. In prostate cancer, several lncRNAs have been nominated as critical actors in disease pathogenesis. Among these, expression of PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 has been identified as a possible component in disease progression through the coordination of androgen receptor (AR) signaling (Yang et al., Nature 2013, see ref. [1]). However, concerns regarding the robustness of these findings have been suggested. Here, we sought to evaluate whether PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 are associated with prostate cancer. Through a comprehensive analysis of RNA-sequencing data (RNA-seq), we find evidence that PCGEM1 but not PRNCR1 is associated with prostate cancer. We employ a large cohort of >230 high-risk prostate cancer patients with long-term outcomes data to show that, in contrast to prior reports, neither gene is associated with poor patient outcomes. We further observe no evidence that PCGEM1 nor PRNCR1 interact with AR, and neither gene is a component of AR signaling. Thus, we conclusively demonstrate that PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 are not prognostic lncRNAs in prostate cancer and we refute suggestions that these lncRNAs interact in AR signaling.
PMCID: PMC4039221  PMID: 24727738
prostate cancer; long noncoding RNA; androgen receptor
6.  Identification of Recurrent NAB2-STAT6 Gene Fusions in Solitary Fibrous Tumor by Integrative Sequencing 
Nature genetics  2013;45(2):180-185.
A 44-year old woman with recurrent solitary fibrous tumor (SFT)/hemangiopericytoma was enrolled in a clinical sequencing program including whole exome and transcriptome sequencing. A gene fusion of the transcriptional repressor NAB2 with the transcriptional activator STAT6 was detected. Transcriptome sequencing of 27 additional SFTs all revealed the presence of a NAB2-STAT6 gene fusion. Using RT-PCR and sequencing, we detected this fusion in 51 of 51 SFTs, indicating high levels of recurrence. Expression of NAB2-STAT6 fusion proteins was confirmed in SFT, and the predicted fusion products harbor the early growth response (EGR)-binding domain of NAB2 fused to the activation domain of STAT6. Overexpression of the NAB2-STAT6 gene fusion induced proliferation in cultured cells and activated EGR-responsive genes. These studies establish NAB2-STAT6 as the defining driver mutation of SFT and provide an example of how neoplasia can be initiated by converting a transcriptional repressor of mitogenic pathways into a transcriptional activator.
doi:10.1038/ng.2509
PMCID: PMC3654808  PMID: 23313952
7.  Expressed Pseudogenes in the Transcriptional Landscape of Human Cancers 
Cell  2012;149(7):1622-1634.
SUMMARY
Pseudogene transcripts can provide a novel tier of gene regulation through generation of endogenous siRNAs or miRNA-binding sites. Characterization of pseudogene expression, however, has remained confined to anecdotal observations due to analytical challenges posed by the extremely close sequence similarity with their counterpart coding genes. Here, we describe a systematic analysis of pseudogene “transcription” from an RNA-Seq resource of 293 samples, representing 13 cancer and normal tissue types, and observe a surprisingly prevalent, genome-wide expression of pseudogenes that could be categorized as ubiquitously expressed or lineage and/or cancer specific. Further, we explore disease subtype specificity and functions of selected expressed pseudogenes. Taken together, we provide evidence that transcribed pseudogenes are a significant contributor to the transcriptional landscape of cells and are positioned to play significant roles in cellular differentiation and cancer progression, especially in light of the recently described ceRNA networks. Our work provides a transcriptome resource that enables high-throughput analyses of pseudogene expression.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2012.04.041
PMCID: PMC3597446  PMID: 22726445
8.  Insights into Chinese prostate cancer with RNA-seq 
Cell Research  2012;22(5):786-788.
doi:10.1038/cr.2012.50
PMCID: PMC3343652  PMID: 22453238
9.  Oculus: faster sequence alignment by streaming read compression 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:297.
Background
Despite significant advancement in alignment algorithms, the exponential growth of nucleotide sequencing throughput threatens to outpace bioinformatic analysis. Computation may become the bottleneck of genome analysis if growing alignment costs are not mitigated by further improvement in algorithms. Much gain has been gleaned from indexing and compressing alignment databases, but many widely used alignment tools process input reads sequentially and are oblivious to any underlying redundancy in the reads themselves.
Results
Here we present Oculus, a software package that attaches to standard aligners and exploits read redundancy by performing streaming compression, alignment, and decompression of input sequences. This nearly lossless process (> 99.9%) led to alignment speedups of up to 270% across a variety of data sets, while requiring a modest amount of memory. We expect that streaming read compressors such as Oculus could become a standard addition to existing RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq alignment pipelines, and potentially other applications in the future as throughput increases.
Conclusions
Oculus efficiently condenses redundant input reads and wraps existing aligners to provide nearly identical SAM output in a fraction of the aligner runtime. It includes a number of useful features, such as tunable performance and fidelity options, compatibility with FASTA or FASTQ files, and adherence to the SAM format. The platform-independent C++ source code is freely available online, at http://code.google.com/p/oculus-bio.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-297
PMCID: PMC3534618  PMID: 23148484
DNA nucleotide sequence alignment streaming identity redundancy compression software algorithm
10.  Personalized Oncology Through Integrative High-Throughput Sequencing: A Pilot Study 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(111):111ra121.
Individual cancers harbor a set of genetic aberrations that can be informative for identifying rational therapies currently available or in clinical trials. We implemented a pilot study to explore the practical challenges of applying high-throughput sequencing in clinical oncology. We enrolled patients with advanced or refractory cancer who were eligible for clinical trials. For each patient, we performed whole-genome sequencing of the tumor, targeted whole-exome sequencing of tumor and normal DNA, and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) of the tumor to identify potentially informative mutations in a clinically relevant time frame of 3 to 4 weeks. With this approach, we detected several classes of cancer mutations including structural rearrangements, copy number alterations, point mutations, and gene expression alterations. A multidisciplinary Sequencing Tumor Board (STB) deliberated on the clinical interpretation of the sequencing results obtained. We tested our sequencing strategy on human prostate cancer xenografts. Next, we enrolled two patients into the clinical protocol and were able to review the results at our STB within 24 days of biopsy. The first patient had metastatic colorectal cancer in which we identified somatic point mutations in NRAS, TP53, AURKA, FAS, and MYH11, plus amplification and overexpression of cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8). The second patient had malignant melanoma, in which we identified a somatic point mutation in HRAS and a structural rearrangement affecting CDKN2C. The STB identified the CDK8 amplification and Ras mutation as providing a rationale for clinical trials with CDK inhibitors or MEK (mitogenactivated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase) and PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase) inhibitors, respectively. Integrative high-throughput sequencing of patients with advanced cancer generates a comprehensive, individual mutational landscape to facilitate biomarker-driven clinical trials in oncology.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003161
PMCID: PMC3476478  PMID: 22133722
11.  ChimeraScan: a tool for identifying chimeric transcription in sequencing data 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(20):2903-2904.
Summary: Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have enabled de novo gene fusion discovery that could reveal candidates with therapeutic significance in cancer. Here we present an open-source software package, ChimeraScan, for the discovery of chimeric transcription between two independent transcripts in high-throughput transcriptome sequencing data.
Availability: http://chimerascan.googlecode.com
Contact: cmaher@dom.wustl.edu
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btr467
PMCID: PMC3187648  PMID: 21840877
12.  TMPRSS2-ERG-mediated feed-forward regulation of wild-type ERG in human prostate cancers 
Cancer Research  2011;71(16):5387-5392.
Recurrent gene fusions involving ETS family genes are a distinguishing feature of human prostate cancers, with TMPRSS2-ERG fusions representing the most common subtype. The TMPRSS2-ERG fusion transcript and its splice variants are well characterized in prostate cancers, however not much is known about the levels and regulation of wild-type ERG. By employing an integrative approach, we demonstrate that the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion product binds to the ERG locus and drives the over-expression of wild-type ERG in prostate cancers. Knock-down of TMPRSS2-ERG in VCaP cells resulted in the down regulation of wild-type ERG transcription, while stable over-expression of TMPRSS2-ERG in the gene fusion-negative PC3 cells was associated with the up-regulation of wild-type ERG transcript. Further, androgen signaling-mediated up-regulation of TMPRSS2-ERG resulted in the concomitant up-regulation of wild-type ERG transcription in VCaP cells. The loss of wild-type ERG expression was associated with a decrease in the invasive potential of VCaP cells. Importantly, 38% of clinically localized prostate cancers and 27% of metastatic prostate cancers harboring the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions exhibited over-expression of wild-type ERG. Taken together, these results provide novel insights into the regulation of ERG in human prostate cancers.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-0876
PMCID: PMC3156376  PMID: 21676887
ERG; prostate cancer; gene fusion
13.  Gene Fusions Associated with Recurrent Amplicons Represent a Class of Passenger Aberrations in Breast Cancer12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2012;14(8):702-708.
Application of high-throughput transcriptome sequencing has spurred highly sensitive detection and discovery of gene fusions in cancer, but distinguishing potentially oncogenic fusions from random, “passenger” aberrations has proven challenging. Here we examine a distinctive group of gene fusions that involve genes present in the loci of chromosomal amplifications—a class of oncogenic aberrations that are widely prevalent in breast cancers. Integrative analysis of a panel of 14 breast cancer cell lines comparing gene fusions discovered by high-throughput transcriptome sequencing and genome-wide copy number aberrations assessed by array comparative genomic hybridization, led to the identification of 77 gene fusions, of which more than 60% were localized to amplicons including 17q12, 17q23, 20q13, chr8q, and others. Many of these fusions appeared to be recurrent or involved highly expressed oncogenic drivers, frequently fused with multiple different partners, but sometimes displaying loss of functional domains. As illustrative examples of the “amplicon-associated” gene fusions, we examined here a recurrent gene fusion involving the mediator of mammalian target of rapamycin signaling, RPS6KB1 kinase in BT-474, and the therapeutically important receptor tyrosine kinase EGFR in MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cell line. These gene fusions comprise a minor allelic fraction relative to the highly expressed full-length transcripts and encode chimera lacking the kinase domains, which do not impart dependence on the respective cells. Our study suggests that amplicon-associated gene fusions in breast cancer primarily represent a by-product of chromosomal amplifications, which constitutes a subset of passenger aberrations and should be factored accordingly during prioritization of gene fusion candidates.
PMCID: PMC3431177  PMID: 22952423
14.  Transcriptome Sequencing Identifies PCAT-1, a Novel lincRNA Implicated in Prostate Cancer Progression 
Nature biotechnology  2011;29(8):742-749.
High-throughput sequencing of polyA+ RNA (RNA-Seq) in human cancer shows remarkable potential to identify both novel markers of disease and uncharacterized aspects of tumor biology, particularly non-coding RNA (ncRNA) species. We employed RNA-Seq on a cohort of 102 prostate tissues and cells lines and performed ab initio transcriptome assembly to discover unannotated ncRNAs. We nominated 121 such Prostate Cancer Associated Transcripts (PCATs) with cancer-specific expression patterns. Among these, we characterized PCAT-1 as a novel prostate-specific regulator of cell proliferation and target of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2). We further found that high PCAT-1 and PRC2 expression stratified patient tissues into molecular subtypes distinguished by expression signatures of PCAT-1-repressed target genes. Taken together, the findings presented herein identify PCAT-1 as a novel transcriptional repressor implicated in subset of prostate cancer patients. These findings establish the utility of RNA-Seq to identify disease-associated ncRNAs that may improve the stratification of cancer subtypes.
doi:10.1038/nbt.1914
PMCID: PMC3152676  PMID: 21804560
prostate cancer; transcriptome; next generation sequencing; non-coding RNA; EZH2

Results 1-14 (14)