BACKGROUND: Gene fusions have been studied extensively, as frequent drivers of tumorigenesis as well as potential therapeutic targets. In many well-known cases, breakpoints occur at two intragenic positions, leading to in-frame gene-gene fusions that generate chimeric mRNAs. However, fusions often occur with intergenic breakpoints, and the role of such fusions has not been carefully examined. RESULTS: We analyze whole-genome sequencing data from 268 patients to catalog gene-intergenic and intergenic-intergenic fusions and characterize their impact. First, we discover that, in contrast to the common assumption, chimeric oncogenic transcripts-such as those involving ETV4, ERG, RSPO3, and PIK3CA-can be generated by gene-intergenic fusions through splicing of the intervening region. Second, we find that over-expression of an upstream or downstream gene by a fusion-mediated repositioning of a regulatory sequence is much more common than previously suspected, with enhancers sometimes located megabases away. We detect a number of recurrent fusions, such as those involving ANO3, RGS9, FUT5, CHI3L1, OR1D4, and LIPG in breast; IGF2 in colon; ETV1 in prostate; and IGF2BP3 and SIX2 in thyroid cancers. CONCLUSION: Our findings elucidate the potential oncogenic function of intergenic fusions and highlight the wide-ranging consequences of structural rearrangements in cancer genomes.
The three-dimensional conformation of a genome can be profiled using Hi-C, a technique that combines chromatin conformation capture with high-throughput sequencing. However, structural variations often yield features that can be mistaken for chromosomal interactions. Here, we describe a computational method HiNT (Hi-C for copy Number variation and Translocation detection), which detects copy number variations and interchromosomal translocations within Hi-C data with breakpoints at single base-pair resolution. We demonstrate that HiNT outperforms existing methods on both simulated and real data. We also show that Hi-C can supplement whole-genome sequencing in structure variant detection by locating breakpoints in repetitive regions.
BACKGROUND: Genomic rearrangements exert a heavy influence on the molecular landscape of cancer. New analytical approaches integrating somatic structural variants (SSVs) with altered gene features represent a framework by which we can assign global significance to a core set of genes, analogous to established methods that identify genes non-randomly targeted by somatic mutation or copy number alteration. While recent studies have defined broad patterns of association involving gene transcription and nearby SSV breakpoints, global alterations in DNA methylation in the context of SSVs remain largely unexplored. RESULTS: By data integration of whole genome sequencing, RNA sequencing, and DNA methylation arrays from more than 1400 human cancers, we identify hundreds of genes and associated CpG islands (CGIs) for which the nearby presence of a somatic structural variant (SSV) breakpoint is recurrently associated with altered expression or DNA methylation, respectively, independently of copy number alterations. CGIs with SSV-associated increased methylation are predominantly promoter-associated, while CGIs with SSV-associated decreased methylation are enriched for gene body CGIs. Rearrangement of genomic regions normally having higher or lower methylation is often involved in SSV-associated CGI methylation alterations. Across cancers, the overall structural variation burden is associated with a global decrease in methylation, increased expression in methyltransferase genes and DNA damage response genes, and decreased immune cell infiltration. CONCLUSION: Genomic rearrangement appears to have a major role in shaping the cancer DNA methylome, to be considered alongside commonly accepted mechanisms including histone modifications and disruption of DNA methyltransferases.
We present HiGlass, an open source visualization tool built on web technologies that provides a rich interface for rapid, multiplex, and multiscale navigation of 2D genomic maps alongside 1D genomic tracks, allowing users to combine various data types, synchronize multiple visualization modalities, and share fully customizable views with others. We demonstrate its utility in exploring different experimental conditions, comparing the results of analyses, and creating interactive snapshots to share with collaborators and the broader public. HiGlass is accessible online at http://higlass.io and is also available as a containerized application that can be run on any platform.
BACKGROUND: For many genes, RNA polymerase II stably pauses before transitioning to productive elongation. Although polymerase II pausing has been shown to be a mechanism for regulating transcriptional activation, the extent to which it is involved in control of mammalian gene expression and its relationship to chromatin structure remain poorly understood. RESULTS: Here, we analyze 85 RNA polymerase II chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-sequencing experiments from 35 different murine and human samples, as well as related genome-wide datasets, to gain new insights into the relationship between polymerase II pausing and gene regulation. Across cell and tissue types, paused genes (pausing index > 2) comprise approximately 60 % of expressed genes and are repeatedly associated with specific biological functions. Paused genes also have lower cell-to-cell expression variability. Increased pausing has a non-linear effect on gene expression levels, with moderately paused genes being expressed more highly than other paused genes. The highest gene expression levels are often achieved through a novel pause-release mechanism driven by high polymerase II initiation. In three datasets examining the impact of extracellular signals, genes responsive to stimulus have slightly lower pausing index on average than non-responsive genes, and rapid gene activation is linked to conditional pause-release. Both chromatin structure and local sequence composition near the transcription start site influence pausing, with divergent features between mammals and Drosophila. Most notably, in mammals pausing is positively correlated with histone H2A.Z occupancy at promoters. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide new insights into the contribution of RNA polymerase II pausing in mammalian gene regulation and chromatin structure.
We describe computational methods for analysis of repetitive elements from short-read sequencing data, and apply them to study histone modifications associated with the repetitive elements in human and mouse cells. Our results demonstrate that while accurate enrichment estimates can be obtained for individual repeat types and small sets of repeat instances, there are distinct combinatorial patterns of chromatin marks associated with major annotated repeat families, including H3K27me3/H3K9me3 differences among the endogenous retroviral element classes.
We demonstrate that the process of identifying differentially expressed genes in microarray studies with small sample sizes can be substantially improved by extracting information from a large number of datasets accumulated in public databases. The improvement comes from more reliable estimates of gene-specific variances based on other datasets. For a two-group comparison with two arrays in each group, for example, the result of our method was comparable to that of a t-test analysis with five samples in each group or to that of a regularized t-test analysis with three samples in each group. Our results are further improved by weighting the results of our approach with the regularized t-test results in a hybrid method.
BACKGROUND: Serial analysis of gene expression using small amounts of starting material (microSAGE) has not yet been conclusively shown to be representative, reproducible or accurate. RESULTS: We show that microSAGE is highly representative, reproducible and accurate, but that pronounced differences in gene expression are seen between tissue samples taken from different individuals. CONCLUSIONS: MicroSAGE is a reliable method of comprehensively profiling differences in gene expression among samples, but care should be taken in generalizing results obtained from libraries constructed from tissue obtained from different individuals and/or processed or stored differently.
BACKGROUND: Data from thousands of transcription-profiling experiments in organisms ranging from yeast to humans are now publicly available. How best to analyze these data remains an important challenge. A variety of tools have been used for this purpose, including hierarchical clustering, self-organizing maps and principal components analysis. In particular, concepts from vector algebra have proven useful in the study of genome-wide expression data. RESULTS: Here we present a framework based on vector algebra for the analysis of transcription profiles that is geometrically intuitive and computationally efficient. Concepts in vector algebra such as angles, magnitudes, subspaces, singular value decomposition, bases and projections have natural and powerful interpretations in the analysis of microarray data. Angles in particular offer a rigorous method of defining 'similarity' and are useful in evaluating the claims of a microarray-based study. We present a sample analysis of cells treated with rapamycin, an immunosuppressant whose effects have been extensively studied with microarrays. In addition, the algebraic concept of a basis for a space affords the opportunity to simplify data analysis and uncover a limited number of expression vectors to span the transcriptional range of cell behavior. CONCLUSIONS: This framework represents a compact, powerful and scalable construction for analysis and computation. As the amount of microarray data in the public domain grows, these vector-based methods are relevant in determining statistical significance. These approaches are also well suited to extract biologically meaningful information in the analysis of signaling networks.