Archive by category | Transcriptomics

[Research highlight] Transcription in action

In a work just published at Nature, Churchman and Weissman (2011) describe a new method for directly capturing and sequencing elongating, or nascent, RNA transcripts. The authors then use this method to provide a detailed look at the transcriptional process in action, revealing a histone modification-dependent mechanism that constrains genome-wide antisense transcription, and pervasive transcriptional pausing and backtracking throughout genes.  Read more

SciFoo: scientific fireworks

SciFoo: scientific fireworks

In his list of eight ‘generative’ values (Better Than Free), Kevin Kelly includes ’embodiment’–the actual physical realization of an item or event which could be otherwise freely distributed over the web. While we are all ‘hyperlinked’ on the Internet, the value of those unique qualities that cannot be generated or “copied” on the web is dramatically increased. The type of intense emulation and shared excitement sparked at the recent Science Foo Camp (SciFoo 2008), organized by Nature, Google and O’Reilly, gave a wonderful example of the unique value of direct human exchange during an exclusive event bringing together roughly 200 top scientists, ‘geeks’ and other technologists at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.  Read more

Top-down mapping of gene regulatory pathways

Top-down mapping of gene regulatory pathways

In a very recent lecture (see full video from NIH VideoCasting) given for the NIH Systems Biology Special Interest Group, Trey Ideker presents a great overview of the various strategies his group has been developing in the recent years in order to integrate multiple types of large scale datasets. While one of the most pervasive ‘meme’ about high-throughput measurement is that they are “notoriously unreliable” (see Hakes et al, 2008, for a recent example), Trey beautifully illustrates how predictive computational models and novel biological insights can be generated by sophisticated data integration strategies. Three types of applications are presented in his talk:  … Read more

Transcription paused and poised for regulation

Transcription paused and poised for regulation

For eukaryotes, it is widely thought that transcription is primarily regulated through recruitment of the essential machinery to transcription start-sites. Previous hints challenging this paradigm have been confirmed by recent analyses showing that transcription regulation of a large number of genes actually occurs after recruitment. Mechanistically, such studies have gone furthest in Drosophila melanogaster (Muse et al, 2007; Zeitlinger et al, 2007). Here, conservative estimates indicate that more than 10% of genes are regulated through promoter-proximal pausing. On such genes, RNA polymerase II is recruited and initiates transcription, but then pauses around 50 bp downstream of the transcription start-site where it awaits further signals to resume elongation and complete transcription proper.  Read more

Connecting disease state to genetic modules

Connecting disease state to genetic modules

Diseases such as cancer are often related to collaborative effects involving interactions of multiple genes within complex pathways, or to combinations of multiple SNPs. To understand the structure of such mechanisms, it is helpful to analyze genes in terms of the purely cooperative, as opposed to independent, nature of their contributions towards a phenotype (Anastassiou, 2007).  Read more

Analyzing time-series expression data

Analyzing time-series expression data

Ziv Bar-Joseph and colleague describe their new method Dynamic Regulatory Events Miner (DREM) to analyze time-series gene expression data and combine them with static ChIP-chip experiments. The expression profiles are modeled using an extension of Hidden Markov Model that enforces a tree structure onto the expression profiles. The technique allows to deduce the condition-specific or time-dependent activity of transcription factors that explain the observed expression profiles.  Read more