, a bio/informatics shared resource is still "open for business" - Visit the CDS website
Correctly estimating isoform-specific gene expression is important for understanding complicated biological mechanisms and for mapping disease susceptibility genes. However, estimating isoform-specific gene expression is challenging because various biases present in RNA-Seq (RNA sequencing) data complicate the analysis, and if not appropriately corrected, can affect isoform expression estimation and downstream analysis. In this article, we present PennSeq, a statistical method that allows each isoform to have its own non-uniform read distribution. Instead of making parametric assumptions, we give adequate weight to the underlying data by the use of a non-parametric approach. Our rationale is that regardless what factors lead to non-uniformity, whether it is due to hexamer priming bias, local sequence bias, positional bias, RNA degradation, mapping bias or other unknown reasons, the probability that a fragment is sampled from a particular region will be reflected in the aligned data. This empirical approach thus maximally reflects the true underlying non-uniform read distribution. We evaluate the performance of PennSeq using both simulated data with known ground truth, and using two real Illumina RNA-Seq data sets including one with quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction measurements. Our results indicate superior performance of PennSeq over existing methods, particularly for isoforms demonstrating severe non-uniformity. PennSeq is freely available for download at http://sourceforge.net/projects/pennseq.