Date of Award

5-9-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Alexander Zelikovsky

Second Advisor

Ion Mandoiu

Third Advisor

Yanqing Zhang

Fourth Advisor

Rajshekhar Sunderraman

Abstract

RNA-Seq is an increasingly popular approach to transcriptome profiling that uses the capabilities of next generation sequencing technologies and provides better measurement of levels of transcripts and their isoforms. In this thesis, we apply RNA-Seq protocol and transcriptome quantification to estimate gene expression and pathway activity levels. We present a novel method, called IsoDE, for differential gene expression analysis based on bootstrapping. In the first version of IsoDE, we compared the tool against four existing methods: Fisher's exact test, GFOLD, edgeR and Cuffdiff on RNA-Seq datasets generated using three different sequencing technologies, both with and without replicates. We also introduce the second version of IsoDE which runs 10 times faster than the first implementation due to some in-memory processing applied to the underlying gene expression frequencies estimation tool and we also perform more optimization on the analysis.

The second part of this thesis presents a set of tools to differentially analyze metabolic pathways from RNA-Seq data. Metabolic pathways are series of chemical reactions occurring within a cell. We focus on two main problems in metabolic pathways differential analysis, namely, differential analysis of their inferred activity level and of their estimated abundance. We validate our approaches through differential expression analysis at the transcripts and genes levels and also through real-time quantitative PCR experiments. In part Four, we present the different packages created or updated in the course of this study. We conclude with our future work plans for further improving IsoDE 2.0.

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