Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Alexander Zelikovsky

Abstract

High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) is a popular cost-efficient technology with many medical and biological applications. This technology, however, presents a number of computational challenges in reconstructing full-length transcripts and accurately estimate their abundances across all cell types.

Our contributions include (1) transcript and gene expression level estimation methods, (2) methods for genome-guided and annotation-guided transcriptome reconstruction, and (3) de novo assembly and annotation of real data sets. Transcript expression level estimation, also referred to as transcriptome quantification, tackle the problem of estimating the expression level of each transcript. Transcriptome quantification analysis is crucial to determine similar transcripts or unraveling gene functions and transcription regulation mechanisms. We propose a novel simulated regression based method for transcriptome frequency estimation from RNA-Seq reads. Transcriptome reconstruction refers to the problem of reconstructing the transcript sequences from the RNA-Seq data. We present genome-guided and annotation-guided transcriptome reconstruction methods. Empirical results on both synthetic and real RNA-seq datasets show that the proposed methods improve transcriptome quantification and reconstruction accuracy compared to currently state of the art methods. We further present the assembly and annotation of Bugula neritina transcriptome (a marine colonial animal), and Tallapoosa darter genome (a species-rich radiation freshwater fish).

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