Kjong-Van Lehmann, PhD. Computational Biology

"Without data you are just another person with an opinion" - Deming


+41 44 632 9067
Biomedical Informatics Group
Universitätstrasse 6
CAB F 52.2
8092 Zürich
CAB F 52.2

My training is in bioinformatics and computational biology with a strong interest in quantative modeling and the analysis of large scale molecular data.

Current Research

In my current role as an Oberassistent in the Biomedical Informatics Group at ETH Zurich, I am interested in building new models for data integration and in the data analysis of molecular data of cancer patients. As the computational biology subteam lead of the Tumor Profiler consortium I am actively working and coordinating the development of scalable approaches to integrate single cell measurements and train predictive models that enable the in-depth analysis of patient data in order to derive clinically relevant insights. I am especially excited about development of new approaches for the analysis of mutational signatures and have joined the ICGC-ARGO mutational signature working group.

Scientific Background

I attained my undergraduate degree in bioinformatics from the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, Germany. During this time, I attended a summer research program program at Forschungszentrum Juelich working on scalable parameter estimation methods. I received my PhD in Computational Biology from the University of Southern California, developing a variant interpretation approach for non-coding variants as well as working on linear mixed models to analyze transcriptome data. In 2013, I joined the Rätsch group at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York contributing towards large-scale cancer genomics efforts such as TCGA PanCanAtlas and ICGC Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes Working Group.


Abstract The application and integration of molecular profiling technologies create novel opportunities for personalized medicine. Here, we introduce the Tumor Profiler Study, an observational trial combining a prospective diagnostic approach to assess the relevance of in-depth tumor profiling to support clinical decision-making with an exploratory approach to improve the biological understanding of the disease.

Authors Anja Irmisch, Ximena Bonilla, Stéphane Chevrier, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Franziska Singer, Nora C. Toussaint, Cinzia Esposito, Julien Mena, Emanuela S. Milani, Ruben Casanova, Daniel J. Stekhoven, Rebekka Wegmann, Francis Jacob, Bettina Sobottka, Sandra Goetze, Jack Kuipers, Jacobo Sarabia del Castillo, Michael Prummer, Mustafa A. Tuncel, Ulrike Menzel, Andrea Jacobs, Stefanie Engler, Sujana Sivapatham, Anja L. Frei, Gabriele Gut, Joanna Ficek, Nicola Miglino, Melike Ak, Faisal S. Al-Quaddoomi, Jonas Albinus, Ilaria Alborelli, Sonali Andani, Per-Olof Attinger, Daniel Baumhoer, Beatrice Beck-Schimmer, Lara Bernasconi, Anne Bertolini, Natalia Chicherova, Maya D'Costa, Esther Danenberg, Natalie Davidson, Monica-Andreea Drăgan, Martin Erkens, Katja Eschbach, André Fedier, Pedro Ferreira, Bruno Frey, Linda Grob, Detlef Günther, Martina Haberecker, Pirmin Haeuptle, Sylvia Herter, Rene Holtackers, Tamara Huesser, Tim M. Jaeger, Katharina Jahn, Alva R. James, Philip M. Jermann, André Kahles, Abdullah Kahraman, Werner Kuebler, Christian P. Kunze, Christian Kurzeder, Sebastian Lugert, Gerd Maass, Philipp Markolin, Julian M. Metzler, Simone Muenst, Riccardo Murri, Charlotte K.Y. Ng, Stefan Nicolet, Marta Nowak, Patrick G.A. Pedrioli, Salvatore Piscuoglio, Mathilde Ritter, Christian Rommel, María L. Rosano-González, Natascha Santacroce, Ramona Schlenker, Petra C. Schwalie, Severin Schwan, Tobias Schär, Gabriela Senti, Vipin T. Sreedharan, Stefan Stark, Tinu M. Thomas, Vinko Tosevski, Marina Tusup, Audrey Van Drogen, Marcus Vetter, Tatjana Vlajnic, Sandra Weber, Walter P. Weber, Michael Weller, Fabian Wendt, Norbert Wey, Mattheus H.E. Wildschut, Shuqing Yu, Johanna Ziegler, Marc Zimmermann, Martin Zoche, Gregor Zuend, Rudolf Aebersold, Marina Bacac, Niko Beerenwinkel, Christian Beisel, Bernd Bodenmiller, Reinhard Dummer, Viola Heinzelmann-Schwarz, Viktor H. Koelzer, Markus G. Manz, Holger Moch, Lucas Pelkmans, Berend Snijder, Alexandre P.A. Theocharides, Markus Tolnay, Andreas Wicki, Bernd Wollscheid, Gunnar Rätsch, Mitchell P. Levesque

Submitted Cancer Cell (Commentary)

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Abstract Motivation Recent technological advances have led to an increase in the production and availability of single-cell data. The ability to integrate a set of multi-technology measurements would allow the identification of biologically or clinically meaningful observations through the unification of the perspectives afforded by each technology. In most cases, however, profiling technologies consume the used cells and thus pairwise correspondences between datasets are lost. Due to the sheer size single-cell datasets can acquire, scalable algorithms that are able to universally match single-cell measurements carried out in one cell to its corresponding sibling in another technology are needed. Results We propose Single-Cell data Integration via Matching (SCIM), a scalable approach to recover such correspondences in two or more technologies. SCIM assumes that cells share a common (low-dimensional) underlying structure and that the underlying cell distribution is approximately constant across technologies. It constructs a technology-invariant latent space using an autoencoder framework with an adversarial objective. Multi-modal datasets are integrated by pairing cells across technologies using a bipartite matching scheme that operates on the low-dimensional latent representations. We evaluate SCIM on a simulated cellular branching process and show that the cell-to-cell matches derived by SCIM reflect the same pseudotime on the simulated dataset. Moreover, we apply our method to two real-world scenarios, a melanoma tumor sample and a human bone marrow sample, where we pair cells from a scRNA dataset to their sibling cells in a CyTOF dataset achieving 90% and 78% cell-matching accuracy for each one of the samples, respectively.

Authors Stefan G Stark, Joanna Ficek, Francesco Locatello, Ximena Bonilla, Stéphane Chevrier, Franziska Singer, Tumor Profiler Consortium, Gunnar Rätsch, Kjong-Van Lehmann

Submitted Bioinformatics

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Abstract Motivation Understanding the underlying mutational processes of cancer patients has been a long-standing goal in the community and promises to provide new insights that could improve cancer diagnoses and treatments. Mutational signatures are summaries of the mutational processes, and improving the derivation of mutational signatures can yield new discoveries previously obscured by technical and biological confounders. Results from existing mutational signature extraction methods depend on the size of available patient cohort and solely focus on the analysis of mutation count data without considering the exploitation of metadata. Results Here we present a supervised method that utilizes cancer type as metadata to extract more distinctive signatures. More specifically, we use a negative binomial non-negative matrix factorization and add a support vector machine loss. We show that mutational signatures extracted by our proposed method have a lower reconstruction error and are designed to be more predictive of cancer type than those generated by unsupervised methods. This design reduces the need for elaborate post-processing strategies in order to recover most of the known signatures unlike the existing unsupervised signature extraction methods. Signatures extracted by a supervised model used in conjunction with cancer-type labels are also more robust, especially when using small and potentially cancer-type limited patient cohorts. Finally, we adapted our model such that molecular features can be utilized to derive an according mutational signature. We used APOBEC expression and MUTYH mutation status to demonstrate the possibilities that arise from this ability. We conclude that our method, which exploits available metadata, improves the quality of mutational signatures as well as helps derive more interpretable representations.

Authors Xinrui Lyu, Jean Garret, Gunnar Rätsch, Kjong-Van Lehmann

Submitted Bioinformatics

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Abstract Transcript alterations often result from somatic changes in cancer genomes. Various forms of RNA alterations have been described in cancer, including overexpression, altered splicing and gene fusions; however, it is difficult to attribute these to underlying genomic changes owing to heterogeneity among patients and tumour types, and the relatively small cohorts of patients for whom samples have been analysed by both transcriptome and whole-genome sequencing. Here we present, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive catalogue of cancer-associated gene alterations to date, obtained by characterizing tumour transcriptomes from 1,188 donors of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Using matched whole-genome sequencing data, we associated several categories of RNA alterations with germline and somatic DNA alterations, and identified probable genetic mechanisms. Somatic copy-number alterations were the major drivers of variations in total gene and allele-specific expression. We identified 649 associations of somatic single-nucleotide variants with gene expression in cis, of which 68.4% involved associations with flanking non-coding regions of the gene. We found 1,900 splicing alterations associated with somatic mutations, including the formation of exons within introns in proximity to Alu elements. In addition, 82% of gene fusions were associated with structural variants, including 75 of a new class, termed ‘bridged’ fusions, in which a third genomic location bridges two genes. We observed transcriptomic alteration signatures that differ between cancer types and have associations with variations in DNA mutational signatures. This compendium of RNA alterations in the genomic context provides a rich resource for identifying genes and mechanisms that are functionally implicated in cancer.

Authors PCAWG Transcriptome Core Group, Claudia Calabrese, Natalie R Davidson, Deniz Demircioğlu, Nuno A. Fonseca, Yao He, André Kahles, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Fenglin Liu, Yuichi Shiraishi, Cameron M. Soulette, Lara Urban, Liliana Greger, Siliang Li, Dongbing Liu, Marc D. Perry, Qian Xiang, Fan Zhang, Junjun Zhang, Peter Bailey, Serap Erkek, Katherine A. Hoadley, Yong Hou, Matthew R. Huska, Helena Kilpinen, Jan O. Korbel, Maximillian G. Marin, Julia Markowski, Tannistha Nandi, Qiang Pan-Hammarström, Chandra Sekhar Pedamallu, Reiner Siebert, Stefan G. Stark, Hong Su, Patrick Tan, Sebastian M. Waszak, Christina Yung, Shida Zhu, Philip Awadalla, Chad J. Creighton, Matthew Meyerson, B. F. Francis Ouellette, Kui Wu, Huanming Yang, PCAWG Transcriptome Working Group, Alvis Brazma, Angela N. Brooks, Jonathan Göke, Gunnar Rätsch, Roland F. Schwarz, Oliver Stegle, Zemin Zhang & PCAWG Consortium- Show fewer authors Nature volume 578, pages129–136(2020)Cite this article

Submitted Nature

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Abstract The discovery of drivers of cancer has traditionally focused on protein-coding genes1,2,3,4. Here we present analyses of driver point mutations and structural variants in non-coding regions across 2,658 genomes from the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium5 of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). For point mutations, we developed a statistically rigorous strategy for combining significance levels from multiple methods of driver discovery that overcomes the limitations of individual methods. For structural variants, we present two methods of driver discovery, and identify regions that are significantly affected by recurrent breakpoints and recurrent somatic juxtapositions. Our analyses confirm previously reported drivers6,7, raise doubts about others and identify novel candidates, including point mutations in the 5′ region of TP53, in the 3′ untranslated regions of NFKBIZ and TOB1, focal deletions in BRD4 and rearrangements in the loci of AKR1C genes. We show that although point mutations and structural variants that drive cancer are less frequent in non-coding genes and regulatory sequences than in protein-coding genes, additional examples of these drivers will be found as more cancer genomes become available.

Authors Esther Rheinbay, Morten Muhlig Nielsen, Federico Abascal, Jeremiah A. Wala, Ofer Shapira, Grace Tiao, Henrik Hornshøj, Julian M. Hess, Randi Istrup Juul, Ziao Lin, Lars Feuerbach, Radhakrishnan Sabarinathan, Tobias Madsen, Jaegil Kim, Loris Mularoni, Shimin Shuai, Andrés Lanzós, Carl Herrmann, Yosef E. Maruvka, Ciyue Shen, Samirkumar B. Amin, Pratiti Bandopadhayay, Johanna Bertl, Keith A. Boroevich, John Busanovich, Joana Carlevaro-Fita, Dimple Chakravarty, Calvin Wing Yiu Chan, David Craft, Priyanka Dhingra, Klev Diamanti, Nuno A. Fonseca, Abel Gonzalez-Perez, Qianyun Guo, Mark P. Hamilton, Nicholas J. Haradhvala, Chen Hong, Keren Isaev, Todd A. Johnson, Malene Juul, Andre Kahles, Abdullah Kahraman, Youngwook Kim, Jan Komorowski, Kiran Kumar, Sushant Kumar, Donghoon Lee, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Yilong Li, Eric Minwei Liu, Lucas Lochovsky, Keunchil Park, Oriol Pich, Nicola D. Roberts, Gordon Saksena, Steven E. Schumacher, Nikos Sidiropoulos, Lina Sieverling, Nasa Sinnott-Armstrong, Chip Stewart, David Tamborero, Jose M. C. Tubio, Husen M. Umer, Liis Uusküla-Reimand, Claes Wadelius, Lina Wadi, Xiaotong Yao, Cheng-Zhong Zhang, Jing Zhang, James E. Haber, Asger Hobolth, Marcin Imielinski, Manolis Kellis, Michael S. Lawrence, Christian von Mering, Hidewaki Nakagawa, Benjamin J. Raphael, Mark A. Rubin, Chris Sander, Lincoln D. Stein, Joshua M. Stuart, Tatsuhiko Tsunoda, David A. Wheeler, Rory Johnson, Jüri Reimand, Mark Gerstein, Ekta Khurana, Peter J. Campbell, Núria López-Bigas, PCAWG Drivers and Functional Interpretation Working Group, PCAWG Structural Variation Working Group, Joachim Weischenfeldt, Rameen Beroukhim, Iñigo Martincorena, Jakob Skou Pedersen, Gad Getz & PCAWG Consortium

Submitted Nature

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Abstract Most human protein-coding genes are regulated by multiple, distinct promoters, suggesting that the choice of promoter is as important as its level of transcriptional activity. However, while a global change in transcription is recognized as a defining feature of cancer, the contribution of alternative promoters still remains largely unexplored. Here, we infer active promoters using RNA-seq data from 18,468 cancer and normal samples, demonstrating that alternative promoters are a major contributor to context-specific regulation of transcription. We find that promoters are deregulated across tissues, cancer types, and patients, affecting known cancer genes and novel candidates. For genes with independently regulated promoters, we demonstrate that promoter activity provides a more accurate predictor of patient survival than gene expression. Our study suggests that a dynamic landscape of active promoters shapes the cancer transcriptome, opening new diagnostic avenues and opportunities to further explore the interplay of regulatory mechanisms with transcriptional aberrations in cancer.

Authors Demircioğlu D, Cukuroglu E, Kindermans M, Nandi T, Calabrese C, Fonseca NA, Kahles A, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Stegle O, Brazma A, Brooks AN, Rätsch G, Tan P, Göke J.

Submitted The Cell

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Abstract Motivation: Personalized medicine aims at combining genetic, clinical, and environmental data to improve medical diagnosis and disease treatment, tailored to each patient. This paper presents a Bayesian nonparametric (BNP) approach to identify genetic associations with clinical/environmental features in cancer. We propose an unsupervised approach to generate data-driven hypotheses and bring potentially novel insights about cancer biology. Our model combines somatic mutation information at gene-level with features extracted from the Electronic Health Record. We propose a hierarchical approach, the hierarchical Poisson factor analysis (HPFA) model, to share information across patients having different types of cancer. To discover statistically significant associations, we combine Bayesian modeling with bootstrapping techniques and correct for multiple hypothesis testing. Results: Using our approach, we empirically demonstrate that we can recover well-known associations in cancer literature. We compare the results of H-PFA with two other classical methods in the field: case-control (CC) setups, and linear mixed models (LMMs).

Authors Melanie F. Pradier, Stephanie L. Hyland, Stefan G. Stark, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Julia E. Vogt, Fernando Perez-Cruz, Gunnar Rätsch

Submitted biorxiv

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Abstract The recent adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) by health care providers has introduced an important source of data that provides detailed and highly specific insights into patient phenotypes over large cohorts. These datasets, in combination with machine learning and statistical approaches, generate new opportunities for research and clinical care. However, many methods require the patient representations to be in structured formats, while the information in the EHR is often locked in unstructured texts designed for human readability. In this work, we develop the methodology to automatically extract clinical features from clinical narratives from large EHR corpora without the need for prior knowledge. We consider medical terms and sentences appearing in clinical narratives as atomic information units. We propose an efficient clustering strategy suitable for the analysis of large text corpora and to utilize the clusters to represent information about the patient compactly. To demonstrate the utility of our approach, we perform an association study of clinical features with somatic mutation profiles from 4,007 cancer patients and their tumors. We apply the proposed algorithm to a dataset consisting of about 65 thousand documents with a total of about 3.2 million sentences. We identify 341 significant statistical associations between the presence of somatic mutations and clinical features. We annotated these associations according to their novelty, and report several known associations. We also propose 32 testable hypotheses where the underlying biological mechanism does not appear to be known but plausible. These results illustrate that the …

Authors Stefan G Stark, Stephanie L Hyland, Melanie F Pradier, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Andreas Wicki, Fernando Perez Cruz, Julia E Vogt, Gunnar Rätsch

Submitted arxiv

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Abstract Our comprehensive analysis of alternative splicing across 32 The Cancer Genome Atlas cancer types from 8,705 patients detects alternative splicing events and tumor variants by reanalyzing RNA and whole-exome sequencing data. Tumors have up to 30% more alternative splicing events than normal samples. Association analysis of somatic variants with alternative splicing events confirmed known trans associations with variants in SF3B1 and U2AF1 and identified additional trans-acting variants (e.g., TADA1, PPP2R1A). Many tumors have thousands of alternative splicing events not detectable in normal samples; on average, we identified ≈930 exon-exon junctions (“neojunctions”) in tumors not typically found in GTEx normals. From Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium data available for breast and ovarian tumor samples, we confirmed ≈1.7 neojunction- and ≈0.6 single nucleotide variant-derived peptides per tumor sample that are also predicted major histocompatibility complex-I binders (“putative neoantigens”).

Authors Andre Kahles, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Nora C. Toussaint, Matthias Hüser, Stefan Stark, Timo Sachsenberg, Oliver Stegle, Oliver Kohlbacher, Chris Sander, Gunnar Rätsch, The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network

Submitted Cancer Cell

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Abstract We present the most comprehensive catalogue of cancer-associated gene alterations through characterization of tumor transcriptomes from 1,188 donors of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes project. Using matched whole-genome sequencing data, we attributed RNA alterations to germline and somatic DNA alterations, revealing likely genetic mechanisms. We identified 444 associations of gene expression with somatic non-coding single-nucleotide variants. We found 1,872 splicing alterations associated with somatic mutation in intronic regions, including novel exonization events associated with Alu elements. Somatic copy number alterations were the major driver of total gene and allele-specific expression (ASE) variation. Additionally, 82% of gene fusions had structural variant support, including 75 of a novel class called "bridged" fusions, in which a third genomic location bridged two different genes. Globally, we observe transcriptomic alteration signatures that differ between cancer types and have associations with DNA mutational signatures. Given this unique dataset of RNA alterations, we also identified 1,012 genes significantly altered through both DNA and RNA mechanisms. Our study represents an extensive catalog of RNA alterations and reveals new insights into the heterogeneous molecular mechanisms of cancer gene alterations.

Authors Claudia Calabrese, Natalie R Davidson, Nuno A Fonseca, Yao He, André Kahles, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Fenglin Liu, Yuichi Shiraishi, Cameron M Soulette, Lara Urban, Deniz Demircioğlu, Liliana Greger, Siliang Li, Dongbing Liu, Marc D Perry, Linda Xiang, Fan Zhang, Junjun Zhang, Peter Bailey, Serap Erkek, Katherine A Hoadley, Yong Hou, Helena Kilpinen, Jan O Korbel, Maximillian G Marin, Julia Markowski, Tannistha Nandi, Qiang Pan-Hammarström, Chandra S Pedamallu, Reiner Siebert, Stefan G Stark, Hong Su, Patrick Tan, Sebastian M Waszak, Christina Yung, Shida Zhu, Philip Awadalla, Chad J Creighton, Matthew Meyerson, B Francis F Ouellette, Kui Wu, Huanming Yang, Alvis Brazma, Angela N Brooks, Jonathan Göke, Gunnar Rätsch, Roland F Schwarz, Oliver Stegle, Zemin Zhang

Submitted bioRxiv

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Abstract Cancer is characterised by somatic genetic variation, but the effect of the majority of non-coding somatic variants and the interface with the germline genome are still unknown. We analysed the whole genome and RNA-seq data from 1,188 human cancer patients as provided by the Pan-cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project to map cis expression quantitative trait loci of somatic and germline variation and to uncover the causes of allele-specific expression patterns in human cancers. The availability of the first large-scale dataset with both whole genome and gene expression data enabled us to uncover the effects of the non-coding variation on cancer. In addition to confirming known regulatory effects, we identified novel associations between somatic variation and expression dysregulation, in particular in distal regulatory elements. Finally, we uncovered links between somatic mutational signatures and gene expression changes, including TERT and LMO2, and we explained the inherited risk factors in APOBEC-related mutational processes. This work represents the first large-scale assessment of the effects of both germline and somatic genetic variation on gene expression in cancer and creates a valuable resource cataloguing these effects.

Authors Claudia Calabrese, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Lara Urban, Fenglin Liu, Serap Erkek, Nuno Fonseca, Andre Kahles, Leena Helena Kilpinen-Barrett, Julia Markowski, PCAWG-3, Sebastian Waszak, Jan Korbel, Zemin Zhang, Alvis Brazma, Gunnar Raetsch, Roland Schwarz, Oliver Stegle

Submitted bioRxiv

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Authors Natalie R. Davidson, ; PanCancer Analysis of Whole Genomes 3 (PCAWG-3) for ICGC, Alvis Brazma, Angela N. Brooks, Claudia Calabrese, Nuno A. Fonseca, Jonathan Goke, Yao He, Xueda Hu, Andre Kahles, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Fenglin Liu, Gunnar Rätsch, Siliang Li, Roland F. Schwarz, Mingyu Yang, Zemin Zhang, Fan Zhang and Liangtao Zheng

Submitted Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017

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Abstract Regulatory variation in gene expression can be described by cis- and trans-genetic components. Here we used RNA-seq data from a population panel of Drosophila melanogaster test crosses to compare allelic imbalance (AI) in female head tissue between mated and virgin flies, an environmental change known to affect transcription. Indeed, 3048 exons (1610 genes) are differentially expressed in this study. A Bayesian model for AI, with an intersection test, controls type I error. There are ∼200 genes with AI exclusively in mated or virgin flies, indicating an environmental component of expression regulation. On average 34% of genes within a cross and 54% of all genes show evidence for genetic regulation of transcription. Nearly all differentially regulated genes are affected in cis, with an average of 63% of expression variation explained by the cis-effects. Trans-effects explain 8% of the variance in AI on average …

Authors Justin M Fear, Luis G León-Novelo, Alison M Morse, Alison R Gerken, Kjong-Van Lehmann, John Tower, Sergey V Nuzhdin, Lauren M McIntyre

Submitted Genetics

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Abstract The prevailing demographic model for Drosophila melanogaster suggests that the colonization of North America occurred very recently from a subset of European flies that rapidly expanded across the continent. This model implies a sudden population growth and range expansion consistent with very low or no population subdivision. As flies adapt to new environments, local adaptation events may be expected. To describe demographic and selective events during North American colonization, we have generated a data set of 35 individual whole‐genome sequences from inbred lines of D. melanogaster from a west coast US population (Winters, California, USA) and compared them with a public genome data set from Raleigh (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA). We analysed nuclear and mitochondrial genomes and described levels of variation and divergence within and between these two North American D …

Authors D Campo, Kjong-Van Lehmann, C Fjeldsted, T Souaiaia, J Kao, SV Nuzhdin

Submitted Molecular ecology

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Abstract Variation within splicing regulatory sequences often leads to differences in gene models among individuals within a species. Two alleles of the same gene may express transcripts with different exon/intron structures and consequently produce functionally different proteins. Matching genomic and transcriptomic data allows us to identify putative regulatory variants associated with changes in splicing patterns. Here we analyzed natural variation of splicing patterns in the transcriptomes of 81 natural strains of Drosophila melanogaster with known genotypes. We identified dozens of genotype-specific splicing patterns associated with putative cis-splicing quantitative trait loci (sQTL). The majority of changes can be explained by mutations in splice sites. Allelic-imbalance in splicing patterns confirmed that the majority are regulated mainly by cis-genetic effects. Remarkably, allele-specific splicing changes often lead to qualitative changes in gene models, yielding many isoforms not previously annotated. The observed alterations are typically outside protein-coding regions or affect only very short protein segments. Overall, the sets of gene models appear to be flexible within D. melanogaster populations. The observed variation in splicing patterns are predicted to have limited effects on the encoded protein sequences. To our knowledge, this is the first sQTL mapping study in Drosophila.

Authors Yerbol Z Kurmangaliyev, Alexander V Favorov, Noha M Osman, Kjong-Van Lehmann, Daniel Campo, Matthew P Salomon, John Tower, Mikhail S Gelfand, Sergey V Nuzhdin

Submitted BMC genomics

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Abstract We present a genome-wide analysis of splicing patterns of 282 kidney renal clear cell carcinoma patients in which we integrate data from whole-exome sequencing of tumor and normal samples, RNA-seq and copy number variation. We proposed a scoring mechanism to compare splicing patterns in tumor samples to normal samples in order to rank and detect tumor-specific isoforms that have a potential for new biomarkers. We identified a subset of genes that show introns only observable in tumor but not in normal samples, ENCODE and GEUVADIS samples. In order to improve our understanding of the underlying genetic mechanisms of splicing variation we performed a large-scale association analysis to find links between somatic or germline variants with alternative splicing events. We identified 915 cis- and trans-splicing quantitative trait loci (sQTL) associated with changes in splicing patterns. Some of these sQTL have previously been associated with being susceptibility loci for cancer and other diseases. Our analysis also allowed us to identify the function of several COSMIC variants showing significant association with changes in alternative splicing. This demonstrates the potential significance of variants affecting alternative splicing events and yields insights into the mechanisms related to an array of disease phenotypes.

Authors Kjong-Van Lehmann, Andre Kahles, Cyriac Kandoth, William Lee, Nikolaus Schultz, Oliver Stegle, Gunnar Rätsch

Submitted Biocomputing

Link Pubmed

Abstract The thousand genomes project and many similar ongoing large-scale sequencing efforts require new methods to predict functional variants in both coding and non-coding regions in order to understand phenotype and genotype relationships. We report the design of a new model SInBaD (Sequence-Information-Based-Decision-model) which relies on nucleotide conservation information to evaluate any annotated human variant in all known exons, introns, splice junctions and promoter regions. SInBaD builds separate mathematical models for promoters, exons and introns, using the human disease mutations annotated in human gene mutation database as the training dataset for functional variants. The ten-fold cross validation shows high prediction accuracy. Validations on test datasets, demonstrate that variants predicted as functional have a significantly higher occurrence in cancer patients. We also applied our model to variants found in four different individual human genomes to identify a set of functional variants, which might be of interest for further studies. Scores for any possible variants for all annotated genes are available under http://tingchenlab.cmb.usc.edu/sinbad/. SInBaD supports the current standard format of genotyping, the variant call files (VCF 4.0), making it easy to integrate it into any existing next-generation sequencing pipeline. The accuracy of SNP detection poses the only limitation to the use of SInBaD.

Authors Kjong-Van Lehmann, Ting Chen

Submitted Nucleic Acids Research

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