Highly accurate quantification of allelic gene expression for population and disease genetics

Anna Saukkonen, Helena Kilpinen, Alan Hodgkinson

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review


Analysis of allele-specific gene expression (ASE) is a powerful approach for studying gene regulation, particularly when sample sizes are small, such as for rare diseases, or when studying the effects of rare genetic variation. However, detection of ASE events relies on accurate alignment of RNA sequencing reads, where challenges still remain, particularly for reads containing genetic variants or those that align to many different genomic locations. We have developed the Personalised ASE Caller (PAC), a tool that combines multiple steps to improve the quantification of allelic reads, including personalized (i.e., diploid) read alignment with improved allocation of multimapping reads. Using simulated RNA sequencing data, we show that PAC outperforms standard alignment approaches for ASE detection, reducing the number of sites with incorrect biases (>10%) by ∼80% and increasing the number of sites that can be reliably quantified by ∼3%. Applying PAC to real RNA sequencing data from 670 whole-blood samples, we show that genetic regulatory signatures inferred from ASE data more closely match those from population-based methods that are less prone to alignment biases. Finally, we use PAC to characterize cell type–specific ASE events that would be missed by standard alignment approaches, and in doing so identify disease relevant genes that may modulate their effects through the regulation of gene expression. PAC can be applied to the vast quantity of existing RNA sequencing data sets to better understand a wide array of fundamental biological and disease processes.

TidskriftGenome Research
Sidor (från-till)1565-1572
Antal sidor8
StatusPublicerad - aug. 2022
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad

Bibliografisk information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Saukkonen et al.


  • 1184 Genetik, utvecklingsbiologi, fysiologi

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