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      Gene expression in human brain implicates sexually dimorphic pathways in autism spectrum disorders

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          Abstract

          Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more prevalent in males, and the mechanisms behind this sex-differential risk are not fully understood. Two competing, but not mutually exclusive, hypotheses are that ASD risk genes are sex-differentially regulated, or alternatively, that they interact with characteristic sexually dimorphic pathways. Here we characterized sexually dimorphic gene expression in multiple data sets from neurotypical adult and prenatal human neocortical tissue, and evaluated ASD risk genes for evidence of sex-biased expression. We find no evidence for systematic sex-differential expression of ASD risk genes. Instead, we observe that genes expressed at higher levels in males are significantly enriched for genes upregulated in post-mortem autistic brain, including astrocyte and microglia markers. This suggests that it is not sex-differential regulation of ASD risk genes, but rather naturally occurring sexually dimorphic processes, potentially including neuron–glial interactions, that modulate the impact of risk variants and contribute to the sex-skewed prevalence of ASD.

          Abstract

          Autism spectrum disorder is approximately 4.5 times more likely to occur in boys than girls. Here, Werling, Geschwind and Parikshak characterized sexually dimorphic gene expression in the non-diseased, post-mortem, adult and prenatal human brain, and show genes expressed at higher levels in males are significantly enriched for genes upregulated in autistic brain.

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          Most cited references 63

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          TopHat: discovering splice junctions with RNA-Seq

          Motivation: A new protocol for sequencing the messenger RNA in a cell, known as RNA-Seq, generates millions of short sequence fragments in a single run. These fragments, or ‘reads’, can be used to measure levels of gene expression and to identify novel splice variants of genes. However, current software for aligning RNA-Seq data to a genome relies on known splice junctions and cannot identify novel ones. TopHat is an efficient read-mapping algorithm designed to align reads from an RNA-Seq experiment to a reference genome without relying on known splice sites. Results: We mapped the RNA-Seq reads from a recent mammalian RNA-Seq experiment and recovered more than 72% of the splice junctions reported by the annotation-based software from that study, along with nearly 20 000 previously unreported junctions. The TopHat pipeline is much faster than previous systems, mapping nearly 2.2 million reads per CPU hour, which is sufficient to process an entire RNA-Seq experiment in less than a day on a standard desktop computer. We describe several challenges unique to ab initio splice site discovery from RNA-Seq reads that will require further algorithm development. Availability: TopHat is free, open-source software available from http://tophat.cbcb.umd.edu Contact: cole@cs.umd.edu Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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            HTSeq—a Python framework to work with high-throughput sequencing data

            Motivation: A large choice of tools exists for many standard tasks in the analysis of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data. However, once a project deviates from standard workflows, custom scripts are needed. Results: We present HTSeq, a Python library to facilitate the rapid development of such scripts. HTSeq offers parsers for many common data formats in HTS projects, as well as classes to represent data, such as genomic coordinates, sequences, sequencing reads, alignments, gene model information and variant calls, and provides data structures that allow for querying via genomic coordinates. We also present htseq-count, a tool developed with HTSeq that preprocesses RNA-Seq data for differential expression analysis by counting the overlap of reads with genes. Availability and implementation: HTSeq is released as an open-source software under the GNU General Public Licence and available from http://www-huber.embl.de/HTSeq or from the Python Package Index at https://pypi.python.org/pypi/HTSeq. Contact: sanders@fs.tum.de
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              Adjusting batch effects in microarray expression data using empirical Bayes methods.

              Non-biological experimental variation or "batch effects" are commonly observed across multiple batches of microarray experiments, often rendering the task of combining data from these batches difficult. The ability to combine microarray data sets is advantageous to researchers to increase statistical power to detect biological phenomena from studies where logistical considerations restrict sample size or in studies that require the sequential hybridization of arrays. In general, it is inappropriate to combine data sets without adjusting for batch effects. Methods have been proposed to filter batch effects from data, but these are often complicated and require large batch sizes ( > 25) to implement. Because the majority of microarray studies are conducted using much smaller sample sizes, existing methods are not sufficient. We propose parametric and non-parametric empirical Bayes frameworks for adjusting data for batch effects that is robust to outliers in small sample sizes and performs comparable to existing methods for large samples. We illustrate our methods using two example data sets and show that our methods are justifiable, easy to apply, and useful in practice. Software for our method is freely available at: http://biosun1.harvard.edu/complab/batch/.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group
                2041-1723
                19 February 2016
                2016
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, Semel Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles , Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
                [2 ]Program in Neurogenetics, Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles , Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
                [3 ]Center for Autism Research and Treatment, Semel Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles , Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
                [4 ]Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles , Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
                Author notes
                Article
                ncomms10717
                10.1038/ncomms10717
                4762891
                26892004
                Copyright © 2016, Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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