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      Post-mortem molecular profiling of three psychiatric disorders

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          Psychiatric disorders are multigenic diseases with complex etiology that contribute significantly to human morbidity and mortality. Although clinically distinct, several disorders share many symptoms, suggesting common underlying molecular changes exist that may implicate important regulators of pathogenesis and provide new therapeutic targets.


          We performed RNA sequencing on tissue from the anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and nucleus accumbens from three groups of 24 patients each diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder, and from 24 control subjects. We identified differentially expressed genes and validated the results in an independent cohort. Anterior cingulate cortex samples were also subjected to metabolomic analysis. ChIP-seq data were used to characterize binding of the transcription factor EGR1.


          We compared molecular signatures across the three brain regions and disorders in the transcriptomes of post-mortem human brain samples. The most significant disease-related differences were in the anterior cingulate cortex of schizophrenia samples compared to controls. Transcriptional changes were assessed in an independent cohort, revealing the transcription factor EGR1 as significantly down-regulated in both cohorts and as a potential regulator of broader transcription changes observed in schizophrenia patients. Additionally, broad down-regulation of genes specific to neurons and concordant up-regulation of genes specific to astrocytes was observed in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients relative to controls. Metabolomic profiling identified disruption of GABA levels in schizophrenia patients.


          We provide a comprehensive post-mortem transcriptome profile of three psychiatric disorders across three brain regions. We highlight a high-confidence set of independently validated genes differentially expressed between schizophrenia and control patients in the anterior cingulate cortex and integrate transcriptional changes with untargeted metabolite profiling.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13073-017-0458-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Gene set enrichment analysis: A knowledge-based approach for interpreting genome-wide expression profiles

          Although genomewide RNA expression analysis has become a routine tool in biomedical research, extracting biological insight from such information remains a major challenge. Here, we describe a powerful analytical method called Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) for interpreting gene expression data. The method derives its power by focusing on gene sets, that is, groups of genes that share common biological function, chromosomal location, or regulation. We demonstrate how GSEA yields insights into several cancer-related data sets, including leukemia and lung cancer. Notably, where single-gene analysis finds little similarity between two independent studies of patient survival in lung cancer, GSEA reveals many biological pathways in common. The GSEA method is embodied in a freely available software package, together with an initial database of 1,325 biologically defined gene sets.
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            Moderated estimation of fold change and dispersion for RNA-seq data with DESeq2

            In comparative high-throughput sequencing assays, a fundamental task is the analysis of count data, such as read counts per gene in RNA-seq, for evidence of systematic changes across experimental conditions. Small replicate numbers, discreteness, large dynamic range and the presence of outliers require a suitable statistical approach. We present DESeq2, a method for differential analysis of count data, using shrinkage estimation for dispersions and fold changes to improve stability and interpretability of estimates. This enables a more quantitative analysis focused on the strength rather than the mere presence of differential expression. The DESeq2 package is available at Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0550-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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              STAR: ultrafast universal RNA-seq aligner.

              Accurate alignment of high-throughput RNA-seq data is a challenging and yet unsolved problem because of the non-contiguous transcript structure, relatively short read lengths and constantly increasing throughput of the sequencing technologies. Currently available RNA-seq aligners suffer from high mapping error rates, low mapping speed, read length limitation and mapping biases. To align our large (>80 billon reads) ENCODE Transcriptome RNA-seq dataset, we developed the Spliced Transcripts Alignment to a Reference (STAR) software based on a previously undescribed RNA-seq alignment algorithm that uses sequential maximum mappable seed search in uncompressed suffix arrays followed by seed clustering and stitching procedure. STAR outperforms other aligners by a factor of >50 in mapping speed, aligning to the human genome 550 million 2 × 76 bp paired-end reads per hour on a modest 12-core server, while at the same time improving alignment sensitivity and precision. In addition to unbiased de novo detection of canonical junctions, STAR can discover non-canonical splices and chimeric (fusion) transcripts, and is also capable of mapping full-length RNA sequences. Using Roche 454 sequencing of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction amplicons, we experimentally validated 1960 novel intergenic splice junctions with an 80-90% success rate, corroborating the high precision of the STAR mapping strategy. STAR is implemented as a standalone C++ code. STAR is free open source software distributed under GPLv3 license and can be downloaded from

                Author and article information

                256-327-0431 ,
                Genome Med
                Genome Med
                Genome Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                28 July 2017
                28 July 2017
                : 9
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0408 3720, GRID grid.417691.c, , HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, ; 601 Genome Way, Huntsville, AL 35806 USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000000106344187, GRID grid.265892.2, Department of Genetics, , The University of Alabama at Birmingham, ; Birmingham, AL USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000000086837370, GRID grid.214458.e, , Mental Health Research Institute, University of Michigan, ; Ann Arbor, MI USA
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0668 7243, GRID grid.266093.8, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, College of Medicine, , University of California, ; Irvine, CA USA
                [5 ]ISNI 0000000419368956, GRID grid.168010.e, Department of Psychiatry, , Stanford University School of Medicine, ; Stanford, CA USA
                [6 ]ISNI 000000041936877X, GRID grid.5386.8, , Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, ; New York, NY USA
                [7 ]ISNI 0000000086837370, GRID grid.214458.e, Department of Human Genetics, , University of Michigan, ; Ann Arbor, MI USA
                [8 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7961, GRID grid.26009.3d, , Present address: Duke University, ; Durham, NC USA
                [9 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2193 0096, GRID grid.223827.e, , Present address: University of Utah School of Medicine, ; Salt Lake City, UT USA
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef, J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation;
                Funded by: FundRef, National Institute of General Medical Sciences;
                Award ID: 5T32GM008361-21
                Award ID: 5T32GM008361-21
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences;
                Award ID: 1UL1TR001417-01
                Award Recipient :
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                © The Author(s) 2017


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