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  1. In this work, we present an efficient Processing in MRAM-Accelerated De Bruijn Graph-based DNA Assembly platform, named PANDA, based on an optimized and hardware-friendly genome assembly algorithm. PANDA is able to assemble large-scale DNA sequence datasets from all-pair overlaps. We first design a PANDA platform that exploits MRAM as computational memory and converts it to a potent processing unit for genome assembly. PANDA can not only execute efficient bulk bit-wise X(N)OR-based comparison/addition operations heavily required for the genome assembly task but also a full set of 2-/3-input logic operations inside the MRAM chip. We then develop a highly parallel and step-by-step hardware-friendly DNA assembly algorithm for PANDA that only requires the developed in-memory logic operations. The platform is then configured with a novel data partitioning and mapping technique that provides local storage and processing to utilize the algorithm level’s parallelism fully. The cross-layer simulation results demonstrate that PANDA reduces the run time and power by a factor of 18 and 11, respectively, compared with CPU. Moreover, speed-ups of up to 2.5 to 10× can be obtained over other recent processing in-memory platforms to perform the same task, like STT-MRAM, ReRAM, and DRAM. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 2, 2025
  2. Abstract Background

    The eukaryotic genome is capable of producing multiple isoforms from a gene by alternative polyadenylation (APA) during pre-mRNA processing. APA in the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of mRNA produces transcripts with shorter or longer 3′-UTR. Often, 3′-UTR serves as a binding platform for microRNAs and RNA-binding proteins, which affect the fate of the mRNA transcript. Thus, 3′-UTR APA is known to modulate translation and provides a mean to regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Current bioinformatics pipelines have limited capability in profiling 3′-UTR APA events due to incomplete annotations and a low-resolution analyzing power: widely available bioinformatics pipelines do not reference actionable polyadenylation (cleavage) sites but simulate 3′-UTR APA only using RNA-seq read coverage, causing false positive identifications. To overcome these limitations, we developed APA-Scan, a robust program that identifies 3′-UTR APA events and visualizes the RNA-seq short-read coverage with gene annotations.

    Methods

    APA-Scan utilizes either predicted or experimentally validated actionable polyadenylation signals as a reference for polyadenylation sites and calculates the quantity of long and short 3′-UTR transcripts in the RNA-seq data. APA-Scan works in three major steps: (i) calculate the read coverage of the 3′-UTR regions of genes; (ii) identify the potential APA sites and evaluate the significance of the events among two biological conditions; (iii) graphical representation of user specific event with 3′-UTR annotation and read coverage on the 3′-UTR regions. APA-Scan is implemented in Python3. Source code and a comprehensive user’s manual are freely available athttps://github.com/compbiolabucf/APA-Scan.

    Result

    APA-Scan was applied to both simulated and real RNA-seq datasets and compared with two widely used baselines DaPars and APAtrap. In simulation APA-Scan significantly improved the accuracy of 3′-UTR APA identification compared to the other baselines. The performance of APA-Scan was also validated by 3′-end-seq data and qPCR on mouse embryonic fibroblast cells. The experiments confirm that APA-Scan can detect unannotated 3′-UTR APA events and improve genome annotation.

    Conclusion

    APA-Scan is a comprehensive computational pipeline to detect transcriptome-wide 3′-UTR APA events. The pipeline integrates both RNA-seq and 3′-end-seq data information and can efficiently identify the significant events with a high-resolution short reads coverage plots.

     
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  3. Processing-in-memory (PIM) architecture has been considered as a promising solution for the “memory-wall” issue in many data-intensive applications, especially in bioinformatics. Recent works of developing PIM for genome alignment and assembling have achieved tremendous improvement, while another important genome analysis - mRNA quantification has not been explored. Efficient and accurate mRNA quantification is a crucial step for molecular signature identification, disease outcome prediction and drug development. In this paper, for the first time, we propose a SOT-MRAM based PIM platform, named PIM-Quantifier, for efficient mRNA quantification. A PIM-friendly alignment-free quantification algorithm is first proposed. Then, we present the optimized PIM architecture/circuit designs and mapping method to efficiently accelerate mRNA quantification. Extensive experiments show that PIM-Quantifier significantly improves mRNA quantification performance than CPU and recent other PIM platforms in efficiency defined as throughput/power. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Microbes and viruses are known to alter host transcriptomes by means of infection. In light of recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a deeper understanding of the disease at the transcriptome level is needed. However, research about transcriptome reprogramming by post-transcriptional regulation is very limited. In this study, computational methods developed by our lab were applied to RNA-seq data to detect transcript variants (i.e., alternative splicing (AS) and alternative polyadenylation (APA) events). The RNA-seq data were obtained from a publicly available source, and they consist of mock-treated and SARS-CoV-2 infected (COVID-19) lung alveolar (A549) cells. Data analysis results show that more AS events are found in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells than in mock-treated cells, whereas fewer APA events are detected in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. A combination of conventional differential gene expression analysis and transcript variants analysis revealed that most of the genes with transcript variants are not differentially expressed. This indicates that no strong correlation exists between differential gene expression and the AS/APA events in the mock-treated or SARS-CoV-2 infected samples. These genes with transcript variants can be applied as another layer of molecular signatures for COVID-19 studies. In addition, the transcript variants are enriched in important biological pathways that were not detected in the studies that only focused on differential gene expression analysis. Therefore, the pathways may lead to new molecular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. 
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  5. (1) Background: A simplistic understanding of the central dogma falls short in correlating the number of genes in the genome to the number of proteins in the proteome. Post-transcriptional alternative splicing contributes to the complexity of the proteome and is critical in understanding gene expression. mRNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) has been widely used to study the transcriptome and provides opportunity to detect alternative splicing events among different biological conditions. Despite the popularity of studying transcriptome variants with RNA-seq, few efficient and user-friendly bioinformatics tools have been developed for the genome-wide detection and visualization of alternative splicing events. (2) Results: We propose AS-Quant, (Alternative Splicing Quantitation), a robust program to identify alternative splicing events from RNA-seq data. We then extended AS-Quant to visualize the splicing events with short-read coverage plots along with complete gene annotation. The tool works in three major steps: (i) calculate the read coverage of the potential spliced exons and the corresponding gene; (ii) categorize the events into five different categories according to the annotation, and assess the significance of the events between two biological conditions; (iii) generate the short reads coverage plot for user specified splicing events. Our extensive experiments on simulated and real datasets demonstrate that AS-Quant outperforms the other three widely used baselines, SUPPA2, rMATS, and diffSplice for detecting alternative splicing events. Moreover, the significant alternative splicing events identified by AS-Quant between two biological contexts were validated by RT-PCR experiment. (3) Availability: AS-Quant is implemented in Python 3.0. Source code and a comprehensive user’s manual are freely available online. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    In this paper, for the first time, we propose a high-throughput and energy-efficient Processing-in-DRAM-accelerated genome assembler called PIM-Assembler based on an optimized and hardware-friendly genome assembly algorithm. PIM-Assembler can assemble large-scale DNA sequence dataset from all-pair overlaps. We first develop PIM-Assembler platform that harnesses DRAM as computational memory and transforms it to a fundamental processing unit for genome assembly. PIM-Assembler can perform efficient X(N)OR-based operations inside DRAM incurring low cost on top of commodity DRAM designs (~5% of chip area). PIM-Assembler is then optimized through a correlated data partitioning and mapping methodology that allows local storage and processing of DNA short reads to fully exploit the genome assembly algorithm-level's parallelism. The simulation results show that PIM-Assembler achieves on average 8.4× and 2.3 wise× higher throughput for performing bulk bit-XNOR-based comparison operations compared with CPU and recent processing-in-DRAM platforms, respectively. As for comparison/addition-extensive genome assembly application, it reduces the execution time and power by ~5× and ~ 7.5× compared to GPU. 
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  7. The eukaryotic genome is capable of producing multiple isoforms from a gene by alternative polyadenylation (APA) during pre-mRNA processing. APA in the 3’-untranslated region (3’-UTR) of mRNA produces transcripts with shorter 3’-UTR. Often, 3’-UTR serves as a binding platform for microRNAs and RNA-binding proteins, which affect the fate of the mRNA transcript. Thus, 3’-UTR APA provides a means to regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level and is known to promote translation. Current bioinformatics pipelines have limited capability in profiling 3’-UTR APA events due to incomplete annotations and a low-resolution analyzing power: widely available bioinformatics pipelines do not reference actionable polyadenylation (cleavage) sites but simulate 3’-UTR APA only using RNA-seq read coverage, causing false positive identifications. To overcome these limitations, we developed APA-Scan, a robust program that identifies 3’-UTR APA events and visualizes the RNA-seq short-read coverage with gene annotations. APA-Scan utilizes either predicted or experimentally validated actionable polyadenylation signals as a reference for polyadenylation sites and calculates the quantity of long and short 3’-UTR transcripts in the RNA-seq data. The performance of APA-Scan was validated by qPCR. 
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  8. Abstract

    Chaperonin-containing TCP-1 (CCT or TRiC) is a multi-subunit complex that folds many of the proteins essential for cancer development. CCT is expressed in diverse cancers and could be an ideal therapeutic target if not for the fact that the complex is encoded by eight distinct genes, complicating the development of inhibitors. Few definitive studies addressed the role of specific subunits in promoting the chaperonin’s function in cancer. To this end, we investigated the activity of CCT2 (CCTβ) by overexpressing or depleting the subunit in breast epithelial and breast cancer cells. We found that increasing total CCT2 in cells by 1.3-1.8-fold using a lentiviral system, also caused CCT3, CCT4, and CCT5 levels to increase. Likewise, silencingcct2gene expression by ~50% caused other CCT subunits to decrease. Cells expressing CCT2 were more invasive and had a higher proliferative index. CCT2 depletion in a syngeneic murine model of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) prevented tumor growth. These results indicate that the CCT2 subunit is integral to the activity of the chaperonin and is needed for tumorigenesis. Hence CCT2 could be a viable target for therapeutic development in breast and other cancers.

     
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  9. Abstract U2 auxiliary factor 1 (U2AF1) functions in 3′-splice site selection during pre-mRNA processing. Alternative usage of duplicated tandem exons in U2AF1 produces two isoforms, U2AF1a and U2AF1b, but their functional differences are unappreciated due to their homology. Through integrative approaches of genome editing, customized-transcriptome profiling and crosslinking-mediated interactome analyses, we discovered that the expression of U2AF1 isoforms is controlled by mTOR and they exhibit a distinctive molecular profile for the splice site and protein interactomes. Mechanistic dissection of mutually exclusive alternative splicing events revealed that U2AF1 isoforms’ inherent differential preferences of nucleotide sequences and their stoichiometry determine the 3′-splice site. Importantly, U2AF1a-driven transcriptomes feature alternative splicing events in the 5′-untranslated region (5′-UTR) that are favorable for translation. These findings unveil distinct roles of duplicated tandem exon-derived U2AF1 isoforms in the regulation of the transcriptome and suggest U2AF1a-driven 5′-UTR alternative splicing as a molecular mechanism of mTOR-regulated translational control. 
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