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  1. Abstract Background Quantification of gene expression from RNA-seq data is a prerequisite for transcriptome analysis such as differential gene expression analysis and gene co-expression network construction. Individual RNA-seq experiments are larger and combining multiple experiments from sequence repositories can result in datasets with thousands of samples. Processing hundreds to thousands of RNA-seq data can result in challenges related to data management, access to sufficient computational resources, navigation of high-performance computing (HPC) systems, installation of required software dependencies, and reproducibility. Processing of larger and deeper RNA-seq experiments will become more common as sequencing technology matures. Results GEMmaker, is a nf-core compliant,more »Nextflow workflow, that quantifies gene expression from small to massive RNA-seq datasets. GEMmaker ensures results are highly reproducible through the use of versioned containerized software that can be executed on a single workstation, institutional compute cluster, Kubernetes platform or the cloud. GEMmaker supports popular alignment and quantification tools providing results in raw and normalized formats. GEMmaker is unique in that it can scale to process thousands of local or remote stored samples without exceeding available data storage. Conclusions Workflows that quantify gene expression are not new, and many already address issues of portability, reusability, and scale in terms of access to CPUs. GEMmaker provides these benefits and adds the ability to scale despite low data storage infrastructure. This allows users to process hundreds to thousands of RNA-seq samples even when data storage resources are limited. GEMmaker is freely available and fully documented with step-by-step setup and execution instructions.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  3. Abstract Gene co-expression networks (GCNs) provide multiple benefits to molecular research including hypothesis generation and biomarker discovery. Transcriptome profiles serve as input for GCN construction and are derived from increasingly larger studies with samples across multiple experimental conditions, treatments, time points, genotypes, etc. Such experiments with larger numbers of variables confound discovery of true network edges, exclude edges and inhibit discovery of context (or condition) specific network edges. To demonstrate this problem, a 475-sample dataset is used to show that up to 97% of GCN edges can be misleading because correlations are false or incorrect. False and incorrect correlations canmore »occur when tests are applied without ensuring assumptions are met, and pairwise gene expression may not meet test assumptions if the expression of at least one gene in the pairwise comparison is a function of multiple confounding variables. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to GCN construction is therefore problematic for large, multivariable datasets. Recently, the Knowledge Independent Network Construction toolkit has been used in multiple studies to provide a dynamic approach to GCN construction that ensures statistical tests meet assumptions and confounding variables are addressed. Additionally, it can associate experimental context for each edge of the network resulting in context-specific GCNs (csGCNs). To help researchers recognize such challenges in GCN construction, and the creation of csGCNs, we provide a review of the workflow.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. Advanced imaging and DNA sequencing technologies now enable the diverse biology community to routinely generate and analyze terabytes of high resolution biological data. The community is rapidly heading toward the petascale in single investigator laboratory settings. As evidence, the single NCBI SRA central DNA sequence repository contains over 45 petabytes of biological data. Given the geometric growth of this and other genomics repositories, an exabyte of mineable biological data is imminent. The challenges of effectively utilizing these datasets are enormous as they are not only large in the size but also stored in geographically distributed repositories in various repositories suchmore »as National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), and NASA’s GeneLab. In this work, we first systematically point out the data-management challenges of the genomics community. We then introduce Named Data Networking (NDN), a novel but well-researched Internet architecture, is capable of solving these challenges at the network layer. NDN performs all operations such as forwarding requests to data sources, content discovery, access, and retrieval using content names (that are similar to traditional filenames or filepaths) and eliminates the need for a location layer (the IP address) for data management. Utilizing NDN for genomics workflows simplifies data discovery, speeds up data retrieval using in-network caching of popular datasets, and allows the community to create infrastructure that supports operations such as creating federation of content repositories, retrieval from multiple sources, remote data subsetting, and others. Named based operations also streamlines deployment and integration of workflows with various cloud platforms. Our contributions in this work are as follows 1) we enumerate the cyberinfrastructure challenges of the genomics community that NDN can alleviate, and 2) we describe our efforts in applying NDN for a contemporary genomics workflow (GEMmaker) and quantify the improvements. The preliminary evaluation shows a sixfold speed up in data insertion into the workflow. 3) As a pilot, we have used an NDN naming scheme (agreed upon by the community and discussed in Section 4 ) to publish data from broadly used data repositories including the NCBI SRA. We have loaded the NDN testbed with these pre-processed genomes that can be accessed over NDN and used by anyone interested in those datasets. Finally, we discuss our continued effort in integrating NDN with cloud computing platforms, such as the Pacific Research Platform (PRP). The reader should note that the goal of this paper is to introduce NDN to the genomics community and discuss NDN’s properties that can benefit the genomics community. We do not present an extensive performance evaluation of NDN—we are working on extending and evaluating our pilot deployment and will present systematic results in a future work.« less
  5. Abstract

    The human brain is a complex organ that consists of several regions each with a unique gene expression pattern. Our intent in this study was to construct a gene co-expression network (GCN) for the normal brain using RNA expression profiles from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project. The brain GCN contains gene correlation relationships that are broadly present in the brain or specific to thirteen brain regions, which we later combined into six overarching brain mini-GCNs based on the brain’s structure. Using the expression profiles of brain region-specific GCN edges, we determined how well the brain region samples could bemore »discriminated from each other, visually with t-SNE plots or quantitatively with the Gene Oracle deep learning classifier. Next, we tested these gene sets on their relevance to human tumors of brain and non-brain origin. Interestingly, we found that genes in the six brain mini-GCNs showed markedly higher mutation rates in tumors relative to matched sets of random genes. Further, we found that cortex genes subdivided Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSC) tumors and Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma (PCPG) tumors into distinct groups. The brain GCN and mini-GCNs are useful resources for the classification of brain regions and identification of biomarker genes for brain related phenotypes.

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  6. Bigenic expression relationships are conventionally defined based on metrics such as Pearson or Spearman correlation that cannot typically detect latent, non-linear dependencies or require the relationship to be monotonic. Further, the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic noise as well as embedded relationships between sample sub-populations reduces the probability of extracting biologically relevant edges during the construction of gene co-expression networks (GCNs). In this report, we address these problems via our NetExtractor algorithm. NetExtractor examines all pairwise gene expression profiles first with Gaussian mixture models (GMMs) to identify sample sub-populations followed by mutual information (MI) analysis that is capable of detectingmore »non-linear differential bigenic expression relationships. We applied NetExtractor to brain tissue RNA profiles from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project to obtain a brain tissue specific gene expression relationship network centered on cerebellar and cerebellar hemisphere enriched edges. We leveraged the PsychENCODE pre-frontal cortex (PFC) gene regulatory network (GRN) to construct a cerebellar cortex (cerebellar) GRN associated with transcriptionally active regions in cerebellar tissue. Thus, we demonstrate the utility of our NetExtractor approach to detect biologically relevant and novel non-linear binary gene relationships.« less
  7. Gene Expression Matrices (GEMs) are a fundamental data type in the genomics domain. As the size and scope of genomics experiments increase, researchers are struggling to process large GEMs through downstream workflows with currently accepted practices. In this paper, we propose a methodology to reduce the size of GEMs using multiple approaches. Our method partitions data into discrete fields based on data type and employs state-of-the-art lossless and lossy compression algorithms to reduce the input data size. This work explores a variety of lossless and lossy compression methods to determine which methods work the best for each component of amore »GEM. We evaluate the accuracy of the compressed GEMs by running them through the Knowledge Independent Network Construction (KINC) workflow and comparing the quality of the resulting gene co-expression network with a lossless control to verify result fidelity. Results show that utilizing a combination of lossy and lossless compression results in compression ratios up to 9.77× on a Yeast GEM, while still preserving the biological integrity of the data. Usage of the compression methodology on the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia(CCLE) GEM resulted in compression ratios up to 9.26×. By using this methodology, researchers in the Genomics domain may be able to process previously inaccessible GEMs while realizing significant reduction in computational costs.« less
  8. Gene co-expression networks (GCNs) are constructed from Gene Expression Matrices (GEMs) in a bottom up approach where all gene pairs are tested for correlation within the context of the input sample set. This approach is computationally intensive for many current GEMs and may not be scalable to millions of samples. Further, traditional GCNs do not detect non-linear relationships missed by correlation tests and do not place genetic relationships in a gene expression intensity context. In this report, we propose EdgeScaping, which constructs and analyzes the pairwise gene intensity network in a holistic, top down approach where no edges are filtered.more »EdgeScaping uses a novel technique to convert traditional pairwise gene expression data to an image based format. This conversion not only performs feature compression, making our algorithm highly scalable, but it also allows for exploring non-linear relationships between genes by leveraging deep learning image analysis algorithms. Using the learned embedded feature space we implement a fast, efficient algorithm to cluster the entire space of gene expression relationships while retaining gene expression intensity. Since EdgeScaping does not eliminate conventionally noisy edges, it extends the identification of co-expression relationships beyond classically correlated edges to facilitate the discovery of novel or unusual expression patterns within the network. We applied EdgeScaping to a human tumor GEM to identify sets of genes that exhibit conventional and non-conventional interdependent non-linear behavior associated with brain specific tumor sub-types that would be eliminated in conventional bottom-up construction of GCNs. Edgescaping source code is available at under the MIT license.« less