Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Genomics & Computational Biology

First Advisor

Nancy R. Zhang

Abstract

Part 1: High-throughput sequencing of DNA coding regions has become a common way of assaying genomic variation in the study of human diseases. Copy number variation (CNV) is an important type of genomic variation, but CNV profiling from whole-exome sequencing (WES) is challenging due to the high level of biases and artifacts. We propose CODEX, a normalization and CNV calling procedure for WES data. CODEX includes a Poisson latent factor model, which includes terms that specifically remove biases due to GC content, exon capture and amplification efficiency, and latent systemic artifacts. CODEX also includes a Poisson likelihood-based segmentation procedure that explicitly models the count-based WES data. CODEX is compared to existing methods on germline CNV detection in HapMap samples using microarray-based gold standard and is further evaluated on 222 neuroblastoma samples with matched normal, with focus on somatic CNVs within the ATRX gene.

Part 2: Cancer is a disease driven by evolutionary selection on somatic genetic and epigenetic alterations. We propose Canopy, a method for inferring the evolutionary phylogeny of a tumor using both somatic copy number alterations and single nucleotide alterations from one or more samples derived from a single patient. Canopy is applied to bulk sequencing datasets of both longitudinal and spatial experimental designs and to a transplantable metastasis model derived from human cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. Canopy successfully identifies cell populations and infers phylogenies that are in concordance with existing knowledge and ground truth. Through simulations, we explore the effects of key parameters on deconvolution accuracy, and compare against existing methods.

Part 3: Allele-specific expression is traditionally studied by bulk RNA sequencing, which measures average expression across cells. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) allows the comparison of expression distribution between the two alleles of a diploid organism and thus the characterization of allele-specific bursting. We propose SCALE to analyze genome-wide allele-specific bursting, with adjustment of technical variability. SCALE detects genes exhibiting allelic differences in bursting parameters, and genes whose alleles burst non-independently. We apply SCALE to mouse blastocyst and human fibroblast cells and find that, globally, cis control in gene expression overwhelmingly manifests as differences in burst frequency.

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