Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Epidemiology & Biostatistics

First Advisor

Mingyao Li

Second Advisor

Hongzhe Li

Abstract

RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq) has enabled detailed unbiased profiling of whole transcriptomes with incredible throughput. Recent technological breakthroughs have pushed back the frontiers of RNA expression measurement to single-cell level (scRNA-Seq). With both bulk and single-cell RNA-Seq analyses, modeling of the noise structure embedded in the data is crucial for draw- ing correct inference. In this dissertation, I developed a series of statistical methods to account for the technical variations specific in RNA-Seq experiments in the context of isoform- or gene- level differential expression analyses. In the first part of my dissertation, I developed MetaDiff (https://github.com/jiach/MetaDiff), a random-effects meta-regression model, that allows the incorporation of uncertainty in isoform expression estimation in isoform differential expression anal- ysis. This framework was further extended to detect splicing quantitative trait loci with RNA-Seq data. In the second part of my dissertation, I developed TASC (Toolkit for Analysis of Single-Cell data; https://github.com/scrna-seq/TASC), a hierarchical mixture model, to explicitly adjust for cell-to-cell technical differences in scRNA-Seq analysis using an empirical Bayes approach. This framework can be adapted to perform differential gene expression analysis. In the third part of my dissertation, I developed, TASC-B, a method extended from TASC to model transcriptional bursting- induced zero-inflation. This model can identify and test for the difference in the level of transcrip- tional bursting. Compared to existing methods, these new tools that I developed have been shown to better control the false discovery rate in situations where technical noise cannot be ignored. They also display superior power in both our simulation studies and real world applications.

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