Genome-wide expression analysis using next generation sequencing (RNA-Seq) provides an opportunity for in-depth molecular profiling of fundamental biological processes, such as cellular differentiation and malignant transformation. Differentiating human neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide an ideal system for RNA-Seq since defective neurogenesis caused by abnormalities in transcription factors, DNA methylation, and chromatin modifiers lie at the heart of some neuropsychiatric disorders. As a preliminary step towards applying next generation sequencing using neurons derived from patient-specific iPSCs, we have carried out an RNA-Seq analysis on control human neurons. Dramatic changes in the expression of coding genes, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), pseudogenes, and splice isoforms were seen during the transition from pluripotent stem cells to early differentiating neurons. A number of genes that undergo radical changes in expression during this transition include candidates for schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that function as transcription factors and chromatin modifiers, such as POU3F2 and ZNF804A, and genes coding for cell adhesion proteins implicated in these conditions including NRXN1 and NLGN1. In addition, a number of novel lncRNAs were found to undergo dramatic changes in expression, one of which is HOTAIRM1, a regulator of several HOXA genes during myelopoiesis. The increase we observed in differentiating neurons suggests a role in neurogenesis as well. Finally, several lncRNAs that map near SNPs associated with SZ in genome wide association studies also increase during neuronal differentiation, suggesting that these novel transcripts may be abnormally regulated in a subgroup of patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)