The diverse applications of RNA-seq for functional genomic studies in Aspergillus fumigatus


Antonis Rokas, Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, VU Station B #35-1634, Nashville, TN 37235.


The deep sequencing of an mRNA population, RNA-seq, is a very successful application of next-generation sequencing technologies (NGSTs). RNA-seq takes advantage of two key NGST features: (1) samples can be mixtures of different DNA pieces, and (2) sequencing provides both qualitative and quantitative information about each DNA piece analyzed. We recently used RNA-seq to study the transcriptome of Aspergillus fumigatus, a deadly human fungal pathogen. Analysis of the RNA-seq data indicates that there are likely tens of unannotated and hundreds of novel genes in the A. fumigatus transcriptome, mostly encoding for small proteins. Inspection of transcriptome-wide variation between two isolates reveals thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Finally, comparison of the transcriptome profiles of one isolate in two different growth conditions identified thousands of differentially expressed genes. These results demonstrate the utility and potential of RNA-seq for functional genomics studies in A. fumigatus and other fungal human pathogens.