The transcriptome is the absolute set of transcripts in a tissue or cell at the time of sampling. In this study RNA-Seq is employed to enable the differential analysis of the transcriptome profile for ten porcine tissues in order to evaluate differences between the tissues at the gene and isoform expression level, together with an analysis of variation in transcription start sites, promoter usage, and splicing. Totally, 223 million RNA fragments were sequenced leading to the identification of 59,930 transcribed gene locations and 290,936 transcript variants using Cufflinks with similarity to approximately 13,899 annotated human genes. Pairwise analysis of tissues for differential expression at the gene level showed that the smallest differences were between tissues originating from the porcine brain. Interestingly, the relative level of differential expression at the isoform level did generally not vary between tissue contrasts. Furthermore, analysis of differential promoter usage between tissues, revealed a proportionally higher variation between cerebellum (CBE) versus frontal cortex and cerebellum versus hypothalamus (HYP) than in the remaining comparisons. In addition, the comparison of differential transcription start sites showed that the number of these sites is generally increased in comparisons including hypothalamus in contrast to other pairwise assessments. A comprehensive analysis of one of the tissue contrasts, i.e. cerebellum versus heart for differential variation at the gene, isoform, and transcription start site (TSS), and promoter level showed that several of the genes differed at all four levels. Interestingly, these genes were mainly annotated to the "electron transport chain" and neuronal differentiation, emphasizing that "tissue important" genes are regulated at several levels. Furthermore, our analysis shows that the "across tissue approach" has a promising potential when screening for possible explanations for variations, such as those observed at the gene expression levels.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2013, Vol 438, Issue 2, p. 346-352