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Open Access Research article

Detection of chromosomal regions showing differential gene expression in human skeletal muscle and in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma

Andrea Bisognin, Stefania Bortoluzzi and Gian Antonio Danieli*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology, University of Padua, via Ugo Bassi 58B, 35131, Padova, Italy

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BMC Bioinformatics 2004, 5:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-68

Published: 3 June 2004



Rhabdomyosarcoma is a relatively common tumour of the soft tissue, probably due to regulatory disruption of growth and differentiation of skeletal muscle stem cells. Identification of genes differentially expressed in normal skeletal muscle and in rhabdomyosarcoma may help in understanding mechanisms of tumour development, in discovering diagnostic and prognostic markers and in identifying novel targets for drug therapy.


A Perl-code web client was developed to automatically obtain genome map positions of large sets of genes. The software, based on automatic search on Human Genome Browser by sequence alignment, only requires availability of a single transcribed sequence for each gene. In this way, we obtained tissue-specific chromosomal maps of genes expressed in rhabdomyosarcoma or skeletal muscle. Subsequently, Perl software was developed to calculate gene density along chromosomes, by using a sliding window. Thirty-three chromosomal regions harbouring genes mostly expressed in rhabdomyosarcoma were identified. Similarly, 48 chromosomal regions were detected including genes possibly related to function of differentiated skeletal muscle, but silenced in rhabdomyosarcoma.


In this study we developed a method and the associated software for the comparative analysis of genomic expression in tissues and we identified chromosomal segments showing differential gene expression in human skeletal muscle and in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, appearing as candidate regions for harbouring genes involved in origin of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma representing possible targets for drug treatment and/or development of tumor markers.