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High resolution analysis of the human transcriptome: detection of extensive alternative splicing independent of transcriptional activity

Weiyin Zhou1, Margaret A Calciano1, Heather Jordan1, Michael Brenner1, Seth Johnson1, Darong Wu1, Lin Lei1, Diego Pallares2, Pascale Beurdeley2, Fabien Rouet2, Pritmohinder S Gill1, Laurent Bracco2, Cyril Soucaille2 and Richard Einstein1*

Author Affiliations

1 ExonHit Therapeutics Inc, 217 Perry Parkway, Bldg 5, Gaithersburg, MD, 20877 USA

2 ExonHit Therapeutics SA, 65, blvd Massena F-75013 Paris, France

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BMC Genetics 2009, 10:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-63

Published: 5 October 2009



Commercially available microarrays have been used in many settings to generate expression profiles for a variety of applications, including target selection for disease detection, classification, profiling for pharmacogenomic response to therapeutics, and potential disease staging. However, many commercially available microarray platforms fail to capture transcript diversity produced by alternative splicing, a major mechanism for driving proteomic diversity through transcript heterogeneity.


The human Genome-Wide SpliceArray™ (GWSA), a novel microarray platform, utilizes an existing probe design concept to monitor such transcript diversity on a genome scale. The human GWSA allows the detection of alternatively spliced events within the human genome through the use of exon body and exon junction probes to provide a direct measure of each transcript, through simple calculations derived from expression data. This report focuses on the performance and validation of the array when measured against standards recently published by the Microarray Quality Control (MAQC) Project. The array was shown to be highly quantitative, and displayed greater than 85% correlation with the HG-U133 Plus 2.0 array at the gene level while providing more extensive coverage of each gene. Almost 60% of splice events among genes demonstrating differential expression of greater than 3 fold also contained extensive splicing alterations. Importantly, almost 10% of splice events within the gene set displaying constant overall expression values had evidence of transcript diversity. Two examples illustrate the types of events identified: LIM domain 7 showed no differential expression at the gene level, but demonstrated deregulation of an exon skip event, while erythrocyte membrane protein band 4.1 -like 3 was differentially expressed and also displayed deregulation of a skipped exon isoform.


Significant changes were detected independent of transcriptional activity, indicating that the controls for transcript generation and transcription are distinct, and require novel tools in order to detect changes in specific transcript quantity. Our results demonstrate that the SpliceArray™ design will provide researchers with a robust platform to detect and quantify specific changes not only in overall gene expression, but also at the individual transcript level.