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This article is part of the supplement: Eighth International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB2009): Computational Biology

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Genome-wide analysis of alternative splicing in cow: implications in bovine as a model for human diseases

Elsa Chacko1 and Shoba Ranganathan12*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

2 Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 8 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2009, 10(Suppl 3):S11  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-S3-S11

Published: 3 December 2009



Alternative splicing (AS) is a primary mechanism of functional regulation in the human genome, with 60% to 80% of human genes being alternatively spliced. As part of the bovine genome annotation team, we have analysed 4567 bovine AS genes, compared to 16715 human and 16491 mouse AS genes, along with Gene Ontology (GO) analysis. We also analysed the two most important events, cassette exons and intron retention in 94 human disease genes and mapped them to the bovine orthologous genes. Of the 94 human inherited disease genes, a protein domain analysis was carried out for the transcript sequences of 12 human genes that have orthologous genes and have been characterised in cow.


Of the 21,755 bovine genes, 4,567 genes (21%) are alternatively spliced, compared to 16,715 (68%) in human and 16,491 (57%) in mouse. Gene-level analysis of the orthologous set suggested that bovine genes show fewer AS events compared to human and mouse genes. A detailed examination of cassette exons across human and cow for 94 human disease genes, suggested that a majority of cassette exons in human were present and constitutive in bovine as opposed to intron retention which exhibited 50% of the exons as present and 50% as absent in cow. We observed that AS plays a major role in disease implications in human through manipulations of essential/functional protein domains. It was also evident that majority of these 12 genes had conservation of all essential domains in their bovine orthologous counterpart, for these human diseases.


While alternative splicing has the potential to create many mRNA isoforms from a single gene, in cow the majority of genes generate two to three isoforms, compared to six in human and four in mouse. Our analyses demonstrated that a smaller number of bovine genes show greater transcript diversity. GO definitions for bovine AS genes provided 38% more functional information than currently available in the sequence database. Our protein domain analysis helped us verify the suitability of using bovine as a model for human diseases and also recognize the contribution of AS towards the disease phenotypes.