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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Identifying novel genes in C. elegans using SAGE tags

Matthew J Nesbitt1, Donald G Moerman2 and Nansheng Chen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

2 Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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BMC Molecular Biology 2010, 11:96  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-11-96

Published: 10 December 2010



Despite extensive efforts devoted to predicting protein-coding genes in genome sequences, many bona fide genes have not been found and many existing gene models are not accurate in all sequenced eukaryote genomes. This situation is partly explained by the fact that gene prediction programs have been developed based on our incomplete understanding of gene feature information such as splicing and promoter characteristics. Additionally, full-length cDNAs of many genes and their isoforms are hard to obtain due to their low level or rare expression. In order to obtain full-length sequences of all protein-coding genes, alternative approaches are required.


In this project, we have developed a method of reconstructing full-length cDNA sequences based on short expressed sequence tags which is called sequence tag-based amplification of cDNA ends (STACE). Expressed tags are used as anchors for retrieving full-length transcripts in two rounds of PCR amplification. We have demonstrated the application of STACE in reconstructing full-length cDNA sequences using expressed tags mined in an array of serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) of C. elegans cDNA libraries. We have successfully applied STACE to recover sequence information for 12 genes, for two of which we found isoforms. STACE was used to successfully recover full-length cDNA sequences for seven of these genes.


The STACE method can be used to effectively reconstruct full-length cDNA sequences of genes that are under-represented in cDNA sequencing projects and have been missed by existing gene prediction methods, but their existence has been suggested by short sequence tags such as SAGE tags.