Analysis of fusion transcripts has become increasingly important due to their link with cancer development. Since high-throughput sequencing approaches survey fusion events exhaustively, several computational methods for the detection of gene fusions from RNA-seq data have been developed. This kind of analysis, however, is complicated by native trans-splicing events, the splicing-induced complexity of the transcriptome and biases and artefacts introduced in experiments and data analysis. There are a number of tools available for the detection of fusions from RNA-seq data; however, certain differences in specificity and sensitivity between commonly used approaches have been found. The ability to detect gene fusions of different types, including isoform fusions and fusions involving non-coding regions, has not been thoroughly studied yet.
Here, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology and Lexogen have developed a novel computational toolkit called InFusion for fusion gene detection from RNA-seq data. InFusion introduces several unique features, such as discovery of fusions involving intergenic regions, and detection of anti-sense transcription in chimeric RNAs based on strand-specificity. This approach demonstrates superior detection accuracy on simulated data and several public RNA-seq datasets. This improved performance was also evident when evaluating data from RNA deep-sequencing of two well-established prostate cancer cell lines. InFusion identified 26 novel fusion events that were validated in vitro, including alternatively spliced gene fusion isoforms and chimeric transcripts that include intergenic regions.
InFusion pipeline overview
Outline of the different steps of the analysis pipeline. Properly aligned pairs require the distance between alignments to be within the maximum intron size on the same chromosome.
Availability – The toolkit is freely available to download from http:/bitbucket.org/kokonech/infusion.