The reduction in costs associated with performing RNA-sequencing has driven an increase in the application of this analytical technique; however, restrictive factors associated with this tool have now shifted from budgetary constraints to time required for data processing. The sheer scale of the raw data produced can present a formidable challenge for researchers aiming to glean vital information about samples. Though many of the companies that perform RNA-sequencing provide a basic report for the submitted samples, this may not adequately capture particular pathways of interest for sample comparisons. To further assess these data, it can therefore be necessary to utilize various enrichment and mapping software platforms to highlight specific relations. With the wide array of these software platforms available, this can also present a daunting task.
Researchers from the University of Tennessee aim to enable researchers new to handling RNA-sequencing data with a streamlined approach to pathway analysis. Additionally, the implemented software platforms are readily available and free to utilize, making this approach viable, even for restrictive budgets. The resulting tables and nodal networks will provide valuable insight into samples and can be used to generate high-quality graphics for publications and presentations.
Workflow overview of pathway analysis protocol for RNA-seq data
Input data of normalized differentially expressed genes lists for samples (Top) is subjected to Data Processing and Pathway Analysis steps to generate both ranked lists and nodal network maps of biological functions and pathways of interest (Bottom).