For the past decade, RNA sequencing (refer to as RNA-Seq to differ from traditional sequencing technologies) has led to unprecedented advances in the fields of cancer and tumor research. For instance, it has been one of the invaluable tools for the study of human cancer and tumor pathology associated with diseases. Transcript isoform expression and usage, for example, is a prominent source of variation between healthy and diseased tissues in a number of medical conditions, including cancer. Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) molecules can regulate cell cycle division and other functions, hence playing a key role in tumor growth. Some long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) molecules can further encode polypeptides, which play an important regulatory role in physiological and pathological processes. RNA sequencing is also instrumental in identifying fusion transcripts present in a growing number of disorders, and in RNA alternative splicing, which has been proven to play a role in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Moreover, RNA-Seq has also significantly aided viral pathogen characterization and early detection. And RNA sequencing of viral-infected samples can improve sensitivity, specificity, and is responsive to rapid viral evolution. For example, at the moment of the global COVID-19 pandemic, RNA-Seq can contribute to a more comprehensive detection and analysis of SARS-CoV-2 and the corresponding immune response of the host after infection. Importantly, it can also study the importance of whether the virus genome can be integrated into the human genome, so as to evaluate the safety of the mRNA vaccine.
Undoubtedly, sequencing technologies, such as next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology and nanopore sequencing technology, have made comprehensive transcriptome analysis possible and have led to numerous important developments in cancer and tumor research. Nevertheless, there are a number of important issues in the field that need to be further investigated and properly addressed, including the following notable examples: (i) whether it is possible to find more alternative splicing sites or novel isoforms related to cancer using long-read sequencing technology, (ii) whether it is possible to find more potential mRNA, miRNA and/or ncRNA therapeutic targets related to cancer, and (iii) evaluate the feasibility of the mRNA “cancer vaccine”.
Overall, to facilitate communication and discussion in this important field, Frontiers in Genetics invites original articles and reviews related to the following topics:
- Cancer and tumor feature classification, traceability, prediction, and early screening with RNA-Seq
- Identification of potential targets related to cancer using RNA-Seq
- Single-cell transcriptome and/or spatial transcriptome
- Development and improvement of RNA-Seq experimental methods and/or bioinformatics analysis methods
- Comparison and application of RNA-Seq in different sequencing technologies, such as NGS technology or nanopore sequencing technology
- Prospective studies and reviews with RNA-Seq in cancer, cancer treatment, cancer prognosis, and other related studies.