CoRMAP – comparative transcriptomics analysis pipeline for the meta-analysis of phylogenetically divergent datasets

Transcriptional regulation is a fundamental mechanism underlying biological functions. In recent years, a broad array of RNA-Seq tools have been used to measure transcription levels in biological experiments, in whole organisms, tissues, and at the single cell level. Collectively, this is a vast comparative dataset on transcriptional processes across organisms. Yet, due to technical differences between the studies (sequencing, experimental design, and analysis) extracting usable comparative information and conducting meta-analyses remains challenging.

University of Guelph researchers introduce Comparative RNA-Seq Metadata Analysis Pipeline (CoRMAP), a meta-analysis tool to retrieve comparative gene expression data from any RNA-Seq dataset using de novo assembly, standardized gene expression tools and the implementation of OrthoMCL, a gene orthology search algorithm. It employs the use of orthogroup assignments to ensure the accurate comparison of gene expression levels between experiments and species. The researchers demonstrate the use of CoRMAP on two mouse brain transcriptomes with similar scope, that were collected several years from each other using different sequencing technologies and analysis methods. They also compare the performance of CoRMAP with a functional mapping tool, previously published.

Fig. 1

Flowcharts for CoRMAP (Comparative RNA-Seq Metadata Analysis Pipeline) and a mapping approach conducted in this study for comparison. The key software used in each step of CoRMAP is listed in italics in parenthesis after the description of steps

CoRMAP provides a framework for the meta-analysis of RNA-Seq data from divergent taxonomic groups. This method facilitates the retrieval and comparison of gene expression levels from published data sets using standardized assembly and analysis. CoRMAP does not rely on reference genomes and consequently facilitates direct comparison between diverse studies on a range of organisms.

Availability – Project home page:

Sheng Y, Ali RA, Heyland A. (2022) Comparative transcriptomics analysis pipeline for the meta-analysis of phylogenetically divergent datasets (CoRMAP). BMC Bioinformatics 23(1):415. [article]

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