TCM-seq – simultaneously profile transcriptome changes for multiplexed samples using RNA-seq

Panax ginseng (PG) and Panax notoginseng (PN) are highly valuable Chinese medicines (CM). Although both CMs have similar active constituents, their clinical applications are clearly different. Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis has been employed to investigate the molecular mechanisms of extracts or monomers. However, owing to the limited number of samples in standard RNA-seq, few studies have systematically compared the effects of PG and PN spanning multiple conditions at the transcriptomic level.

Zhejiang University researchers have developed an approach that simultaneously profiles transcriptome changes for multiplexed samples using RNA-seq (TCM-seq), a high-throughput, low-cost workflow to molecularly evaluate CM perturbations. A species-mixing experiment was conducted to illustrate the accuracy of sample multiplexing in TCM-seq. Transcriptomes from repeated samples were used to verify the robustness of TCM-seq. The researchers then focused on the primary active components, Panax notoginseng saponins (PNS) and Panax ginseng saponins (PGS) extracted from PN and PG, respectively. They also characterized the transcriptome changes of 10 cell lines, treated with four different doses of PNS and PGS, using TCM-seq to compare the differences in their perturbing effects on genes, functional pathways, gene modules, and molecular networks. The results of transcriptional data analysis showed that the transcriptional patterns of various cell lines were significantly distinct. PGS exhibited a stronger regulatory effect on genes involved in cardiovascular disease, whereas PNS resulted in a greater coagulation effect on vascular endothelial cells. This study proposes a paradigm to comprehensively explore the differences in mechanisms of action between CMs based on transcriptome readouts.

Cheng J, Chen J, Liao J, Wang T, Shao X, Long J, Yang P, Li A, Wang Z, Lu X, Fan X. (2023) High-throughput transcriptional profiling of perturbations by Panax ginseng saponins and Panax notoginseng saponins using TCM-seq. J Pharm Anal 13(4):376-387. [article]

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