Genome-wide Modeling of Transcription Kinetics Reveals Patterns of RNA Production Delays
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 112(42):13115-13120, 2015.
Genes with similar transcriptional activation kinetics can display very different temporal mRNA profiles because of differences in transcription time, degradation rate, and RNA-processing kinetics. Recent studies have shown that a splicing-associated RNA production delay can be significant. To investigate this issue more generally, it is useful to develop methods applicable to genome-wide datasets. We introduce a joint model of transcriptional activation and mRNA accumulation that can be used for inference of transcription rate, RNA production delay, and degradation rate given data from high-throughput sequencing time course experiments. We combine a mechanistic differential equation model with a nonparametric statistical modeling approach allowing us to capture a broad range of activation kinetics, and we use Bayesian parameter estimation to quantify the uncertainty in estimates of the kinetic parameters. We apply the model to data from estrogen receptor $\alpha$ activation in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. We use RNA polymerase II ChIP-Seq time course data to characterize transcriptional activation and mRNA-Seq time course data to quantify mature transcripts. We find that 11% of genes with a good signal in the data display a delay of more than 20 min between completing transcription and mature mRNA production. The genes displaying these long delays are significantly more likely to be short. We also find a statistical association between high delay and late intron retention in pre-mRNA data, indicating significant splicing-associated production delays in many genes.