RNA sequencing studies with complex designs and transcript-resolution analyses involve multiple hypotheses per gene; however, conventional approaches fail to control the false discovery rate (FDR) at gene level. We propose stageR, a two-stage testing paradigm that leverages the increased power of aggregated gene-level tests and allows post hoc assessment for significant genes. This method provides gene-level FDR control and boosts power for testing interaction effects. In transcript-level analysis, it provides a framework that performs powerful gene-level tests while maintaining biological interpretation at transcript-level resolution. The procedure is applicable whenever individual hypotheses can be aggregated, providing a unified framework for complex high-throughput experiments.
Keywords: Differential expression; Differential transcript usage; RNA-sequencing; Stage-wise testing.