Express: A database of transcriptome profiles encompassing known and novel transcripts across multiple development stages in eye tissues

Exp Eye Res. 2018 Mar;168:57-68. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2018.01.009. Epub 2018 Jan 11.


Advances in sequencing have facilitated nucleotide-resolution genome-wide transcriptomic profiles across multiple mouse eye tissues. However, these RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) based eye developmental transcriptomes are not organized for easy public access, making any further analysis challenging. Here, we present a new database "Express" (∼sysbio/express/) that unifies various mouse lens and retina RNA-seq data and provides user-friendly visualization of the transcriptome to facilitate gene discovery in the eye. We obtained RNA-seq data encompassing 7 developmental stages of lens in addition to that on isolated lens epithelial and fibers, as well as on 11 developmental stages of retina/isolated retinal rod photoreceptor cells from publicly available wild-type mouse datasets. These datasets were pre-processed, aligned, quantified and normalized for expression levels of known and novel transcripts using a unified expression quantification framework. Express provides heatmap and browser view allowing easy navigation of the genomic organization of transcripts or gene loci. Further, it allows users to search candidate genes and export both the visualizations and the embedded data to facilitate downstream analysis. We identified total of >81,000 transcripts in the lens and >178,000 transcripts in the retina across all the included developmental stages. This analysis revealed that a significant number of the retina-expressed transcripts are novel. Expression of several transcripts in the lens and retina across multiple developmental stages was independently validated by RT-qPCR for established genes such as Pax6 and Lhx2 as well as for new candidates such as Elavl4, Rbm5, Pabpc1, Tia1 and Tubb2b. Thus, Express serves as an effective portal for analyzing pruned RNA-seq expression datasets presently collected for the lens and retina. It will allow a wild-type context for the detailed analysis of targeted gene-knockout mouse ocular defect models and facilitate the prioritization of candidate genes from Exome-seq data of eye disease patients.

Keywords: Development stages; Expression levels; Eye tissues; Mouse; RNA-seq; Transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcriptome*


  • Eye Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger