Extensive genome-wide analyses of deregulated gene expression have now been performed for many types of cancer. However, most studies have focused on deregulation at the gene-level, which may overlook the alterations of specific transcripts for a given gene. Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is one of the best-characterized and most pervasive renal cancers, and ccRCCs are well-documented to have aberrant RNA processing. In the present study, we examine the extent of aberrant isoform-specific RNA expression by reporting a comprehensive transcript-level analysis, using the new kallisto-sleuth-RATs pipeline, investigating coding and non-coding differential transcript expression in ccRCC. We analyzed 50 ccRCC tumors and their matched normal samples from The Cancer Genome Altas datasets. We identified 7,339 differentially expressed transcripts and 94 genes exhibiting differential transcript isoform usage in ccRCC. Additionally, transcript-level coexpression network analyses identified vasculature development and the tricarboxylic acid cycle as the most significantly deregulated networks correlating with ccRCC progression. These analyses uncovered several uncharacterized transcripts, including lncRNAs FGD5-AS1 and AL035661.1, as potential regulators of the tricarboxylic acid cycle associated with ccRCC progression. As ccRCC still presents treatment challenges, our results provide a new resource of potential therapeutics targets and highlight the importance of exploring alternative methodologies in transcriptome-wide studies.
Keywords: cancer; ccRCC; kallisto; sleuth; transcript.