Analysis of human mRNAs with the reference genome sequence reveals potential errors, polymorphisms, and RNA editing

Terrence S. Furey, Mark Diekhans, Yontao Lu, Tina A. Graves, Lachlan Oddy, Jennifer Randall-Maher, La Deana W. Hillier, Richard K. Wilson, David Haussler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The NCBI Reference Sequence (RefSeq) project and the NIH Mammalian Gene Collection (MGC) together define a set of ∼30,000 nonredundant human mRNA sequences with identified coding regions representing 17,000 distinct loci. These high-quality mRNA sequences allow for the identification of transcribed regions in the human genome sequence, and many researchers accept them as the correct representation of each defined gene sequence. Computational comparison of these mRNA sequences and the recently published essentially finished human genome sequence reveals several thousand undocumented nonsynonymous substitution and frame shift discrepancies between the two resources. Additional analysis is undertaken to verify that the euchromatic human genome is sufficiently complete - containing nearly the whole mRNA collection, thus allowing for a comprehensive analysis to be undertaken. Many of the discrepancies will prove to be genuine polymorphisms in the human population, somatic cell genomic variants, or examples of RNA editing. It is observed that the genome sequence variant has significant additional support from other mRNAs and ESTs, almost four times more often than does the mRNA variant, suggesting that the genome sequence is more accurate. In ∼15% of these cases, there is substantial support for both variants, suggestive of an undocumented polymorphism. An initial screening against a 24-individual genomic DNA diversity panel verified 60% of a small set of potential single nucleotide polymorphisms from which successful results could be obtained. We also find statistical evidence that a few of these discrepancies are due to RNA editing. Overall, these results suggest that the mRNA collections may contain a substantial number of errors. For current and future mRNA collections, it may be prudent to fully reconcile each genome sequence discrepancy, classifying each as a polymorphism, site of RNA editing or somatic cell variation, or genome sequence error.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2034-2040
Number of pages7
JournalGenome research
Issue number10 B
StatePublished - Oct 2004


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