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How many biological replicates are needed in an RNA-seq experiment and which differential expression tool should you use?

Overview of attention for article published in RNA, March 2016
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Title
How many biological replicates are needed in an RNA-seq experiment and which differential expression tool should you use?
Published in
RNA, March 2016
DOI 10.1261/rna.053959.115
Pubmed ID
Authors

Nicholas J. Schurch, Pietá Schofield, Marek Gierliński, Christian Cole, Alexander Sherstnev, Vijender Singh, Nicola Wrobel, Karim Gharbi, Gordon G. Simpson, Tom Owen-Hughes, Mark Blaxter, Geoffrey J. Barton, Schurch, Nicholas J, Schofield, Pietá, Gierliński, Marek, Cole, Christian, Sherstnev, Alexander, Singh, Vijender, Wrobel, Nicola, Gharbi, Karim, Simpson, Gordon G, Owen-Hughes, Tom, Blaxter, Mark, Barton, Geoffrey J, Pieta Schofield, Schurch NJ, Schofield P, Gierliński M, Cole C, Sherstnev A, Singh V, Wrobel N, Gharbi K, Simpson GG, Owen-Hughes T, Blaxter M, Barton GJ

Abstract

RNA-seq is now the technology of choice for genome-wide differential gene expression experiments, but it is not clear how many biological replicates are needed to ensure valid biological interpretation of the results or which statistical tools are best for analyzing the data. An RNA-seq experiment with 48 biological replicates in each of two conditions was performed to answer these questions and provide guidelines for experimental design. With three biological replicates, eight of the 11 tools evaluated found only 20%-40% of the significantly differentially expressed (SDE) genes identified with the full set of 42 clean replicates. This rises to >85% for the subset of SDE genes changing in expression by more than fourfold. To achieve >85% for all SDE genes regardless of fold change requires more than 20 biological replicates. The same eight tools successfully control their false discovery rate at ≲5% for all numbers of replicates, while the remaining three tools fail to control their FDR adequately, particularly for low numbers of replicates. For future RNA-seq experiments, these results suggest that more than six biological replicates should be used, rising to more than 12 when it is important to identify SDE genes for all fold changes. If less than 12 replicates are used, a superior combination of true positive and false positive performances makesedgeRthe leading tool. For higher replicate numbers, minimizing false positives is more important andDESeqmarginally outperforms the other tools.

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Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 170. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 13 August 2017.
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#47,276
of 8,640,568 outputs
Outputs from RNA
#1
of 1,767 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#1,496
of 210,957 outputs
Outputs of similar age from RNA
#1
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