RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) provides information not only about the level of expression of individual genes but also about genomic sequences of host cells. When we use transcriptome data with whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variant information, the allele frequency can show the genetic composition of the cell population and/or chromosomal aberrations.
Here, researchers from the RIKEN Center show how SNPs in mRNAs can be used to evaluate RNA-seq experiments by focusing on RNA-seq data based on a recently retracted paper on stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells. The analysis indicated that different types of cells and chromosomal abnormalities might have been erroneously included in the dataset. This re-evaluation showed that observing allele frequencies could help in assessing the quality of samples during a study and with retrospective evaluation of experimental quality.