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      Comparative performance of transcriptome assembly methods for non-model organisms

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          Abstract

          Background

          The technological revolution in next-generation sequencing has brought unprecedented opportunities to study any organism of interest at the genomic or transcriptomic level. Transcriptome assembly is a crucial first step for studying the molecular basis of phenotypes of interest using RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq). However, the optimal strategy for assembling vast amounts of short RNA-Seq reads remains unresolved, especially for organisms without a sequenced genome. This study compared four transcriptome assembly methods, including a widely used de novo assembler (Trinity), two transcriptome re-assembly strategies utilizing proteomic and genomic resources from closely related species (reference-based re-assembly and TransPS) and a genome-guided assembler (Cufflinks).

          Results

          These four assembly strategies were compared using a comprehensive transcriptomic database of Aedes albopictus, for which a genome sequence has recently been completed. The quality of the various assemblies was assessed by the number of contigs generated, contig length distribution, percent paired-end read mapping, and gene model representation via BLASTX. Our results reveal that de novo assembly generates a similar number of gene models relative to genome-guided assembly with a fragmented reference, but produces the highest level of redundancy and requires the most computational power. Using a closely related reference genome to guide transcriptome assembly can generate biased contig sequences. Increasing the number of reads used in the transcriptome assembly tends to increase the redundancy within the assembly and decrease both median contig length and percent identity between contigs and reference protein sequences.

          Conclusions

          This study provides general guidance for transcriptome assembly of RNA-Seq data from organisms with or without a sequenced genome. The optimal transcriptome assembly strategy will depend upon the subsequent downstream analyses. However, our results emphasize the efficacy of de novo assembly, which can be as effective as genome-guided assembly when the reference genome assembly is fragmented. If a genome assembly and sufficient computational resources are available, it can be beneficial to combine de novo and genome-guided assemblies. Caution should be taken when using a closely related reference genome to guide transcriptome assembly. The quantity of read pairs used in the transcriptome assembly does not necessarily correlate with the quality of the assembly.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2923-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Fast gapped-read alignment with Bowtie 2.

          As the rate of sequencing increases, greater throughput is demanded from read aligners. The full-text minute index is often used to make alignment very fast and memory-efficient, but the approach is ill-suited to finding longer, gapped alignments. Bowtie 2 combines the strengths of the full-text minute index with the flexibility and speed of hardware-accelerated dynamic programming algorithms to achieve a combination of high speed, sensitivity and accuracy.
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            Trinity: reconstructing a full-length transcriptome without a genome from RNA-Seq data

            Massively-parallel cDNA sequencing has opened the way to deep and efficient probing of transcriptomes. Current approaches for transcript reconstruction from such data often rely on aligning reads to a reference genome, and are thus unsuitable for samples with a partial or missing reference genome. Here, we present the Trinity methodology for de novo full-length transcriptome reconstruction, and evaluate it on samples from fission yeast, mouse, and whitefly – an insect whose genome has not yet been sequenced. Trinity fully reconstructs a large fraction of the transcripts present in the data, also reporting alternative splice isoforms and transcripts from recently duplicated genes. In all cases, Trinity performs better than other available de novo transcriptome assembly programs, and its sensitivity is comparable to methods relying on genome alignments. Our approach provides a unified and general solution for transcriptome reconstruction in any sample, especially in the complete absence of a reference genome.
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              Transcript assembly and abundance estimation from RNA-Seq reveals thousands of new transcripts and switching among isoforms

              High-throughput mRNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) holds the promise of simultaneous transcript discovery and abundance estimation 1-3 . We introduce an algorithm for transcript assembly coupled with a statistical model for RNA-Seq experiments that produces estimates of abundances. Our algorithms are implemented in an open source software program called Cufflinks. To test Cufflinks, we sequenced and analyzed more than 430 million paired 75bp RNA-Seq reads from a mouse myoblast cell line representing a differentiation time series. We detected 13,692 known transcripts and 3,724 previously unannotated ones, 62% of which are supported by independent expression data or by homologous genes in other species. Analysis of transcript expression over the time series revealed complete switches in the dominant transcription start site (TSS) or splice-isoform in 330 genes, along with more subtle shifts in a further 1,304 genes. These dynamics suggest substantial regulatory flexibility and complexity in this well-studied model of muscle development.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                xh33@georgetown.edu
                18664867266@qq.com
                paa9@georgetown.edu
                Journal
                BMC Genomics
                BMC Genomics
                BMC Genomics
                BioMed Central (London )
                1471-2164
                27 July 2016
                27 July 2016
                2016
                : 17
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Biology, Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets NW, Washington, DC, 20057 USA
                [2 ]Key Laboratory of Prevention and Control for Emerging Infectious Diseases of Guangdong Higher Institutes, Department of Pathogen Biology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China
                2923
                10.1186/s12864-016-2923-8
                4964045
                27464550
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000002, National Institutes of Health;
                Award ID: 1R15AI111328-01
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001809, National Natural Science Foundation of China;
                Award ID: 81420108024
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2016

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