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TahcoRoll: An Efficient Approach for Signature Profiling in Genomic Data through Variable-Length k-mers

By Chelsea J.-T. Ju, Jyun-Yu Jiang, Ruirui Li, Zeyu Li, Wei Wang

Posted 06 Dec 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/229708

K-mer profiling has been one of the trending approaches to analyze read data generated by high-throughput sequencing technologies. The tasks of k-mer profiling include, but are not limited to, counting the frequencies and determining the occurrences of short sequences in a dataset. The notion of k-mer has been extensively used to build de Bruijn graphs in genome or transcriptome assembly, which requires examining all possible k-mers presented in the dataset. Recently, an alternative way of profiling has been proposed, which constructs a set of representative k-mers as genomic markers and profiles their occurrences in the sequencing data. This technique has been applied in both transcript quantification through RNA-Seq and taxonomic classification of metagenomic reads. Most of these applications use a set of fixed-size k-mers since the majority of existing k-mer counters are inadequate to process genomic sequences with variable-length k-mers. However, choosing the appropriate k is challenging, as it varies for different applications. As a pioneer work to profile a set of variable-length k-mers, we propose TahcoRoll in order to enhance the Aho-Corasick algorithm. More specifically, we use one bit to represent each nucleotide, and integrate the rolling hash technique to construct an efficient in-memory data structure for this task. Using both synthetic and real datasets, results show that TahcoRoll outperforms existing approaches in either or both time and memory efficiency without using any disk space. In addition, compared to the most efficient state-of-the-art k-mer counters, such as KMC and MSBWT, TahcoRoll is the only approach that can process long read data from both PacBio and Oxford Nanopore on a commodity desktop computer. The source code of TahcoRoll is implemented in C++14, and available at https://github.com/chelseaju/TahcoRoll.git.

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