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UMI-Gen: a UMI-based reads simulator for variant calling evaluation in paired-end sequencing NGS libraries

By Vincent Sater, Pierre-Julien Viailly, Thierry Lecroq, Philippe Ruminy, Caroline Bérard, Élise Prieur-Gaston, Fabrice Jardin

Posted 23 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.22.027532

Motivation: With Next Generation Sequencing becoming more affordable every year, NGS technologies asserted themselves as the fastest and most reliable way to detect Single Nucleotide Variants (SNV) and Copy Number Variations (CNV) in cancer patients. These technologies can be used to sequence DNA at very high depths thus allowing to detect abnormalities in tumor cells with very low frequencies. A lot of different variant callers are publicly available and usually do a good job at calling out variants. However, when frequencies begin to drop under 1%, the specificity of these tools suffers greatly as true variants at very low frequencies can be easily confused with sequencing or PCR artifacts. The recent use of Unique Molecular Identifiers (UMI) in NGS experiments offered a way to accurately separate true variants from artifacts. UMI-based variant callers are slowly replacing raw-reads based variant callers as the standard method for an accurate detection of variants at very low frequencies. However, benchmarking done in the tools publication are usually realized on real biological data in which real variants are not known, making it difficult to assess their accuracy. Results: We present UMI-Gen, a UMI-based reads simulator for targeted sequencing paired-end data. UMI-Gen generates reference reads covering the targeted regions at a user customizable depth. After that, using a number of control files, it estimates the background error rate at each position and then modifies the generated reads to mimic real biological data. Finally, it will insert real variants in the reads from a list provided by the user. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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