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ChromatoGate: A Tool for Detecting Base Mis-Calls in Multiple Sequence Alignments by Semi-Automatic Chromatogram Inspection

DOI: 10.5936/csbj.201303001

Keywords: chromatograms , software , mis-calls

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Abstract:

Automated DNA sequencers generate chromatograms that contain raw sequencing data. They also generate data that translates the chromatograms into molecular sequences of A, C, G, T, or N (undetermined) characters. Since chromatogram translation programs frequently introduce errors, a manual inspection of the generated sequence data is required. As sequence numbers and lengths increase, visual inspection and manual correction of chromatograms and corresponding sequences on a per-peak and per-nucleotide basis becomes an error-prone, time-consuming, and tedious process. Here, we introduce ChromatoGate (CG), an open-source software that accelerates and partially automates the inspection of chromatograms and the detection of sequencing errors for bidirectional sequencing runs. To provide users full control over the error correction process, a fully automated error correction algorithm has not been implemented. Initially, the program scans a given multiple sequence alignment (MSA) for potential sequencing errors, assuming that each polymorphic site in the alignment may be attributed to a sequencing error with a certain probability. The guided MSA assembly procedure in ChromatoGate detects chromatogram peaks of all characters in an alignment that lead to polymorphic sites, given a user-defined threshold. The threshold value represents the sensitivity of the sequencing error detection mechanism. After this pre-filtering, the user only needs to inspect a small number of peaks in every chromatogram to correct sequencing errors. Finally, we show that correcting sequencing errors is important, because population genetic and phylogenetic inferences can be misled by MSAs with uncorrected mis-calls. Our experiments indicate that estimates of population mutation rates can be affected two- to three-fold by uncorrected errors.

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