Evaluation of methods to detect circular RNAs from single-end RNA-sequencing data

Circular RNA (circRNA), a class of RNA molecule with a loop structure, has recently attracted researchers due to its diverse biological functions and potential biomarkers of human diseases. Most of the current circRNA detection methods from RNA-sequencing (RNA-Seq) data utilize the mapping information of paired-end (PE) reads to eliminate false positives. However, much of the practical RNA-Seq data such as cross-linking immunoprecipitation sequencing (CLIP-Seq) data usually contain single-end (SE) reads. It is not clear how well these tools perform on SE RNA-Seq data.

Karolinska Institutet researchers present a systematic evaluation of six advanced RNA-based methods and two CLIP-Seq based methods for detecting circRNAs from SE RNA-Seq data. The performances of the methods are rigorously assessed based on precision, sensitivity, F1 score, and true discovery rate. The researchers investigate the impacts of read length, false positive ratio, sequencing depth and PE mapping information on the performances of the methods using simulated SE RNA-Seq simulated datasets. The real datasets used in this study consist of four experimental RNA-Seq datasets with ≥100bp read length and 124 CLIP-Seq samples from 45 studies that contain mostly short-read (≤50bp) RNA-Seq data. The simulation study shows that the sensitivities of most of the methods can be improved by increasing either read length or sequencing depth, and that the levels of false positive rates significantly affect the precision of all methods. Furthermore, the PE mapping information can improve the method’s precision but can not always guarantee the increase of F1 score. Overall, no method is dominant for all SE RNA-Seq data. The RNA-based methods perform better for the long-read datasets but are worse for the short-read datasets. In contrast, the CLIP-Seq based methods outperform the RNA-Seq based methods for all the short-read samples. Combining the results of these methods can significantly improve precision in the CLIP-Seq data.

Performances of all circRNA detection methods with the simulated SE datasets
with the ratio setting 30-70 across read lengths

Fig. 1

The x-axis presents the read length of the simulated samples. The y-axis in panels (a), (b), and (c) presents sensitivity, precision, and F1 score respectively

The results provide a systematic evaluation of circRNA detection methods on SE RNA-Seq data that would facilitate researchers’ strategies in circRNA analysis.

Nguyen MH, Nguyen HN, Vu TN. (2022) Evaluation of methods to detect circular RNAs from single-end RNA-sequencing data. BMC Genomics 23, 106. [article]

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