Quantification of a transcriptional profile is a useful way to evaluate the activity of a cell at a given point in time. Although RNA-Seq has revolutionized transcriptional profiling, the costs of RNA-Seq are still significantly higher than microarrays, and often the depth of data delivered from RNA-Seq is in excess of what is needed for simple transcript quantification. Digital Gene Expression (DGE) is a cost-effective, sequence-based approach for simple transcript quantification: by sequencing one read per molecule of RNA, this technique can be used to efficiently count transcripts while obviating the need for transcript-length normalization and reducing the total numbers of reads necessary for accurate quantification. Here, researchers from the Max Planck Institute and NIH present trieFinder, a program specifically designed to rapidly map, parse, and annotate DGE tags of various lengths against cDNA and/or genomic sequence databases.
The trieFinder algorithm maps DGE tags in a two-step process. First, it scans FASTA files of RefSeq, UniGene, and genomic DNA sequences to create a database of all tags that can be derived from a predefined restriction site. Next, it compares the experimental DGE tags to this tag database, taking advantage of the fact that the tags are stored as a prefix tree, or “trie,” which allows for linear-time searches for exact matches. DGE tags with mismatches are analyzed by recursive calls in the data structure. We find that, in terms of alignment speed, the mapping functionality of trieFinder compares favorably with Bowtie.
Availability – trieFinder is available at https://github.com/grenaud/trieFinder