Estimating sequence similarity from read sets for clustering next-generation sequencing data

Ryšavý, Petr and Železný, Filip

Computing mutual similarity of biological sequences such as DNA molecules is essential for significant biological tasks such as hierarchical clustering of genomes. Current sequencing technologies do not provide the content of entire biological sequences; rather they identify a large number of small substrings called reads, sampled at random places of the target sequence. To estimate similarity of two sequences from their read-set representations, one may try to reconstruct each one first from its read set, and then employ conventional (dis)similarity measures such as the edit distance on the assembled sequences. Due to the nature of data, sequence assembly often cannot provide a single putative sequence that matches the true DNA. Therefore, we propose instead to estimate the similarities directly from the read sets. Our approach is based on an adaptation of the Monge-Elkan similarity known from the field of databases, avoiding the sequence assembly step. For low-coverage (i.e. small) read set samples, it yields a better approximation of the true sequence similarities. This in turn results in better clustering in comparison to the first-assemble-then-cluster approach. Put differently, for a fixed estimation accuracy, our approach requires smaller read sets and thus entails reduced wet-lab costs.
@article{dami2018,
  author = {Ryšavý, Petr and Železný, Filip},
  title = {Estimating sequence similarity from read sets for clustering next-generation sequencing data},
  journal = {Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery},
  year = {2019},
  month = jan,
  day = {01},
  volume = {33},
  number = {1},
  pages = {1--23},
  issn = {1573-756X},
  doi = {10.1007/s10618-018-0584-8}
}