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wg-blimp: an end-to-end analysis pipeline for whole genome bisulfite sequencing data

By Marius Wöste, Elsa Leitão, S. Laurentino, B. Horsthemke, S. Rahmann, Christopher Schröder

Posted 30 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/859900 (published DOI: 10.1186/s12859-020-3470-5)

Analysing whole genome bisulfite sequencing datasets is a data-intensive task that requires comprehensive and reproducible workflows to generate valid results. While many algorithms have been developed for tasks such as alignment, comprehensive end-to-end pipelines are still sparse. Furthermore, previous pipelines lack features or show technical deficiencies, thus impeding analyses. We developed wg-blimp (whole genome bisulfite sequencing methylation analysis pipeline) as an end-to-end pipeline to ease whole genome bisulfite sequencing data analysis. It integrates established algorithms for alignment, quality control, methylation calling, detection of differentially methylated regions, and methylome segmentation, requiring only a reference genome and raw sequencing data as input. Comparing wg-blimp to previous end-to-end pipelines reveals similar setups for common sequence processing tasks, but shows differences for post-alignment analyses. We improve on previous pipelines by providing a more comprehensive analysis workflow as well as an interactive user interface. To demonstrate wg-blimp's ability to produce correct results we used it to call differentially methylated regions for two publicly available datasets. We were able to replicate 112 of 114 previously published regions, and found results to be consistent with previous findings. We further applied wg-blimp to a publicly available sample of embryonic stem cells to showcase methylome segmentation. As expected, unmethylated regions were in close proximity of transcription start sites. Segmentation results were consistent with previous analyses, despite different reference genomes and sequencing techniques. wg-blimp provides a comprehensive analysis pipeline for whole genome bisulfite sequencing data as well as a user interface for simplified result inspection. We demonstrated its applicability by analysing multiple publicly available datasets. Thus, wg-blimp is a relevant alternative to previous analysis pipelines and may facilitate future epigenetic research.

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