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Detection of aberrant splicing events in RNA-seq data with FRASER

By Christian Mertes, Ines Scheller, Vicente A. Yépez, Muhammed H. Çelik, Yingjiqiong Liang, Laura S. Kremer, Mirjana Gusic, Holger Prokisch, Julien Gagneur

Posted 19 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.18.866830

Aberrant splicing is a major cause of rare diseases, yet its prediction from genome sequence remains in most cases inconclusive. Recently, RNA sequencing has proven to be an effective complementary avenue to detect aberrant splicing. Here, we developed FRASER, an algorithm to detect aberrant splicing from RNA sequencing data. Unlike existing methods, FRASER captures not only alternative splicing but also intron retention events. This typically doubles the number of detected aberrant events and identified a pathogenic intron retention in MCOLN1. FRASER automatically controls for latent confounders, which are widespread and substantially affect sensitivity. Moreover, FRASER is based on a count distribution and multiple testing correction, reducing the number of calls by two orders of magnitude over commonly applied z score cutoffs, with a minor sensitivity loss. The application to rare disease diagnostics is demonstrated by reprioritizing a pathogenic aberrant exon truncation in TAZ from a published dataset. FRASER is easy to use and freely available.

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