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A randomized approach to speed up the analysis of large-scale read-count data in the application of CNV detection


BACKGROUND:The application of high-throughput sequencing in a broad range of quantitative genomic assays (e.g., DNA-seq, ChIP-seq) has created a high demand for the analysis of large-scale read-count data. Typically, the genome is divided into tiling windows and windowed read-count data is generated for the entire genome from which genomic signals are detected (e.g. copy number changes in DNA-seq, enrichment peaks in ChIP-seq). For accurate analysis of read-count data, many state-of-the-art statistical methods use generalized linear models (GLM) coupled with the negative-binomial (NB) distribution by leveraging its ability for simultaneous bias correction and signal detection. However, although statistically powerful, the GLM+NB method has a quadratic computational complexity and therefore suffers from slow running time when applied to large-scale windowed read-count data. In this study, we aimed to speed up substantially the GLM+NB method by using a randomized algorithm and we demonstrate here the utility of our approach in the application of detecting copy number variants (CNVs) using a real example. RESULTS:We propose an efficient estimator, the randomized GLM+NB coefficients estimator (RGE), for speeding up the GLM+NB method. RGE samples the read-count data and solves the estimation problem on a smaller scale. We first theoretically validated the consistency and the variance properties of RGE. We then applied RGE to GENSENG, a GLM+NB based method for detecting CNVs. We named the resulting method as "R-GENSENG". Based on extensive evaluation using both simulated and empirical data, we concluded that R-GENSENG is ten times faster than the original GENSENG while maintaining GENSENG's accuracy in CNV detection. CONCLUSIONS:Our results suggest that RGE strategy developed here could be applied to other GLM+NB based read-count analyses, i.e. ChIP-seq data analysis, to substantially improve their computational efficiency while preserving the analytic power.

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