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Sensitive alignment using paralogous sequence variants improves long-read mapping and variant calling in segmental duplications.


The ability to characterize repetitive regions of the human genome is limited by the read lengths of short-read sequencing technologies. Although long-read sequencing technologies such as Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) and Oxford Nanopore Technologies can potentially overcome this limitation, long segmental duplications with high sequence identity pose challenges for long-read mapping. We describe a probabilistic method, DuploMap, designed to improve the accuracy of long-read mapping in segmental duplications. It analyzes reads mapped to segmental duplications using existing long-read aligners and leverages paralogous sequence variants (PSVs)-sequence differences between paralogous sequences-to distinguish between multiple alignment locations. On simulated datasets, DuploMap increased the percentage of correctly mapped reads with high confidence for multiple long-read aligners including Minimap2 (74.3-90.6%) and BLASR (82.9-90.7%) while maintaining high precision. Across multiple whole-genome long-read datasets, DuploMap aligned an additional 8-21% of the reads in segmental duplications with high confidence relative to Minimap2. Using DuploMap-aligned PacBio circular consensus sequencing reads, an additional 8.9 Mb of DNA sequence was mappable, variant calling achieved a higher F1 score and 14 713 additional variants supported by linked-read data were identified. Finally, we demonstrate that a significant fraction of PSVs in segmental duplications overlaps with variants and adversely impacts short-read variant calling.

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