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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Asymmetron: a toolkit for the identification of strand asymmetry patterns in biological sequences.

  • Author(s): Georgakopoulos-Soares, Ilias
  • Mouratidis, Ioannis
  • Parada, Guillermo E
  • Matharu, Navneet
  • Hemberg, Martin
  • Ahituv, Nadav
  • et al.

DNA strand asymmetries can have a major effect on several biological functions, including replication, transcription and transcription factor binding. As such, DNA strand asymmetries and mutational strand bias can provide information about biological function. However, a versatile tool to explore this does not exist. Here, we present Asymmetron, a user-friendly computational tool that performs statistical analysis and visualizations for the evaluation of strand asymmetries. Asymmetron takes as input DNA features provided with strand annotation and outputs strand asymmetries for consecutive occurrences of a single DNA feature or between pairs of features. We illustrate the use of Asymmetron by identifying transcriptional and replicative strand asymmetries of germline structural variant breakpoints. We also show that the orientation of the binding sites of 45% of human transcription factors analyzed have a significant DNA strand bias in transcribed regions, that is also corroborated in ChIP-seq analyses, and is likely associated with transcription. In summary, we provide a novel tool to assess DNA strand asymmetries and show how it can be used to derive new insights across a variety of biological disciplines.

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