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“One code to find them all”: a perl tool to conveniently parse RepeatMasker output files

Marc Bailly-Bechet 1, 2 Annabelle Haudry 3 Emmanuelle Lerat 3
3 Eléments transposables, évolution, populations
GINSENG - Département génétique, interactions et évolution des génomes [LBBE]
Abstract : Background: Of the different bioinformatic methods used to recover transposable elements (TEs) in genome sequences, one of the most commonly used procedures is the homology-based method proposed by the RepeatMasker program. RepeatMasker generates several output files, including the .out file, which provides annotations for all detected repeats in a query sequence. However, a remaining challenge consists of identifying the different copies of TEs that correspond to the identified hits. This step is essential for any evolutionary/comparative analysis of the different copies within a family. Different possibilities can lead to multiple hits corresponding to a unique copy of an element, such as the presence of large deletions/insertions or undetermined bases, and distinct consensus corresponding to a single full-length sequence (like for long terminal repeat (LTR)-retrotransposons). These possibilities must be taken into account to determine the exact number of TE copies. Results: We have developed a perl tool that parses the RepeatMasker .out file to better determine the number and positions of TE copies in the query sequence, in addition to computing quantitative information for the different families. To determine the accuracy of the program, we tested it on several RepeatMasker .out files corresponding to two organisms (Drosophila melanogaster and Homo sapiens) for which the TE content has already been largely described and which present great differences in genome size, TE content, and TE families. Conclusions: Our tool provides access to detailed information concerning the TE content in a genome at the family level from the .out file of RepeatMasker. This information includes the exact position and orientation of each copy, its proportion in the query sequence, and its quality compared to the reference element. In addition, our tool allows a user to directly retrieve the sequence of each copy and obtain the same detailed information at the family level when a local library with incomplete TE class/subclass information was used with RepeatMasker. We hope that this tool will be helpful for people working on the distribution and evolution of TEs within genomes.
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Marc Bailly-Bechet, Annabelle Haudry, Emmanuelle Lerat. “One code to find them all”: a perl tool to conveniently parse RepeatMasker output files. Mobile DNA, BioMed Central, 2014, 5, pp.13. ⟨10.1186/1759-8753-5-13⟩. ⟨hal-01332104⟩

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