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Open Access Software

SinicView: A visualization environment for comparisons of multiple nucleotide sequence alignment tools

Arthur Chun-Chieh Shih1, DT Lee12*, Laurent Lin1, Chin-Lin Peng2, Shiang-Heng Chen1, Yu-Wei Wu1, Chun-Yi Wong1, Meng-Yuan Chou1, Tze-Chang Shiao1 and Mu-Fen Hsieh1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 115, Taiwan

2 Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 115, Taiwan

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BMC Bioinformatics 2006, 7:103  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-103

Published: 2 March 2006

Abstract

Background

Deluged by the rate and complexity of completed genomic sequences, the need to align longer sequences becomes more urgent, and many more tools have thus been developed. In the initial stage of genomic sequence analysis, a biologist is usually faced with the questions of how to choose the best tool to align sequences of interest and how to analyze and visualize the alignment results, and then with the question of whether poorly aligned regions produced by the tool are indeed not homologous or are just results due to inappropriate alignment tools or scoring systems used. Although several systematic evaluations of multiple sequence alignment (MSA) programs have been proposed, they may not provide a standard-bearer for most biologists because those poorly aligned regions in these evaluations are never discussed. Thus, a tool that allows cross comparison of the alignment results obtained by different tools simultaneously could help a biologist evaluate their correctness and accuracy.

Results

In this paper, we present a versatile alignment visualization system, called SinicView, (for Sequence-aligning INnovative and Interactive Comparison VIEWer), which allows the user to efficiently compare and evaluate assorted nucleotide alignment results obtained by different tools. SinicView calculates similarity of the alignment outputs under a fixed window using the sum-of-pairs method and provides scoring profiles of each set of aligned sequences. The user can visually compare alignment results either in graphic scoring profiles or in plain text format of the aligned nucleotides along with the annotations information. We illustrate the capabilities of our visualization system by comparing alignment results obtained by MLAGAN, MAVID, and MULTIZ, respectively.

Conclusion

With SinicView, users can use their own data sequences to compare various alignment tools or scoring systems and select the most suitable one to perform alignment in the initial stage of sequence analysis.