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Open Access Software

rMotifGen: random motif generator for DNA and protein sequences

Eric C Rouchka* and C Timothy Hardin

Author Affiliations

Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2007, 8:292  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-292

Published: 7 August 2007

Abstract

Background

Detection of short, subtle conserved motif regions within a set of related DNA or amino acid sequences can lead to discoveries about important regulatory domains such as transcription factor and DNA binding sites as well as conserved protein domains. In order to help assess motif detection algorithms on motifs with varying properties and levels of conservation, we have developed a computational tool, rMotifGen, with the sole purpose of generating a number of random DNA or protein sequences containing short sequence motifs. Each motif consensus can be user-defined, randomly generated, or created from a position-specific scoring matrix (PSSM). Insertions and mutations within these motifs are created according to user-defined parameters and substitution matrices. The resulting sequences can be helpful in mutational simulations and in testing the limits of motif detection algorithms.

Results

Two implementations of rMotifGen have been created, one providing a graphical user interface (GUI) for random motif construction, and the other serving as a command line interface. The second implementation has the added advantages of platform independence and being able to be called in a batch mode. rMotifGen was used to construct sample sets of sequences containing DNA motifs and amino acid motifs that were then tested against the Gibbs sampler and MEME packages.

Conclusion

rMotifGen provides an efficient and convenient method for creating random DNA or amino acid sequences with a variable number of motifs, where the instance of each motif can be incorporated using a position-specific scoring matrix (PSSM) or by creating an instance mutated from its corresponding consensus using an evolutionary model based on substitution matrices. rMotifGen is freely available at: http://bioinformatics.louisville.edu/brg/rMotifGen/ webcite.