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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Using quality scores and longer reads improves accuracy of Solexa read mapping

Andrew D Smith, Zhenyu Xuan and Michael Q Zhang*

  • * Corresponding author: Michael Q Zhang mzhang@cshl.edu

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11274, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9:128  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-128

Published: 28 February 2008

Abstract

Background

Second-generation sequencing has the potential to revolutionize genomics and impact all areas of biomedical science. New technologies will make re-sequencing widely available for such applications as identifying genome variations or interrogating the oligonucleotide content of a large sample (e.g. ChIP-sequencing). The increase in speed, sensitivity and availability of sequencing technology brings demand for advances in computational technology to perform associated analysis tasks. The Solexa/Illumina 1G sequencer can produce tens of millions of reads, ranging in length from ~25–50 nt, in a single experiment. Accurately mapping the reads back to a reference genome is a critical task in almost all applications. Two sources of information that are often ignored when mapping reads from the Solexa technology are the 3' ends of longer reads, which contain a much higher frequency of sequencing errors, and the base-call quality scores.

Results

To investigate whether these sources of information can be used to improve accuracy when mapping reads, we developed the RMAP tool, which can map reads having a wide range of lengths and allows base-call quality scores to determine which positions in each read are more important when mapping. We applied RMAP to analyze data re-sequenced from two human BAC regions for varying read lengths, and varying criteria for use of quality scores. RMAP is freely available for downloading at http://rulai.cshl.edu/rmap/ webcite.

Conclusion

Our results indicate that significant gains in Solexa read mapping performance can be achieved by considering the information in 3' ends of longer reads, and appropriately using the base-call quality scores. The RMAP tool we have developed will enable researchers to effectively exploit this information in targeted re-sequencing projects.