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CGHScan: finding variable regions using high-density microarray comparative genomic hybridization data

Bradley D Anderson1*, Michael C Gilson1, Abigail A Scott1, Bryan S Biehl1, Jeremy D Glasner2, Gireesh Rajashekara1, Gary A Splitter1 and Nicole T Perna1

Author Affiliations

1 Animal H ealth and Biomedical Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI 53706, USA

2 Genome Center of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI 53706, USA

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-91

Published: 25 April 2006



Comparative genomic hybridization can rapidly identify chromosomal regions that vary between organisms and tissues. This technique has been applied to detecting differences between normal and cancerous tissues in eukaryotes as well as genomic variability in microbial strains and species. The density of oligonucleotide probes available on current microarray platforms is particularly well-suited for comparisons of organisms with smaller genomes like bacteria and yeast where an entire genome can be assayed on a single microarray with high resolution. Available methods for analyzing these experiments typically confine analyses to data from pre-defined annotated genome features, such as entire genes. Many of these methods are ill suited for datasets with the number of measurements typical of high-density microarrays.


We present an algorithm for analyzing microarray hybridization data to aid identification of regions that vary between an unsequenced genome and a sequenced reference genome. The program, CGHScan, uses an iterative random walk approach integrating multi-layered significance testing to detect these regions from comparative genomic hybridization data. The algorithm tolerates a high level of noise in measurements of individual probe intensities and is relatively insensitive to the choice of method for normalizing probe intensity values and identifying probes that differ between samples. When applied to comparative genomic hybridization data from a published experiment, CGHScan identified eight of nine known deletions in a Brucella ovis strain as compared to Brucella melitensis. The same result was obtained using two different normalization methods and two different scores to classify data for individual probes as representing conserved or variable genomic regions. The undetected region is a small (58 base pair) deletion that is below the resolution of CGHScan given the array design employed in the study.


CGHScan is an effective tool for analyzing comparative genomic hybridization data from high-density microarrays. The algorithm is capable of accurately identifying known variable regions and is tolerant of high noise and varying methods of data preprocessing. Statistical analysis is used to define each variable region providing a robust and reliable method for rapid identification of genomic differences independent of annotated gene boundaries.