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Old 12-02-2010, 07:54 AM   #1
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Default properly paired reads in TopHat output


The samtools flagstat results for a TopHat BAM file from my data are reproduced below. I am a little concerned about the percentage of "properly paired" reads (~33%). I guess that in RNA-Seq data, the two reads in a pair may be mapping to different exons, which may cause the pair to deviate from whatever the definition for proper pairing is. Does anyone have any comments on whether these numbers may be within reasonable limits for a RNA-Seq data set?

106172059 in total
0 QC failure
0 duplicates
106172059 mapped (100.00%)
106172059 paired in sequencing
53427448 read1
52744611 read2
34923852 properly paired (32.89%)
89669616 with itself and mate mapped
16502443 singletons (15.54%)
0 with mate mapped to a different chr
0 with mate mapped to a different chr (mapQ>=5)
The reads were PE 76bp, the insert size was 200bp and the syntax used to run TopHat is:
tophat -o 108971.testing.out -m 2 -p 4 -r 200 --mate-std-dev 50 -g 10 /home/sensh/bin/bowtie-0.12.7/indexes/hg18_inclusive 108971.read1.fastq 108971.read2.fastq

shurjo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2010, 09:05 AM   #2
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I am curious about this issue as well. I have several human RNA-seq data sets where the percentage of "properly paired" reads was about 50% in TopHat output, but much higher in bwa output. Of course, this depends both on the actual mapping and the criterion that each aligner uses to set the "properly paired" flag in the BAM file. In my case, there were some 20% spliced alignments in the TopHat output, which would explain part of the remaining "non-properly paired reads".

Does anyone know what criterion TopHat uses for setting the "properly paired" flag?
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:35 PM   #3
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Actually, I just looked at the FLAG field and I am even more puzzled. Issuing this command:
 samtools view accepted_hits.bam | awk  '{print $2}' | sort | uniq
returns only 0 and 16. So, I am not sure how samtools flagstat is even deciding which reads are properly paired, given that neither of these flags indicates even pairing, let alone correct pairing. At this point, I suspect that the TopHat BAM is not really doing much with this field, so a different approach may be needed to examine what percentage of PE reads are paired in the output.
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paired-end, rna-seq, tophat

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