Exact Transcript Quantification Over Splice Graphs


The probability of sequencing a set of RNA-seq reads can be directly modeled using the abundances of splice junctions in splice graphs instead of the abundances of a list of transcripts. We call this model graph quantification, which was first proposed by Bernard et al. (2014). The model can be viewed as a generalization of transcript expression quantification where every full path in the splice graph is a possible transcript. However, the previous graph quantification model assumes the length of single-end reads or paired-end fragments is fixed. We provide an improvement of this model to handle variable-length reads or fragments and incorporate bias correction. We prove that our model is equivalent to running a transcript quantifier with exactly the set of all compatible transcripts. The key to our method is constructing an extension of the splice graph based on Aho-Corasick automata. The proof of equivalence is based on a novel reparameterization of the read generation model of a state-of-art transcript quantification method. This new approach is useful for modeling scenarios where reference transcriptome is incomplete or not available and can be further used in transcriptome assembly or alternative splicing analysis. The source code is available at https://github.com/Kingsford-Group/subgraphquant.

In Proceedings of WABI 2020; journal version in Alg. Mol. Bio. 2021