The Virus Pathogen Resource (ViPR; www.viprbrc.org) and Influenza Research Database (IRD; www.fludb.org) have developed a metadata-driven Comparative Analysis Tool for Sequences (meta-CATS), which performs statistical comparative analyses of nucleotide and amino acid sequence data to identify correlations between sequence variations and virus attributes (metadata). Meta-CATS guides users through: selecting a set of nucleotide or protein sequences; dividing them into multiple groups based on any associated metadata attribute (e.g. isolation location, host species); performing a statistical test at each aligned position; and identifying all residues that significantly differ between the groups. As proofs of concept, we have used meta-CATS to identify sequence biomarkers associated with dengue viruses isolated from different hemispheres, and to identify variations in the NS1 protein that are unique to each of the 4 dengue serotypes. Meta-CATS is made freely available to virology researchers to identify genotype-phenotype correlations for development of improved vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
Keywords: Bioinformatics; Comparative genomics; DENV; Database; Dengue; Statistical comparison; Virology; Virus.
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