Metadata-driven comparative analysis tool for sequences (meta-CATS): an automated process for identifying significant sequence variations that correlate with virus attributes

Virology. 2013 Dec;447(1-2):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2013.08.021. Epub 2013 Sep 14.


The Virus Pathogen Resource (ViPR; and Influenza Research Database (IRD; 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Phenotype
  • Virology / methods*
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena*
  • Viruses / genetics*