NSIT: novel sequence identification tool

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 29;9(9):e108011. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108011. eCollection 2014.


Novel sequences are DNA sequences present in an individual's genome but absent in the human reference assembly. They are predicted to be biologically important, both individual and population specific, and consistent with the known human migration paths. Recent works have shown that an average person harbors 2-5 Mb of such sequences and estimated that the human pan-genome contains as high as 19-40 Mb of novel sequences. To identify them in a de novo genome assembly, some existing sequence aligners have been used but no computational method has been specifically proposed for this task. In this work, we developed NSIT (Novel Sequence Identification Tool), a software that can accurately and efficiently identify novel sequences in an individual's de novo whole genome assembly. We identified and characterized 1.1 Mb, 1.2 Mb, and 1.0 Mb of novel sequences in NA18507 (African), YH (Asian), and NA12878 (European) de novo genome assemblies, respectively. Our results show very high concordance with the previous work using the respective reference assembly. In addition, our results using the latest human reference assembly suggest that the amount of novel sequences per individual may not be as high as previously reported. We additionally developed a graphical viewer for comparisons of novel sequence contents. The viewer also helped in identifying sequence contamination; we found 130 kb of Epstein-Barr virus sequence in the previously published NA18507 novel sequences as well as 287 kb of zebrafish repeats in NA12878 de novo assembly. NSIT requires [Formula: see text]2GB of RAM and 1.5-2 hrs on a commodity desktop. The program is applicable to input assemblies with varying contig/scaffold sizes, ranging from 100 bp to as high as 50 Mb. It works in both 32-bit and 64-bit systems and outperforms, by large margins, other fast sequence aligners previously applied to this task. To our knowledge, NSIT is the first software designed specifically for novel sequence identification in a de novo human genome assembly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*

Grant support

This project was supported by the Thailand Research Fund (Grant Number: TRG5280016, www.trf.or.th) and partially supported by the Coordinating Center for Thai Government Science and Technology Scholarship Students, National Science and Technology Development Agency (Grant Number: SCH-NR2009-51-01, http://stscholar.nstda.or.th). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.