TEtranscripts: a package for including transposable elements in differential expression analysis of RNA-seq datasets

Bioinformatics. 2015 Nov 15;31(22):3593-9. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btv422. Epub 2015 Jul 23.


Motivation: Most RNA-seq data analysis software packages are not designed to handle the complexities involved in properly apportioning short sequencing reads to highly repetitive regions of the genome. These regions are often occupied by transposable elements (TEs), which make up between 20 and 80% of eukaryotic genomes. They can contribute a substantial portion of transcriptomic and genomic sequence reads, but are typically ignored in most analyses.

Results: Here, we present a method and software package for including both gene- and TE-associated ambiguously mapped reads in differential expression analysis. Our method shows improved recovery of TE transcripts over other published expression analysis methods, in both synthetic data and qPCR/NanoString-validated published datasets.

Availability and implementation: The source code, associated GTF files for TE annotation, and testing data are freely available at http://hammelllab.labsites.cshl.edu/software.

Contact: mhammell@cshl.edu.

Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Databases, Genetic*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods*
  • Software*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • RNA, Messenger