ATACseqQC: a Bioconductor package for post-alignment quality assessment of ATAC-seq data

BMC Genomics. 2018 Mar 1;19(1):169. doi: 10.1186/s12864-018-4559-3.


Background: ATAC-seq (Assays for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing) is a recently developed technique for genome-wide analysis of chromatin accessibility. Compared to earlier methods for assaying chromatin accessibility, ATAC-seq is faster and easier to perform, does not require cross-linking, has higher signal to noise ratio, and can be performed on small cell numbers. However, to ensure a successful ATAC-seq experiment, step-by-step quality assurance processes, including both wet lab quality control and in silico quality assessment, are essential. While several tools have been developed or adopted for assessing read quality, identifying nucleosome occupancy and accessible regions from ATAC-seq data, none of the tools provide a comprehensive set of functionalities for preprocessing and quality assessment of aligned ATAC-seq datasets.

Results: We have developed a Bioconductor package, ATACseqQC, for easily generating various diagnostic plots to help researchers quickly assess the quality of their ATAC-seq data. In addition, this package contains functions to preprocess aligned ATAC-seq data for subsequent peak calling. Here we demonstrate the utilities of our package using 25 publicly available ATAC-seq datasets from four studies. We also provide guidelines on what the diagnostic plots should look like for an ideal ATAC-seq dataset.

Conclusions: This software package has been used successfully for preprocessing and assessing several in-house and public ATAC-seq datasets. Diagnostic plots generated by this package will facilitate the quality assessment of ATAC-seq data, and help researchers to evaluate their own ATAC-seq experiments as well as select high-quality ATAC-seq datasets from public repositories such as GEO to avoid generating hypotheses or drawing conclusions from low-quality ATAC-seq experiments. The software, source code, and documentation are freely available as a Bioconductor package at .

Keywords: ATAC-seq; ATACseqQC; Chromatin accessibility; Quality control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Software*
  • Transcription Initiation Site
  • Transposases / genetics
  • Transposases / metabolism
  • Web Browser


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transposases