Performing an example analysis

Here you will be guided trough a small example analysis using a publicly available RNA-Seq from NCBI GEO that was part of a publication by Kröger et al.. This is a transcriptome analysis of Salmonella Typhimurium SL1344 in different conditions. We will generate several output files in different formats. The CSV (tabular separated plain text files) files can be opened with any spreadsheet program like LibreOffice or Excel. For inspecting the mappings (in BAM format) and coverage files (wiggle format) you can use a genome browser for example IGB or IGV.

Generating a project

At first we have to create the analysis folder and its subfolder. For this we use the create subcommand:

$ reademption create READemption_analysis
Created folder "READemption_analysis2" and required subfolders.
Please copy read files into folder "READemption_analysis2/input/reads" and reference sequences files into folder "READemption_analysis2/input/reference_sequences".

This will result in a folder structure as shown here:

├── input
│   ├── annotation_files
│   ├── reads
│   └── reference_sequences
└── output
   ├── align
   │   ├── alignments
   │   ├── index
   │   ├── processed_reads
   │   ├── reports_and_stats
   │   │   ├── stats_data_json
   │   │   └── used_reademption_version.txt
   │   └── unaligned_reads
   ├── coverage
   │   ├── coverage-raw
   │   ├── coverage-tnoar_mil_normalized
   │   └── coverage-tnoar_min_normalized
   ├── deseq
   │   ├── deseq_raw
   │   └── deseq_with_annotations
   ├── gene_quanti
   │   ├── gene_quanti_combined
   │   └── gene_quanti_per_lib
   ├── viz_align
   ├── viz_deseq
   └── viz_gene_quanti

Retrieving the input data

We have to download the reference sequence (FASTA format) as well as the annotation file (GFF3 format) for Salmonella from NCBI. As we will use the URL of Salmonella Typhimurium SL1344’s source FTP folder it several times we store it in an environment variable called FTP_SOURCE.


We download the reference sequence (the chromosome and three plasmids) in FASTA format and store them in the reference_sequences folder. The files are saved with a different suffix (.fa instead of .fna) as some genome browser (e.g. IGB) will not accept them as FASTA files otherwise.

$ wget -O READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_016810.fa $FTP_SOURCE/NC_016810.fna
$ wget -O READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_017718.fa $FTP_SOURCE/NC_017718.fna
$ wget -O READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_017719.fa $FTP_SOURCE/NC_017719.fna
$ wget -O READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_017720.fa $FTP_SOURCE/NC_017720.fna

We have to modify the header of the FASTA files as the sequence IDs have to be the same as the ones in the first column of the GGF3 files (see below) to be used in the gene quantification. This will be also necessary if both, FASTA and GFF3 files, will be loaded in the IGB.

$ sed -i "s/>/>NC_016810.1 /" READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_016810.fa
$ sed -i "s/>/>NC_017718.1 /" READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_017718.fa
$ sed -i "s/>/>NC_017719.1 /" READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_017719.fa
$ sed -i "s/>/>NC_017720.1 /" READemption_analysis/input/reference_sequences/NC_017720.fa

Then we download the GFF3 files that contain the annotations.

$ wget -P READemption_analysis/input/annotations $FTP_SOURCE/*gff

Finally, we need the reads of the RNA-Seq libraries. To save some time for running this examples we will work with subsampled libraries of 1M reads each. This will the limit informative value of the results which is acceptable as we just want to understand the workflow of the READemption. Please be aware that READemption can perform only basic quality trimming and adapter clipping. If this is not sufficient you can use the FASTX toolkit, cutadapt or other tools for the preprocessing.

$ wget -P READemption_analysis/input/reads
$ wget -P READemption_analysis/input/reads
$ wget -P READemption_analysis/input/reads
$ wget -P READemption_analysis/input/reads

We have now all the necessary data available. The input folder should look like this now:

$ ls READemption_analysis/input/*
NC_016810.gff  NC_017718.gff  NC_017719.gff  NC_017720.gff

InSPI2_R1.fa.bz2  InSPI2_R2.fa.bz2  LSP_R1.fa.bz2  LSP_R2.fa.bz2

NC_016810.fa  NC_017718.fa  NC_017719.fa  NC_017720.fa

Processing and aligning the reads

The first step it the read processing and mapping. Via parameters we tell READemption to use 4 CPU (-p 4) and perform a poly-A-clipping (--poly_a_clipping) before the mapping.

$ reademption align -p 4 --poly_a_clipping READemption_analysis

Once this the mapping is done the file read_alignment_stats.csv is created which can be found in READemption_analysis/output/align/reports_and_stats/. It contains several mapping statistics for example how many reads are successfully aligned in total and how many were aligned to each replicon. We see that more than 98 % of the reads are mapped for each library. Sorted and indexed alignements in BAM format are stored in READemption_analysis/output/align/alignments. We could load them into a genome browser but instead we continue with the next step.

Generating coverage files

In order to generate strand specific coverage files with different normalizations we use the subcommand coverage.

$ reademption coverage -p 4 READemption_analysis

The sets are stored in subfolder of READemption_analysis/output/coverage/. The most oftenly used set is stored in coverage-tnoar_min_normalized. Here the coverage values are normalized by the total number of aligned reads (TNOAR) of the individual library and then multiplied by the lowest TNOAR value of all libraries. These files could be inspected for differential RNA-Seq (dRNA-Seq - comparing libraries with and without Terminator Exonuclease treatment) data in order to determine transcriptional start sites. They can be loaded in common genome browsers like IGB or IGV. Keep in mind that the coverages of the reverse strand have negative values so you have to adapt the scaling in some genome browsers.

Performing gene wise quantification

In this step we want to quantify the number of reads overlapping with the locations of the annotation entries. With the --features parameter we configure reademption to just quantify CDS, tRNA and rRNA entries.

$ reademption gene_quanti -p 4 --features CDS,tRNA,rRNA READemption_analysis

After the quantification we find tables that contain the combined counting for all entries in READemption_analysisoutput/gene_quanti/gene_quanti_combined/. The countings for mappings in sense and anti-sense are separately listed. Besides the raw countings there are also tables for countings normalized by the total number of reads and RPKM values.

Performing differential gene expression analysis

To compare the gene expression of different conditions we apply the subcommand deseq which makes use of the R library DESeq2.

$ reademption deseq \
   -l InSPI2_R1.fa.bz2,InSPI2_R2.fa.bz2,LSP_R1.fa.bz2,LSP_R2.fa.bz2 \
   -c InSPI2,InSPI2,LSP,LSP READemption_analysis

We have to tell READemption which libraries are replicates of which condition. This is done by the parameter -l and -c. -l should hold a comma separated list of the libraries and -c the corresponding conditions. In our case we have 4 libraries (InSPI2_R1.fa.bz2, InSPI2_R2.fa.bz2, LSP_R1.fa.bz2, LSP_R2.fa.bz2) and two condition (which we call InSPI2 and LSP). Just to make this association easier to understand:

InSPI2_R1.fa.bz2  InSPI2_R2.fa.bz2  LSP_R1.fa.bz2  LSP_R2.fa.bz2
   |                 |               |              |
InSPI2            InSPI2            LSP            LSP

When you call deseq it will compare all conditions with each other and you can pick the comparison that you need. The raw DESeq2 results are enriched with the original annotation information and are stored in READemption_analysis/output/deseq/deseq_with_annotations/

Create plots

Finally we generate plots that visualize the results of the different steps. viz_align creates histograms of the read length distribution for the untreated and treated reads (saved in READemption_analysis/output/viz_align/).

$ reademption viz_align READemption_analysis

viz_gene_quanti visualizes the gene wise countings. In our example you will see that - as expected - the replicates are more similar to each other than to the libs of the other condition. It also generates bar plots that show the distribution of reads inside the different RNA classes.

$ reademption viz_gene_quanti READemption_analysis

viz_deseq generates MA-plots as well as volcano plots.

$ reademption viz_deseq READemption_analysis