A graph-based algorithm for estimating clonal haplotypes of tumor sample from sequencing data

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Background: Haplotype phasing is an important step in many bioinformatics workflows. In cancer genomics, it is suggested that reconstructing the clonal haplotypes of a tumor sample could facilitate a comprehensive understanding of its clonal architecture and further provide valuable reference in clinical diagnosis and treatment. However, the sequencing data is an admixture of reads sampled from different clonal haplotypes, which complicates the computational problem by exponentially increasing the solution-space and leads the existing algorithms to an unacceptable time-/space- complexity. In addition, the evolutionary process among clonal haplotypes further weakens those algorithms by bringing indistinguishable candidate solutions. Results: To improve the algorithmic performance of phasing clonal haplotypes, in this article, we propose MixSubHap, which is a graph-based computational pipeline working on cancer sequencing data. To reduce the computation complexity, MixSubHap adopts three bounding strategies to limit the solution space and filter out false positive candidates. It first estimates the global clonal structure by clustering the variant allelic frequencies on sampled point mutations. This offers a priori on the number of clonal haplotypes when copy-number variations are not considered. Then, it utilizes a greedy extension algorithm to approximately find the longest linkage of the locally assembled contigs. Finally, it incorporates a read-depth stripping algorithm to filter out false linkages according to the posterior estimation of tumor purity and the estimated percentage of each sub-clone in the sample. A series of experiments are conducted to verify the performance of the proposed pipeline. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that MixSubHap is able to identify about 90% on average of the preset clonal haplotypes under different simulation configurations. Especially, MixSubHap is robust when decreasing the mutation rates, in which cases the longest assembled contig could reach to 10kbps, while the accuracy of assigning a mutation to its haplotype still keeps more than 60% on average. MixSubHap is considered as a practical algorithm to reconstruct clonal haplotypes from cancer sequencing data. The source codes have been uploaded and maintained at https://github.com/YixuanWang1120/MixSubHap for academic use only.




Wang, Y., Zhang, X., Ding, S., Geng, Y., Liu, J., Zhao, Z., … Wang, J. (2019). A graph-based algorithm for estimating clonal haplotypes of tumor sample from sequencing data. BMC Medical Genomics, 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12920-018-0457-4

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