Combining statistical alignment and phylogenetic footprinting to detect regulatory elements

Rahul Satija, Lior Pachter, Jotun Hein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivation: Traditional alignment-based phylogenetic footprinting approaches make predictions on the basis of a single assumed alignment. The predictions are therefore highly sensitive to alignment errors or regions of alignment uncertainty. Alternatively, statistical alignment methods provide a framework for performing phylogenetic analyses by examining a distribution of alignments. Results: We developed a novel algorithm for predicting functional elements by combining statistical alignment and phylogenetic footprinting (SAPF). SAPF simultaneously performs both alignment and annotation by combining phylogenetic footprinting techniques with an hidden Markov model (HMM) transducer-based multiple alignment model, and can analyze sequence data from multiple sequences. We assessed SAPF's predictive performance on two simulated datasets and three well-annotated cis-regulatory modules from newly sequenced Drosophila genomes. The results demonstrate that removing the traditional dependence on a single alignment can significantly augment the predictive performance, especially when there is uncertainty in the alignment of functional regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1236-1242
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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