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1.  Comparative Studies of Copy Number Variation Detection Methods for Next-Generation Sequencing Technologies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59128.
Copy number variation (CNV) has played an important role in studies of susceptibility or resistance to complex diseases. Traditional methods such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) suffer from low resolution of genomic regions. Following the emergence of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, CNV detection methods based on the short read data have recently been developed. However, due to the relatively young age of the procedures, their performance is not fully understood. To help investigators choose suitable methods to detect CNVs, comparative studies are needed. We compared six publicly available CNV detection methods: CNV-seq, FREEC, readDepth, CNVnator, SegSeq and event-wise testing (EWT). They are evaluated both on simulated and real data with different experiment settings. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve is employed to demonstrate the detection performance in terms of sensitivity and specificity, box plot is employed to compare their performances in terms of breakpoint and copy number estimation, Venn diagram is employed to show the consistency among these methods, and F-score is employed to show the overlapping quality of detected CNVs. The computational demands are also studied. The results of our work provide a comprehensive evaluation on the performances of the selected CNV detection methods, which will help biological investigators choose the best possible method.
PMCID: PMC3604020  PMID: 23527109
2.  Control-FREEC: a tool for assessing copy number and allelic content using next-generation sequencing data 
Bioinformatics  2011;28(3):423-425.
Summary: More and more cancer studies use next-generation sequencing (NGS) data to detect various types of genomic variation. However, even when researchers have such data at hand, single-nucleotide polymorphism arrays have been considered necessary to assess copy number alterations and especially loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Here, we present the tool Control-FREEC that enables automatic calculation of copy number and allelic content profiles from NGS data, and consequently predicts regions of genomic alteration such as gains, losses and LOH. Taking as input aligned reads, Control-FREEC constructs copy number and B-allele frequency profiles. The profiles are then normalized, segmented and analyzed in order to assign genotype status (copy number and allelic content) to each genomic region. When a matched normal sample is provided, Control-FREEC discriminates somatic from germline events. Control-FREEC is able to analyze overdiploid tumor samples and samples contaminated by normal cells. Low mappability regions can be excluded from the analysis using provided mappability tracks.
Availability: C++ source code is available at:
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3268243  PMID: 22155870
3.  Copy number variations (CNVs) identified in Korean individuals 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:492.
Copy number variations (CNVs) are deletions, insertions, duplications, and more complex variations ranging from 1 kb to sub-microscopic sizes. Recent advances in array technologies have enabled researchers to identify a number of CNVs from normal individuals. However, the identification of new CNVs has not yet reached saturation, and more CNVs from diverse populations remain to be discovered.
We identified 65 copy number variation regions (CNVRs) in 116 normal Korean individuals by analyzing Affymetrix 250 K Nsp whole-genome SNP data. Ten of these CNVRs were novel and not present in the Database of Genomic Variants (DGV). To increase the specificity of CNV detection, three algorithms, CNAG, dChip and GEMCA, were applied to the data set, and only those regions recognized at least by two algorithms were identified as CNVs. Most CNVRs identified in the Korean population were rare (<1%), occurring just once among the 116 individuals. When CNVs from the Korean population were compared with CNVs from the three HapMap ethnic groups, African, European, and Asian; our Korean population showed the highest degree of overlap with the Asian population, as expected. However, the overlap was less than 40%, implying that more CNVs remain to be discovered from the Asian population as well as from other populations. Genes in the novel CNVRs from the Korean population were enriched for genes involved in regulation and development processes.
CNVs are recently-recognized structural variations among individuals, and more CNVs need to be identified from diverse populations. Until now, CNVs from Asian populations have been studied less than those from European or American populations. In this regard, our study of CNVs from the Korean population will contribute to the full cataloguing of structural variation among diverse human populations.
PMCID: PMC2576253  PMID: 18928558
4.  Population-genetic nature of copy number variations in the human genome 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;19(5):761-773.
Copy number variations (CNVs) are universal genetic variations, and their association with disease has been increasingly recognized. We designed high-density microarrays for CNVs, and detected 3000–4000 CNVs (4–6% of the genomic sequence) per population that included CNVs previously missed because of smaller sizes and residing in segmental duplications. The patterns of CNVs across individuals were surprisingly simple at the kilo-base scale, suggesting the applicability of a simple genetic analysis for these genetic loci. We utilized the probabilistic theory to determine integer copy numbers of CNVs and employed a recently developed phasing tool to estimate the population frequencies of integer copy number alleles and CNV–SNP haplotypes. The results showed a tendency toward a lower frequency of CNV alleles and that most of our CNVs were explained only by zero-, one- and two-copy alleles. Using the estimated population frequencies, we found several CNV regions with exceptionally high population differentiation. Investigation of CNV–SNP linkage disequilibrium (LD) for 500–900 bi- and multi-allelic CNVs per population revealed that previous conflicting reports on bi-allelic LD were unexpectedly consistent and explained by an LD increase correlated with deletion-allele frequencies. Typically, the bi-allelic LD was lower than SNP–SNP LD, whereas the multi-allelic LD was somewhat stronger than the bi-allelic LD. After further investigation of tag SNPs for CNVs, we conclude that the customary tagging strategy for disease association studies can be applicable for common deletion CNVs, but direct interrogation is needed for other types of CNVs.
PMCID: PMC2816609  PMID: 19966329
5.  A large-scale survey of genetic copy number variations among Han Chinese residing in Taiwan 
BMC Genetics  2008;9:92.
Copy number variations (CNVs) have recently been recognized as important structural variations in the human genome. CNVs can affect gene expression and thus may contribute to phenotypic differences. The copy number inferring tool (CNIT) is an effective hidden Markov model-based algorithm for estimating allele-specific copy number and predicting chromosomal alterations from single nucleotide polymorphism microarrays. The CNIT algorithm, which was constructed using data from 270 HapMap multi-ethnic individuals, was applied to identify CNVs from 300 unrelated Han Chinese individuals in Taiwan.
Using stringent selection criteria, 230 regions with variable copy numbers were identified in the Han Chinese population; 133 (57.83%) had been reported previously, 64 displayed greater than 1% CNV allele frequency. The average size of the CNV regions was 322 kb (ranging from 1.48 kb to 5.68 Mb) and covered a total of 2.47% of the human genome. A total of 196 of the CNV regions were simple deletions and 27 were simple amplifications. There were 449 genes and 5 microRNAs within these CNV regions; some of these genes are known to be associated with diseases.
The identified CNVs are characteristic of the Han Chinese population and should be considered when genetic studies are conducted. The CNV distribution in the human genome is still poorly characterized, and there is much diversity among different ethnic populations.
PMCID: PMC2629477  PMID: 19108714
6.  Detection of copy number variation from array intensity and sequencing read depth using a stepwise Bayesian model 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:539.
Copy number variants (CNVs) have been demonstrated to occur at a high frequency and are now widely believed to make a significant contribution to the phenotypic variation in human populations. Array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) and newly developed read-depth approach through ultrahigh throughput genomic sequencing both provide rapid, robust, and comprehensive methods to identify CNVs on a whole-genome scale.
We developed a Bayesian statistical analysis algorithm for the detection of CNVs from both types of genomic data. The algorithm can analyze such data obtained from PCR-based bacterial artificial chromosome arrays, high-density oligonucleotide arrays, and more recently developed high-throughput DNA sequencing. Treating parameters--e.g., the number of CNVs, the position of each CNV, and the data noise level--that define the underlying data generating process as random variables, our approach derives the posterior distribution of the genomic CNV structure given the observed data. Sampling from the posterior distribution using a Markov chain Monte Carlo method, we get not only best estimates for these unknown parameters but also Bayesian credible intervals for the estimates. We illustrate the characteristics of our algorithm by applying it to both synthetic and experimental data sets in comparison to other segmentation algorithms.
In particular, the synthetic data comparison shows that our method is more sensitive than other approaches at low false positive rates. Furthermore, given its Bayesian origin, our method can also be seen as a technique to refine CNVs identified by fast point-estimate methods and also as a framework to integrate array-CGH and sequencing data with other CNV-related biological knowledge, all through informative priors.
PMCID: PMC2992546  PMID: 21034510
7.  Inferring combined CNV/SNP haplotypes from genotype data 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(11):1437-1445.
Motivation: Copy number variations (CNVs) are increasingly recognized as an substantial source of individual genetic variation, and hence there is a growing interest in investigating the evolutionary history of CNVs as well as their impact on complex disease susceptibility. CNV/SNP haplotypes are critical for this research, but although many methods have been proposed for inferring integer copy number, few have been designed for inferring CNV haplotypic phase and none of these are applicable at genome-wide scale. Here, we present a method for inferring missing CNV genotypes, predicting CNV allelic configuration and for inferring CNV haplotypic phase from SNP/CNV genotype data. Our method, implemented in the software polyHap v2.0, is based on a hidden Markov model, which models the joint haplotype structure between CNVs and SNPs. Thus, haplotypic phase of CNVs and SNPs are inferred simultaneously. A sampling algorithm is employed to obtain a measure of confidence/credibility of each estimate.
Results: We generated diploid phase-known CNV–SNP genotype datasets by pairing male X chromosome CNV–SNP haplotypes. We show that polyHap provides accurate estimates of missing CNV genotypes, allelic configuration and CNV haplotypic phase on these datasets. We applied our method to a non-simulated dataset—a region on Chromosome 2 encompassing a short deletion. The results confirm that polyHap's accuracy extends to real-life datasets.
Availability: Our method is implemented in version 2.0 of the polyHap software package and can be downloaded from
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2913665  PMID: 20406911
8.  Computational tools for copy number variation (CNV) detection using next-generation sequencing data: features and perspectives 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 11):S1.
Copy number variation (CNV) is a prevalent form of critical genetic variation that leads to an abnormal number of copies of large genomic regions in a cell. Microarray-based comparative genome hybridization (arrayCGH) or genotyping arrays have been standard technologies to detect large regions subject to copy number changes in genomes until most recently high-resolution sequence data can be analyzed by next-generation sequencing (NGS). During the last several years, NGS-based analysis has been widely applied to identify CNVs in both healthy and diseased individuals. Correspondingly, the strong demand for NGS-based CNV analyses has fuelled development of numerous computational methods and tools for CNV detection. In this article, we review the recent advances in computational methods pertaining to CNV detection using whole genome and whole exome sequencing data. Additionally, we discuss their strengths and weaknesses and suggest directions for future development.
PMCID: PMC3846878  PMID: 24564169
9.  Genome-Wide Identification of Copy Number Variations in Chinese Holstein 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48732.
Recent studies of mammalian genomes have uncovered the vast extent of copy number variations (CNVs) that contribute to phenotypic diversity. Compared to SNP, a CNV can cover a wider chromosome region, which may potentially incur substantial sequence changes and induce more significant effects on phenotypes. CNV has been becoming an alternative promising genetic marker in the field of genetic analyses. Here we firstly report an account of CNV regions in the cattle genome in Chinese Holstein population. The Illumina Bovine SNP50K Beadchips were used for screening 2047 Holstein individuals. Three different programes (PennCNV, cnvPartition and GADA) were implemented to detect potential CNVs. After a strict CNV calling pipeline, a total of 99 CNV regions were identified in cattle genome. These CNV regions cover 23.24 Mb in total with an average size of 151.69 Kb. 52 out of these CNV regions have frequencies of above 1%. 51 out of these CNV regions completely or partially overlap with 138 cattle genes, which are significantly enriched for specific biological functions, such as signaling pathway, sensory perception response and cellular processes. The results provide valuable information for constructing a more comprehensive CNV map in the cattle genome and offer an important resource for investigation of genome structure and genomic variation underlying traits of interest in cattle.
PMCID: PMC3492429  PMID: 23144949
10.  Copy number variation signature to predict human ancestry 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:336.
Copy number variations (CNVs) are genomic structural variants that are found in healthy populations and have been observed to be associated with disease susceptibility. Existing methods for CNV detection are often performed on a sample-by-sample basis, which is not ideal for large datasets where common CNVs must be estimated by comparing the frequency of CNVs in the individual samples. Here we describe a simple and novel approach to locate genome-wide CNVs common to a specific population, using human ancestry as the phenotype.
We utilized our previously published Genome Alteration Detection Analysis (GADA) algorithm to identify common ancestry CNVs (caCNVs) and built a caCNV model to predict population structure. We identified a 73 caCNV signature using a training set of 225 healthy individuals from European, Asian, and African ancestry. The signature was validated on an independent test set of 300 individuals with similar ancestral background. The error rate in predicting ancestry in this test set was 2% using the 73 caCNV signature. Among the caCNVs identified, several were previously confirmed experimentally to vary by ancestry. Our signature also contains a caCNV region with a single microRNA (MIR270), which represents the first reported variation of microRNA by ancestry.
We developed a new methodology to identify common CNVs and demonstrated its performance by building a caCNV signature to predict human ancestry with high accuracy. The utility of our approach could be extended to large case–control studies to identify CNV signatures for other phenotypes such as disease susceptibility and drug response.
PMCID: PMC3598683  PMID: 23270563
11.  CoNVEX: copy number variation estimation in exome sequencing data using HMM 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 2):S2.
One of the main types of genetic variations in cancer is Copy Number Variations (CNV). Whole exome sequenicng (WES) is a popular alternative to whole genome sequencing (WGS) to study disease specific genomic variations. However, finding CNV in Cancer samples using WES data has not been fully explored.
We present a new method, called CoNVEX, to estimate copy number variation in whole exome sequencing data. It uses ratio of tumour and matched normal average read depths at each exonic region, to predict the copy gain or loss. The useful signal produced by WES data will be hindered by the intrinsic noise present in the data itself. This limits its capacity to be used as a highly reliable CNV detection source. Here, we propose a method that consists of discrete wavelet transform (DWT) to reduce noise. The identification of copy number gains/losses of each targeted region is performed by a Hidden Markov Model (HMM).
HMM is frequently used to identify CNV in data produced by various technologies including Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH) and WGS. Here, we propose an HMM to detect CNV in cancer exome data. We used modified data from 1000 Genomes project to evaluate the performance of the proposed method. Using these data we have shown that CoNVEX outperforms the existing methods significantly in terms of precision. Overall, CoNVEX achieved a sensitivity of more than 92% and a precision of more than 50%.
PMCID: PMC3549847  PMID: 23368785
CNV detection; Cancer Genome; Targeted resequencing; Whole exome sequencing; Hidden Markov Models; Discrete Wavelet Transform
12.  Copy number variations in East-Asian population and their evolutionary and functional implications 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;19(6):1001-1008.
Recent discovery of the copy number variation (CNV) in normal individuals has widened our understanding of genomic variation. However, most of the reported CNVs have been identified in Caucasians, which may not be directly applicable to people of different ethnicities. To profile CNV in East-Asian population, we screened CNVs in 3578 healthy, unrelated Korean individuals, using the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP array 5.0. We identified 144 207 CNVs using a pooled data set of 100 randomly chosen Korean females as a reference. The average number of CNVs per genome was 40.3, which is higher than that of CNVs previously reported using lower resolution platforms. The median size of CNVs was 18.9 kb (range 0.2–5406 kb). Copy number losses were 4.7 times more frequent than copy number gains. CNV regions (CNVRs) were defined by merging overlapping CNVs identified in two or more samples. In total, 4003 CNVRs were defined encompassing 241.9 Mb accounting for ∼8% of the human genome. A total of 2077 CNVRs (51.9%) were potentially novel. Known CNVRs were larger and more frequent than novel CNVRs. Sixteen percent of the CNVRs were observed in ≥1% of study subjects and 24% overlapped with the OMIM genes. A total of 476 (11.9%) CNVRs were associated with segmental duplications. CNVS/CNVRs identified in this study will be valuable resources for studying human genome diversity and its association with disease.
PMCID: PMC2830825  PMID: 20026555
13.  Efficient algorithms for tandem copy number variation reconstruction in repeat-rich regions 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(11):1513-1520.
Motivation: Structural variations and in particular copy number variations (CNVs) have dramatic effects of disease and traits. Technologies for identifying CNVs have been an active area of research for over 10 years. The current generation of high-throughput sequencing techniques presents new opportunities for identification of CNVs. Methods that utilize these technologies map sequencing reads to a reference genome and look for signatures which might indicate the presence of a CNV. These methods work well when CNVs lie within unique genomic regions. However, the problem of CNV identification and reconstruction becomes much more challenging when CNVs are in repeat-rich regions, due to the multiple mapping positions of the reads.
Results: In this study, we propose an efficient algorithm to handle these multi-mapping reads such that the CNVs can be reconstructed with high accuracy even for repeat-rich regions. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to both identify and reconstruct CNVs in repeat-rich regions. Our experiments show that our method is not only computationally efficient but also accurate.
PMCID: PMC3102223  PMID: 21505028
14.  High resolution discovery and confirmation of copy number variants in 90 Yoruba Nigerians 
Genome Biology  2009;10(11):R125.
Most microRNAs have a stronger inhibitory effect in estrogen receptor-negative than in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.
Copy number variants (CNVs) account for a large proportion of genetic variation in the genome. The initial discoveries of long (> 100 kb) CNVs in normal healthy individuals were made on BAC arrays and low resolution oligonucleotide arrays. Subsequent studies that used higher resolution microarrays and SNP genotyping arrays detected the presence of large numbers of CNVs that are < 100 kb, with median lengths of approximately 10 kb. More recently, whole genome sequencing of individuals has revealed an abundance of shorter CNVs with lengths < 1 kb.
We used custom high density oligonucleotide arrays in whole-genome scans at approximately 200-bp resolution, and followed up with a localized CNV typing array at resolutions as close as 10 bp, to confirm regions from the initial genome scans, and to detect the occurrence of sample-level events at shorter CNV regions identified in recent whole-genome sequencing studies. We surveyed 90 Yoruba Nigerians from the HapMap Project, and uncovered approximately 2,700 potentially novel CNVs not previously reported in the literature having a median length of approximately 3 kb. We generated sample-level event calls in the 90 Yoruba at nearly 9,000 regions, including approximately 2,500 regions having a median length of just approximately 200 bp that represent the union of CNVs independently discovered through whole-genome sequencing of two individuals of Western European descent. Event frequencies were noticeably higher at shorter regions < 1 kb compared to longer CNVs (> 1 kb).
As new shorter CNVs are discovered through whole-genome sequencing, high resolution microarrays offer a cost-effective means to detect the occurrence of events at these regions in large numbers of individuals in order to gain biological insights beyond the initial discovery.
PMCID: PMC3091319  PMID: 19900272
15.  Effect of Combining Multiple CNV Defining Algorithms on the Reliability of CNV Calls from SNP Genotyping Data 
Genomics & Informatics  2012;10(3):194-199.
In addition to single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), copy number variation (CNV) is a major component of human genetic diversity. Among many whole-genome analysis platforms, SNP arrays have been commonly used for genomewide CNV discovery. Recently, a number of CNV defining algorithms from SNP genotyping data have been developed; however, due to the fundamental limitation of SNP genotyping data for the measurement of signal intensity, there are still concerns regarding the possibility of false discovery or low sensitivity for detecting CNVs. In this study, we aimed to verify the effect of combining multiple CNV calling algorithms and set up the most reliable pipeline for CNV calling with Affymetrix Genomewide SNP 5.0 data. For this purpose, we selected the 3 most commonly used algorithms for CNV segmentation from SNP genotyping data, PennCNV, QuantiSNP; and BirdSuite. After defining the CNV loci using the 3 different algorithms, we assessed how many of them overlapped with each other, and we also validated the CNVs by genomic quantitative PCR. Through this analysis, we proposed that for reliable CNV-based genomewide association study using SNP array data, CNV calls must be performed with at least 3 different algorithms and that the CNVs consistently called from more than 2 algorithms must be used for association analysis, because they are more reliable than the CNVs called from a single algorithm. Our result will be helpful to set up the CNV analysis protocols for Affymetrix Genomewide SNP 5.0 genotyping data.
PMCID: PMC3492655  PMID: 23166530
CNV defining algorithm; DNA copy number variations; SNP array
16.  Systematic Inference of Copy-Number Genotypes from Personal Genome Sequencing Data Reveals Extensive Olfactory Receptor Gene Content Diversity 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(11):e1000988.
Copy-number variations (CNVs) are widespread in the human genome, but comprehensive assignments of integer locus copy-numbers (i.e., copy-number genotypes) that, for example, enable discrimination of homozygous from heterozygous CNVs, have remained challenging. Here we present CopySeq, a novel computational approach with an underlying statistical framework that analyzes the depth-of-coverage of high-throughput DNA sequencing reads, and can incorporate paired-end and breakpoint junction analysis based CNV-analysis approaches, to infer locus copy-number genotypes. We benchmarked CopySeq by genotyping 500 chromosome 1 CNV regions in 150 personal genomes sequenced at low-coverage. The assessed copy-number genotypes were highly concordant with our performed qPCR experiments (Pearson correlation coefficient 0.94), and with the published results of two microarray platforms (95–99% concordance). We further demonstrated the utility of CopySeq for analyzing gene regions enriched for segmental duplications by comprehensively inferring copy-number genotypes in the CNV-enriched >800 olfactory receptor (OR) human gene and pseudogene loci. CopySeq revealed that OR loci display an extensive range of locus copy-numbers across individuals, with zero to two copies in some OR loci, and two to nine copies in others. Among genetic variants affecting OR loci we identified deleterious variants including CNVs and SNPs affecting ∼15% and ∼20% of the human OR gene repertoire, respectively, implying that genetic variants with a possible impact on smell perception are widespread. Finally, we found that for several OR loci the reference genome appears to represent a minor-frequency variant, implying a necessary revision of the OR repertoire for future functional studies. CopySeq can ascertain genomic structural variation in specific gene families as well as at a genome-wide scale, where it may enable the quantitative evaluation of CNVs in genome-wide association studies involving high-throughput sequencing.
Author Summary
Human individual genome sequencing has recently become affordable, enabling highly detailed genetic sequence comparisons. While the identification and genotyping of single-nucleotide polymorphisms has already been successfully established for different sequencing platforms, the detection, quantification and genotyping of large-scale copy-number variants (CNVs), i.e., losses or gains of long genomic segments, has remained challenging. We present a computational approach that enables detecting CNVs in sequencing data and accurately identifies the actual copy-number at which DNA segments of interest occur in an individual genome. This approach enabled us to obtain novel insights into the largest human gene family – the olfactory receptors (ORs) – involved in smell perception. While previous studies reported an abundance of CNVs in ORs, our approach enabled us to globally identify absolute differences in OR gene counts that exist between humans. While several OR genes have very high gene counts, other ORs are found only once or are missing entirely in some individuals. The latter have a particularly high probability of influencing individual differences in the perception of smell, a question that future experimental efforts can now address. Furthermore, we observed differences in OR gene counts between populations, pointing at ORs that might contribute to population-specific differences in smell.
PMCID: PMC2978733  PMID: 21085617
17.  Copy number variation detection using next generation sequencing read counts 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15:109.
A copy number variation (CNV) is a difference between genotypes in the number of copies of a genomic region. Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies provide sensitive and accurate tools for detecting genomic variations that include CNVs. However, statistical approaches for CNV identification using NGS are limited. We propose a new methodology for detecting CNVs using NGS data. This method (henceforth denoted by m-HMM) is based on a hidden Markov model with emission probabilities that are governed by mixture distributions. We use the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm to estimate the parameters in the model.
A simulation study demonstrates that our proposed m-HMM approach has greater power for detecting copy number gains and losses relative to existing methods. Furthermore, application of our m-HMM to DNA sequencing data from the two maize inbred lines B73 and Mo17 to identify CNVs that may play a role in creating phenotypic differences between these inbred lines provides results concordant with previous array-based efforts to identify CNVs.
The new m-HMM method is a powerful and practical approach for identifying CNVs from NGS data.
PMCID: PMC4021345  PMID: 24731174
Count data; Gamma-Poisson mixture; Hidden Markov model; Plant genomics; Poisson mixture model
18.  Global variation in copy number in the human genome 
Nature  2006;444(7118):444-454.
Copy number variation (CNV) of DNA sequences is functionally significant but has yet to be fully ascertained. We have constructed a first-generation CNV map of the human genome through the study of 270 individuals from four populations with ancestry in Europe, Africa or Asia (the HapMap collection). DNA from these individuals was screened for CNV using two complementary technologies: single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping arrays, and clone-based comparative genomic hybridization. 1,447 copy number variable regions covering 360 megabases (12% of the genome) were identified in these populations; these CNV regions contained hundreds of genes, disease loci, functional elements and segmental duplications. Strikingly, these CNVs encompassed more nucleotide content per genome than SNPs, underscoring the importance of CNV in genetic diversity and evolution. The data obtained delineate linkage disequilibrium patterns for many CNVs, and reveal dramatic variation in copy number among populations. We also demonstrate the utility of this resource for genetic disease studies.
PMCID: PMC2669898  PMID: 17122850
19.  Detecting common copy number variants in high-throughput sequencing data by using JointSLM algorithm 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(10):e65.
The discovery of genomic structural variants (SVs), such as copy number variants (CNVs), is essential to understand genetic variation of human populations and complex diseases. Over recent years, the advent of new high-throughput sequencing (HTS) platforms has opened many opportunities for SVs discovery, and a very promising approach consists in measuring the depth of coverage (DOC) of reads aligned to the human reference genome. At present, few computational methods have been developed for the analysis of DOC data and all of these methods allow to analyse only one sample at time. For these reasons, we developed a novel algorithm (JointSLM) that allows to detect common CNVs among individuals by analysing DOC data from multiple samples simultaneously. We test JointSLM performance on synthetic and real data and we show its unprecedented resolution that enables the detection of recurrent CNV regions as small as 500 bp in size. When we apply JointSLM to analyse chromosome one of eight genomes with different ancestry, we identify 3000 regions with recurrent CNVs of different frequency and size: hierarchical clustering on these regions segregates the eight individuals in two groups that reflect their ancestry, demonstrating the potential utility of JointSLM for population genetics studies.
PMCID: PMC3105418  PMID: 21321017
20.  Accurate Distinction of Pathogenic from Benign CNVs in Mental Retardation 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(4):e1000752.
Copy number variants (CNVs) have recently been recognized as a common form of genomic variation in humans. Hundreds of CNVs can be detected in any individual genome using genomic microarrays or whole genome sequencing technology, but their phenotypic consequences are still poorly understood. Rare CNVs have been reported as a frequent cause of neurological disorders such as mental retardation (MR), schizophrenia and autism, prompting widespread implementation of CNV screening in diagnostics. In previous studies we have shown that, in contrast to benign CNVs, MR-associated CNVs are significantly enriched in genes whose mouse orthologues, when disrupted, result in a nervous system phenotype. In this study we developed and validated a novel computational method for differentiating between benign and MR-associated CNVs using structural and functional genomic features to annotate each CNV. In total 13 genomic features were included in the final version of a Naïve Bayesian Tree classifier, with LINE density and mouse knock-out phenotypes contributing most to the classifier's accuracy. After demonstrating that our method (called GECCO) perfectly classifies CNVs causing known MR-associated syndromes, we show that it achieves high accuracy (94%) and negative predictive value (99%) on a blinded test set of more than 1,200 CNVs from a large cohort of individuals with MR. These results indicate that this classification method will be of value for objectively prioritizing CNVs in clinical research and diagnostics.
Author Summary
Rare copy number variants (CNVs) are a frequent cause of neurological disorders such as mental retardation (MR). However CNVs are also commonly identified in healthy individuals. It is therefore crucial for both diagnostic and research applications to be able to distinguish between disease-causing CNVs and “benign” CNVs occurring as normal genomic variation. Separating these two types can take advantage of significant differences in their genomic contents. For example, benign CNVs are enriched in repetitive sequences. By contrast, CNVs associated with MR tend to have high densities of functional elements, including genes whose mouse orthologues, when knocked-out, lead to specific nervous system abnormalities. We have developed a novel objective approach that is effective in distinguishing MR-associated CNVs from benign CNVs based on the presence of 13 genomic attributes. This method is able to achieve high accuracies in a cohort of CNVs known to cause MR and in a cohort of individuals with unexplained MR. The development of this technique promises to substantially improve the methodology for determining the pathogenicity of CNVs.
PMCID: PMC2858682  PMID: 20421931
21.  Impact of constitutional copy number variants on biological pathway evolution 
Inherited Copy Number Variants (CNVs) can modulate the expression levels of individual genes. However, little is known about how CNVs alter biological pathways and how this varies across different populations. To trace potential evolutionary changes of well-described biological pathways, we jointly queried the genomes and the transcriptomes of a collection of individuals with Caucasian, Asian or Yoruban descent combining high-resolution array and sequencing data.
We implemented an enrichment analysis of pathways accounting for CNVs and genes sizes and detected significant enrichment not only in signal transduction and extracellular biological processes, but also in metabolism pathways. Upon the estimation of CNV population differentiation (CNVs with different polymorphism frequencies across populations), we evaluated that 22% of the pathways contain at least one gene that is proximal to a CNV (CNV-gene pair) that shows significant population differentiation. The majority of these CNV-gene pairs belong to signal transduction pathways and 6% of the CNV-gene pairs show statistical association between the copy number states and the transcript levels.
The analysis suggested possible examples of positive selection within individual populations including NF-kB, MAPK signaling pathways, and Alu/L1 retrotransposition factors. Altogether, our results suggest that constitutional CNVs may modulate subtle pathway changes through specific pathway enzymes, which may become fixed in some populations.
PMCID: PMC3563492  PMID: 23342974
CNVs; Pathways; Pathway evolution; Population genetics; eQTL
22.  PSCC: Sensitive and Reliable Population-Scale Copy Number Variation Detection Method Based on Low Coverage Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85096.
Copy number variations (CNVs) represent an important type of genetic variation that deeply impact phenotypic polymorphisms and human diseases. The advent of high-throughput sequencing technologies provides an opportunity to revolutionize the discovery of CNVs and to explore their relationship with diseases. However, most of the existing methods depend on sequencing depth and show instability with low sequence coverage. In this study, using low coverage whole-genome sequencing (LCS) we have developed an effective population-scale CNV calling (PSCC) method.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In our novel method, two-step correction was used to remove biases caused by local GC content and complex genomic characteristics. We chose a binary segmentation method to locate CNV segments and designed combined statistics tests to ensure the stable performance of the false positive control. The simulation data showed that our PSCC method could achieve 99.7%/100% and 98.6%/100% sensitivity and specificity for over 300 kb CNV calling in the condition of LCS (∼2×) and ultra LCS (∼0.2×), respectively. Finally, we applied this novel method to analyze 34 clinical samples with an average of 2× LCS. In the final results, all the 31 pathogenic CNVs identified by aCGH were successfully detected. In addition, the performance comparison revealed that our method had significant advantages over existing methods using ultra LCS.
Our study showed that PSCC can sensitively and reliably detect CNVs using low coverage or even ultra-low coverage data through population-scale sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3897425  PMID: 24465483
23.  A sequential Monte Carlo framework for haplotype inference in CNV/SNP genotype data 
Copy number variations (CNVs) are abundant in the human genome. They have been associated with complex traits in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and expected to continue playing an important role in identifying the etiology of disease phenotypes. As a result of current high throughput whole-genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, we currently have datasets that simultaneously have integer copy numbers in CNV regions as well as SNP genotypes. At the same time, haplotypes that have been shown to offer advantages over genotypes in identifying disease traits even though available for SNP genotypes are largely not available for CNV/SNP data due to insufficient computational tools. We introduce a new framework for inferring haplotypes in CNV/SNP data using a sequential Monte Carlo sampling scheme ‘Tree-Based Deterministic Sampling CNV’ (TDSCNV). We compare our method with polyHap(v2.0), the only currently available software able to perform inference in CNV/SNP genotypes, on datasets of varying number of markers. We have found that both algorithms show similar accuracy but TDSCNV is an order of magnitude faster while scaling linearly with the number of markers and number of individuals and thus could be the method of choice for haplotype inference in such datasets. Our method is implemented in the TDSCNV package which is available for download at
PMCID: PMC4017783  PMID: 24868199
24.  A novel signal processing approach for the detection of copy number variations in the human genome 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(17):2338-2345.
Motivation: Human genomic variability occurs at different scales, from single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to large DNA segments. Copy number variations (CNVs) represent a significant part of our genetic heterogeneity and have also been associated with many diseases and disorders. Short, localized CNVs, which may play an important role in human disease, may be undetectable in noisy genomic data. Therefore, robust methodologies are needed for their detection. Furthermore, for meaningful identification of pathological CNVs, estimation of normal allelic aberrations is necessary.
Results: We developed a signal processing-based methodology for sequence denoising followed by pattern matching, to increase SNR in genomic data and improve CNV detection. We applied this signal-decomposition-matched filtering (SDMF) methodology to 429 normal genomic sequences, and compared detected CNVs to those in the Database of Genomic Variants. SDMF successfully detected a significant number of previously identified CNVs with frequencies of occurrence ≥10%, as well as unreported short CNVs. Its performance was also compared to circular binary segmentation (CBS). through simulations. SDMF had a significantly lower false detection rate and was significantly faster than CBS, an important advantage for handling large datasets generated with high-resolution arrays. By focusing on improving SNR (instead of the robustness of the detection algorithm), SDMF is a very promising methodology for identifying CNVs at all genomic spatial scales.
Availability: The data are available at The software and list of analyzed sequence IDs are available at A Matlab code for Empirical Mode Decomposition may be found at:
PMCID: PMC3157926  PMID: 21752800
25.  A robust model for read count data in exome sequencing experiments and implications for copy number variant calling 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(21):2747-2754.
Motivation: Exome sequencing has proven to be an effective tool to discover the genetic basis of Mendelian disorders. It is well established that copy number variants (CNVs) contribute to the etiology of these disorders. However, calling CNVs from exome sequence data is challenging. A typical read depth strategy consists of using another sample (or a combination of samples) as a reference to control for the variability at the capture and sequencing steps. However, technical variability between samples complicates the analysis and can create spurious CNV calls.
Results: Here, we introduce ExomeDepth, a new CNV calling algorithm designed to control for this technical variability. ExomeDepth uses a robust model for the read count data and uses this model to build an optimized reference set in order to maximize the power to detect CNVs. As a result, ExomeDepth is effective across a wider range of exome datasets than the previously existing tools, even for small (e.g. one to two exons) and heterozygous deletions. We used this new approach to analyse exome data from 24 patients with primary immunodeficiencies. Depending on data quality and the exact target region, we find between 170 and 250 exonic CNV calls per sample. Our analysis identified two novel causative deletions in the genes GATA2 and DOCK8.
Availability: The code used in this analysis has been implemented into an R package called ExomeDepth and is available at the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN).
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3476336  PMID: 22942019

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