Conservation Track Settings
 
6 Species Multiz Alignment & Conservation   (All Comparative Genomics tracks)

Display mode:   

Species selection:  + -

tetraodon
stickleback
x. tropicalis
mouse
human

Multiple alignment base-level:
Display bases identical to reference as dots
Display chains between alignments

Codon Translation:
Default species to establish reading frame:
No codon translation
Use default species reading frames for translation
Use reading frames for species if available, otherwise no translation
Use reading frames for species if available, otherwise use default species

Conservation graph:  

Type of graph:
Track height: pixels (range: 11 to 100)
Data view scaling: Always include zero: 
Vertical viewing range: min:  max:   (range: 0 to 1)
Transform function:Transform data points by: 
Windowing function: Smoothing window:  pixels
Negate values:
Draw y indicator lines:at y = 0.0:    at y =
Graph configuration help
View table schema
Data last updated: 2010-02-09

Description

This track shows multiple alignments of 6 vertebrates, including mammalian, amphibian, and fish species, and measurements of evolutionary conservation using phastCons from the PHAST package. The multiple alignments were generated using multiz and other tools in the UCSC/Penn State Bioinformatics comparative genomics alignment pipeline.

PhastCons (which has been used in previous Conservation tracks) is a hidden Markov model-based method that estimates the probability that each nucleotide belongs to a conserved element, based on the multiple alignment. It considers not just each individual alignment column, but also its flanking columns. PhastCons treats alignment gaps and unaligned nucleotides as missing data. The resulting phastCons scores represent probabilities of negative selection and range between 0 and 1.

The species aligned for this track include the mammal, amphibian, and fish clades.

OrganismSpeciesRelease dateUCSC versionalignment type
ZebrafishDanio rerio Dec. 2008danRer6reference species
TetraodonTetraodon nigroviridis Mar. 2007tetNig2MAF Net
SticklebackGasterosteus aculeatus Feb. 2006gasAcu1MAF Net
X. tropicalisXenopus tropicalis Aug. 2005xenTro2MAF Net
MouseMus musculus July 2007mm9Syntenic Net
HumanHomo sapiens Feb. 2009 hg19/GRCh37Syntenic Net

Table 1. Genome assemblies included in the 6-way Conservation track.

Downloads for data in this track are available:

Display Conventions and Configuration

The track configuration options allow the user to display the conservation scores. In full and pack display modes, conservation scores are displayed as a wiggle track (histogram) in which the height reflects the size of the score. The conservation wiggles can be configured in a variety of ways to highlight different aspects of the displayed information. Click the Graph configuration help link for an explanation of the configuration options.

Pairwise alignments of each species to the zebrafish genome are displayed below the conservation histogram as a grayscale density plot (in pack mode) or as a wiggle (in full mode) that indicates alignment quality. In dense display mode, conservation is shown in grayscale using darker values to indicate higher levels of overall conservation as scored by phastCons.

Checkboxes on the track configuration page allow selection of the species to include in the pairwise display. By default, all 6 species are included in the pairwise display: zebrafish, tetrodon, stickleback, X. tropicalis, mouse, human. Note that excluding species from the pairwise display does not alter the the conservation score display.

To view detailed information about the alignments at a specific position, zoom the display in to 30,000 or fewer bases, then click on the alignment.

Gap Annotation

The Display chains between alignments configuration option enables display of gaps between alignment blocks in the pairwise alignments in a manner similar to the Chain track display. The following conventions are used:

  • Single line: No bases in the aligned species. Possibly due to a lineage-specific insertion between the aligned blocks in the zebrafish genome or a lineage-specific deletion between the aligned blocks in the aligning picalis species.
  • Double line: Aligning species has one or more unalignable bases in the gap region. Possibly due to excessive evolutionary distance between species or independent indels in the region between the aligned blocks in both species.
  • Pale yellow coloring: Aligning species has Ns in the gap region. Reflects uncertainty in the relationship between the DNA of both species, due to lack of sequence in relevant portions of the aligning species.

Genomic Breaks

Discontinuities in the genomic context (chromosome, scaffold or region) of the aligned DNA in the aligning species are shown as follows:

  • Vertical blue bar: Represents a discontinuity that persists indefinitely on either side, e.g. a large region of DNA on either side of the bar comes from a different chromosome in the aligned species due to a large scale rearrangement.
  • Green square brackets: Enclose shorter alignments consisting of DNA from one genomic context in the aligned species nested inside a larger chain of alignments from a different genomic context. The alignment within the brackets may represent a short misalignment, a lineage-specific insertion of a transposon in the zebrafish genome that aligns to a paralogous copy somewhere else in the aligned species, or other similar occurrence.

Base Level

When zoomed-in to the base-level display, the track shows the base composition of each alignment. The numbers and symbols on the Gaps line indicate the lengths of gaps in the zebrafish sequence at those alignment positions relative to the longest non-zebrafish sequence. If there is sufficient space in the display, the size of the gap is shown. If the space is insufficient and the gap size is a multiple of 3, a "*" is displayed; other gap sizes are indicated by "+".

Codon translation is available in base-level display mode if the displayed region is identified as a coding segment. To display this annotation, select the species for translation from the pull-down menu in the Codon Translation configuration section at the top of the page. Then, select one of the following modes:

  • No codon translation: The gene annotation is not used; the bases are displayed without translation.
  • Use default species reading frames for translation: The annotations from the genome displayed in the Default species to establish reading frame pull-down menu are used to translate all the aligned species present in the alignment.
  • Use reading frames for species if available, otherwise no translation: Codon translation is performed only for those species where the region is annotated as protein coding.
  • Use reading frames for species if available, otherwise use default species: Codon translation is done on those species that are annotated as being protein coding over the aligned region using species-specific annotation; the remaining species are translated using the default species annotation.

Codon translation uses the following gene tracks as the basis for translation, depending on the species chosen (Table 2).

Gene TrackSpecies
RefSeqzebrafish, frog
Ensembl Genes v55 stickleback, tetraodon
Known Geneshuman, mouse

Table 2. Gene tracks used for codon translation.

Methods

Pairwise alignments with the zebrafish genome were generated for each species using lastz from repeat-masked genomic sequence. Lineage-specific repeats were removed prior to alignment, then reinserted. Pairwise alignments were then linked into chains using a dynamic programming algorithm that finds maximally scoring chains of gapless subsections of the alignments organized in a kd-tree. The scoring matrix and parameters for pairwise alignment and chaining were tuned for each species based on phylogenetic distance from the reference. High-scoring chains were then placed along the genome, with gaps filled by lower-scoring chains, to produce an alignment net. For more information about the chaining and netting process and parameters for each species, see the description pages for the Chain and Net tracks.

An additional filtering step was introduced in the generation of the 6-way conservation track to reduce the number of paralogs and pseudogenes from the high-quality assemblies and the suspect alignments from the low-quality assemblies: the pairwise alignments of high-quality mammalian sequences were filtered based on synteny.

The resulting best-in-genome pairwise alignments were progressively aligned using multiz/autoMZ, following the tree topology diagrammed above, to produce multiple alignments. The multiple alignments were post-processed to add annotations indicating alignment gaps, genomic breaks, and base quality of the component sequences. The annotated multiple alignments, in MAF format, are available for bulk download. An alignment summary table containing an entry for each alignment block in each species was generated to improve track display performance at large scales. Framing tables were constructed to enable visualization of codons in the multiple alignment display.

Phylogenetic Tree Model

PhastCons is a phylogenetic method that relies on a tree model containing the tree topology, branch lengths representing evolutionary distance at neutrally evolving sites, the background distribution of nucleotides, and a substitution rate matrix. The tree model for this track was generated using the phyloFit program from the PHAST package (REV model, EM algorithm, medium precision) using multiple alignments of 4-fold degenerate sites extracted from the 6-way alignment (msa_view). The 4d sites were derived from the RefSeq gene set, filtered to select single-coverage long transcripts.

PhastCons Conservation

The phastCons program computes conservation scores based on a phylo-HMM, a type of probabilistic model that describes both the process of DNA substitution at each site in a genome and the way this process changes from one site to the next (Felsenstein and Churchill 1996, Yang 1995, Siepel and Haussler 2005). PhastCons uses a two-state phylo-HMM, with a state for conserved regions and a state for non-conserved regions. The value plotted at each site is the posterior probability that the corresponding alignment column was "generated" by the conserved state of the phylo-HMM. These scores reflect the phylogeny (including branch lengths) of the species in question, a continuous-time Markov model of the nucleotide substitution process, and a tendency for conservation levels to be autocorrelated along the genome (i.e., to be similar at adjacent sites). The general reversible (REV) substitution model was used. Unlike many conservation-scoring programs, phastCons does not rely on a sliding window of fixed size; therefore, short highly-conserved regions and long moderately conserved regions can both obtain high scores. More information about phastCons can be found in Siepel et al. 2005.

The phastCons parameters were tuned to produce 5% conserved elements in the genome for the conservation measurement. This parameter set (expected-length=45, target-coverage=0.3, rho=0.3) was then used to generate the conservation scoring.

Credits

This track was created using the following programs:

  • Alignment tools: lastz (formerly blastz) and multiz by Minmei Hou, Scott Schwartz and Webb Miller of the Penn State Bioinformatics Group
  • Chaining and Netting: axtChain, chainNet by Jim Kent at UCSC
  • Conservation scoring: phastCons, phyloFit, tree_doctor, msa_view and other programs in PHAST by Adam Siepel at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (original development done at the Haussler lab at UCSC).
  • MAF Annotation tools: mafAddIRows by Brian Raney, UCSC; mafAddQRows by Richard Burhans, Penn State; genePredToMafFrames by Mark Diekhans, UCSC
  • Tree image generator: phyloPng by Galt Barber, UCSC
  • Conservation track display: Kate Rosenbloom, Hiram Clawson (wiggle display), and Brian Raney (gap annotation and codon framing) at UCSC

The phylogenetic tree is based on Murphy et al. (2001) and general consensus in the vertebrate phylogeny community as of March 2007.

References

Phylo-HMMs and phastCons:

Felsenstein J, Churchill GA. A Hidden Markov Model approach to variation among sites in rate of evolution. Mol Biol Evol. 1996 Jan;13(1):93-104. PMID: 8583911

Siepel A, Bejerano G, Pedersen JS, Hinrichs AS, Hou M, Rosenbloom K, Clawson H, Spieth J, Hillier LW, Richards S, et al. Evolutionarily conserved elements in vertebrate, insect, worm, and yeast genomes. Genome Res. 2005 Aug;15(8):1034-50. PMID: 16024819; PMC: PMC1182216

Siepel A, Haussler D. Phylogenetic Hidden Markov Models. In: Nielsen R, editor. Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution. New York: Springer; 2005. pp. 325-351.

Yang Z. A space-time process model for the evolution of DNA sequences. Genetics. 1995 Feb;139(2):993-1005. PMID: 7713447; PMC: PMC1206396

Chain/Net:

Kent WJ, Baertsch R, Hinrichs A, Miller W, Haussler D. Evolution's cauldron: duplication, deletion, and rearrangement in the mouse and human genomes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 30;100(20):11484-9. PMID: 14500911; PMC: PMC208784

Multiz:

Blanchette M, Kent WJ, Riemer C, Elnitski L, Smit AF, Roskin KM, Baertsch R, Rosenbloom K, Clawson H, Green ED, et al. Aligning multiple genomic sequences with the threaded blockset aligner. Genome Res. 2004 Apr;14(4):708-15. PMID: 15060014; PMC: PMC383317

Lastz (formerly Blastz):

Chiaromonte F, Yap VB, Miller W. Scoring pairwise genomic sequence alignments. Pac Symp Biocomput. 2002;:115-26. PMID: 11928468

Harris RS. Improved pairwise alignment of genomic DNA. Ph.D. Thesis. Pennsylvania State University, USA. 2007.

Schwartz S, Kent WJ, Smit A, Zhang Z, Baertsch R, Hardison RC, Haussler D, Miller W. Human-mouse alignments with BLASTZ. Genome Res. 2003 Jan;13(1):103-7. PMID: 12529312; PMC: PMC430961

Phylogenetic Tree:

Murphy WJ, Eizirik E, O'Brien SJ, Madsen O, Scally M, Douady CJ, Teeling E, Ryder OA, Stanhope MJ, de Jong WW, Springer MS. Resolution of the early placental mammal radiation using Bayesian phylogenetics. Science. 2001 Dec 14;294(5550):2348-51. PMID: 11743200