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PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Jul 25;4(7):e1000113. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000113.

Decoding of superimposed traces produced by direct sequencing of heterozygous indels.

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Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois, USA.


Direct Sanger sequencing of a diploid template containing a heterozygous insertion or deletion results in a difficult-to-interpret mixed trace formed by two allelic traces superimposed onto each other. Existing computational methods for deconvolution of such traces require knowledge of a reference sequence or the availability of both direct and reverse mixed sequences of the same template. We describe a simple yet accurate method, which uses dynamic programming optimization to predict superimposed allelic sequences solely from a string of letters representing peaks within an individual mixed trace. We used the method to decode 104 human traces (mean length 294 bp) containing heterozygous indels 5 to 30 bp with a mean of 99.1% bases per allelic sequence reconstructed correctly and unambiguously. Simulations with artificial sequences have demonstrated that the method yields accurate reconstructions when (1) the allelic sequences forming the mixed trace are sufficiently similar, (2) the analyzed fragment is significantly longer than the indel, and (3) multiple indels, if present, are well-spaced. Because these conditions occur in most encountered DNA sequences, the method is widely applicable. It is available as a free Web application Indelligent at

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