How to merge samples of the same cell type to do differential peak calling?
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1
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6 weeks ago
Sashu ▴ 10

Hi! Now I have 6 ATAC-seq samples which have been aligned to hg19 and called peaks by MACS2. 3 of them are from A cells and the other are from B cells. Now I'm going to do differential peak calling by MACS2. Before it, I need to merge peaks from 3 samples of the same cell type. I use this command to call peaks.

macs2 callpeak -B -t sample_1.bam -n sample_1 --nomodel --extsize 120 --shift 60  \
--outdir sample_1 --keep-dup all

And then I get 5 output files.

sample_1_control_lambda.bdg
sample_1_peaks.narrowPeak
sample_1_peaks.xls
sample_1_summits.bed
sample_1_treat_pileup.bdg

But I'm confused how to merge them. Shall I use bedtools intersect to merge 3 control_lambda.bdg files and treat_pileup.bdg files of A cell respectively? I'm worried if it will influence the value in the fourth column of the bdg files.

Or shall I merge their bam files before peak calling?

ATAC-seq calling merge differential peak • 597 views
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6 weeks ago
ATpoint 57k

In my opinion "differential peak calling" does not exist with macs2 as it is not able to make proper use of experimental replication and as such is not suitable to derive differential calls. It is great at calling peaks because it has been developed for that, but not more than that. I would call peaks on the merged files:

macs2 callpeak -t *.bam (...)

There is no need to merge the bam files as t can read multiple bams and then combine the pipeup internally.

Then convert the narrowPeak file to SAF format:

Converting from BED to SAF/GFF

Then make a count matrix with featureCounts from the subread package:

featureCounts -a your.saf -F SAF -o out.counts *.bam

...and then feed this into something like DESeq2 or edgeR. Alternatively, look into the DiffBind or csaw packages which will instruct you on how to run a proper differential analysis.

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Thanks for your detailed description!

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Hi just read your comments, good to know that we actually don't need to merge the bam file prior to peak calling. I have one question, if I merged my three replicates for peak calling, then import the count to Deseq. Due to the lack of replicates Deseq won't give me any p-value. How should I interpret the results of the differential analysis? Thanks in advance.

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Without replicates there is no differential analysis I fear. There are several threads here discussion what to do in the absence of replicates.

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Thanks! I will look into it.

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6 weeks ago
Marco Pannone ▴ 110

My suggestion is to merge .bam files prior to peak calling, rather than merging peak calling output files. You can merge .bam files using samtools merge.

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Thanks for you reply!

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