The Transcriptome Analysis and Comparison Explorer--T-ACE: a platform-independent, graphical tool to process large RNAseq datasets of non-model organisms.

E E R Philipp, L Kraemer, D Mountfort, M Schilhabel, S Schreiber, P Rosenstiel
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Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies allow a rapid and cost-effective compilation of large RNA sequence datasets in model and non-model organisms. However, the storage and analysis of transcriptome information from different NGS platforms is still a significant bottleneck, leading to a delay in data dissemination and subsequent biological understanding. Especially database interfaces with transcriptome analysis modules going beyond mere read counts are missing. Here, we present the Transcriptome Analysis and Comparison Explorer (T-ACE), a tool designed for the organization and analysis of large sequence datasets, and especially suited for transcriptome projects of non-model organisms with little or no a priori sequence information. T-ACE offers a TCL-based interface, which accesses a PostgreSQL database via a php-script. Within T-ACE, information belonging to single sequences or contigs, such as annotation or read coverage, is linked to the respective sequence and immediately accessible. Sequences and assigned information can be searched via keyword- or BLAST-search. Additionally, T-ACE provides within and between transcriptome analysis modules on the level of expression, GO terms, KEGG pathways and protein domains. Results are visualized and can be easily exported for external analysis. We developed T-ACE for laboratory environments, which have only a limited amount of bioinformatics support, and for collaborative projects in which different partners work on the same dataset from different locations or platforms (Windows/Linux/MacOS). For laboratories with some experience in bioinformatics and programming, the low complexity of the database structure and open-source code provides a framework that can be customized according to the different needs of the user and transcriptome project.