CNAViz: An interactive webtool for user-guided segmentation of tumor DNA sequencing data

Zubair Lalani, Gillian Chu, Silas Hsu, Shaw Kagawa, Michael Xiang, Simone Zaccaria, Mohammed El-Kebir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Copy-number aberrations (CNAs) are genetic alterations that amplify or delete the number of copies of large genomic segments. Although they are ubiquitous in cancer and, thus, a critical area of current cancer research, CNA identification from DNA sequencing data is challenging because it requires partitioning of the genome into complex segments with the same copy-number states that may not be contiguous. Existing segmentation algorithms address these challenges either by leveraging the local information among neighboring genomic regions, or by globally grouping genomic regions that are affected by similar CNAs across the entire genome. However, both approaches have limitations: overclustering in the case of local segmentation, or the omission of clusters corresponding to focal CNAs in the case of global segmentation. Importantly, inaccurate segmentation will lead to inaccurate identification of CNAs. For this reason, most pan-cancer research studies rely on manual procedures of quality control and anomaly correction. To improve copy-number segmentation, we introduce CNAVIZ, a web-based tool that enables the user to simultaneously perform local and global segmentation, thus overcoming the limitations of each approach. Using simulated data, we demonstrate that by several metrics, CNAVIZ allows the user to obtain more accurate segmentation relative to existing local and global segmentation methods. Moreover, we analyze six bulk DNA sequencing samples from three breast cancer patients. By validating with parallel single-cell DNA sequencing data from the same samples, we show that by using CNAVIZ, our user was able to obtain more accurate segmentation and improved accuracy in downstream copy-number calling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1010614
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation


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