Structural variations (SVs) are mutations of our genome of size at least fifty nucleotides. They contribute to the phenotypic differences among healthy individuals, cause severe diseases and even cancers by breaking or linking genes. Thus, it is crucial to systematically profile SVs in the genome. In the past decade, many next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based SV detection methods have been proposed due to the significant cost reduction of NGS experiments and their ability to unbiasedly detect SVs to the base-pair resolution. These SV detection methods vary in both sensitivity and specificity, since they use different SV-property-dependent and library-property-dependent features. As a result, predictions from different SV callers are often inconsistent. Besides, the noises in the data (both platform-specific sequencing error and artificial chimeric reads) impede the specificity of SV detection. Poorly characterized regions in the human genome (e.g., repeat regions) greatly impact the reads mapping and in turn affect the SV calling accuracy. Calling of complex SVs requires specialized SV callers. Apart from accuracy, processing speed of SV caller is another factor deciding its usability. Knowing the pros and cons of different SV calling techniques and the objectives of the biological study are essential for biologists and bioinformaticians to make informed decisions. This paper describes different components in the SV calling pipeline and reviews the techniques used by existing SV callers. Through simulation study, we also demonstrate that library properties, especially insert size, greatly impact the sensitivity of different SV callers. We hope the community can benefit from this work both in designing new SV calling methods and in selecting the appropriate SV caller for specific biological studies.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Inc.