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  • 4.1 - Segment Graph
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Similar to the concept of splicing graphs [Heber 2002], we employ a graph structure $G=(V,E)$ for representing the reference transcriptome that is quantified in a non-redundant data structure. Each edge $e=(tail,head,mode,T)$ represents a segment of an annotated pre-mRNA molecule by the genomic coordinate of the corresponding 3'-tail and 5'-head position, by the type (exonic or intronic), and by the set $T$ of supporting transcripts (Definition 1).

 Definition 1 (Segment Graph Properties): two adjacent edges $e \prec f$ in G are characterized by:

(i) they share the same intermediary splice site $s$ (adjacency)

$head_e = tail_f = s$

(ii) they describe the exon-intron structures of all transcripts spanning s (completeness)

$\forall i \in inedges(s), j \in outedges(s), \bigcup{T_i}=\bigcup{T_j}$

(iii) they either differ in mode or in supporting transcripts (discrimination)

$(mode_e \neq mode_f) \vee (T_e ≠ T_f)$

To ensure the properties of $G$ at the respective transcript edges, all transcription initiation sites are connected to an artificial source node, and all cleavage sites are connected to an artificial sink node [Sammeth 2008]. Once the segment graph $G$ has been constructed for a locus, the edge set E describes the backbone of exonic segments and introns from the 3'-most transcription start to the 5'-most cleavage site, with additional introns, source and sink links that allow to navigate alternative transcripts (Fig.1, panel A and B).

Figure 1: segment graph inferred on an alternatively spliced locus. (A) The exon-intron structure of a locus with two alternative transcripts. (B) Segment graph elements with links by exonic edges shown as solid arrows, links by intronic edges as dashed arrows, and source/sink links as dotted arroes. (C) Expansion of the segment graph by super-edges coalesced from adjacent exon segments or from splice junctions. (D) Super-edges formed by paired-end mappings within the bounds of the three windows marked, to keep (super-) edge combinations within graphical resolution bounds.



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