Long-read transcriptome sequencing (LRTS) holds the promise to boost our understanding of alternative splicing. Considering the complexity of the data and the broad range of potential applications, it is clear that highly flexible, accurate analysis tools are crucial.
Long-read transcriptome sequencing (LRTS) holds the promise to boost our understanding of alternative splicing. Recent advances in accuracy and throughput have diminished the major limitations and enabled the direct quantification of isoforms. Considering the complexity of the data and the broad range of potential applications, it is clear that highly flexible, accurate analysis tools are crucial. Here, we present IsoTools, a comprehensive Python-based analysis package, for the improvement of alternative and differential splicing analysis. IsoTools provides a comprehensive data structure that integrates genomic information from LRTS transcripts together with the reference annotation, and enables broad functionality to quality control, visualize and analyze the data. Additionally, we implemented a graph-based method for the identification of alternative splicing events and a statistical approach based on the beta binomial distribution for the detection of differential events. To demonstrate our methods, we generated PacBio Iso-Seq data of human hepatocytes treated with the HDAC inhibitor valproic acid, a compound known to induce widespread transcriptional changes. Contrasted with short read RNA-Seq of the same samples, this analysis shows that LRTS provides valuable additional insights for a better understanding of alternative splicing, in particular with respect to complex novel and differential splicing events. IsoTools is made available for the community along with extensive documentation at https://github.com/MatthiasLienhard/isotools.