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mixcr assembleContigs

Assembles longest possible TCR/Ig receptor contig sequences.

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This step may be used in the following cases:

  • for non-enriched RNA-Seq (shotgun) data in order to reconstruct the longest possible VDJ contigs
  • for single cell fragmented libraries (like 10x Genomics) to assemble full V-D-J consensus sequences in each cell
  • for poor quality targeted amplicon data with no UMI barcodes and with a high rates of sequencing and PCR errors in order to build full-length (or as long as possible) V-D-J contigs using consensus algorithms

In the first two cases the data is fragmented, reads do not have a fixed position on the reference, so it's not possible to specify a fixed assemblingFeature. MiXCR uses alignment-guided assembly algorithms to build the full-length consensus V-D-J sequence.

For single cell data MiXCR utilizes all alignments with the corresponding cell barcodes, even if they do not cover CDR3 region:

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In the last case of poor quality targeted libraries, though the exact assembling feature may be known in advance, high mutation rate may lead to the situation when there aren't any true (error-free) full-length V-D-J sequences in the data. Error correction algorithms used in clonotype assembly will not have any "anchor" sequence to determine the original clone. In this case we might benefit from assembling clonotypes by CDR3 region at first and then use a consensus algorithm to determine true clones and distinguish errors from hypermutations.

The algorithm iterates through alignments that were used to build a particular clonotype, and aggregates information per each position in V-D-J reference. It takes into account cell barcodes (if present) to assembly full-length contigs inside cells. It also takes care of hypermutations and splits clonotypes into hypermutated variants (see -OsubCloningRegion option).

Note that since assembleContigs uses original alignments, it takes .clna (clones & alignments) file as input, produced by assemble command with option --write-alignments.

Command line options

mixcr assembleContigs 
    [--assemble-contigs-by <gene_features>] 
    [-O <key=value>]... 
    [--report <path>] 
    [--json-report <path>] 
    [--threads <n>] 
    clones.clna clones.clns

The command returns a highly-compressed, memory- and CPU-efficient binary .clns file that holds exhaustive information on consensus clonotype contigs. Clonotype table may be further extracted in a human-readable form using exportClonesPretty or in a tabular form using exportClones. It is also possible to impute uncovered V-D-J contig parts from germline (marking such nucleotides lowercase). Additionally, MiXCR produces a comprehensive report.

Basic command line options are:

Path to input clna file
Path where to write assembled clones.
Ignore tags (UMIs, cell-barcodes). Default value determined by the preset.
--assemble-contigs-by <gene_features>
Selects the region of interest for the action. Clones will be separated if inconsistent nucleotides will be detected in the region, assembling procedure will be limited to the region, and only clonotypes that fully cover the region will be outputted, others will be filtered out.
-O <key=value>
Overrides for the assembler parameters.
-r, --report <path>
Report file (human readable version, see -j / --json-report for machine readable report).
-j, --json-report <path>
JSON formatted report file.
-t, --threads <n>
Processing threads
-f, --force-overwrite
Force overwrite of output file(s).
-nw, --no-warnings
Suppress all warning messages.
Verbose messages.
-h, --help
Show this help message and exit.


Here is the typical workflow for full receptor assembly of e.g. mouse B-cells.

Align raw sequences using kAligner2 specifically designed to work with highly mutated data:

> mixcr align \
    --species mmu \
    -p kAligner2 \
    --report report.txt \
    input_R1.fq \
    input_R2.fq \

Assemble default CDR3 clonotypes (note: --write-alignments is required for further contig assembly):

> mixcr assemble \
    -OassemblingFeatures=CDR3 \
    --write-alignments \
    --report report.txt \
    alignments.vdjca \

Assembly full BCR receptor consensus sequences and clonotype into hypermutated variants:

> mixcr assembleContigs \
    --report report.txt \
    -OsubCloningRegion=VDJRegion \
    clones.clna \

Export full BCR receptors sequences and impute uncovered regions from germline (marked lowercase):

mixcr exportClones \
    --chains IG \
    --preset fullImputed \
    contigs.clns \

Full sequence assembler parameters

Full sequence assembler parameters that may be tuned:

Region where clonotype variants are allowed (typically that are hypermutated variants); null stands for no variants allowed (one consensus per one clone)
Minimal contiguous sequence length
Assemble only parts of sequences covered by alignments
Minimal quality fraction (variant may be marked significant if variantQuality > totalSumQuality * branchingMinimalQualityShare
Minimal variant quality threshold (variant may be marked significant if variantQuality > branchingMinimalSumQuality
Variant quality that guaranties that variant will be marked significant (even if other criteria are not satisfied)
Positions having quality share less then this value, will not be represented in the output
Positions having sum quality less then this value, will not be represented in the output
Maximal number of not aligned nucleotides at the edge of sequence so that sequence is still considered aligned “to the end”
Number of nucleotides at the edges of alignments (with almost fully aligned seq2) that are “not trusted”
Minimal fraction of non-edge points in variant that must be reached to consider the variant significant
Gene feature limiting the set of positions where sufficient number of different nucleotides may split input into several clonotypes. If position is not covered by the region, and significant disagreement between nucleotides is observed, algorithm will produce "N" letter in the corresponding contig position to indicate the ambiguity. Null - means no subcloning region, and guarantees one to one input to output clonotype correspondence. Default - null
Limits the region of the sequence to assemble during the procedure, no nucleotides will be assembled outside it. Null will result in assembly of the longest possible contig sequence. Default - null
Used only if assemblingRegions is not null. Sets filtering criteria to apply before outputting the resulting clonotypes. NoFiltering - don't filter output clonotypes. OnlyFullyAssembled - only clonotypes completely covering assemblingRegions will be retained. OnlyFullyDefined - only clonotypes completely covering assemblingRegions and having no "N" letters will be retained. Default - NoFiltering
Discard ambiguous calls (no use of 'N's).