M2Align: parallel multiple sequence alignment with a multi-objective metaheuristic

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Abstract

Motivation:

Multiple sequence alignment (MSA) is an NP-complete optimization problem found in computational biology, where the time complexity of finding an optimal alignment raises exponentially along with the number of sequences and their lengths. Additionally, to assess the quality of a MSA, a number of objectives can be taken into account, such as maximizing the sum-of-pairs, maximizing the totally conserved columns, minimizing the number of gaps, or maximizing structural information based scores such as STRIKE. An approach to deal with MSA problems is to use multi-objective metaheuristics, which are non-exact stochastic optimization methods that can produce high quality solutions to complex problems having two or more objectives to be optimized at the same time. Our motivation is to provide a multi-objective metaheuristic for MSA that can run in parallel taking advantage of multi-core-based computers.

Results:

The software tool we propose, called M2Align (Multi-objective Multiple Sequence Alignment), is a parallel and more efficient version of the three-objective optimizer for sequence alignments MO-SAStrE, able of reducing the algorithm computing time by exploiting the computing capabilities of common multi-core CPU clusters. Our performance evaluation over datasets of the benchmark BAliBASE (v3.0) shows that significant time reductions can be achieved by using up to 20 cores. Even in sequential executions, M2Align is faster than MO-SAStrE, thanks to the encoding method used for the alignments.

Availability and implementation:

M2Align is an open source project hosted in GitHub, where the source code and sample datasets can be freely obtained: https://github.com/KhaosResearch/M2Align.

Contact:

antonio@lcc.uma.es

Supplementary information:

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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