RNA-Skim: a rapid method for RNA-Seq quantification at transcript level. Results: We propose a novel RNA-Seq quantification method, RNA-Skim, which partitions the transcriptome into disjoint transcript clusters based on sequence similarity, and introduces the notion of sig-mers, which are a special type of k-mers uniquely associated with each cluster. We demonstrate that the sig-mer counts within a cluster are sufficient for estimating transcript abundances with accuracy comparable with any state-of-the-art method. This enables RNA-Skim to perform transcript quantification on each cluster independently, reducing a complex optimization problem into smaller optimization tasks that can be run in parallel. As a result, RNA-Skim uses <4% of the k-mers and <10% of the CPU time required by Sailfish. It is able to finish transcriptome quantification in <10 min per sample by using just a single thread on a commodity computer, which represents >100 speedup over the state-of-the-art alignment-based methods, while delivering comparable or higher accuracy. Availability and implementation: The software is available at http://www.csbio.unc.edu/rs.

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  1. Pellegrina, Leonardo; Pizzi, Cinzia; Vandin, Fabio: Fast approximation of frequent (k)-mers and applications to metagenomics (2019)