Pairwise Alignment with Rearrangements

Le Sy Vinh[1] (
Andrés Varón[1],[2] (
Ward C. Wheeler[1] (

[1]Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, USA
[2]Computer Science Department, The City University of New York, USA


The increase of available genomes poses new optimization problems in genome comparisons. A genome can be considered as a sequence of characters (loci) which are genes or segments of nucleotides. Genomes are subject to both nucleotide transformation and character order rearrangement processes. In this context, we define a problem of so-called pairwise alignment with rearrangements (PAR) between two genomes. The PAR generalizes the ordinary pairwise alignment by allowing the rearrangement of character order. The objective is to find the optimal PAR that minimizes the total cost which is composed of three factors: the edit cost between characters, the deletion/insertion cost of characters, and the rearrangement cost between character orders. To this end, we propose simple and effective heuristic methods: character moving and simultaneous character swapping . The efficiency of the methods is tested on Metazoa mitochondrial genomes. Experiments show that, pairwise alignments with rearrangements give better performance than ordinary pairwise alignments without rearrangements. The best proposed method, simultaneous character swapping, is implemented as an essential subroutine in our software POY version 4.0 to reconstruct genome-based phylogenies.

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Japanese Society for Bioinformatics