Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Advances in Bioinformatics
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5614058, 10 pages
Research Article

Evaluation of Bioinformatic Programmes for the Analysis of Variants within Splice Site Consensus Regions

Diagnostic Genetics, LabPLUS, Auckland City Hospital, P.O. Box 110031, Auckland 1148, New Zealand

Received 25 January 2016; Revised 28 April 2016; Accepted 4 May 2016

Academic Editor: Eitan Rubin

Copyright © 2016 Rongying Tang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The increasing diagnostic use of gene sequencing has led to an expanding dataset of novel variants that lie within consensus splice junctions. The challenge for diagnostic laboratories is the evaluation of these variants in order to determine if they affect splicing or are merely benign. A common evaluation strategy is to use in silico analysis, and it is here that a number of programmes are available online; however, currently, there are no consensus guidelines on the selection of programmes or protocols to interpret the prediction results. Using a collection of 222 pathogenic mutations and 50 benign polymorphisms, we evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of four in silico programmes in predicting the effect of each variant on splicing. The programmes comprised Human Splice Finder (HSF), Max Entropy Scan (MES), NNSplice, and ASSP. The MES and ASSP programmes gave the highest performance based on Receiver Operator Curve analysis, with an optimal cut-off of score reduction of 10%. The study also showed that the sensitivity of prediction is affected by the level of conservation of individual positions, with in silico predictions for variants at positions 4 and +7 within consensus splice sites being largely uninformative.