4.2. Collapsing multiple BED files into a master list by signal

Given a list of five-column UCSC BED files, where scores are kept in the fifth column, we want to build a “master list” of non-overlapping elements from all the inputs. Elements that initially overlap are ranked by score, and the highest scoring element is added to the master list.

4.2.1. BEDOPS tools in use

In the following example, we want to merge hotspot peaks for five fetal adrenal tissues, picking the highest scoring element where there are overlapping peaks. We’ll use a mix of bedmap and its --max-element operation with bedops set operations to accomplish this.

4.2.2. Script

# author : Bob Thurman



mkdir -p $tmpd

## First, union all the peaks together into a single file.
for bed in ${beds[*]}
    bedlist="$bedlist $bed"

bedops -u $bedlist > $tmpd/tmp.bed

## The master list is constructed iteratively.  For each pass through
## the loop, elements not yet in the master list are merged into
## non-overlapping intervals that span the union (this is just bedops
## -m).  Then for each merged interval, an original element of highest
## score within the interval is selected to go in the master list.
## Anything that overlaps the selected element is thrown out, and the
## process then repeats.
while [ $stop == 0 ]
    echo "merge steps..."

    ## Condense the union into merged intervals. This klugey bit
    ## before and after the merging is because we don't want to merge
    ## regions that are simply adjacent but not overlapping
    bedops -m --range 0:-1 $tmpd/tmp.bed \
        | bedops -u --range 0:1 - \
        > $tmpd/tmpm.bed

    ## Grab the element with the highest score among all elements forming each interval.
    ## If multiple elements tie for the highest score, just grab one of them.
    ## Result is the current master list.  Probably don't need to sort, but do it anyway
    ## to be safe since we're not using --echo with bedmap call.
    bedmap --max-element $tmpd/tmpm.bed $tmpd/tmp.bed \
        | sort-bed - \
        > $tmpd/$iters.bed
    solns="$solns $tmpd/$iters.bed"
    echo "Adding `awk 'END { print NR }' $tmpd/$iters.bed` elements"

    ## Are there any elements that don't overlap the current master
    ## list?  If so, add those in, and repeat.  If not, we're done.
    bedops -n 1 $tmpd/tmp.bed $tmpd/$iters.bed \
       > $tmpd/tmp2.bed

    mv $tmpd/tmp2.bed $tmpd/tmp.bed

    if [ ! -s $tmpd/tmp.bed ]


## final solution
bedops -u $solns \
   > $out

## Clean up
rm -r $tmpd

exit 0

4.2.3. Discussion

A broad array of human cell tissue hotspot data for testing this example are available for public download from the UCSC Genome Browser:

This includes hotspot data for DS12528, DS15123, DS17319, DS17677 and DS20343 lines.