AnaCoDa allows for the estimation of biologically relevant parameters like mutation bias or ribosome pausing time, depending on the model employed. Bayesian estimation of parameters is performed using an adaptive Metropolis-Hasting within Gibbs sampling approach. Models implemented in AnaCoDa are currently able to handle gene coding sequences and ribosome footprinting data.

The AnaCoDa framework

The AnaCoDa framework works with gene specific data such as codon frequencies or position specific footprint counts. Conceptually, AnaCoDa uses three different types of parameters.

Analyzing protein coding gene sequences

AnaCoDa always requires the following four objects:

Setup of AnaCoDa

Application of codon model to single genome

In this example we are assuming a genome with only one set of gene-set specific parameters, hence num.mixtures = 1. We assign all genes the same gene-set, and provide an initial value for the hyperparameter sphi (\(s_\phi\)). \(s_\phi\) controls the lognormal prior distribution on the gene specific parameters like the protein synthesis rate \(\phi\). To ensure identifiability the expected value of the prior distribution is assumed to be 1.

\begin{align} E[\phi] = \exp\left(m\phi+\frac{s\phi2}{2}\right) = 1 \end{align}

Therefor the mean \(m_\phi\) is set to be \(-\frac{s_\phi^2}{2}\). For more details see [@gilchrist2015]

After choosing the model and specifying the necessary arguments for the MCMC routine, the MCMC is run.

genome <- initializeGenomeObject(file = "genome.fasta")
parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = 1, num.mixtures = 1, geneAssignment = rep(1, length(genome)))
model <- initializeModelObject(parameter = parameter, model = "ROC")
mcmc <- initializeMCMCObject(samples = 5000, thinning = 10, adaptive.width=50)
runMCMC(mcmc = mcmc, genome = genome, model = model)

runMCMC does not return a value, the results of the MCMC are stored automatically in the mcmc and parameter objects created earlier.

Please note that AnaCoDa utilizes C++ obejct orientation and therefore employs pointer structures. This means that no return value is necessary for such objects as they are modified within the the runMCMC routine. You will find that after a completed run, the parameter object will contain all necessary information without being directly passed into the MCMC routine. This might be confusing at first as it is not default R behaviour.

Application of codon model to a mixture of genomes

This case applies if we assume that parts of the genome differ in their gene-set specific parameters. This could be due to introgression events or strand specific mutation difference or other stuff. We make the assumption that all sets of genes are independent of one another. For two sets of gene-set specific parameter with a random gene assignment we can use:

parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = c(0.5, 2), num.mixtures = 2, geneAssignment =, length(genome), replace = T))

To accommodate for this mixing we only have to adjust sphi, which is now a vector of length 2, num.mixtures, and geneAssignment, which is chosen at random here.

Using empirical protein synthesis rate values

To use empirical values as prior information one can simply specify an observed.expression.file when initializing the genome object.

genome <- initializeGenomeObject(file = "genome.fasta", observed.expression.file = "synthesis_values.csv")

These observed expression or synthesis values (\(\Phi\)) are independent of the number of gene-sets. The error in the observed \(\Phi\) values is estimated and described by sepsilon (\(s_\epsilon\)). The csv file can contain multiple observation sets separated by comma. For each set of observations an initial \(s_\epsilon\) has to be specified.

# One case of observed data
sepsilon <- 0.1
# Two cases of observed data
sepsilon <- c(0.1, 0.5)
# ...
# Five cases of observed data
sepsilon <- c(0.1, 0.5, 1, 0.8, 3)

parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = 1, num.mixtures = 1, geneAssignment = rep(1, length(genome)), init.sepsilon = sepsilon)

In addition one can choose to keep the noise in the observations (\(s_\epsilon\)) constant by using the fix.observation.noise flag in the model object.

model <- initializeModelObject(parameter = parameter, model = "ROC",  fix.observation.noise = TRUE)

Keeping parameter types fixed

It can sometime be advantages to fix certain parameters, like the gene specific parameters. For example in cases where only few sequences are available but gene expression measurements are at hand we can fix the gene specific parameters to increase confidence in our estimates of gene-set specific parameters.

We again initialize our genome, parameter, and model objects.

genome <- initializeGenomeObject(file = "genome.fasta")
parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = 1, num.mixtures = 1, geneAssignment = rep(1, length(genome)))
model <- initializeModelObject(parameter = parameter, model = "ROC")

To fix gene specific parameters we will set the est.expression flag to FALSE. This will estimate only gene-set specific parameters, hyperparameters, and the assignments of genes to various sets.

mcmc <- initializeMCMCObject(samples, thinning=1, adaptive.width=100, est.expression=FALSE, est.csp=TRUE, est.hyper=TRUE, est.mix=TRUE)

If we would like to fix gene-set specific parameters we instead disable the est.csp flag.

mcmc <- initializeMCMCObject(samples, thinning=1, adaptive.width=100, est.expression=TRUE, est.csp=FALSE, est.hyper=TRUE, est.mix=TRUE)

The same applies to the hyper parameters (est.hyper),

mcmc <- initializeMCMCObject(samples, thinning=1, adaptive.width=100, est.expression=TRUE, est.csp=TRUE, est.hyper=FALSE, est.mix=TRUE)

and gene set assignment (est.mix).

mcmc <- initializeMCMCObject(samples, thinning=1, adaptive.width=100, est.expression=TRUE, est.csp=TRUE, est.hyper=TRUE, est.mix=FALSE)

We can use these flags to fix parameters in any combination.

Combining various gene-set specific parameters to a gene-set description.

We distinguish between three simple cases of gene-set descriptions, and the ability to customize the parameter mapping. The specification is done when initializing the parameter object with the mixture.definition argument.

We encounter the simplest case when we assume that all gene sets are independent.

parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = c(0.5, 2), num.mixtures = 2
                                       , geneAssignment =, length(genome), replace = T),
                                       mixture.definition = "allUnique")

The allUnique keyword allows each type of gene-set specific parameter to be estimated independent of parameters describing other gene sets.

In case we want to share mutation parameter between gene sets we can use the keyword mutationShared.

parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = c(0.5, 2), num.mixtures = 2
                                       , geneAssignment =, length(genome), replace = T),
                                       mixture.definition = "mutationShared")

This will force all gene sets to share the same mutation parameters.

The same can be done with parameters describing selection, using the keyword selectionShared

parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = c(0.5, 2), num.mixtures = 2
                                       , geneAssignment =, length(genome), replace = T),
                                       mixture.definition = "selectionShared")

For more intricate compositions of gene sets, one can specify a custom \(n\times2\) matrix, where \(n\) is the number of gene sets, to describe how gene-set specific parameters should be shared. Instead of using the mixture.definition argument one uses the mixture.definition.matrix argument.

The matrix representation of mutationShared can be obtained by

#     [,1] [,2]
#[1,]    1    1
#[2,]    1    2
#[3,]    1    3
def.matrix <- matrix(c(1,1,1,1,2,3), ncol=2)
parameter <- initializeParameterObject(genome = genome, sphi = c(0.5, 2, 1), num.mixtures = 3,
                                       geneAssignment =, length(genome), replace = T),
                                       mixture.definition.matrix = def.matrix)

Columns represent mutation and selection, while each row represents a gene set. In this case we have three gene sets, each sharing the same mutation category and three different selection categories.

In the same way one can produce the matrix for three independent gene sets equivalent to the allUnique keyword.

#     [,1] [,2]
#[1,]    1    1
#[2,]    2    2
#[3,]    3    3
def.matrix <- matrix(c(1,2,3,1,2,3), ncol=2)

We can also use this matrix to produce more complex gene set compositions.

#     [,1] [,2]
#[1,]    1    1
#[2,]    2    1
#[3,]    1    2
def.matrix <- matrix(c(1,2,1,1,1,2), ncol=2)

In this case gene set one and three share their mutation parameters, while gene set one and two share their selection parameters.


AnaCoDa does provide checkpointing functionality in case runtime has to be restiricted. To enable checkpointing, one can use the function setRestartSettings.

# writing a restart file every 1000 samples
setRestartSettings(mcmc, "restart_file", 1000, write.multiple=TRUE)
# writing a restart file every 1000 samples but overwriting it every time
setRestartSettings(mcmc, "restart_file", 1000, write.multiple=FALSE)

To re-initialize a parameter object from a restart file one can simply pass the restart file to the initialization function

initializeParameterObject(init.with.restart.file = "restart_file.rst")

Load and save parameter objects

AnaCoDa is based on C++ objects using the Rcpp [@rcpp_article]. This comes with the problem that C++ objects are by default not serializable and can therefore not be saved/loaded with the default R save/load functions.

AnaCoDa however, does provide functions to load and save parameter and mcmc objects. These are the only two objects that store information during a run.

#save objects after a run
runMCMC(mcmc = mcmc, genome = genome, model = model)
writeParameterObject(parameter = parameter, file = "parameter_out.Rda")
writeMCMCObject(mcmc = mcmc, file = "mcmc_out.Rda")

As genome, and model objects are purely storage containers, no save/load function is provided at this point, but will be added in the future.

#save objects after a run
parameter <- loadParameterObject(file = "parameter_out.Rda")
mcmc <- loadMCMCObject(file = "mcmc_out.Rda")

File formats

Protein coding sequence

Protein coding sequences are provided by fasta file with the default format. One line containing the sequence id starting with > followed by the id and one or more lines containing the sequence. The sequences are expected to have a length that is a multiple of three. If a codon can not be recognized (e.g AGN) it is ignored.


Empirical expression

Empirical expression or gene specific parameters are provided in a csv file format. The first line is expected to be a header describing each column. The first column is expected be the gene id, and every additional column is expected to be represent a measurement. Each row corresponds to one gene and contains all measurements for that gene, including missing values.


Ribosome FootPrinting counts

Ribosome Foot-Printing (RFP) counts are provided in a csv file format. The first line is expected to be a header describing each column. The columns are expected in the following order gene id, position, codon, rfpcount. Each row corresponds to a single codon with an associated number of ribosome footprints.

YBR177C, 0, ATA, 8
YBR177C, 1, CGG, 1
YBR177C, 2, GTT, 8
YBR177C, 3, CGC, 1

Analyzing and Visualizating results

Parameter estimates

After we have completed the model fitting, we are interested in the results. AnaCoDa provides functions to obtain the posterior estimate for each parameter. For gene-set specific parameters or codon specific parameters we can use the function getCSPEstimates. Again we can specify for which mixture we would like the posterior estimate and how many samples should be used. getCSPEstimates has an optional argument filename which will cause the routine to write the result as a csv file instead of returning a data.frame.

csp_mat <- getCSPEstimates(parameter = parameter, CSP="Mutation", mixture = 1, samples = 1000)
#  AA Codon  Posterior     0.025%     0.975%
#1  A   GCA -0.2435340 -0.2720696 -0.2165220
#2  A   GCC  0.4235546  0.4049132  0.4420680
#3  A   GCG  0.7004484  0.6648690  0.7351707
#4  C   TGC  0.2016298  0.1679025  0.2387024
#5  D   GAC  0.5775052  0.5618199  0.5936979
#6  E   GAA -0.4524295 -0.4688044 -0.4356677

getCSPEstimates(parameter = parameter, filename = "mutation.csv", CSP="Mutation", mixture = 1, samples = 1000)

To obtain posterior estimates for the gene specific parameters, we can use the function getExpressionEstimatesForMixture. In the case below we ask to get the gene specific parameters for all genes, and under the assumption each gene is assigned to mixture 1.

phi_mat <- getExpressionEstimates(parameter = parameter, 
                                  gene.index = 1:length(genome),
                                  samples = 1000)
#           PHI  log10.PHI    Std.Error log10.Std.Error      0.025     0.975 log10.0.025 log10.0.975
#[1,] 0.2729446 -0.6188447 0.0001261525    2.362358e-04 0.07331819 0.5455295 -1.13478830 -0.26319141
#[2,] 1.4221716  0.1498953 0.0001669425    5.194123e-05 1.09593642 1.7562065  0.03978491  0.24457557
#[3,] 0.7459888 -0.1512764 0.0002313539    1.529267e-04 0.31559618 1.2198282 -0.50086958  0.08629407
#[4,] 0.6573082 -0.2030291 0.0001935466    1.400333e-04 0.31591233 1.0699855 -0.50043989  0.02937787
#[5,] 1.6316901  0.2098120 0.0001846631    4.986347e-05 1.28410352 2.0035207  0.10860000  0.30179215
#[6,] 0.6179711 -0.2286806 0.0001744928    1.374863e-04 0.28478950 0.9683327 -0.54550116 -0.01397541

However we can decide to only obtain certain gene parameters. in the first case we sample 100 random genes.

# sampling 100 genes at random
phi_mat <- getExpressionEstimates(parameter = parameter, 
                                  gene.index = sample(1:length(genome), 100), 
                                  samples = 1000)

Furthermore, AnaCoDa allows to calculate the selection coefficient \(s\) for each codon and each gene. We can use the function getSelectionCoefficients to do so. Please note, that this function returns the \(log(s)\).

getSelectionCoefficients returns a matrix with \(log(s)\) relative to the most efficient synonymous codon.

selection.coefficients <- getSelectionCoefficients(genome = genome, 
                                                   parameter = parameter, 
                                                   samples = 1000)
#                    GCA          GCC        GCG GCT        TGC TGT GAC         GAT ...
#SAKL0A00132g -0.1630284 -0.008695144 -0.2097771   0 -0.1014373   0   0 -0.05092397 ...
#SAKL0A00154g -0.8494558 -0.045305847 -1.0930388   0 -0.5285367   0   0 -0.26533820 ...
#SAKL0A00176g -0.4455753 -0.023764823 -0.5733448   0 -0.2772397   0   0 -0.13918105 ...
#SAKL0A00198g -0.3926068 -0.020939740 -0.5051875   0 -0.2442824   0   0 -0.12263567 ...
#SAKL0A00220g -0.9746002 -0.051980440 -1.2540685   0 -0.6064022   0   0 -0.30442861 ...
#SAKL0A00242g -0.3691110 -0.019686586 -0.4749542   0 -0.2296631   0   0 -0.11529644 ...

We can compare these values to the weights from the codon adaptatoin index (CAI) [@SharpLi1987] or effective number of codons (Nc) [@Wright1990] by using the functions getCAIweights and getNcAA.

cai.weights <- getCAIweights(referenceGenome = genome)
#      GCA       GCC       GCG       GCT       TGC       TGT 
#0.7251276 0.6282192 0.2497737 1.0000000 0.6222628 1.0000000 

nc.per.aa <- getNcAA(genome = genome)
#                    A        C        D        E        F        G ...
#SAKL0A00132g 3.611111 1.000000 2.200000 2.142857 1.792453 4.109589 ...
#SAKL0A00154g 1.843866 2.500000 2.035782 1.942505 1.986595 2.752660 ...
#SAKL0A00176g 5.142857       NA 1.857143 1.652174 1.551724 3.122449 ...
#SAKL0A00198g 3.800000       NA 1.924779 1.913043 2.129032 4.136364 ...
#SAKL0A00220g 3.198529 1.666667 1.741573 1.756757 2.000000 1.371638 ...
#SAKL0A00242g 4.500000       NA 2.095890 2.000000 1.408163 3.734043 ...

We can compare the distribution of selection coefficients to the CAI values estimated from a reference set of genes.

selection.coefficients <- getSelectionCoefficients(genome = genome, 
                                                   parameter = parameter, 
                                                   samples = 1000)
s <- exp(selection.coefficients)
cai.weights <- getCAIweights(referenceGenome = ref.genome)

codon.names <- colnames(s)
h <- hist(s[, 1], plot = F)
plot(NULL, NULL, axes = F, xlim = c(0,1), ylim = range(c(0,h$counts)), 
     xlab = "s", ylab = "Frequency", main = codon.names[1], cex.lab = 1.2)
lines(x = h$breaks, y = c(0,h$counts), type = "S", lwd=2)
abline(v = cai.weights[1], lwd=2, lty=2)
axis(1, lwd = 3, cex.axis = 1.2)
axis(2, lwd = 3, cex.axis = 1.2)

Distribution of $s$ for codon GCA for amino acid alanine. Dashed line indicates the CAI weight for GCA. The comparisson provides a more nuanced picture as we can see that the selection on GCA varies across the genome.

Diagnostic plots

A first step after every run should be to determine if the sampling routine has converged. To do that, AnaCoDa provides plotting routines to visualize all sampled parameter traces from which the posterior sample is obtained.

First we have to obtain the trace object stored within our parameter object. Now we can just plot the trace object. The argument 'what' specifies which type of parameter should be plotted.

Here we plot the selection parameter \(\Delta \eta\) of the ROC model. These parameters are mixture specific and one can decide which mixture set to visualize using the argument mixture.

trace <- getTrace(parameter)
plot(x = trace, what = "Mutation", mixture = 1)

Trace plot showing the traces of all 40 codon specific selection parameters organized by amino acid

A special case is the plotting of traces of the protein synthesis rate \(\phi\). As the number of traces for the different \(phi\) traces is usually in the thousands, a geneIndex has to be passed to determine for which gene the trace should be plotted. This allows to inspect the trace of every gene under every mixture assignment.

trace <- parameter$getTraceObject()
plot(x = trace, what = "Expression", mixture = 1, geneIndex = 669)

Trace plot showing the protein synthesis trace for gene 669

We can find the likelihood and posterior trace of the model fit in the mcmc object. The trace can be plotted by just passing the mcmc object to the plot routine. Again we can switch between log(likelihood) and log(posterior) using the argument what. The argument zoom.window is used to inspect a specified window in more detail. It defaults to the last 10% of the trace. The log(posterior) displayed in the figure title is also estimated over the zoom.window.

plot(mcmc, what = "LogPosterior", zoom.window = c(9000, 10000))

Trace plot showing the log(posterior) trace for the current model fit.

Model visualization

We can visualize the results of the model fit by plotting the model object. For this we require the model and the genome object. We can adjust which mixture set we would like to visualize and how many samples should be used to obtain the posterior estimate for each parameter. For more details see [@gilchrist2015].

# use the last 500 samples from mixture 1 for posterior estimate.
plot(x = model, genome = genome, samples = 500, mixture = 1)

Fit of the ROC model for a random yeast. The solid line represent the model fit from the data, showing how synonymous codon frequencies change with gene expression. The points are the observed mean frequencies of a codon in that synthesis rate bin and the wisks indicate the standard diviation within the bin. The codon favored by selection is indicated by a "*". The bottom right panel shows how many genes are contained in heach bin.

As AnaCoDa is designed with the idea to allow gene-sets to have independent gene-set specific parameters, AnaCoDa also provides the option to compare different gene-sets by plotting the parameter object. Here we compare the selection parameter estimated by ROC for seven yeast species.

plot(parameter, what = "Selection", samples = 500)

Comparisson of the selection parameter of seven yeast species estimated with ROC