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Copyright (C) 1999-2002, Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Permission is given to duplicate this manual in both paper and electronic forms. If you wish to charge more than the duplication costs, or wish to make edits to the manual, please contact the authors by email to


This manual describes the sequence handling and analysis software developed at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, which has come to be known as the Staden Package. Besides the current group, a number of people have made important contributions to earlier versions of the package, notably Tim Gleeson and Simon Dear; and others, including David Judge and several past and present workers at the Sanger Centre, have helped with comments and suggestions. John Taylor made everything work on Windows9X/NT.

The focus of the group since 1990 has been to produce improved methods for processing the data for large scale sequencing projects, and this is reflected in the scope of the package: the most advanced components (trev, prefinish, pregap4 and gap4) are those used in that area. Nevertheless the package also contains a program (spin) for the analysis and comparison of finished sequences. The latter also provides a graphical user interface to EMBOSS.

Gap4 performs sequence assembly, contig ordering based on read pair data, contig joining based on sequence comparisons, assembly checking, repeat searching, experiment suggestion, read pair analysis and contig editing. It has graphical views of contigs, templates, readings and traces which all scroll in register. Contig editor searches and experiment suggestion routines use confidence values to calculate the confidence of the consensus sequence and hence identify only places requiring visual trace inspection or extra data. The result is extremely rapid finishing and a consensus of known accuracy.

Pregap4 provides a graphical user interface to set up the processing required to prepare trace data for assembly or analysis. It also automates these processes. The possible processes which can be set up and automated include trace format conversion, quality analysis, vector clipping, contaminant screening, repeat searching and mutation detection.

Trev is a rapid and flexible viewer and editor for ABI, ALF, SCF and ZTR trace files.

Prefinish analyses partially completed sequence assemblies and suggests the most efficient set of experiments to help finish the project.

Tracediff and hetscan automatically locate mutations by comparing trace data against reference traces. They annotate the mutations found ready for viewing in gap4.

Spin analyses nucleotide sequences to find genes, restriction sites, motifs, etc. It can perform translations, find open reading frames, count codons, etc. Many results are presented graphically and a sliding sequence window is linked to the graphics cursor. Spin also compares pairs of sequences in many ways. It has very rapid dot matrix analysis, global and local alignment algorithms, plus a sliding sequence window linked to the graphical plots. It can compare nucleic acid against nucleic acid, protein against protein, and protein against nucleic acid.

The manual describes, in turn, each of the main programs in the package: gap4, and then pregap4 and its associated programs such as trev, and then spin. This is followed by a description of the graphical user interface, the ZTR, SCF and Experiment file formats used by our software, UNIX manpages for several of the smaller programs, and finally a list of papers published about the software. The description for each of the programs includes an introductory section which is intended to be sufficient to enable people to start using them, although in order to get the most from the programs, and to find the most efficient ways of using them we recommend that the whole manual is read once. The mini-manual is made up from the introductory sections for each of the main programs.

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