Search and comparison of (epi)genomic feature patterns in multiple genome browser tracks

Arnaud Ceol, Piero Montanari, Ilaria Bartolini, Stefano Ceri, Paolo Ciaccia, Marco Patella, Marco Masseroli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Genome browsers are widely used for locating interesting genomic regions, but their interactive use is obviously limited to inspecting short genomic portions. An ideal interaction is to provide patterns of regions on the browser, and then extract other genomic regions over the whole genome where such patterns occur, ranked by similarity. Results: We developed SimSearch, an optimized pattern-search method and an open source plugin for the Integrated Genome Browser (IGB), to find genomic region sets that are similar to a given region pattern. It provides efficient visual genome-wide analytics computation in large datasets; the plugin supports intuitive user interactions for selecting an interesting pattern on IGB tracks and visualizing the computed occurrences of similar patterns along the entire genome. SimSearch also includes functions for the annotation and enrichment of results, and is enhanced with a Quickload repository including numerous epigenomic feature datasets from ENCODE and Roadmap Epigenomics. The paper also includes some use cases to show multiple genome-wide analyses of biological interest, which can be easily performed by taking advantage of the presented approach. Conclusions: The novel SimSearch method provides innovative support for effective genome-wide pattern search and visualization; its relevance and practical usefulness is demonstrated through a number of significant use cases of biological interest. The SimSearch IGB plugin, documentation, and code are freely available at and

Original languageEnglish
Article number464
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Computational genomics
  • Genome browser
  • Genome-wide pattern-search
  • Visual analytics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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