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Seeq: DNA/RNA pattern matching algorithm

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1. What is seeq?
2. Source file list.
3. Compilation and installation.
4. Running seeq.
5. Using seeq as a sequence trimmer.
6. License.
7. References.

I. What is seeq?

Seeq is a DNA/RNA pattern matching algorithm. Sequence matching is performed based on a Levenshtein distance metric [1]. Typically, a file containing DNA sequences is passed as input along with a DNA pattern. Seeq will search for lines containing the matching pattern. By default, Seeq returns the matching lines through the stadard output. Seeq has many other applications such as sequence extraction, sequence trimming, etc.

II. Source file list

  • src/main-seeq.c Seeq main file (parameter parsing).
  • src/seeq.c Main seeq algorithm (match formatting).
  • src/seeq.h Main seeq algorithm header file.
  • src/libseeq.c libseeq source code.
  • src/libseeq.h libseeq public header.
  • src/seeqcore.h libseeq private header.
  • src/seeqmodule.c libseeq C-Python interface.
  • Makefile Make instruction file.
  • Distutils instruction file.

III. Compilation and installation

To install seeq, libseeq for C or the seeq module for Python, you first need to clone or manually download the repository content from github:

git clone git://

and change the directory to the cloned repository:

cd seeq

Now you are good to follow the instructions below.

III.1 Installing seeq

To compile and build seeq you, use the make tool (Mac users require 'xcode', available at the Mac Appstore):


a binary file 'seeq' will be created. You can optionally make a symbolic link to execute seeq from any directory:

sudo ln -s ./seeq /usr/bin/seeq

III.2 Building seeq library (libseeq) for C

To compile and create the C library into shared object file (.so) use the following make command:

make lib

the file and the required header file libseeq.h will be created in the lib folder.

III.3 Installing seeq module for Python

Seeq can be installed as a Python module as well. The C interface for libseeq will be compiled and installed directly as a Python module:

python build

sudo python install

From this moment, the seeq module will be available at your local Python installation. Use import seeq to import the module inside Python.

IV. Running seeq

Seeq runs on Linux and Mac. It has not been tested on Windows.

List of arguments:

seeq [-d #] -[b | a] -[c | i | mnlpkfer] [-x #] -[hvz] [-y #] PATTERN [INPUT_FILE]


 The pattern must be a DNA/RNA sequence. Allowed characters are 'A', 'C',
 'G', 'T', 'U' and 'N', both lower and uppercase. Multiple characters
 (bases) will account as a match in the same position if so is specified
 using square brackets, i.e. the pattern 'A[CG]T' defines both 'C' and 'G'
 as valid matches for the 2nd nucleotide. Hence, the pattern will match both
 'ACT' and 'AGT' with distance 0. The 'unknown' character 'N' is equivalent
 to '[ACGTU]' and will match any character without any distance penalty.


 Optional parameter. Standard input is used when no input file is specified.
 The input file must contain DNA/RNA sequences separated with newline
 characters '\n'. Lines containing characters other than 'A', 'C', 'G',
 'T', 'U' or 'N' will be ignored. This allows direct use of FASTA or
 FASTQ files. Note, however, that tags and quality scores will not be
 present in the output.


-d or --distance #

 Defines the maximum Levenshtein distance for pattern matching.
 Default is 0.

-i or --invert

 Returns the non-matching lines. When specified, all other options,
 except 'lines' and 'count', are ignored.

-b or --best

 Forces seeq to find the best matching position of each line. The
 best matching position is the one with lower Levenshtein distance.
 If many positions in the line match the pattern with the lowest
 distance, the first one is reported.

-a or --all

 Returns all the matching positions of each line. This option also
 implies -m. Combine -a with -l and -p to know the precise line and
 position of the reported match.

-x or --non-dna [0,1,2]

 Defines the behavior of seeq when a non-dna character is found in
 the text. Default is 0:
 0 - Skip line.
 1 - Convert character to 'N' (mismatch).
 2 - Ignore character.


-c or --count

 Returns only the count of matching lines. When specified, all other
 options are ignored.

-m or --match-only

 Print the matching text instead of the whole line.

-n or --no-printline

 Does not print the matched line. If this option is set, additional
 format options must be specified.

-l or --lines

 Shows the line number of the match.

-p or --positions

 Shows the position of the match in the text.

-k or --print-dist

 Shows the Levenshtein distance of the match.

-f or --compact

 Uses compact output format. Each match will produce an output as
 [line number]:[start]-[end]:[distance]

 When specified, other format options [mnlpseb] are ignored.

-e or --end

 Prints only the last part of the matched lines, starting after (not including)
 the matched part.

-r or --prefix

 Prints only the beginning of the matched lines, ending before (not including)
 the matched part.


-v or --version

 Prints the software version and exits.

-y or --memory

 Sets the DFA memory limit (in MB). Default is 0 (unlimited).

-z or --verbose

 Verbose. Prints verbose information to the standard error channel.

-h or --help

 Prints usage information.

V. Using seeq as a sequence trimmer

Many high-throughput technologies use reference sequences both at the beginning and the end of the sequence of interest. When the target sequence is not long enough, the reference sequences may be partially present in the final read. Seeq may be used as a sequence trimmer to solve this problem. Consider an input file with the following format:

[constant prefix][DNA sequence][constant suffix]

The target DNA sequence may be extracted selecting several nucleotides from both the prefix and the suffix and piping seeq in --prefix and --end modes:

./seeq --end [constant prefix] input_file.fasta | ./seeq --prefix [constant suffix]

Additionally, different distance thresholds may be specified to match the reference prefix and suffix using '-d #'.

VI. License

Seeq is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 3 (GPLv3), for more information read the LICENSE file or refer to:

VII. References

[1] Levenshtein, V. (1966), 'Binary Codes Capable of Correcting Deletions, Insertions and Reversals', Soviet Physics Doklady 10, 707.

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