RNA-Seq Unified Mapper
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Setting Up and Running RUM

RUM is an alignment, junction calling, and feature quantification pipeline specifically designed for Illumina RNA-Seq data.

RUM can also be used effectively for DNA sequencing (e.g. ChIP-Seq) and microarray probe mapping.

RUM also has a strand specific mode.

RUM is highly configurable, however it does not require fussing over options, the defaults generally give good results.


Comparative Analysis of RNA-Seq Alignment Algorithms and the RNA-Seq Unified Mapper (RUM) Gregory R. Grant, Michael H. Farkas, Angel Pizarro, Nicholas Lahens, Jonathan Schug, Brian Brunk, Christian J. Stoeckert Jr, John B. Hogenesch and Eric A. Pierce.


RUM is freely available to academics and non-profit organizations. However since RUM uses BLAT, users from industry must first obtain a licence for BLAT from the Kent Informatics Website.

System Requirements

RUM should work anywhere you have most of the standard Unix command-line tools, Perl, and can get the blat, bowtie and mdust binaries to execute; however we haven't tested it on every platform. Unless you have a relatively small genome, then you'll probably need a 64 bit machine. For the human or mouse genome this will definitely be necessary. For a lane of 20 million 100 bp reads, paired-end, expect to use about 100-200 GB disk space.

Third-Party Perl Modules


You will now need the autodie Perl module. If you are using perl >= 5.10, this should already be installed. If not, you may need to install it. You should be able to install it very quickly by running:

cpan -i autodie


Log::Log4perl is recommended, but not required. You should be able to install it by running:

cpan -i Log::Log4perl

If you have Log::Log4perl, you will be able to control logging output by modifying the conf/rum_logging.conf file in the RUM distribution. See http://mschilli.github.com/log4perl/ for more information.

Installing RUM

You can download a specific version of RUM from the tags page on github: https://github.com/PGFI/rum/tags. The latest production release is always available at https://github.com/PGFI/rum/archive/master.tar.gz. The latest bleeding-edge development code (which may be unstable) is available here: https://github.com/PGFI/rum/archive/develop.tar.gz.

You have a few different options for installing RUM, depending on whether you want it in a system location, in an arbitrary user directory, or in another location where you keep Perl modules.

In a system directory

If you have root priviliges and want to install RUM in a system location like /usr/local, you can now do so using the standard Perl module installation process:

perl Makefile.PL
make install # (may need sudo)

In a user directory

If you would rather install RUM in a user-owned directory, you can simply untar RUM right in the directory where you to install it, and then run perl Makefile.PL. For example, if you want to have rum installed in ~/RUM-Pipeline-2.00_13, assuming you have downloaded RUM-Pipeline-2.00_13.tar.gz to your current directory, you can simply do:

tar zxvf RUM-Pipeline-2.00_13.tar.gz
cd RUM-Pipeline-2.00_13
perl Makefile.PL

This will place all the rum executables in RUM-Pipeline-2.00_11/bin. They will find the RUM libraries they need automatically. You may want to add the bin directory to your path, so that you can run RUM simply by typing rum_runner:

export PATH="${PATH}:${RUM_HOME}/bin"
rum_runner ...

If you don't add the RUM bin directory to your path, you will need to specify the path to rum_runner when you run it. For example, if you're in the root of the RUM installation, you can run:

bin/rum_runner ...

If you're in the bin directory, run:

./rum_runner ...

In an alternate Perl module location

If you have an alternate location where you keep Perl modules, you should be able to install RUM there by passing an INSTALL_BASE=/some/path option to the perl Makefile.PL step. RUM should automatically find all of its perl modules if you install it in this manner. For example:

make install

As in the previous option, you will either need to run rum_runner using the full path, or add $RUM_HOME/bin to your $PATH.

Installing Indexes

Once you install the RUM code, you'll want to use the rum_indexes program to install one or more indexes. By default it will install indexes in the location where you installed RUM itself, but you can use the --prefix option to tell it to install indexes somewhere else:

# Install them where you installed rum

# Install them in ~/rum-indexes
rum_indexes --prefix ~/rum-indexes

When you install an index, all the files for that organism will be placed in a new directory named after the organism. You will need to specify the index directory when you run RUM. For example, if you installed the mm9 index by running rum_indexes --prefix ~/rum-indexes, in order to align some reads using that index, you would run:

rum_runner align --index ~/rum-indexes/mm9 ...

Note that you will need a lot of available disk space in order to install indexes.

At the moment the following indexes are available:

  • Homo sapiens (build hg19) (human)
  • Homo sapiens (build hg18) (human)
  • Mus musculus (build mm9) (mouse)
  • Danio rerio (build danRer7) (zebrafish)
  • Drosophila melanogaster (build dm3) (fruit fly)
  • Anopheles gambiae (build anoGam1) (mosquito)
  • Caenorhabditis elegans (build c36) (nematode worm)
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae (build sacCer3) (yeast)
  • Rattus norvegicus (build m4) (rat)
  • Sus scrofa (build susScr2) (pig)
  • Canis lupus familiaris (build canFam2) (dog)
  • Pan troglodytes (build panTro2) (chimpanzee)
  • Pongo pygmaeus abelii (build ponAbe2) (orangutan)
  • Macaca mulatta (build rheMac2) (rhesus monkey)
  • Gallus gallus (build galGal3) (chicken)
  • Plasmodium falciparum (build 06-2010) (malaria parasite)
  • Arabidopsis thaliana (build TAIR10) (arabadopsis)

We will be expanding this list regularly. If you require a different organism, instructions are given here to build your own custom indexes. Or write us, we may be able to provide it.

Running RUM

After you've installed RUM and one or more indexes, please run rum_runner help to see usage information. Please also see the main user guide for an explanation of the pipeline and the output files.

Frequently Asked Questions

My job stopped prematurely without writing any error messages to the log files. What happened?

rum_runner will attempt to write a FATAL message to the error logs if it encounters an error that it can't handle and needs to exit. However, there are some conditions that cause rum_runner to exit immediately, and the program won't log a message in that case. Running out of memory is one example. So if you have a job that just appeared to stop prematurely without leaving any trace of a reason in the log file, it's likely that it ran out of memory.

I started a RUM job and now my system is unresponsive. Why?

If you run a job on a single machine and split it up into multiple chunks, it may be using too much memory or CPU time.

For a human genome, each chunk will use about 6 GB of ram, so in order to run it in 10 chunks on a single machine, you'd need at least 60 GB of ram free to be safe.

You probably don't want to use more chunks than you have cores in your system. For example if you have a dual-core system, running a job with 10 chunks will likely create high contention for CPU resources, making your system seem unresponsive.

So if RUM seems to put too much strain on your system, reducing the number of chunks might help.

How should I run rum_runner in the background?

If you're on a Sun Grid Engine cluster and you run rum with the --qsub option, it will do a minimal amount of processing up front and then submit a job to do most of the work. So with SGE you don't need to run it in the background.

If you're running it locally, you can use nohup rum_runner ... &. It's also very convenient to run rum_runner from within a GNU screen session.