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CFT: Clonal Family Tree

A pipeline for producing clonal family trees and ancestral state reconstructions using partis output.

Output data can be run through cftweb for visualization and exploration.


While this package is very useful to us, the documentation and useability are not really sufficient for widespread use. We are instead making this repository publicly available to help with openness and reproducibility for the papers in which we've used it. That said, if you'd be interested in running it and are having trouble getting it working, please submit an issue and we'd be happy to help.

Input data

For each sample you'd like to process, cft needs to know:

  • partition-file - the main partition output file from partis
  • locus - as used in running partis
  • parameter-dir - as used in running partis
  • per-sequence-meta-file (optional) - as applicable, with noted columns unique_id,timepoint,multiplicity

CFT requires that you organize this information in a dataset file as follows:

# The dataset-id identifies the collection of samples in downstream organization
id: laura-mb-v14
  # each sample must be keyed by a per-dataset unique identifier
    locus: igh
    parameter-dir: /path/to/Hs-LN-D-5RACE-IgG/parameter-dir
    per-sequence-meta-file: /path/to/Hs-LN-D-5RACE-IgG/seqmeta.csv

    # Unseeded partitions go here
    partition-file: /path/to/Hs-LN-D-5RACE-IgG/partition.csv

    # seed partition runs should be organized under a `seeds` key as follows
      # seed sequence id
        partition-file: /path/to/Hs-LN-D-5RACE-IgG/partition.csv
      # other seeds, as applicable...

  # another sample in our dataset...
    # etc.

  # etc.

Some notes about this:

  • This file can either be in .yaml format (shown above), or .json.
  • You may specify a meta attribute within a particular sample with keys from [isotype, locus, shorthand, species, subject, timepoint].
  • If a sample has multiple unseeded partis runs, these can be nested within an other-partitions key, much as seeds are specified
  • A functional example is found in test.yaml, which is run by default by scons if --infiles is not set

A more fleshed out example, as well as json examples, and python snippets can be seen on the wiki.

You may also wish to take a look at bin/, a little utility script for filtering and merging dataset files. You can get a comprehensive help menu by running bin/ -h. You may also wish to directly use the script which does the initial extraction of data from partis, bin/

Note that in order for the data to process correctly, the following must be true of the naming scheme for sequences:

  • must not include any of the characters: :, ;, ,

Final note: that if your partition-file is a CSV file, you will also need to keep around the corresponding *-cluster-annotations.csv CSV generated by partis, and make sure its in the same directory as the parition-file, and named to match (if partition-file: partition.csv, then the cluster annotation file should be at partition-cluster-annotation.csv).

Running the pipeline

Note: Before you run the pipeline, you must follow the build environment setup section below.

CFT uses the scons build tool to execute the build process. Running scons from within the cft checkout directory loads the SConstruct file, which specifies how data is to be processed:

  • initial processing of partis results using bin/ to produce (among other things) a sequence file for each cluster/clonal-family
    • a quality filter is applied removing sequences with stop codons, with out of frame CDR3 regions, and with mutations in the invariant codons bounding the CDR3
  • build trees out of the sequences for each of these clusters
  • subset the sequences according to a couple of different strategies (seed lineage selection and overall diversity selection)
  • ancestral state reconstructions using this sequence subset, producing:
    • a tree file
    • an svg representation of the tree, with tips colored by timepoints and a highlighted seed lineage
    • a fasta file with sequences corresponding to internal nodes on the tree (the ancestral state reconstructions)
  • finally, produce a output/<dataset-id>/metadata.json file consumable by the cftweb web application summarizing this information

Running scons without modifying the SConstruct will run default tests on the partis output in tests/. To check that the output thereby produced matches the expected test output, run diff -ubr --exclude='*metadata.json' tests/test-output output

This particular SConstruct takes several command line parameters. Below are the most frequently used options, which must include = in the format --option=value:

  • --infiles: A : separated list of partis output directories relative to --base-datapath
  • --base-datapath: The location of --datapaths, if not specified as absolute paths.
  • --test: Run on a small subset of all the seeds, as defined in the SConstruct, rather than the whole dataset; Useful for testing new code.

A separate "dataset" directory and corresponding metadata.json file will be created for each infile and placed within the output directory, organized by the id attribute of the dataset infile. For the most complete and up to date reference on these, look at the tail Local Options section of scons -h.

You may also wish to take note of the following basic scons build options options:

  • -j: specify the number of jobs (parallelism) for the build
  • -k: if there is an error, stop building targets downstream of failure, but continue to build all targets not downstream of such errors
  • -i: if there is an error, continue running all jobs, including those downstream of failure
  • -n: perform a "dry run" of the pipeline, only printing out the commands that would be run without actually running any
  • --debug explain: scons print out why it's building each target (e.g. hasn't been built yet, updated command, changed upstream target, updated executable/script, etc.), useful to have in the logs for debugging

In general, it's good to run with -k so that on a first pass, you end up building as much of the data as you can properly build. If there are errors, try rerunning to make sure the problem isn't just an errant memory issue on your cluster, then look back at the logs and see if you can't debug the issue. If it's just a few clusters failing to build properly and you don't want to hold out on getting the rest of the built data into cftweb, you can rerun the build with -i, which will take a little longer to run through all of the failed build branches with missing files etc, but which should successfully compile the final output metadata.json files necessary for passing along to cftweb.

Typical example usage

# If you're using conda, as below, first activate the environment
source activate cft

# Build the data, running 12 jobs at a time (parallelism) and appending all stdout/stderr to a log file
scons --infiles=info1.yaml:info2.yaml -k -j 12 --debug explain &>> 2018-05-24.info1-build.log

# You can watch a live tail of the log file from another terminal window or tmux pane with
tail -f 2018-05-24.info1-build.log

# Once its done running, you can take a look at the output
tree output
# or if you don't have tree
find output

Note that you can install tree with sudo apt-get install tree on Ubuntu for a nice ASCII-art file tree display of the output contents.

Setting up the environment

  1. Install conda.
  2. Run conda create -y -c bioconda -c conda-forge --name cft --file requirements.txt.
  3. Activate the environment.
  4. Make sure you have cloned the git submodules (see below).
  5. Follow instructions below for submodules and slurm.
  6. Install the partis submodule.

Git submodules

Finally, there is some python code needed for the build script to execute which can be found in a number of git submodules. In particular, this repository has a partis submodule which should be kept in sync to avoid build issues.

  1. Check out these submodules: execute git submodule init then git submodule update.
  2. Set the PARTIS env variable: run export PARTIS=/path/to/cft/partis using the path to your submodule install or another install of partis.

More info on how to use git submodules here.

Using Slurm

The build pipeline is set up to use slurm for job submission on a number of the more compute heavy, long-running tasks. If you have a slurm environment set up to submit to a cluster, and are able to write from slurm nodes to a shared filesystem, you can potentially run with significantly higher parallelism than you would be able to on a single computer.

If you are running on Fredhutch's servers, this should all be set up for you, and you should be able to submit upwards of 50-70 jobs using the -j flag, as specified below. If you're not at the Hutch, setting up such a cluster is way out of scope for this document, but if you're inspired, good luck figuring it out!


Once the data is built, you can consume the fruits of this labor by passing the data off to Olmsted.