The following is a full DNAscent workflow, where we’ll start off after Guppy has finished running (users that need help with Guppy should refer to the Oxford Nanopore webpages). In particular, we assume the following:

  • you have a directory of 1D R9.5 or R9.4.1 450bp/s Oxford Nanopore fast5 reads (which may be in subdirectories) that you want to use for detection,
  • these reads have been basecalled to fastq format using Albacore or Guppy (available from Oxford Nanopore),
  • you have a reference/genome file (in fasta format) for your reads.

Example Workflow

Download and compile DNAscent:

git clone --recursive
cd DNAscent
git checkout 2.0.2
cd ..

Concatenate the fastq files from Guppy:

cat /path/to/GuppyOutDirectory/*.fastq > reads.fastq

Align the reads with minimap2 and sort with samtools:

minimap2 -ax map-ont -o alignment.sam /path/to/reference.fasta reads.fastq
samtools view -Sb -o alignment.bam alignment.sam
samtools sort alignment.bam alignment.sorted
samtools index alignment.sorted.bam

Now we’re ready to use DNAscent. Let’s index the run:

DNAscent index -f /full/path/to/fast5 -s /full/path/to/GuppyOutDirectory/sequencing_summary.txt

This should put a file called index.dnascent in the current directory.

You can run DNAscent detect (on 10 threads, for example) by running:

DNAscent detect -b alignment.sorted.bam -r /full/path/to/reference.fasta -i index.dnascent -o output.detect -t 10

Alternatively, if the system has a CUDA-compatible GPU in it, we can run nvidia-smi to get an output that looks like the following:

| NVIDIA-SMI 450.51.06    Driver Version: 450.51.06    CUDA Version: 11.0     |
| GPU  Name        Persistence-M| Bus-Id        Disp.A | Volatile Uncorr. ECC |
| Fan  Temp  Perf  Pwr:Usage/Cap|         Memory-Usage | GPU-Util  Compute M. |
|                               |                      |               MIG M. |
|   0  Tesla P100-PCIE...  On   | 00000000:05:00.0 Off |                    0 |
| N/A   41C    P0    52W / 250W |   2571MiB / 16280MiB |     43%      Default |
|                               |                      |                  N/A |

| Processes:                                                                  |
|  GPU   GI   CI        PID   Type   Process name                  GPU Memory |
|        ID   ID                                                   Usage      |
|    0   N/A  N/A    178943      C   ...DNAscent_dev/bin/DNAscent     2569MiB |

From this, we can see that the GPU’s device ID is 0 (just to the left of Tesla) so we can run:

DNAscent detect -b alignment.sorted.bam -r /full/path/to/reference.fasta -i index.dnascent -o output.detect -t 10 --GPU 0

Note that we’re assuming the CUDA libraries for the GPU have been set up properly (see Download & Installation). If these libraries can’t be accessed, DNAscent will splash a warning saying so and default back to using CPUs.

When DNAscent detect is finished, it will should put a file called output.detect in the current directory. We can look at the individual positive BrdU calls with DNAscent psl. Let’s create a psl file that shows any position where BrdU is called at 0.7 probability or higher:

DNAscent psl -d output.detect -r /full/path/to/reference.fasta -o output --threshold 0.7

The resulting file output.psl can be loaded into IGV or the UCSC Genome Browser. At this point, we can make bedgraphs out of the DNAscent detect output (see Visualisation) which can also be loaded into IGV or the UCSC Genome Browser.

Lastly, we can run DNAscent forkSense on the output of DNAscent detect to measure replication fork movement. Let’s run it on four threads and specify that we want it to keep track of replication origins, forks, and termination sites:

DNAscent forkSense -d output.detect -o output.forkSense -t 4 --markOrigins --markTerminations --markForks

This will make three files: origins_DNAscent_forkSense.bed (with our origin calls), terminations_DNAscent_forkSense.bed (with our termination calls), and output.forkSense. We can load the two bed files directly into IGV to see where origins and terminiations were called in the genome.

We can visualise (see Visualisation) the first 1500 reads of output.forkSense by turning them into bedgraphs:

python -d output.detect -f output.forkSense -o newBedgraphDirectory -n 1500

This will create a new directory called newBedgraphDirectory. By passing both a forkSense and detect file to, the utility will convert them both into bedgraphs and organise them so that for each read, we can see the bp-resolution BrdU detection output from DNAscent detect right next to the left- and rightward-moving fork probabilities from DNAscent forkSense. These bedgraphs can then be loaded into IGV or the UCSC Genome Browser.


The workflow for a barcoded run is very similar to the workflow above with a few minor changes. If you’re using a barcoded run that you demultiplexed with Guppy, make a fastq file for each barcode and align each of them to the reference to make as many bam files as you have barcodes. Then run DNAscent detect on the bam file for each barcode. You only have to run DNAscent index once per run, and the same index.dnascent file can be passed to DNAscent detect regardless of which barcode you’re working with.