BEAVR – a browser-based tool for the exploration and visualization of RNA-seq data

The use of RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) in molecular biology research and clinical settings has increased significantly over the past decade. Despite its widespread adoption, there is a lack of simple and interactive tools to analyze and explore RNA-seq data. Many established tools require programming or Unix/Bash knowledge to analyze and visualize results. This requirement presents a significant barrier for many researchers to efficiently analyze and present RNA-seq data.

University of Western Ontario researchers have developed BEAVR, a Browser-based tool for the Exploration And Visualization of RNA-seq data. BEAVR is an easy-to-use tool that facilitates interactive analysis and exploration of RNA-seq data. BEAVR is developed in R and uses DESeq2 as its engine for differential gene expression (DGE) analysis, but assumes users have no prior knowledge of R or DESeq2BEAVR allows researchers to easily obtain a table of differentially-expressed genes with statistical testing and then visualize the results in a series of graphs, plots and heatmaps. Users are able to customize many parameters for statistical testing, dealing with variance, clustering methods and pathway analysis to generate high quality figures.

Overview of BEAVR’s graphical user interface and typical workflow

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a BEAVR’s easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) is divided into two areas; a main work area and a sidebar. The main work area has a tabbed-interface to select data output and figure displays. Depending on the tab selected in the main working area, the context-dependent sidebar will show appropriate options and parameters that allow the user to customize analysis, data output and figures. b BEAVR breaks down the RNA-seq analysis workflow into logical steps. Users begin by loading their data (raw read counts and sample information) and select experimental settings for analysis and statistical tests. Then differential gene expression (DGE) analysis is performed automatically using DESeq2, lastly the data is displayed in interactive tables, graphs and plots that users can explore, manipulate and customize

Availability – BEAVR and its documentation can be found on GitHub at https://github.com/developerpiru/BEAVRBEAVR is available as a Docker container at https://hub.docker.com/r/pirunthan/beavr.

Perampalam P, Dick FA. (2020) BEAVR: a browser-based tool for the exploration and visualization of RNA-seq data. BMC Bioinformatics 21, 221. [article]

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