ISMapper: identifying transposase insertion sites in bacterial genomes from short read sequence data

Jane Hawkey, Mohammad Hamidian, Ryan R. Wick, David J. Edwards, Helen Billman-Jacobe, Ruth M. Hall, Kathryn E. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Insertion sequences (IS) are small transposable elements, commonly found in bacterial genomes. Identifying the location of IS in bacterial genomes can be useful for a variety of purposes including epidemiological tracking and predicting antibiotic resistance. However IS are commonly present in multiple copies in a single genome, which complicates genome assembly and the identification of IS insertion sites. Here we present ISMapper, a mapping-based tool for identification of the site and orientation of IS insertions in bacterial genomes, directly from paired-end short read data. Results: ISMapper was validated using three types of short read data: (i) simulated reads from a variety of species, (ii) Illumina reads from 5 isolates for which finished genome sequences were available for comparison, and (iii) Illumina reads from 7 Acinetobacter baumannii isolates for which predicted IS locations were tested using PCR. A total of 20 genomes, including 13 species and 32 distinct IS, were used for validation. ISMapper correctly identified 97 % of known IS insertions in the analysis of simulated reads, and 98 % in real Illumina reads. Subsampling of real Illumina reads to lower depths indicated ISMapper was able to correctly detect insertions for average genome-wide read depths >20x, although read depths >50x were required to obtain confident calls that were highly-supported by evidence from reads. All ISAba1 insertions identified by ISMapper in the A. baumannii genomes were confirmed by PCR. In each A. baumannii genome, ISMapper successfully identified an IS insertion upstream of the ampC beta-lactamase that could explain phenotypic resistance to third-generation cephalosporins. The utility of ISMapper was further demonstrated by profiling genome-wide IS6110 insertions in 138 publicly available Mycobacterium tuberculosis genomes, revealing lineage-specific insertions and multiple insertion hotspots. Conclusions: ISMapper provides a rapid and robust method for identifying IS insertion sites directly from short read data, with a high degree of accuracy demonstrated across a wide range of bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number667
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Bacteria
  • Genomics
  • Insertion sequence (IS)
  • Short read analysis
  • Tuberculosis

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