Genome browsers have become an intuitive and critical tool to visualize and analyze genomic features and data. Conventional genome browsers display data/annotations on a single reference genome/assembly; there are also genomic alignment viewer/browsers that help users visualize alignment, mismatch, and rearrangement between syntenic regions. However, there is a growing need for a comparative epigenome browser that can display genomic and epigenomic data sets across different species and enable users to compare them between syntenic regions. Here, we present the WashU Comparative Epigenome Browser. It allows users to load functional genomic data sets/annotations mapped to different genomes and display them over syntenic regions simultaneously. The browser also displays genetic differences between the genomes from single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) to structural variants (SVs) to visualize the association between epigenomic differences and genetic differences. Instead of anchoring all data sets to the reference genome coordinates, it creates independent coordinates of different genome assemblies to faithfully present features and data mapped to different genomes. It uses a simple, intuitive genome-align track to illustrate the syntenic relationship between different species. It extends the widely used WashU Epigenome Browser infrastructure and can be expanded to support multiple species. This new browser function will greatly facilitate comparative genomic/epigenomic research, as well as support the recent growing needs to directly compare and benchmark the T2T CHM13 assembly and other human genome assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-835
Number of pages12
JournalGenome research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


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