DNA physical mapping and alternating Eulerian cycles in colored graphs

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Small-scale DNA physical mapping (such as the Double Digest Problem or DDP) is an important and difficult problem in computational molecular biology. When enzyme sites are modeled by a random process, the number of solutions to DDP is known to increase exponentially as the length of DNA increases. However, the overwhelming majority of solutions are very similar and can be transformed into each other by simple transformations. Recently, Schmitt and Waterman [SW] introduced equivalence classes on the set of DDP solutions and raised an open problem to completely characterize equivalent physical maps.

We study the combinatorics of multiple solutions and the cassette transformations of Schmitt and Waterman. We demonstrate that the solutions to DDP are closely associated with alternating Eulerian cycles in colored graphs and study order transformations of alternating cycles. We prove that every two alternating Eulerian cycles in a bicolored graph can be transformed into each other by means of order transformations. Using this result we obtain a complete characterization of equivalent physical maps in the Schmitt-Waterman problem. It also allows us to prove Ukkonen's conjecture on word transformations preservingq-gram composition.

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This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grants DMS 90-05833 and CCR-93-08567 and the National Institute of Health under Grant GM-36230.

Communicated by E. W. Myers.

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Pevzner, P.A. DNA physical mapping and alternating Eulerian cycles in colored graphs. Algorithmica 13, 77–105 (1995) doi:10.1007/BF01188582

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Key words

  • Graph theory
  • DNA mapping
  • DNA sequencing