DOI: 10.1093/bib/bbad298 ISSN:

A fast and globally optimal solution for RNA-seq quantification

Huiguang Yi, Yanling Lin, Qing Chang, Wenfei Jin
  • Molecular Biology
  • Information Systems


Alignment-based RNA-seq quantification methods typically involve a time-consuming alignment process prior to estimating transcript abundances. In contrast, alignment-free RNA-seq quantification methods bypass this step, resulting in significant speed improvements. Existing alignment-free methods rely on the Expectation–Maximization (EM) algorithm for estimating transcript abundances. However, EM algorithms only guarantee locally optimal solutions, leaving room for further accuracy improvement by finding a globally optimal solution. In this study, we present TQSLE, the first alignment-free RNA-seq quantification method that provides a globally optimal solution for transcript abundances estimation. TQSLE adopts a two-step approach: first, it constructs a k-mer frequency matrix A for the reference transcriptome and a k-mer frequency vector b for the RNA-seq reads; then, it directly estimates transcript abundances by solving the linear equation ATAx = ATb. We evaluated the performance of TQSLE using simulated and real RNA-seq data sets and observed that, despite comparable speed to other alignment-free methods, TQSLE outperforms them in terms of accuracy. TQSLE is freely available at

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