Periodically repeating DNA and protein elements are involved in various important biological events including genomic evolution, gene regulation, protein complex formation, and immunity. Notably, the currently used genome editing tools such as ZFNs, TALENs, and CRISPRs are also all associated with periodically repeating biomolecules of natural organisms. Despite the biological importance of periodically repeating sequences and the expectation that new genome editing modules could be discovered from such periodical repeats, no software that globally detects such structured elements in large genomic resources in a high-throughput and unsupervised manner has been developed. We developed new software, SPADE (Search for Patterned DNA Elements), that exhaustively explores periodic DNA and protein repeats from large-scale genomic datasets based on k-mer periodicity evaluation. With a simple constraint, sequence periodicity, SPADE captured reported genome-editing-associated sequences and other protein families involving repeating domains such as tetratricopeptide, ankyrin and WD40 repeats with better performance than the other software designed for limited sets of repetitive biomolecular sequences, suggesting the high potential of this software to contribute to the discovery of new biological events and new genome editing modules.
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