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DAS/2.1 Segments Document Specification for Genome Data Retrieval


Features are located on segments. A segment is the largest chunk of contiguous sequence. For fully sequenced organisms a segment may be a chromosome. For partially assembled genomes where the distance between the assembled regions is not known then each assembled region may be its own segment. If a server provides annotations in contig space then each contig is a segment. A specific set of segments is also called a coordinate system.

There are two ways for a versioned source record to describe which coordinate system it uses. The first is through a CAPABILITY element of type "segments". (The CAPABILITY elements list the different DAS interfaces and extensions supported by a server.) Fetching the corresponding query_uri returns a document of content-type 'application/x-das-segments+xml' listing information about each segment.

The second is through a COORDINATES element that uniquely characterizes the coordinate system but requires consulting other sources for details on the segments.

Example request and response




Content-Type: application/x-das-segments+xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<das:SEGMENTS xmlns:das="http://biodas.org/documents/das2">
 <das:SEGMENT uri="http://www.biodas.org/das2/h.sapiens/v37/segment/Chr1.xml"
     title="Chr1" length="245522847"
 <das:SEGMENT uri="http://www.biodas.org/das2/h.sapiens/v37/segment/Chr2.xml"
     title="Chr2" length="243018229"


Note that unlike the previous examples this document defined the new namespace abbreviation "das" instead of defining a default namespace.


A versioned source entry contains two ways to get information about the top-level segments used as a coordinate system. One is through a <a href="#global_seqids">global registry of COORDINATES URIs</a>. This is an abstract identifier scheme. The other is through a concrete link to a segments document, which lists information about each segment and how to get the sequence information.

The segments request is done through the query_uri of the "segments" CAPABILITY listed in the versioned source entry, as in the following:

<CAPABILITY type="segments"

Fetching that URI returns a document of content-type "application/x-das-segments+xml".

The versioned source may contain multiple segments CAPABILITIES. This occurs when there are multiple top-level coordinate systems for the annotation server, for example, with features annotated in both contig and chromosome coordinates.

When that occurs each segments CAPABILITY must have a 'coordinates' attribute containing a URI linking it to a COORDINATES element, which must also exist in the versioned source. Note that the coordinates URIs should but are not required to be in the global registry. You may make up a URI if none exists . For example:

<COORDINATES uri="http://sanger.ac.uk/das-registry/yeast-32-gene"
           taxid="4932" source="Gene_ID" authority="SGD32" version="3"/>
<COORDINATES uri="http://sanger.ac.uk/das-registry/yeast-32-chromosome"
           taxid="4932" source="Chromosome" authority="SGD32" version="3"/>

<CAPABILITY type="segments"
  coordinates="http://sanger.ac.uk/das-registry/yeast-32-gene" />

<CAPABILITY type="segments"
  coordinates="http://sanger.ac.uk/das-registry/yeast-32-chromosome" />

Example request and response




Content-Type: application/x-das-segments+xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<SEGMENTS xmlns="http://biodas.org/documents/das2"
 <FORMAT name="fasta" />
 <FORMAT name="agp" />
 <SEGMENT uri="2L" title="Chromosome 2L" length="186349"
   reference="http://www.flybase.org/genome/D_melanogaster/R4.3/dna/2L" />
 <SEGMENT uri="2R" title="Chromosome 2R" length="464030"
   reference="http://www.flybase.org/genome/D_melanogaster/R4.3/dna/2R" />
 <SEGMENT uri="3L" title="Chromosome 3L" length="419684"
   reference="http://www.flybase.org/genome/D_melanogaster/R4.3/dna/3L" />
 <SEGMENT uri="3R" title="Chromosome 3R" length="1428"
   reference="http://www.flybase.org/genome/D_melanogaster/R4.3/dna/3R" />
 <SEGMENT uri="4" title="Chromosome 4" length="43776"
   reference="http://www.flybase.org/genome/D_melanogaster/R4.3/dna/4" />
 <SEGMENT uri="X" title="Chromosome X" length="311673"
   reference="http://www.flybase.org/genome/D_melanogaster/R4.3/dna/X" />

Note that in the example the SEGMENT uri attributes are relative URIs and are resolved using the xml:base defined in the SEGMENTS element.

SEGMENTS element

The SEGMENTS element has zero or more FORMAT elements. A FORMAT element has the single attribute named 'name' describing the supported format. This specification defines the following format names:

Format name Meaning
das2xml a segments response of type application/x-das-segments+xml
fasta sequence data in FASTA format
raw sequence data with only residue names and newlines
agp Assembly data in AGP format
count the total number of segments, as a decimal string
      Used to get the segment count before potentially requesting
10,000s of segments
formats the standard das2xml format but without SEGMENT elements
    Used to get the format listing even when there are a large number
of segments

All versioned sources that have a "segments" capability must support the "das2xml" format. The "das2xml" FORMAT entry does not need to be specified in a FORMAT element. For details of use, see the next section.

SEGMENT element

The SEGMENTS element has zero or more SEGMENT elements. Each SEGMENT element has several attributes. The 'uri' attribute is a URI and must be unique for each SEGMENT. The 'title' attribute is a short title of at most a few words, meant for people. The 'length' attribute is an integer count of the total number of residues in the segment. The optional 'doc_href' is a URL for a web browser to display human-readable documentation.

The optional 'reference' attribute is a URI. It connects the given segment to the <a href="#global_seqids">globally agreed upon standard identifier</a> for that segment. For example, the following reference URI is the identifier for Human Chromosome 4, defined by NCBI assembly 34:


A client uses the reference identifier to merge features from different DAS annotation servers into a common view because two segments from different servers with the same reference identifier must be copies of the same underlying segment.

Segments query parameters

The segment URIs must be fetchable. This is used to return the sequence data. Each segment URI must support <a href="http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/interact/forms.html#h-">form-urlencoded</a> query parameters. The optional 'format' query specifies the data format to return, using the values in the recently defined FORMAT elements. If not given the default format is 'das2xml', which returns a segments document of content-type 'application/x-das-segments+xml' containing the details for only that segment. If the format query parameter is "fasta", then the content-type for the returned FASTA document should be "text/plain". FASTA records should have a title containing the segment name but a client may ignore the title.

The segment URI queries support a 'range' query parameter to limit the response to specific range of the segment. The query is of the form "$start:$end", for examples "100:200" and "345:9876". Note that the colon should be escaped for use in a URL.

The response must only include the sequence in the specified range. As usual, the first residue is 0 and the range includes the start position but not the end position. For example, if the sequence is "CATAGGTA" then range=1:3 is the subsequence "AT".

Suppose the following is the segment URI for human chromosome 2


Fetching that URL will return a segment document for chromosome 2. Fetching the URL with "format=fasta" in the query string, as in


returns the entire sequence for chromosome 2 in FASTA format. Adding "range=500:900", as in


returns the 400 residues starting from the 501st position of chromosome 2, still in FASTA format.

If the server does not support a requested format name then it MUST respond with an HTTP error message with status code 400 "Bad Request", and the message body SHOULD indicate that the requested format is not supported. If the server considers the response too large then it MUST respond with an HTTP error message with status code 413 "Request Entity Too Large", and the message body SHOULD indicate what the server would consider an acceptable response size. It is up to the server to determine how large is "too large".

If the start or end of the range is negative, or greater than the length of the segment, or beyond the limits of the integer data type used for the range then the server MAY respond with an HTTP error 400 "Bad Request". Servers MUST accept ranges from 0 up to and including the length of the segment,

except for the case where the response is considered too large