Quick-start Guide

This guide is walkthrough for the DESeq Browser from start to finish.

Getting Started

First off, we need to head to the DEBrowser webpage at this url:


Alternatively, if you have the R package installed, you can call these R commands:



For more information on installing DEBrowser locally, please consult our Local Install Guide.

Once you’ve made your way to the website, or you have a local instance of DEBrowser running, you will be greeted with this tab on the left:


To begin the DESeq process, you will need to select your Data file (TSV format) to be analyzed using DESeq. If you do not have a dataset to use, you can select to use the built in demo by clicking on the ‘Load Demo!’. To view the entire demo data file, you can download this demo set. For an example case study, try our advanced demo.

The TSV files used to describe the quantification counts are similar to this:


gene trans exp1 exp2 cont1 cont2
DQ714 uc007 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
DQ554 uc008 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
AK028 uc011 2.00 1.29 0.00 0.00

DEBrowser also accepts TSV’s via hyperlink by following a few conversion steps. First, using the API provided by Dolphin, we will convert TSV into an html represented TSV using this website:


The Two parameters it accepts (and examples) are:

  1. source=http://bioinfo.umassmed.edu/pub/debrowser/advanced_demo.tsv
  2. format=JSON

Leaving you with a hyperlink for:



Next you will need to encode the url so you can pass it to the DEBrowser website. You can find multiple url encoders online, such as the one located at this web address: http://www.url-encode-decode.com/.

Encoding our URL will turn it into this:




Now this link can be be used in debrowser as:


It accepts two parameters:

  1. jsonobject=http%3A%2F%2Fdolphin.umassmed.edu%2Fpublic%2Fapi%2F%3F



  2. title=no

The finished product of the link will look like this:




Inputting this URL into your browser will automatically load in that tsv to be analyzed by DEBrowser!

For more information about the input file, please visit our DESeq/DEBrowser tab within Readthedocs. Once you’ve selected your file and the upload has completed, you will then be shown the samples listed within your file uploaded as well as a few options.


The first option, ‘Go to DE Analysis’, takes you to the next step within the DESeq workflow. In order to run DESeq on your input data you first need to select which samples will go into your conditions. You can run multiple condition comparisons and view the results seperately as well. To remove samples from a condition, simply select the sample you wish to remove and hit the delete/backspace key. To add a sample to a condition you simply have to click on one of the condition text boxes to bring up a list of samples you can add to that comparison. Click on the sample you wish to add from the list and it will be added to the textbox for that comparison.


The second option, ‘Go to QC plots!’, takes you to a page where you can view quality control metrics on your data input. The page opens with an all-to-all plot displaying the correlation between each sample. Left of this plot is a panel which contains various parameters to alter the look of your plot such as width and height. You can change the type of dataset being viewed within these QC plots by selecting the dataset you want at the top of the left panel. Each dataset can have its own unique parameters to change and alter your QC plots.

In addition to the all-to-all plot, you can also view a heatmap representation of your data as well as a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) plot by selecting the specific plot option on the left panel under ‘QC Plots’. You can also select the type of clustering and distance method for the heatmap produced to further customize your quality control measures.

../_images/intro_sidebar.png ../_images/intro_qc_all2all.png ../_images/intro_qc_heatmap.png ../_images/intro_qc_pca.png

You can also view specific tables of your input data for each type of dataset available and search for a specific geneset by inputting a comma-seperated list of genes or regex terms to search for in the search box within the left panel. To view these tables, you must select the tab labeled ‘Tables’ as well as the dataset from the dropdown menu on the left panel.

Once you are happy with your dataset and you have selected your conditions within the ‘DE Analysis’ section, you can then hit ‘Submit!’ to begin.

The Main Plots

After clicking on the ‘Submit!’ button, DESeq2 will analyze your comparisons and store the results into seperate data tables. Shiny will then allow you to access this data, with multiple interactive features, at the click of a button. It is important to note that the resulting data produced from DESeq is normalized. Upon finishing the DESeq analysis, a tab based menu will appear with multiple options.


The first tab, the ‘Main Plots’ section, is where you will be able to view the interactive results plots. Plot choices include:

Scatter plot


Volcano plot


MA plot


You can hover over the scatterplot points to display more information about the point selected. A few bargraphs will be generated for the user to view as soon as a scatterplot point is hovered over.

../_images/bargraph.png ../_images/barplot.png

You can also select a specific region within the scatter plot and zoom in on the selected window.


Once you’ve selected a specific region, a new scatterplot of the selected area will appear on the right


You also have a wide array of options when it comes to fold change cut-off levels, padj cut-off values, which comparison set to use, and dataset of genes to analyze.


It is important to note that when conducting multiple comparisons, the comparisons are labeled based on the order that they are input. If you don’t remember which samples are in your current comparison you can always view the samples in each condition at the top of the main plots.


If you can select the type of plot at the bottom of the filter tab.


You can download the results in CSV or TSV format by selecting your ‘File type’ and clicking the ‘download’ button once you’ve ran DESeq. You can also download the plot or graphs themselves by clicking on the gear in the upper-left corner of each plot or graph.

Quality Control Plots

Selecting the ‘QC Plots’ tab will take you to the quality control plots section. These QC plots are very similar to the QC plots shown before running DESeq and the dataset being used here depends on the one you select in the left panel. In addition to the all-to-all plot shown within the previous QC analysis, users can also view a heatmap and PCA plot of their analyzed data by selecting the proper plot on the left menu. You can also choose the appropriate clustering and distance method you would like to use for this heatmap just abot the plot just like in the previous QC section.

For additional information about the clustering methods used, you can consult this website.

For additional information about the distance methods used, you can consult here.

For distances other than ‘cor’, the distance function defined will be ( 1 - (the correlation between samples)). Each qc plot also has options to adjust the plot height and width, as well as a download button for a pdf output located above each plot. For the Heatmap, you can also view an interactive session of the heatmap by selecting the ‘Interactive’ checkbox before submitting your heatmap request. Make sure that before selecting the interactive heatmap option that your dataset being used is ‘Up+down’. Just like in the Main Plots, you can click and drag to create a selection. To select a specific portion of the heatmap, make sure to highlight the middle of the heatmap gene box in order to fully select a specific gene. This selection can be used later within the GO Term plots for specific queries on your selection.


Your selection will also zoom in for better viewing resolution.


GO Term Plots

The next tab, ‘GO Term’, takes you to the ontology comparison portion of DEBrowser. From here you can select the standard dataset options such as p-adjust value, fold change cut off value, which comparison set to use, and which dataset to use on the left menu. In addition to these parameters, you also can choose from the 4 different ontology plot options: ‘enrichGO’, ‘enrichKEGG’, ‘Disease’, and ‘compareCluster’. Selecting one of these plot options queries their specific databases with your current DESeq results.


Your GO plots include:

  • enrichGO - use enriched GO terms
  • enrichKEGG - use enriched KEGG terms
  • Disease - enriched for diseases
  • compareClusters - comparison of your clustered data

The types of plots you will be able to generate include:

Summary plot:




Changing the type of ontology to use will also produce custom parameters for that specific ontology at the bottom of the left option panel.

Once you have adjusted all of your parameters, you may hit the submit button in the top right and then wait for the results to show on screen!

Data Tables

The lasttab at the top of the screen displays various different data tables. These datatables include:

  • All Detected
  • Up Regulated
  • Down Regulated
  • Up+down Regulated
  • Selected scatterplot points
  • Most varied genes
  • Comparison differences

All of the tables tables, except the Comparisons table, contain the following information:

  • ID - The specific gene ID
  • Sample Names - The names of the samples given and they’re corresponding tmm normalized counts
  • Conditions - The log averaged values
  • padj - padjusted value
  • log2FoldChange - The Log2 fold change
  • foldChange - The fold change
  • log10padj - The log 10 padjusted value

The Comparisons table generates values based on the number of comparisons you have conducted. For each pairwise comparison, these values will be generated:

  • Values for each sample used
  • foldChange of comparison A vs B
  • pvalue of comparison A vs B
  • padj value of comparison A vs B

You can further customize and filter each specific table a multitude of ways. For unique table or dataset options, select the type of table dataset you would like to customize on the left panel under ‘Choose a dataset’ to view it’s additional options. All of the tables have a built in search function at the top right of the table and you can further sort the table by column by clicking on the column header you wish to sort by. The ‘Search’ box on the left panel allows for multiple searches via a comma-seperated list. You can additionally use regex terms such as “^al” or “*lm” for even more advanced searching. This search will be applied to wherever you are within DEBrowser, including both the plots and the tables.