This question pertains to iCLIP, but it could just as easily be ChIP-seq or ATAC-seq or mutation frequencies.
I have iCLIP read counts across the transcriptome and I wish to know if the signals are correlated - that is, where one of them is high, is the other likely to be high.
Often when dealing with such data (e.g. iCLIP data) we know that the data is generally sparse - that is at most positions both signals are zero and this is correct, and also zero-inflated - that is many bases that "should" have a signal are missing that data. So just calculating the Spearman's correlation is likely to give an artificially low value.
What might be a way to asses the association? I should add that the aim is the assess association of binding patterns within genes, rather than (or as well as) between genes.
Things I have thought of:
- Apply some sort of smoothing to the data (eg a rolling mean). Remove any bases with 0 in both samples. Compute the spearmans.
- Calculate the average pairwise distance between every read in sample one and every read in sample two. Compare this to data where the reads have been randomised within genes.
In the first case removing all bases with 0 in both samples seems wrong. But if 99.99% of all bases have zero in both samples, then this seems like its necessary for Spearman.
In the second case, the result seems like it would be non-intuitive to interpret. And also calculating this would be massively computationally intensive.