Covering the bioinformatics niche and much more

Manipulating Strings: Again

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As I have not updated the website in a couple of weeks, I will try to catch up with the book instead of revisiting (for the time being) our past scripts. I am going to finish the book’s chapter 5 (our section 2) in the next post, where I will give a small introduction on how to output data to a file in Python. On this post we will check some of the methods that can be used to manipulate strings. The book gives only a couple of methods to be used in perl on string, but here I will show a longer list of Python methods that can be used on its immutable strings.

A full list of the methods can be found here and I will will give brief explanations on the ones I think are key for bioinformatics.

Remember that string cannot be changed in Python, so we will always going to use a buffer/temp variable to store our changed string when needed. – count this method returns the number of times you see a substring (a letter/number, a word, etc) in another string. You can also specify a start and an end positions to look for. This is handy if you are counting nucleotides/aaminoacids in a sequence. This method returns an integer – endswith this method checks the end of your string for a determined substring. Very handy of you need to check the tail end of your sequence right away. – find returns the position of the substring being searched, and -1 if it is not found. It is similar to the re.search we used before. This is very useful if you are looking for a determined motif/subsequence in a hurry. – islower returns a true bool (true or false) if all characters in the string are lowercase. False if at least one of the characters is uppercase. Very handy if you need to convert lowercase to UPPERCASE files for input in some application. Works in conjunction with the isupper which is basically the opposite. – join. We have seen this before: it concatenates strings using a determined separator. – lower and upper, that as their name might indicate return the string converted to lowercase/uppercase.This is also good for the conversion of sequence format in input files.

I will stop here. There are many other methods that can be used. Some of the above were already covered here and in the next posts we will take a look at the other ones, creating an application that actually performs some useful function.