[Bioc-devel] Biostrings: List with DNAString does not unlist

Hervé Pagès hpages at fhcrc.org
Fri Apr 5 01:37:19 CEST 2013

Hi Julian,

On 04/04/2013 03:50 AM, Julian Gehring wrote:
> Hi,
> Unlisting does not work on a list with a 'DNAString' as a element,  the
> resulting object is still a list.  Is this behavior intentional?  Here
> an example that reproduces the issue in both the latest
> R-devel/bioc-devel and R-2.15.3/bioc-stable.
>    library(Biostrings)
>    d = DNAString("TTGAAAA-CTC-N")
>    class(d) ## -> DNAString
>    l = list(d)
>    class(l) ## -> list
>    u = unlist(l)
>    class(u) ## -> still a list, should be the same as 'd'

You're putting an S4 object inside an ordinary list so when you
call unlist() on that list, you are actually calling base::unlist(),
which doesn't know how to handle list elements that are S4 objects.
Maybe it should. Conceptually, non-recursive unlisting is equivalent
to 'do.call(c, l)' so it would be expected to work as long as trying
to combine the individual list elements with c() works.
Maybe base::unlist() could be improved to handle this situation but
that means someone has enough motivation to bring this on the
R-devel mailing list.

In the meantime you can unlist you're ordinary list with:

   > do.call(c, l)
     13-letter "DNAString" instance

Or, even better, use a DNAStringSet object to store a list of DNAString
objects. That's exactly what a DNAStringSet object is:

   > dna <- DNAStringSet(c("TTGAAAA-CTC-N", "", "ATTG"))

   > dna
     A DNAStringSet instance of length 3
       width seq
   [1]    13 TTGAAAA-CTC-N
   [2]     0
   [3]     4 ATTG

   > is(dna, "List")
   [1] TRUE

   > elementType(dna)
   [1] "DNAString"

   > dna[[1]]
     13-letter "DNAString" instance

   > unlist(dna)
     17-letter "DNAString" instance

Using a DNAStringSet should generally be much more efficient than
using an ordinary list, not only for unlisting, but for many other



> Best wishes
> Julian
> _______________________________________________
> Bioc-devel at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/bioc-devel

Hervé Pagès

Program in Computational Biology
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