As genome sequences are determined for increasing numbers of model organisms, demand has grown for better tools to facilitate unified genome annotation efforts by communities of biologists. Typically this process involves numerous experts from the field and the use of data from dispersed sources as evidence. This kind of collaborative annotation project requires specialized software solutions for efficient data tracking and processing.
As part of the scale-up phase of the ENCODE project (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements), the aim of the GENCODE project is to produce a highly accurate evidence-based reference gene annotation for the human genome. The AnnoTrack software system was developed to aid this effort. It integrates data from multiple distributed sources, highlights conflicts and facilitates the quick identification, prioritisation and resolution of problems during the process of genome annotation.
AnnoTrack has been in use for the last year and has proven a very valuable tool for large-scale genome annotation. Designed to interface with standard bioinformatics components, such as DAS servers and Ensembl databases, it is easy to setup and configure for different genome projects. The source code is available at http://annotrack.sanger.ac.uk.