Single-pass, partial sequencing of complementary DNA (cDNA) libraries generates thousands of chromatograms that are processed into high quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs), and then assembled into contigs representative of putative genes. Usually, to be of value, ESTs and contigs must be associated with meaningful annotations, and made available to end-users.
A web application, Expressed Sequence Tag Information Management and Annotation (ESTIMA), has been created to meet the EST annotation and data management requirements of multiple high-throughput EST sequencing projects. It is anchored on individual ESTs and organized around different properties of ESTs including chromatograms, base-calling quality scores, structure of assembled transcripts, and multiple sources of comparison to infer functional annotation, Gene Ontology associations, and cDNA library information. ESTIMA consists of a relational database schema and a set of interactive query interfaces. These are integrated with a suite of web-based tools that allow a user to query and retrieve information. Further, query results are interconnected among the various EST properties. ESTIMA has several unique features. Users may run their own EST processing pipeline, search against preferred reference genomes, and use any clustering and assembly algorithm. The ESTIMA database schema is very flexible and accepts output from any EST processing and assembly pipeline.
ESTIMA has been used for the management of EST projects of many species, including honeybee (Apis mellifera), cattle (Bos taurus), songbird (Taeniopygia guttata), corn rootworm (Diabrotica vergifera), catfish (Ictalurus punctatus, Ictalurus furcatus), and apple (Malus x domestica). The entire resource may be downloaded and used as is, or readily adapted to fit the unique needs of other cDNA sequencing projects.
The scripts used to create the ESTIMA interface are freely available to academic users in an archived format from http://titan.biotec.uiuc.edu/ESTIMA/. The entity-relationship (E-R) diagrams and the programs used to generate the Oracle database tables are also available. We have also provided detailed installation instructions and a tutorial at the same website. Presently the chromatograms, EST databases and their annotations have been made available for cattle and honeybee brain EST projects. Non-academic users need to contact the W.M. Keck Center for Functional and Comparative Genomics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, for licensing information.