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1.  BioModels.net Web Services, a free and integrated toolkit for computational modelling software 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2009;11(3):270-277.
Exchanging and sharing scientific results are essential for researchers in the field of computational modelling. BioModels.net defines agreed-upon standards for model curation. A fundamental one, MIRIAM (Minimum Information Requested in the Annotation of Models), standardises the annotation and curation process of quantitative models in biology. To support this standard, MIRIAM Resources maintains a set of standard data types for annotating models, and provides services for manipulating these annotations. Furthermore, BioModels.net creates controlled vocabularies, such as SBO (Systems Biology Ontology) which strictly indexes, defines and links terms used in Systems Biology. Finally, BioModels Database provides a free, centralised, publicly accessible database for storing, searching and retrieving curated and annotated computational models. Each resource provides a web interface to submit, search, retrieve and display its data. In addition, the BioModels.net team provides a set of Web Services which allows the community to programmatically access the resources. A user is then able to perform remote queries, such as retrieving a model and resolving all its MIRIAM Annotations, as well as getting the details about the associated SBO terms. These web services use established standards. Communications rely on SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) messages and the available queries are described in a WSDL (Web Services Description Language) file. Several libraries are provided in order to simplify the development of client software. BioModels.net Web Services make one step further for the researchers to simulate and understand the entirety of a biological system, by allowing them to retrieve biological models in their own tool, combine queries in workflows and efficiently analyse models.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbp056
PMCID: PMC2913671  PMID: 19939940
BioModels.net; Systems Biology; modelling; Web Services; annotation; ontology
2.  SWS: accessing SRS sites contents through Web Services 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9(Suppl 2):S15.
Background
Web Services and Workflow Management Systems can support creation and deployment of network systems, able to automate data analysis and retrieval processes in biomedical research. Web Services have been implemented at bioinformatics centres and workflow systems have been proposed for biological data analysis.
New databanks are often developed by taking into account these technologies, but many existing databases do not allow a programmatic access. Only a fraction of available databanks can thus be queried through programmatic interfaces. SRS is a well know indexing and search engine for biomedical databanks offering public access to many databanks and analysis tools. Unfortunately, these data are not easily and efficiently accessible through Web Services.
Results
We have developed ‘SRS by WS’ (SWS), a tool that makes information available in SRS sites accessible through Web Services. Information on known sites is maintained in a database, srsdb. SWS consists in a suite of WS that can query both srsdb, for information on sites and databases, and SRS sites. SWS returns results in a text-only format and can be accessed through a WSDL compliant client. SWS enables interoperability between workflow systems and SRS implementations, by also managing access to alternative sites, in order to cope with network and maintenance problems, and selecting the most up-to-date among available systems.
Conclusions
Development and implementation of Web Services, allowing to make a programmatic access to an exhaustive set of biomedical databases can significantly improve automation of in-silico analysis. SWS supports this activity by making biological databanks that are managed in public SRS sites available through a programmatic interface.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-S2-S15
PMCID: PMC2323664  PMID: 18387203
3.  Analysis Tool Web Services from the EMBL-EBI 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(Web Server issue):W597-W600.
Since 2004 the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) has provided access to a wide range of databases and analysis tools via Web Services interfaces. This comprises services to search across the databases available from the EMBL-EBI and to explore the network of cross-references present in the data (e.g. EB-eye), services to retrieve entry data in various data formats and to access the data in specific fields (e.g. dbfetch), and analysis tool services, for example, sequence similarity search (e.g. FASTA and NCBI BLAST), multiple sequence alignment (e.g. Clustal Omega and MUSCLE), pairwise sequence alignment and protein functional analysis (e.g. InterProScan and Phobius). The REST/SOAP Web Services (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/webservices/) interfaces to these databases and tools allow their integration into other tools, applications, web sites, pipeline processes and analytical workflows. To get users started using the Web Services, sample clients are provided covering a range of programming languages and popular Web Service tool kits, and a brief guide to Web Services technologies, including a set of tutorials, is available for those wishing to learn more and develop their own clients. Users of the Web Services are informed of improvements and updates via a range of methods.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt376
PMCID: PMC3692137  PMID: 23671338
4.  The BioPrompt-box: an ontology-based clustering tool for searching in biological databases 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S8.
Background
High-throughput molecular biology provides new data at an incredible rate, so that the increase in the size of biological databanks is enormous and very rapid. This scenario generates severe problems not only at indexing time, where suitable algorithmic techniques for data indexing and retrieval are required, but also at query time, since a user query may produce such a large set of results that their browsing and "understanding" becomes humanly impractical. This problem is well known to the Web community, where a new generation of Web search engines is being developed, like Vivisimo. These tools organize on-the-fly the results of a user query in a hierarchy of labeled folders that ease their browsing and knowledge extraction. We investigate this approach on biological data, and propose the so called The BioPrompt-boxsoftware system which deploys ontology-driven clustering strategies for making the searching process of biologists more efficient and effective.
Results
The BioPrompt-box (Bpb) defines a document as a biological sequence plus its associated meta-data taken from the underneath databank – like references to ontologies or to external databanks, and plain texts as comments of researchers and (title, abstracts or even body of) papers. Bpboffers several tools to customize the search and the clustering process over its indexed documents. The user can search a set of keywords within a specific field of the document schema, or can execute Blastto find documents relative to homologue sequences. In both cases the search task returns a set of documents (hits) which constitute the answer to the user query. Since the number of hits may be large, Bpbclusters them into groups of homogenous content, organized as a hierarchy of labeled clusters. The user can actually choose among several ontology-based hierarchical clustering strategies, each offering a different "view" of the returned hits. Bpbcomputes these views by exploiting the meta-data present within the retrieved documents such as the references to Gene Ontology, the taxonomy lineage, the organism and the keywords. Of course, the approach is flexible enough to leave room for future additions of other meta-information. The ultimate goal of the clustering process is to provide the user with several different readings of the (maybe numerous) query results and show possible hidden correlations among them, thus improving their browsing and understanding.
Conclusion
Bpb is a powerful search engine that makes it very easy to perform complex queries over the indexed databanks (currently only UNIPROT is considered). The ontology-based clustering approach is efficient and effective, and could thus be applied successfully to larger databanks, like GenBank or EMBL.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-S1-S8
PMCID: PMC1885860  PMID: 17430575
5.  Applications and methods utilizing the Simple Semantic Web Architecture and Protocol (SSWAP) for bioinformatics resource discovery and disparate data and service integration 
BioData Mining  2010;3:3.
Background
Scientific data integration and computational service discovery are challenges for the bioinformatic community. This process is made more difficult by the separate and independent construction of biological databases, which makes the exchange of data between information resources difficult and labor intensive. A recently described semantic web protocol, the Simple Semantic Web Architecture and Protocol (SSWAP; pronounced "swap") offers the ability to describe data and services in a semantically meaningful way. We report how three major information resources (Gramene, SoyBase and the Legume Information System [LIS]) used SSWAP to semantically describe selected data and web services.
Methods
We selected high-priority Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL), genomic mapping, trait, phenotypic, and sequence data and associated services such as BLAST for publication, data retrieval, and service invocation via semantic web services. Data and services were mapped to concepts and categories as implemented in legacy and de novo community ontologies. We used SSWAP to express these offerings in OWL Web Ontology Language (OWL), Resource Description Framework (RDF) and eXtensible Markup Language (XML) documents, which are appropriate for their semantic discovery and retrieval. We implemented SSWAP services to respond to web queries and return data. These services are registered with the SSWAP Discovery Server and are available for semantic discovery at http://sswap.info.
Results
A total of ten services delivering QTL information from Gramene were created. From SoyBase, we created six services delivering information about soybean QTLs, and seven services delivering genetic locus information. For LIS we constructed three services, two of which allow the retrieval of DNA and RNA FASTA sequences with the third service providing nucleic acid sequence comparison capability (BLAST).
Conclusions
The need for semantic integration technologies has preceded available solutions. We report the feasibility of mapping high priority data from local, independent, idiosyncratic data schemas to common shared concepts as implemented in web-accessible ontologies. These mappings are then amenable for use in semantic web services. Our implementation of approximately two dozen services means that biological data at three large information resources (Gramene, SoyBase, and LIS) is available for programmatic access, semantic searching, and enhanced interaction between the separate missions of these resources.
doi:10.1186/1756-0381-3-3
PMCID: PMC2894815  PMID: 20525377
6.  search GenBank: interactive orchestration and ad-hoc choreography of Web services in the exploration of the biomedical resources of the National Center For Biotechnology Information 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14:73.
Background
Due to the growing number of biomedical entries in data repositories of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it is difficult to collect, manage and process all of these entries in one place by third-party software developers without significant investment in hardware and software infrastructure, its maintenance and administration. Web services allow development of software applications that integrate in one place the functionality and processing logic of distributed software components, without integrating the components themselves and without integrating the resources to which they have access. This is achieved by appropriate orchestration or choreography of available Web services and their shared functions. After the successful application of Web services in the business sector, this technology can now be used to build composite software tools that are oriented towards biomedical data processing.
Results
We have developed a new tool for efficient and dynamic data exploration in GenBank and other NCBI databases. A dedicated search GenBank system makes use of NCBI Web services and a package of Entrez Programming Utilities (eUtils) in order to provide extended searching capabilities in NCBI data repositories. In search GenBank users can use one of the three exploration paths: simple data searching based on the specified user’s query, advanced data searching based on the specified user’s query, and advanced data exploration with the use of macros. search GenBank orchestrates calls of particular tools available through the NCBI Web service providing requested functionality, while users interactively browse selected records in search GenBank and traverse between NCBI databases using available links. On the other hand, by building macros in the advanced data exploration mode, users create choreographies of eUtils calls, which can lead to the automatic discovery of related data in the specified databases.
Conclusions
search GenBank extends standard capabilities of the NCBI Entrez search engine in querying biomedical databases. The possibility of creating and saving macros in the search GenBank is a unique feature and has a great potential. The potential will further grow in the future with the increasing density of networks of relationships between data stored in particular databases. search GenBank is available for public use at http://sgb.biotools.pl/.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-73
PMCID: PMC3602006  PMID: 23452691
NCBI entrez; Entrez databases; Entrez search engine; Entrez programming utilities; Data exploration; Data searching; Data querying; Web services; Orchestration; Choreography
7.  The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(1):21-26.
The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (aka EMBL-Bank; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/) incorporates, organises and distributes nucleotide sequences from all available public sources. EMBL-Bank is located and maintained at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) near Cambridge, UK. In an international collaboration with DDBJ (Japan) and GenBank (USA), data are exchanged amongst the collaborating databases on a daily basis. Major contributors to the EMBL database are individual scientists and genome project groups. Webin is the preferred web-based submission system for individual submitters, whilst automatic procedures allow incorporation of sequence data from large-scale genome sequencing centres and from the European Patent Office (EPO). Database releases are produced quarterly. Network services allow free access to the most up-to-date data collection via FTP, email and World Wide Web interfaces. EBI’s Sequence Retrieval System (SRS), a network browser for databanks in molecular biology, integrates and links the main nucleotide and protein databases plus many other specialized databases. For sequence similarity searching, a variety of tools (e.g. Blitz, Fasta, BLAST) are available which allow external users to compare their own sequences against the latest data in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database and SWISS-PROT. All resources can be accessed via the EBI home page at http://www.ebi.ac.uk.
PMCID: PMC99098  PMID: 11752244
8.  The Ontology Lookup Service, a lightweight cross-platform tool for controlled vocabulary queries 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:97.
Background
With the vast amounts of biomedical data being generated by high-throughput analysis methods, controlled vocabularies and ontologies are becoming increasingly important to annotate units of information for ease of search and retrieval. Each scientific community tends to create its own locally available ontology. The interfaces to query these ontologies tend to vary from group to group. We saw the need for a centralized location to perform controlled vocabulary queries that would offer both a lightweight web-accessible user interface as well as a consistent, unified SOAP interface for automated queries.
Results
The Ontology Lookup Service (OLS) was created to integrate publicly available biomedical ontologies into a single database. All modified ontologies are updated daily. A list of currently loaded ontologies is available online. The database can be queried to obtain information on a single term or to browse a complete ontology using AJAX. Auto-completion provides a user-friendly search mechanism. An AJAX-based ontology viewer is available to browse a complete ontology or subsets of it. A programmatic interface is available to query the webservice using SOAP. The service is described by a WSDL descriptor file available online. A sample Java client to connect to the webservice using SOAP is available for download from SourceForge. All OLS source code is publicly available under the open source Apache Licence.
Conclusion
The OLS provides a user-friendly single entry point for publicly available ontologies in the Open Biomedical Ontology (OBO) format. It can be accessed interactively or programmatically at .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-97
PMCID: PMC1420335  PMID: 16507094
9.  The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(Database issue):D27-D30.
The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/), maintained at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), incorporates, organizes and distributes nucleotide sequences from public sources. The database is a part of an international collaboration with DDBJ (Japan) and GenBank (USA). Data are exchanged between the collaborating databases on a daily basis to achieve optimal synchrony. The web-based tool, Webin, is the preferred system for individual submission of nucleotide sequences, including Third Party Annotation (TPA) and alignment data. Automatic submission procedures are used for submission of data from large-scale genome sequencing centres and from the European Patent Office. Database releases are produced quarterly. The latest data collection can be accessed via FTP, email and WWW interfaces. The EBI’s Sequence Retrieval System (SRS) integrates and links the main nucleotide and protein databases as well as many other specialist molecular biology databases. For sequence similarity searching, a variety of tools (e.g. FASTA and BLAST) are available that allow external users to compare their own sequences against the data in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database, the complete genomic component subsection of the database, the WGS data sets and other databases. All available resources can be accessed via the EBI home page at http://www.ebi.ac.uk.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkh120
PMCID: PMC308854  PMID: 14681351
10.  The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database: major new developments 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(1):17-22.
The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/) incorporates, organizes and distributes nucleotide sequences from all available public sources. The database is located and maintained at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) near Cambridge, UK. In an international collaboration with DDBJ (Japan) and GenBank (USA), data are exchanged amongst the collaborating databases on a daily basis to achieve optimal synchronization. Webin is the preferred web-based submission system for individual submitters, while automatic procedures allow incorporation of sequence data from large-scale genome sequencing centres and from the European Patent Office (EPO). Database releases are produced quarterly. Network services allow free access to the most up-to-date data collection via FTP, Email and World Wide Web interfaces. EBI's Sequence Retrieval System (SRS) integrates and links the main nucleotide and protein databases plus many other specialized molecular biology databases. For sequence similarity searching, a variety of tools (e.g. Fasta, BLAST) are available which allow external users to compare their own sequences against the latest data in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database and SWISS-PROT. All resources can be accessed via the EBI home page at http://www.ebi.ac.uk.
PMCID: PMC165468  PMID: 12519939
11.  BioPortal: ontologies and integrated data resources at the click of a mouse 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(Web Server issue):W170-W173.
Biomedical ontologies provide essential domain knowledge to drive data integration, information retrieval, data annotation, natural-language processing and decision support. BioPortal (http://bioportal.bioontology.org) is an open repository of biomedical ontologies that provides access via Web services and Web browsers to ontologies developed in OWL, RDF, OBO format and Protégé frames. BioPortal functionality includes the ability to browse, search and visualize ontologies. The Web interface also facilitates community-based participation in the evaluation and evolution of ontology content by providing features to add notes to ontology terms, mappings between terms and ontology reviews based on criteria such as usability, domain coverage, quality of content, and documentation and support. BioPortal also enables integrated search of biomedical data resources such as the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), ClinicalTrials.gov, and ArrayExpress, through the annotation and indexing of these resources with ontologies in BioPortal. Thus, BioPortal not only provides investigators, clinicians, and developers ‘one-stop shopping’ to programmatically access biomedical ontologies, but also provides support to integrate data from a variety of biomedical resources.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkp440
PMCID: PMC2703982  PMID: 19483092
12.  User centered and ontology based information retrieval system for life sciences 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 1):S4.
Background
Because of the increasing number of electronic resources, designing efficient tools to retrieve and exploit them is a major challenge. Some improvements have been offered by semantic Web technologies and applications based on domain ontologies. In life science, for instance, the Gene Ontology is widely exploited in genomic applications and the Medical Subject Headings is the basis of biomedical publications indexation and information retrieval process proposed by PubMed. However current search engines suffer from two main drawbacks: there is limited user interaction with the list of retrieved resources and no explanation for their adequacy to the query is provided. Users may thus be confused by the selection and have no idea on how to adapt their queries so that the results match their expectations.
Results
This paper describes an information retrieval system that relies on domain ontology to widen the set of relevant documents that is retrieved and that uses a graphical rendering of query results to favor user interactions. Semantic proximities between ontology concepts and aggregating models are used to assess documents adequacy with respect to a query. The selection of documents is displayed in a semantic map to provide graphical indications that make explicit to what extent they match the user's query; this man/machine interface favors a more interactive and iterative exploration of data corpus, by facilitating query concepts weighting and visual explanation. We illustrate the benefit of using this information retrieval system on two case studies one of which aiming at collecting human genes related to transcription factors involved in hemopoiesis pathway.
Conclusions
The ontology based information retrieval system described in this paper (OBIRS) is freely available at: http://www.ontotoolkit.mines-ales.fr/ObirsClient/. This environment is a first step towards a user centred application in which the system enlightens relevant information to provide decision help.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC3434427  PMID: 22373375
13.  Biowep: a workflow enactment portal for bioinformatics applications 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S19.
Background
The huge amount of biological information, its distribution over the Internet and the heterogeneity of available software tools makes the adoption of new data integration and analysis network tools a necessity in bioinformatics. ICT standards and tools, like Web Services and Workflow Management Systems (WMS), can support the creation and deployment of such systems. Many Web Services are already available and some WMS have been proposed. They assume that researchers know which bioinformatics resources can be reached through a programmatic interface and that they are skilled in programming and building workflows. Therefore, they are not viable to the majority of unskilled researchers. A portal enabling these to take profit from new technologies is still missing.
Results
We designed biowep, a web based client application that allows for the selection and execution of a set of predefined workflows. The system is available on-line. Biowep architecture includes a Workflow Manager, a User Interface and a Workflow Executor. The task of the Workflow Manager is the creation and annotation of workflows. These can be created by using either the Taverna Workbench or BioWMS. Enactment of workflows is carried out by FreeFluo for Taverna workflows and by BioAgent/Hermes, a mobile agent-based middleware, for BioWMS ones. Main workflows' processing steps are annotated on the basis of their input and output, elaboration type and application domain by using a classification of bioinformatics data and tasks. The interface supports users authentication and profiling. Workflows can be selected on the basis of users' profiles and can be searched through their annotations. Results can be saved.
Conclusion
We developed a web system that support the selection and execution of predefined workflows, thus simplifying access for all researchers. The implementation of Web Services allowing specialized software to interact with an exhaustive set of biomedical databases and analysis software and the creation of effective workflows can significantly improve automation of in-silico analysis. Biowep is available for interested researchers as a reference portal. They are invited to submit their workflows to the workflow repository. Biowep is further being developed in the sphere of the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Technologies in Bioinformatics – LITBIO.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-S1-S19
PMCID: PMC1885848  PMID: 17430563
14.  The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(1):18-24.
The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl.html) constitutes Europe's primary nucleotide sequence resource. Main sources for DNA and RNA sequences are direct submissions from individual researchers, genome sequencing projects and patent applications. While automatic procedures allow incorporation of sequence data from large-scale genome sequencing centres and from the European Patent Office (EPO), the preferred submission tool for individual submitters is Webin (WWW). Through all stages, dataflow is monitored by EBI biologists communicating with the sequencing groups. In collaboration with DDBJ and GenBank the database is produced, maintained and distributed at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). Database releases are produced quarterly and are distributed on CD-ROM. Network services allow access to the most up-to-date data collection via Internet and World Wide Web interface. EBI's Sequence Retrieval System (SRS) is a Network Browser for Databanks in Molecular Biology, integrating and linking the main nucleotide and protein databases, plus many specialised databases. For sequence similarity searching a variety of tools (e.g. Blitz, Fasta, Blast etc) are available for external users to compare their own sequences against the most currently available data in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database and SWISS-PROT.
PMCID: PMC148088  PMID: 9847133
15.  CGKB: an annotation knowledge base for cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) methylation filtered genomic genespace sequences 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:129.
Background
Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] is one of the most important food and forage legumes in the semi-arid tropics because of its ability to tolerate drought and grow on poor soils. It is cultivated mostly by poor farmers in developing countries, with 80% of production taking place in the dry savannah of tropical West and Central Africa. Cowpea is largely an underexploited crop with relatively little genomic information available for use in applied plant breeding. The goal of the Cowpea Genomics Initiative (CGI), funded by the Kirkhouse Trust, a UK-based charitable organization, is to leverage modern molecular genetic tools for gene discovery and cowpea improvement. One aspect of the initiative is the sequencing of the gene-rich region of the cowpea genome (termed the genespace) recovered using methylation filtration technology and providing annotation and analysis of the sequence data.
Description
CGKB, Cowpea Genespace/Genomics Knowledge Base, is an annotation knowledge base developed under the CGI. The database is based on information derived from 298,848 cowpea genespace sequences (GSS) isolated by methylation filtering of genomic DNA. The CGKB consists of three knowledge bases: GSS annotation and comparative genomics knowledge base, GSS enzyme and metabolic pathway knowledge base, and GSS simple sequence repeats (SSRs) knowledge base for molecular marker discovery. A homology-based approach was applied for annotations of the GSS, mainly using BLASTX against four public FASTA formatted protein databases (NCBI GenBank Proteins, UniProtKB-Swiss-Prot, UniprotKB-PIR (Protein Information Resource), and UniProtKB-TrEMBL). Comparative genome analysis was done by BLASTX searches of the cowpea GSS against four plant proteomes from Arabidopsis thaliana, Oryza sativa, Medicago truncatula, and Populus trichocarpa. The possible exons and introns on each cowpea GSS were predicted using the HMM-based Genscan gene predication program and the potential domains on annotated GSS were analyzed using the HMMER package against the Pfam database. The annotated GSS were also assigned with Gene Ontology annotation terms and integrated with 228 curated plant metabolic pathways from the Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) knowledge base. The UniProtKB-Swiss-Prot ENZYME database was used to assign putative enzymatic function to each GSS. Each GSS was also analyzed with the Tandem Repeat Finder (TRF) program in order to identify potential SSRs for molecular marker discovery. The raw sequence data, processed annotation, and SSR results were stored in relational tables designed in key-value pair fashion using a PostgreSQL relational database management system. The biological knowledge derived from the sequence data and processed results are represented as views or materialized views in the relational database management system. All materialized views are indexed for quick data access and retrieval. Data processing and analysis pipelines were implemented using the Perl programming language. The web interface was implemented in JavaScript and Perl CGI running on an Apache web server. The CPU intensive data processing and analysis pipelines were run on a computer cluster of more than 30 dual-processor Apple XServes. A job management system called Vela was created as a robust way to submit large numbers of jobs to the Portable Batch System (PBS).
Conclusion
CGKB is an integrated and annotated resource for cowpea GSS with features of homology-based and HMM-based annotations, enzyme and pathway annotations, GO term annotation, toolkits, and a large number of other facilities to perform complex queries. The cowpea GSS, chloroplast sequences, mitochondrial sequences, retroelements, and SSR sequences are available as FASTA formatted files and downloadable at CGKB. This database and web interface are publicly accessible at .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-129
PMCID: PMC1868039  PMID: 17445272
16.  Opal web services for biomedical applications 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W724-W731.
Biomedical applications have become increasingly complex, and they often require large-scale high-performance computing resources with a large number of processors and memory. The complexity of application deployment and the advances in cluster, grid and cloud computing require new modes of support for biomedical research. Scientific Software as a Service (sSaaS) enables scalable and transparent access to biomedical applications through simple standards-based Web interfaces. Towards this end, we built a production web server (http://ws.nbcr.net) in August 2007 to support the bioinformatics application called MEME. The server has grown since to include docking analysis with AutoDock and AutoDock Vina, electrostatic calculations using PDB2PQR and APBS, and off-target analysis using SMAP. All the applications on the servers are powered by Opal, a toolkit that allows users to wrap scientific applications easily as web services without any modification to the scientific codes, by writing simple XML configuration files. Opal allows both web forms-based access and programmatic access of all our applications. The Opal toolkit currently supports SOAP-based Web service access to a number of popular applications from the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR) and affiliated collaborative and service projects. In addition, Opal’s programmatic access capability allows our applications to be accessed through many workflow tools, including Vision, Kepler, Nimrod/K and VisTrails. From mid-August 2007 to the end of 2009, we have successfully executed 239 814 jobs. The number of successfully executed jobs more than doubled from 205 to 411 per day between 2008 and 2009. The Opal-enabled service model is useful for a wide range of applications. It provides for interoperation with other applications with Web Service interfaces, and allows application developers to focus on the scientific tool and workflow development. Web server availability: http://ws.nbcr.net.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq503
PMCID: PMC2896135  PMID: 20529877
17.  Development and tuning of an original search engine for patent libraries in medicinal chemistry 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(Suppl 1):S15.
Background
The large increase in the size of patent collections has led to the need of efficient search strategies. But the development of advanced text-mining applications dedicated to patents of the biomedical field remains rare, in particular to address the needs of the pharmaceutical & biotech industry, which intensively uses patent libraries for competitive intelligence and drug development.
Methods
We describe here the development of an advanced retrieval engine to search information in patent collections in the field of medicinal chemistry. We investigate and combine different strategies and evaluate their respective impact on the performance of the search engine applied to various search tasks, which covers the putatively most frequent search behaviours of intellectual property officers in medical chemistry: 1) a prior art search task; 2) a technical survey task; and 3) a variant of the technical survey task, sometimes called known-item search task, where a single patent is targeted.
Results
The optimal tuning of our engine resulted in a top-precision of 6.76% for the prior art search task, 23.28% for the technical survey task and 46.02% for the variant of the technical survey task. We observed that co-citation boosting was an appropriate strategy to improve prior art search tasks, while IPC classification of queries was improving retrieval effectiveness for technical survey tasks. Surprisingly, the use of the full body of the patent was always detrimental for search effectiveness. It was also observed that normalizing biomedical entities using curated dictionaries had simply no impact on the search tasks we evaluate. The search engine was finally implemented as a web-application within Novartis Pharma. The application is briefly described in the report.
Conclusions
We have presented the development of a search engine dedicated to patent search, based on state of the art methods applied to patent corpora. We have shown that a proper tuning of the system to adapt to the various search tasks clearly increases the effectiveness of the system. We conclude that different search tasks demand different information retrieval engines' settings in order to yield optimal end-user retrieval.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-15-S1-S15
PMCID: PMC4015144  PMID: 24564220
18.  Finding biomarkers in non-model species: literature mining of transcription factors involved in bovine embryo development 
BioData Mining  2012;5:12.
Background
Since processes in well-known model organisms have specific features different from those in Bos taurus, the organism under study, a good way to describe gene regulation in ruminant embryos would be a species-specific consideration of closely related species to cattle, sheep and pig. However, as highlighted by a recent report, gene dictionaries in pig are smaller than in cattle, bringing a risk to reduce the gene resources to be mined (and so for sheep dictionaries). Bioinformatics approaches that allow an integration of available information on gene function in model organisms, taking into account their specificity, are thus needed. Besides these closely related and biologically relevant species, there is indeed much more knowledge of (i) trophoblast proliferation and differentiation or (ii) embryogenesis in human and mouse species, which provides opportunities for reconstructing proliferation and/or differentiation processes in other mammalian embryos, including ruminants. The necessary knowledge can be obtained partly from (i) stem cell or cancer research to supply useful information on molecular agents or molecular interactions at work in cell proliferation and (ii) mouse embryogenesis to supply useful information on embryo differentiation. However, the total number of publications for all these topics and species is great and their manual processing would be tedious and time consuming. This is why we used text mining for automated text analysis and automated knowledge extraction. To evaluate the quality of this “mining”, we took advantage of studies that reported gene expression profiles during the elongation of bovine embryos and defined a list of transcription factors (or TF, n = 64) that we used as biological “gold standard”. When successful, the “mining” approach would identify them all, as well as novel ones.
Methods
To gain knowledge on molecular-genetic regulations in a non model organism, we offer an approach based on literature-mining and score arrangement of data from model organisms. This approach was applied to identify novel transcription factors during bovine blastocyst elongation, a process that is not observed in rodents and primates. As a result, searching through human and mouse corpuses, we identified numerous bovine homologs, among which 11 to 14% of transcription factors including the gold standard TF as well as novel TF potentially important to gene regulation in ruminant embryo development. The scripts of the workflow are written in Perl and available on demand. They require data input coming from all various databases for any kind of biological issue once the data has been prepared according to keywords for the studied topic and species; we can provide data sample to illustrate the use and functionality of the workflow.
Results
To do so, we created a workflow that allowed the pipeline processing of literature data and biological data, extracted from Web of Science (WoS) or PubMed but also from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), Gene Ontology (GO), Uniprot, HomoloGene, TcoF-DB and TFe (TF encyclopedia). First, the human and mouse homologs of the bovine proteins were selected, filtered by text corpora and arranged by score functions. The score functions were based on the gene name frequencies in corpora. Then, transcription factors were identified using TcoF-DB and double-checked using TFe to characterise TF groups and families. Thus, among a search space of 18,670 bovine homologs, 489 were identified as transcription factors. Among them, 243 were absent from the high-throughput data available at the time of the study. They thus stand so far for putative TF acting during bovine embryo elongation, but might be retrieved from a recent RNA sequencing dataset (Mamo et al. , 2012). Beyond the 246 TF that appeared expressed in bovine elongating tissues, we restricted our interpretation to those occurring within a list of 50 top-ranked genes. Among the transcription factors identified therein, half belonged to the gold standard (ASCL2, c-FOS, ETS2, GATA3, HAND1) and half did not (ESR1, HES1, ID2, NANOG, PHB2, TP53, STAT3).
Conclusions
A workflow providing search for transcription factors acting in bovine elongation was developed. The model assumed that proteins sharing the same protein domains in closely related species had the same protein functionalities, even if they were differently regulated among species or involved in somewhat different pathways. Under this assumption, we merged the information on different mammalian species from different databases (literature and biology) and proposed 489 TF as potential participants of embryo proliferation and differentiation, with (i) a recall of 95% with regard to a biological gold standard defined in 2011 and (ii) an extension of more than 3 times the gold standard of TF detected so far in elongating tissues. The working capacity of the workflow was supported by the manual expertise of the biologists on the results. The workflow can serve as a new kind of bioinformatics tool to work on fused data sources and can thus be useful in studies of a wide range of biological processes.
doi:10.1186/1756-0381-5-12
PMCID: PMC3563503  PMID: 22931563
19.  PubChem3D: a new resource for scientists 
Background
PubChem is an open repository for small molecules and their experimental biological activity. PubChem integrates and provides search, retrieval, visualization, analysis, and programmatic access tools in an effort to maximize the utility of contributed information. There are many diverse chemical structures with similar biological efficacies against targets available in PubChem that are difficult to interrelate using traditional 2-D similarity methods. A new layer called PubChem3D is added to PubChem to assist in this analysis.
Description
PubChem generates a 3-D conformer model description for 92.3% of all records in the PubChem Compound database (when considering the parent compound of salts). Each of these conformer models is sampled to remove redundancy, guaranteeing a minimum (non-hydrogen atom pair-wise) RMSD between conformers. A diverse conformer ordering gives a maximal description of the conformational diversity of a molecule when only a subset of available conformers is used. A pre-computed search per compound record gives immediate access to a set of 3-D similar compounds (called "Similar Conformers") in PubChem and their respective superpositions. Systematic augmentation of PubChem resources to include a 3-D layer provides users with new capabilities to search, subset, visualize, analyze, and download data.
A series of retrospective studies help to demonstrate important connections between chemical structures and their biological function that are not obvious using 2-D similarity but are readily apparent by 3-D similarity.
Conclusions
The addition of PubChem3D to the existing contents of PubChem is a considerable achievement, given the scope, scale, and the fact that the resource is publicly accessible and free. With the ability to uncover latent structure-activity relationships of chemical structures, while complementing 2-D similarity analysis approaches, PubChem3D represents a new resource for scientists to exploit when exploring the biological annotations in PubChem.
doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-32
PMCID: PMC3269824  PMID: 21933373
20.  Enhancing navigation in biomedical databases by community voting and database-driven text classification 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:317.
Background
The breadth of biological databases and their information content continues to increase exponentially. Unfortunately, our ability to query such sources is still often suboptimal. Here, we introduce and apply community voting, database-driven text classification, and visual aids as a means to incorporate distributed expert knowledge, to automatically classify database entries and to efficiently retrieve them.
Results
Using a previously developed peptide database as an example, we compared several machine learning algorithms in their ability to classify abstracts of published literature results into categories relevant to peptide research, such as related or not related to cancer, angiogenesis, molecular imaging, etc. Ensembles of bagged decision trees met the requirements of our application best. No other algorithm consistently performed better in comparative testing. Moreover, we show that the algorithm produces meaningful class probability estimates, which can be used to visualize the confidence of automatic classification during the retrieval process. To allow viewing long lists of search results enriched by automatic classifications, we added a dynamic heat map to the web interface. We take advantage of community knowledge by enabling users to cast votes in Web 2.0 style in order to correct automated classification errors, which triggers reclassification of all entries. We used a novel framework in which the database "drives" the entire vote aggregation and reclassification process to increase speed while conserving computational resources and keeping the method scalable. In our experiments, we simulate community voting by adding various levels of noise to nearly perfectly labelled instances, and show that, under such conditions, classification can be improved significantly.
Conclusion
Using PepBank as a model database, we show how to build a classification-aided retrieval system that gathers training data from the community, is completely controlled by the database, scales well with concurrent change events, and can be adapted to add text classification capability to other biomedical databases.
The system can be accessed at .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-317
PMCID: PMC2768718  PMID: 19799796
21.  The EMBL nucleotide sequence database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(1):17-21.
The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/) is maintained at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in an international collaboration with the DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ) and GenBank at the NCBI (USA). Data is exchanged amongst the collaborating databases on a daily basis. The major contributors to the EMBL database are individual authors and genome project groups. Webin is the preferred web-based submission system for individual submitters, whilst automatic procedures allow incorporation of sequence data from large-scale genome sequencing centres and from the European Patent Office (EPO). Database releases are produced quarterly. Network services allow free access to the most up-to-date data collection via ftp, email and World Wide Web interfaces. EBI’s Sequence Retrieval System (SRS), a network browser for databanks in molecular biology, integrates and links the main nucleotide and protein databases plus many specialized databases. For sequence similarity searching a variety of tools (e.g. Blitz, Fasta, BLAST) are available which allow external users to compare their own sequences against the latest data in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database and SWISS-PROT.
PMCID: PMC29766  PMID: 11125039
22.  OntologyWidget – a reusable, embeddable widget for easily locating ontology terms 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:338.
Background
Biomedical ontologies are being widely used to annotate biological data in a computer-accessible, consistent and well-defined manner. However, due to their size and complexity, annotating data with appropriate terms from an ontology is often challenging for experts and non-experts alike, because there exist few tools that allow one to quickly find relevant ontology terms to easily populate a web form.
Results
We have produced a tool, OntologyWidget, which allows users to rapidly search for and browse ontology terms. OntologyWidget can easily be embedded in other web-based applications. OntologyWidget is written using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and has two related elements. The first is a dynamic auto-complete ontology search feature. As a user enters characters into the search box, the appropriate ontology is queried remotely for terms that match the typed-in text, and the query results populate a drop-down list with all potential matches. Upon selection of a term from the list, the user can locate this term within a generic and dynamic ontology browser, which comprises the second element of the tool. The ontology browser shows the paths from a selected term to the root as well as parent/child tree hierarchies. We have implemented web services at the Stanford Microarray Database (SMD), which provide the OntologyWidget with access to over 40 ontologies from the Open Biological Ontology (OBO) website [1]. Each ontology is updated weekly. Adopters of the OntologyWidget can either use SMD's web services, or elect to rely on their own. Deploying the OntologyWidget can be accomplished in three simple steps: (1) install Apache Tomcat [2] on one's web server, (2) download and install the OntologyWidget servlet stub that provides access to the SMD ontology web services, and (3) create an html (HyperText Markup Language) file that refers to the OntologyWidget using a simple, well-defined format.
Conclusion
We have developed OntologyWidget, an easy-to-use ontology search and display tool that can be used on any web page by creating a simple html description. OntologyWidget provides a rapid auto-complete search function paired with an interactive tree display. We have developed a web service layer that communicates between the web page interface and a database of ontology terms. We currently store 40 of the ontologies from the OBO website [1], as well as a several others. These ontologies are automatically updated on a weekly basis. OntologyWidget can be used in any web-based application to take advantage of the ontologies we provide via web services or any other ontology that is provided elsewhere in the correct format. The full source code for the JavaScript and description of the OntologyWidget is available from .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-338
PMCID: PMC2080642  PMID: 17854506
23.  The BioLexicon: a large-scale terminological resource for biomedical text mining 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:397.
Background
Due to the rapidly expanding body of biomedical literature, biologists require increasingly sophisticated and efficient systems to help them to search for relevant information. Such systems should account for the multiple written variants used to represent biomedical concepts, and allow the user to search for specific pieces of knowledge (or events) involving these concepts, e.g., protein-protein interactions. Such functionality requires access to detailed information about words used in the biomedical literature. Existing databases and ontologies often have a specific focus and are oriented towards human use. Consequently, biological knowledge is dispersed amongst many resources, which often do not attempt to account for the large and frequently changing set of variants that appear in the literature. Additionally, such resources typically do not provide information about how terms relate to each other in texts to describe events.
Results
This article provides an overview of the design, construction and evaluation of a large-scale lexical and conceptual resource for the biomedical domain, the BioLexicon. The resource can be exploited by text mining tools at several levels, e.g., part-of-speech tagging, recognition of biomedical entities, and the extraction of events in which they are involved. As such, the BioLexicon must account for real usage of words in biomedical texts. In particular, the BioLexicon gathers together different types of terms from several existing data resources into a single, unified repository, and augments them with new term variants automatically extracted from biomedical literature. Extraction of events is facilitated through the inclusion of biologically pertinent verbs (around which events are typically organized) together with information about typical patterns of grammatical and semantic behaviour, which are acquired from domain-specific texts. In order to foster interoperability, the BioLexicon is modelled using the Lexical Markup Framework, an ISO standard.
Conclusions
The BioLexicon contains over 2.2 M lexical entries and over 1.8 M terminological variants, as well as over 3.3 M semantic relations, including over 2 M synonymy relations. Its exploitation can benefit both application developers and users. We demonstrate some such benefits by describing integration of the resource into a number of different tools, and evaluating improvements in performance that this can bring.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-397
PMCID: PMC3228855  PMID: 21992002
24.  The EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(1):19-23.
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Nucleotide Sequence Database (http://www.ebi.ac. uk/embl/index.html ) is maintained at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in an international collaboration with the DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ) and GenBank (USA). Data is exchanged amongst the collaborative databases on a daily basis. The major contributors to the EMBL database are individual authors and genome project groups. WEBIN is the preferred web-based submission system for individual submitters, whilst automatic procedures allow incorporation of sequence data from large-scale genome sequencing centres and from the European Patent Office (EPO). Database releases are produced quarterly. Network services allow free access to the most up-to-date data collection via Internet and WWW interfaces. EBI’s Sequence Retrieval System (SRS) is a network browser for databanks in molecular biology, integrating and linking the main nucleotide and protein databases plus many specialised databases. For sequence similarity searching a variety of tools (e.g., BLITZ, FASTA, BLAST) are available which allow external users to compare their own sequences against the most currently available data in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database and SWISS-PROT.
PMCID: PMC102461  PMID: 10592171
25.  A new bioinformatics analysis tools framework at EMBL–EBI 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W695-W699.
The EMBL-EBI provides access to various mainstream sequence analysis applications. These include sequence similarity search services such as BLAST, FASTA, InterProScan and multiple sequence alignment tools such as ClustalW, T-Coffee and MUSCLE. Through the sequence similarity search services, the users can search mainstream sequence databases such as EMBL-Bank and UniProt, and more than 2000 completed genomes and proteomes. We present here a new framework aimed at both novice as well as expert users that exposes novel methods of obtaining annotations and visualizing sequence analysis results through one uniform and consistent interface. These services are available over the web and via Web Services interfaces for users who require systematic access or want to interface with customized pipe-lines and workflows using common programming languages. The framework features novel result visualizations and integration of domain and functional predictions for protein database searches. It is available at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/sss for sequence similarity searches and at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/msa for multiple sequence alignments.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq313
PMCID: PMC2896090  PMID: 20439314

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