In any sequencing project, the possible depth of comparative analysis is determined largely by the amount and quality of the accompanying contextual data. The structure, content, and storage of this contextual data should be standardized to ensure consistent coverage of all sequenced entities and facilitate comparisons. The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) has developed the “Minimum Information about Genome/Metagenome Sequences (MIGS/MIMS)” checklist for the description of genomes and here we annotate all 30 publicly available marine bacteriophage sequences to the MIGS standard. These annotations build on existing International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC) records, and confirm, as expected that current submissions lack most MIGS fields. MIGS fields were manually curated from the literature and placed in XML format as specified by the Genomic Contextual Data Markup Language (GCDML). These “machine-readable” reports were then analyzed to highlight patterns describing this collection of genomes. Completed reports are provided in GCDML. This work represents one step towards the annotation of our complete collection of genome sequences and shows the utility of capturing richer metadata along with raw sequences.
marine phages; contextual data; genome standards; markup language
The Mouse Genome Database (MGD) is one component of the Mouse Genome Informatics (MGI) system (http://www.informatics.jax.org), a community database resource for the laboratory mouse. MGD strives to provide a comprehensive knowledgebase about the mouse with experiments and data annotated from both literature and online sources. MGD curates and presents consensus and experimental data representations of genetic, genotype (sequence) and phenotype information including highly detailed reports about genes and gene products. Primary foci of integration are through representations of relationships between genes, sequences and phenotypes. MGD collaborates with other bioinformatics groups to curate a definitive set of information about the laboratory mouse and to build and implement the data and semantic standards that are essential for comparative genome analysis. Recent developments in MGD discussed here include an extensive integration of the mouse sequence data and substantial revisions in the presentation, query and visualization of sequence data.
The goal of the Gene Ontology (GO) project is to provide a uniform way to describe the functions of gene products from organisms across all kingdoms of life and thereby enable analysis of genomic data. Protein annotations are either based on experiments or predicted from protein sequences. Since most sequences have not been experimentally characterized, most available annotations need to be based on predictions. To make as accurate inferences as possible, the GO Consortium's Reference Genome Project is using an explicit evolutionary framework to infer annotations of proteins from a broad set of genomes from experimental annotations in a semi-automated manner. Most components in the pipeline, such as selection of sequences, building multiple sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees, retrieving experimental annotations and depositing inferred annotations, are fully automated. However, the most crucial step in our pipeline relies on software-assisted curation by an expert biologist. This curation tool, Phylogenetic Annotation and INference Tool (PAINT) helps curators to infer annotations among members of a protein family. PAINT allows curators to make precise assertions as to when functions were gained and lost during evolution and record the evidence (e.g. experimentally supported GO annotations and phylogenetic information including orthology) for those assertions. In this article, we describe how we use PAINT to infer protein function in a phylogenetic context with emphasis on its strengths, limitations and guidelines. We also discuss specific examples showing how PAINT annotations compare with those generated by other highly used homology-based methods.
gene ontology; genome annotation; reference genome; gene function prediction; phylogenetics
The promise of genome sequencing was that the vast undiscovered country would be mapped out by comparison of the multitude of sequences available and would aid researchers in deciphering the role of each gene in every organism. Researchers recognize that there is a need for high quality data. However, different annotation procedures, numerous databases, and a diminishing percentage of experimentally determined gene functions have resulted in a spectrum of annotation quality. NCBI in collaboration with sequencing centers, archival databases, and researchers, has developed the first international annotation standards, a fundamental step in ensuring that high quality complete prokaryotic genomes are available as gold standard references. Highlights include the development of annotation assessment tools, community acceptance of protein naming standards, comparison of annotation resources to provide consistent annotation, and improved tracking of the evidence used to generate a particular annotation. The development of a set of minimal standards, including the requirement for annotated complete prokaryotic genomes to contain a full set of ribosomal RNAs, transfer RNAs, and proteins encoding core conserved functions, is an historic milestone. The use of these standards in existing genomes and future submissions will increase the quality of databases, enabling researchers to make accurate biological discoveries.
CharProtDB (http://www.jcvi.org/charprotdb/) is a curated database of biochemically characterized proteins. It provides a source of direct rather than transitive assignments of function, designed to support automated annotation pipelines. The initial data set in CharProtDB was collected through manual literature curation over the years by analysts at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) [formerly The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR)] as part of their prokaryotic genome sequencing projects. The CharProtDB has been expanded by import of selected records from publicly available protein collections whose biocuration indicated direct rather than homology-based assignment of function. Annotations in CharProtDB include gene name, symbol and various controlled vocabulary terms, including Gene Ontology terms, Enzyme Commission number and TransportDB accession. Each annotation is referenced with the source; ideally a journal reference, or, if imported and lacking one, the original database source.
Despite the improvements of tools for automated annotation of genome sequences, manual curation at the structural and functional level can provide an increased level of refinement to genome annotation. The Institute for Genomic Research Rice Genome Annotation (hereafter named the Osa1 Genome Annotation) is the product of an automated pipeline and, for this reason, will benefit from the input of biologists with expertise in rice and/or particular gene families. Leveraging knowledge from a dispersed community of scientists is a demonstrated way of improving a genome annotation. This requires tools that facilitate 1) the submission of gene annotation to an annotation project, 2) the review of the submitted models by project annotators, and 3) the incorporation of the submitted models in the ongoing annotation effort.
We have developed the Eukaryotic Community Annotation Package (EuCAP), an annotation tool, and have applied it to the rice genome. The primary level of curation by community annotators (CA) has been the annotation of gene families. Annotation can be submitted by email or through the EuCAP Web Tool. The CA models are aligned to the rice pseudomolecules and the coordinates of these alignments, along with functional annotation, are stored in the MySQL EuCAP Gene Model database. Web pages displaying the alignments of the CA models to the Osa1 Genome models are automatically generated from the EuCAP Gene Model database. The alignments are reviewed by the project annotators (PAs) in the context of experimental evidence. Upon approval by the PAs, the CA models, along with the corresponding functional annotations, are integrated into the Osa1 Genome Annotation. The CA annotations, grouped by family, are displayed on the Community Annotation pages of the project website , as well as in the Community Annotation track of the Genome Browser.
We have applied EuCAP to rice. As of July 2007, the structural and/or functional annotation of 1,094 genes representing 57 families have been deposited and integrated into the current gene set. All of the EuCAP components are open-source, thereby allowing the implementation of EuCAP for the annotation of other genomes. EuCAP is available at .
Recent advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies have equipped biologists with a powerful new set of tools for advancing research goals. The resulting flood of sequence data has made it critically important to train the next generation of scientists to handle the inherent bioinformatic challenges. The North East Bioinformatics Collaborative (NEBC) is undertaking the genome sequencing and annotation of the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) to promote advancement of bioinformatics infrastructure in our region, with an emphasis on practical education to create a critical mass of informatically savvy life scientists. In support of the Little Skate Genome Project, the NEBC members have developed several annotation workshops and jamborees to provide training in genome sequencing, annotation and analysis. Acting as a nexus for both curation activities and dissemination of project data, a project web portal, SkateBase (http://skatebase.org) has been developed. As a case study to illustrate effective coupling of community annotation with workforce development, we report the results of the Mitochondrial Genome Annotation Jamborees organized to annotate the first completely assembled element of the Little Skate Genome Project, as a culminating experience for participants from our three prior annotation workshops. We are applying the physical/virtual infrastructure and lessons learned from these activities to enhance and streamline the genome annotation workflow, as we look toward our continuing efforts for larger-scale functional and structural community annotation of the L. erinacea genome.
The Biological General Repository for Interaction Datasets (BioGRID: http//thebiogrid.org) is an open access archive of genetic and protein interactions that are curated from the primary biomedical literature for all major model organism species. As of September 2012, BioGRID houses more than 500 000 manually annotated interactions from more than 30 model organisms. BioGRID maintains complete curation coverage of the literature for the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. A number of themed curation projects in areas of biomedical importance are also supported. BioGRID has established collaborations and/or shares data records for the annotation of interactions and phenotypes with most major model organism databases, including Saccharomyces Genome Database, PomBase, WormBase, FlyBase and The Arabidopsis Information Resource. BioGRID also actively engages with the text-mining community to benchmark and deploy automated tools to expedite curation workflows. BioGRID data are freely accessible through both a user-defined interactive interface and in batch downloads in a wide variety of formats, including PSI-MI2.5 and tab-delimited files. BioGRID records can also be interrogated and analyzed with a series of new bioinformatics tools, which include a post-translational modification viewer, a graphical viewer, a REST service and a Cytoscape plugin.
ASAP (a systematic annotation package for community analysis of genomes) is a relational database and web interface developed to store, update and distribute genome sequence data and functional characterization (https://asap.ahabs.wisc.edu/annotation/php/ASAP1.htm). ASAP facilitates ongoing community annotation of genomes and tracking of information as genome projects move from preliminary data collection through post-sequencing functional analysis. The ASAP database includes multiple genome sequences at various stages of analysis, corresponding experimental data and access to collections of related genome resources. ASAP supports three levels of users: public viewers, annotators and curators. Public viewers can currently browse updated annotation information for Escherichia coli K-12 strain MG1655, genome-wide transcript profiles from more than 50 microarray experiments and an extensive collection of mutant strains and associated phenotypic data. Annotators worldwide are currently using ASAP to participate in a community annotation project for the Erwinia chrysanthemi strain 3937 genome. Curation of the E. chrysanthemi genome annotation as well as those of additional published enterobacterial genomes is underway and will be publicly accessible in the near future.
High-quality manual annotation methods and practices need to be scaled to the increased rate of genomic data production. Curation based on gene families and gene networks is one approach that can significantly increase both curation efficiency and quality. The Sol Genomics Network (SGN; http://solgenomics.net) is a comparative genomics platform, with genetic, genomic and phenotypic information of the Solanaceae family and its closely related species that incorporates a community-based gene and phenotype curation system. In this article, we describe a manual curation system for gene families aimed at facilitating curation, querying and visualization of gene interaction patterns underlying complex biological processes, including an interface for efficiently capturing information from experiments with large data sets reported in the literature. Well-annotated multigene families are useful for further exploration of genome organization and gene evolution across species. As an example, we illustrate the system with the multigene transcription factor families, WRKY and Small Auxin Up-regulated RNA (SAUR), which both play important roles in responding to abiotic stresses in plants.
The identification of genome-wide cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) and characterization of their associated epigenetic features are fundamental steps toward the understanding of gene regulatory networks. Although integrative analysis of available genome-wide information can provide new biological insights, the lack of novel methodologies has become a major bottleneck. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis tool called combinatorial CRM decoder (CCD), which utilizes the publicly available information to identify and characterize genome-wide CRMs in a species of interest. CCD first defines a set of the epigenetic features which is significantly associated with a set of known CRMs as a code called ‘trace code’, and subsequently uses the trace code to pinpoint putative CRMs throughout the genome. Using 61 genome-wide data sets obtained from 17 independent mouse studies, CCD successfully catalogued ∼12 600 CRMs (five distinct classes) including polycomb repressive complex 2 target sites as well as imprinting control regions. Interestingly, we discovered that ∼4% of the identified CRMs belong to at least two different classes named ‘multi-functional CRM’, suggesting their functional importance for regulating spatiotemporal gene expression. From these examples, we show that CCD can be applied to any potential genome-wide datasets and therefore will shed light on unveiling genome-wide CRMs in various species.
HAMAP (High-quality Automated and Manual Annotation of Proteins—available at http://hamap.expasy.org/) is a system for the classification and annotation of protein sequences. It consists of a collection of manually curated family profiles for protein classification, and associated annotation rules that specify annotations that apply to family members. HAMAP was originally developed to support the manual curation of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot records describing microbial proteins. Here we describe new developments in HAMAP, including the extension of HAMAP to eukaryotic proteins, the use of HAMAP in the automated annotation of UniProtKB/TrEMBL, providing high-quality annotation for millions of protein sequences, and the future integration of HAMAP into a unified system for UniProtKB annotation, UniRule. HAMAP is continuously updated by expert curators with new family profiles and annotation rules as new protein families are characterized. The collection of HAMAP family classification profiles and annotation rules can be browsed and viewed on the HAMAP website, which also provides an interface to scan user sequences against HAMAP profiles.
We have developed an integrated strategy for targeted resequencing and analysis of gene subsets from the human exome for variants. Our capture technology is geared towards resequencing gene subsets substantially larger than can be done efficiently with simplex or multiplex PCR but smaller in scale than exome sequencing. We describe all the steps from the initial capture assay to single nucleotide variant (SNV) discovery. The capture methodology uses in-solution 80-mer oligonucleotides. To provide optimal flexibility in choosing human gene targets, we designed an in silico set of oligonucleotides, the Human OligoExome, that covers the gene exons annotated by the Consensus Coding Sequencing Project (CCDS). This resource is openly available as an Internet accessible database where one can download capture oligonucleotides sequences for any CCDS gene and design custom capture assays. Using this resource, we demonstrated the flexibility of this assay by custom designing capture assays ranging from 10 to over 100 gene targets with total capture sizes from over 100 Kilobases to nearly one Megabase. We established a method to reduce capture variability and incorporated indexing schemes to increase sample throughput. Our approach has multiple applications that include but are not limited to population targeted resequencing studies of specific gene subsets, validation of variants discovered in whole genome sequencing surveys and possible diagnostic analysis of disease gene subsets. We also present a cost analysis demonstrating its cost-effectiveness for large population studies.
SABIO-RK (http://sabio.h-its.org/) is a web-accessible database storing comprehensive information about biochemical reactions and their kinetic properties. SABIO-RK offers standardized data manually extracted from the literature and data directly submitted from lab experiments. The database content includes kinetic parameters in relation to biochemical reactions and their biological sources with no restriction on any particular set of organisms. Additionally, kinetic rate laws and corresponding equations as well as experimental conditions are represented. All the data are manually curated and annotated by biological experts, supported by automated consistency checks. SABIO-RK can be accessed via web-based user interfaces or automatically via web services that allow direct data access by other tools. Both interfaces support the export of the data together with its annotations in SBML (Systems Biology Markup Language), e.g. for import in modelling tools.
EVidenceModeler (EVM) is an automated annotation tool that predicts protein-coding regions, alternatively spliced transcripts and untranslated regions of eukaryotic genes.
EVidenceModeler (EVM) is presented as an automated eukaryotic gene structure annotation tool that reports eukaryotic gene structures as a weighted consensus of all available evidence. EVM, when combined with the Program to Assemble Spliced Alignments (PASA), yields a comprehensive, configurable annotation system that predicts protein-coding genes and alternatively spliced isoforms. Our experiments on both rice and human genome sequences demonstrate that EVM produces automated gene structure annotation approaching the quality of manual curation.
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.
BioModels.net; Systems Biology; modelling; Web Services; annotation; ontology
In support of the international effort to obtain a reference sequence of the bread wheat genome and to provide plant communities dealing with large and complex genomes with a versatile, easy-to-use online automated tool for annotation, we have developed the TriAnnot pipeline. Its modular architecture allows for the annotation and masking of transposable elements, the structural, and functional annotation of protein-coding genes with an evidence-based quality indexing, and the identification of conserved non-coding sequences and molecular markers. The TriAnnot pipeline is parallelized on a 712 CPU computing cluster that can run a 1-Gb sequence annotation in less than 5 days. It is accessible through a web interface for small scale analyses or through a server for large scale annotations. The performance of TriAnnot was evaluated in terms of sensitivity, specificity, and general fitness using curated reference sequence sets from rice and wheat. In less than 8 h, TriAnnot was able to predict more than 83% of the 3,748 CDS from rice chromosome 1 with a fitness of 67.4%. On a set of 12 reference Mb-sized contigs from wheat chromosome 3B, TriAnnot predicted and annotated 93.3% of the genes among which 54% were perfectly identified in accordance with the reference annotation. It also allowed the curation of 12 genes based on new biological evidences, increasing the percentage of perfect gene prediction to 63%. TriAnnot systematically showed a higher fitness than other annotation pipelines that are not improved for wheat. As it is easily adaptable to the annotation of other plant genomes, TriAnnot should become a useful resource for the annotation of large and complex genomes in the future.
cluster; gene models; pipeline; plant genome; structural and functional annotation; transposable elements; wheat
Motivation: Annotations are a key feature of many biological databases, used to convey our knowledge of a sequence to the reader. Ideally, annotations are curated manually, however manual curation is costly, time consuming and requires expert knowledge and training. Given these issues and the exponential increase of data, many databases implement automated annotation pipelines in an attempt to avoid un-annotated entries. Both manual and automated annotations vary in quality between databases and annotators, making assessment of annotation reliability problematic for users. The community lacks a generic measure for determining annotation quality and correctness, which we look at addressing within this article. Specifically we investigate word reuse within bulk textual annotations and relate this to Zipf's Principle of Least Effort. We use the UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB) as a case study to demonstrate this approach since it allows us to compare annotation change, both over time and between automated and manually curated annotations.
Results: By applying power-law distributions to word reuse in annotation, we show clear trends in UniProtKB over time, which are consistent with existing studies of quality on free text English. Further, we show a clear distinction between manual and automated analysis and investigate cohorts of protein records as they mature. These results suggest that this approach holds distinct promise as a mechanism for judging annotation quality.
Availability: Source code is available at the authors website: http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/m.j.bell1/annotation.
With the completion of the rice genome sequencing, a standardized annotation is necessary so that the information from the genome sequence can be fully utilized in understanding the biology of rice and other cereal crops. An annotation jamboree was held in Japan with the aim of annotating and manually curating all the genes in the rice genome. Here we present the Rice Annotation Project Database (RAP-DB), which has been developed to provide access to the annotation data. The RAP-DB has two different types of annotation viewers, BLAST and BLAT search, and other useful features. By connecting the annotations to other rice genomics data, such as full-length cDNAs and Tos17 mutant lines, the RAP-DB serves as a hub for rice genomics. All of the resources can be accessed through .
The Minimal Information Requested In the Annotation of biochemical Models (MIRIAM) is a set of guidelines for the annotation and curation processes of computational models, in order to facilitate their exchange and reuse. An important part of the standard consists in the controlled annotation of model components, based on Uniform Resource Identifiers. In order to enable interoperability of this annotation, the community has to agree on a set of standard URIs, corresponding to recognised data types. MIRIAM Resources are being developed to support the use of those URIs.
MIRIAM Resources are a set of on-line services created to catalogue data types, their URIs and the corresponding physical URLs (or resources), whether data types are controlled vocabularies or primary data resources. MIRIAM Resources are composed of several components: MIRIAM Database stores the information, MIRIAM Web Services allows to programmatically access the database, MIRIAM Library provides an access to the Web Services and MIRIAM Web Application is a way to access the data (human browsing) and also to edit or add entries.
The project MIRIAM Resources allows an easy access to MIRIAM URIs and the associated information and is therefore crucial to foster a general use of MIRIAM annotations in computational models of biological processes.
With the rapid growth in the availability of genome sequence data, the automated identification of orthologous genes between species (orthologs) is of fundamental importance to facilitate functional annotation and studies on comparative and evolutionary genomics. Genes with no apparent orthologs between the bovine and human genome may be responsible for major differences between the species, however, such genes are often neglected in functional genomics studies.
A BLAST-based method was exploited to explore the current annotation and orthology predictions in Ensembl. Genes with no orthologs between the two genomes were classified into groups based on alignments, ontology, manual curation and publicly available information. Starting from a high quality and specific set of orthology predictions, as provided by Ensembl, hidden relationship between genes and genomes of different mammalian species were unveiled using a highly sensitive approach, based on sequence similarity and genomic comparison.
The analysis identified 3,801 bovine genes with no orthologs in human and 1010 human genes with no orthologs in cow, among which 411 and 43 genes, respectively, had no match at all in the other species. Most of the apparently non-orthologous genes may potentially have orthologs which were missed in the annotation process, despite having a high percentage of identity, because of differences in gene length and structure. The comparative analysis reported here identified gene variants, new genes and species-specific features and gave an overview of the other side of orthology which may help to improve the annotation of the bovine genome and the knowledge of structural differences between species.
Manual curation of biological databases, an expensive and labor-intensive process, is essential for high quality integrated data. In this paper we report the implementation of a state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing system that creates computer-readable networks of regulatory interactions directly from different collections of abstracts and full-text papers. Our major aim is to understand how automatic annotation using Text-Mining techniques can complement manual curation of biological databases. We implemented a rule-based system to generate networks from different sets of documents dealing with regulation in Escherichia coli K-12.
Performance evaluation is based on the most comprehensive transcriptional regulation database for any organism, the manually-curated RegulonDB, 45% of which we were able to recreate automatically. From our automated analysis we were also able to find some new interactions from papers not already curated, or that were missed in the manual filtering and review of the literature. We also put forward a novel Regulatory Interaction Markup Language better suited than SBML for simultaneously representing data of interest for biologists and text miners.
Manual curation of the output of automatic processing of text is a good way to complement a more detailed review of the literature, either for validating the results of what has been already annotated, or for discovering facts and information that might have been overlooked at the triage or curation stages.
A goal of the Bovine Genome Database (BGD; http://BovineGenome.org) has been to support the Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium (BGSAC) in the annotation and analysis of the bovine genome. We were faced with several challenges, including the need to maintain consistent quality despite diversity in annotation expertise in the research community, the need to maintain consistent data formats, and the need to minimize the potential duplication of annotation effort. With new sequencing technologies allowing many more eukaryotic genomes to be sequenced, the demand for collaborative annotation is likely to increase. Here we present our approach, challenges and solutions facilitating a large distributed annotation project.
Results and Discussion
BGD has provided annotation tools that supported 147 members of the BGSAC in contributing 3,871 gene models over a fifteen-week period, and these annotations have been integrated into the bovine Official Gene Set. Our approach has been to provide an annotation system, which includes a BLAST site, multiple genome browsers, an annotation portal, and the Apollo Annotation Editor configured to connect directly to our Chado database. In addition to implementing and integrating components of the annotation system, we have performed computational analyses to create gene evidence tracks and a consensus gene set, which can be viewed on individual gene pages at BGD.
We have provided annotation tools that alleviate challenges associated with distributed annotation. Our system provides a consistent set of data to all annotators and eliminates the need for annotators to format data. Involving the bovine research community in genome annotation has allowed us to leverage expertise in various areas of bovine biology to provide biological insight into the genome sequence.
The Munich Information Center for Protein Sequences (MIPS at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany) has many years of experience in providing annotated collections of biological data. Selected data sets of high relevance, such as model genomes, are subjected to careful manual curation, while the bulk of high-throughput data is annotated by automatic means. High-quality reference resources developed in the past and still actively maintained include Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Neurospora crassa and Arabidopsis thaliana genome databases as well as several protein interaction data sets (MPACT, MPPI and CORUM). More recent projects are PhenomiR, the database on microRNA-related phenotypes, and MIPS PlantsDB for integrative and comparative plant genome research. The interlinked resources SIMAP and PEDANT provide homology relationships as well as up-to-date and consistent annotation for 38 000 000 protein sequences. PPLIPS and CCancer are versatile tools for proteomics and functional genomics interfacing to a database of compilations from gene lists extracted from literature. A novel literature-mining tool, EXCERBT, gives access to structured information on classified relations between genes, proteins, phenotypes and diseases extracted from Medline abstracts by semantic analysis. All databases described here, as well as the detailed descriptions of our projects can be accessed through the MIPS WWW server (http://mips.helmholtz-muenchen.de).
Traditional genome annotation systems were developed in a very different computing era, one where the World Wide Web was just emerging. Consequently, these systems are built as centralized black boxes focused on generating high quality annotation submissions to GenBank/EMBL supported by expert manual curation. The exponential growth of sequence data drives a growing need for increasingly higher quality and automatically generated annotation.
Typical annotation pipelines utilize traditional database technologies, clustered computing resources, Perl, C, and UNIX file systems to process raw sequence data, identify genes, and predict and categorize gene function. These technologies tightly couple the annotation software system to hardware and third party software (e.g. relational database systems and schemas). This makes annotation systems hard to reproduce, inflexible to modification over time, difficult to assess, difficult to partition across multiple geographic sites, and difficult to understand for those who are not domain experts. These systems are not readily open to scrutiny and therefore not scientifically tractable.
The advent of Semantic Web standards such as Resource Description Framework (RDF) and OWL Web Ontology Language (OWL) enables us to construct systems that address these challenges in a new comprehensive way.
Here, we develop a framework for linking traditional data to OWL-based ontologies in genome annotation. We show how data standards can decouple hardware and third party software tools from annotation pipelines, thereby making annotation pipelines easier to reproduce and assess. An illustrative example shows how TURTLE (Terse RDF Triple Language) can be used as a human readable, but also semantically-aware, equivalent to GenBank/EMBL files.
The power of this approach lies in its ability to assemble annotation data from multiple databases across multiple locations into a representation that is understandable to researchers. In this way, all researchers, experimental and computational, will more easily understand the informatics processes constructing genome annotation and ultimately be able to help improve the systems that produce them.