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1.  gEVAL — a web-based browser for evaluating genome assemblies 
Bioinformatics  2016;32(16):2508-2510.
Motivation: For most research approaches, genome analyses are dependent on the existence of a high quality genome reference assembly. However, the local accuracy of an assembly remains difficult to assess and improve. The gEVAL browser allows the user to interrogate an assembly in any region of the genome by comparing it to different datasets and evaluating the concordance. These analyses include: a wide variety of sequence alignments, comparative analyses of multiple genome assemblies, and consistency with optical and other physical maps. gEVAL highlights allelic variations, regions of low complexity, abnormal coverage, and potential sequence and assembly errors, and offers strategies for improvement. Although gEVAL focuses primarily on sequence integrity, it can also display arbitrary annotation including from Ensembl or TrackHub sources. We provide gEVAL web sites for many human, mouse, zebrafish and chicken assemblies to support the Genome Reference Consortium, and gEVAL is also downloadable to enable its use for any organism and assembly.
Availability and Implementation: Web Browser:, Plugin:
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4978925  PMID: 27153597
2.  MultiMetEval: Comparative and Multi-Objective Analysis of Genome-Scale Metabolic Models 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51511.
Comparative metabolic modelling is emerging as a novel field, supported by the development of reliable and standardized approaches for constructing genome-scale metabolic models in high throughput. New software solutions are needed to allow efficient comparative analysis of multiple models in the context of multiple cellular objectives. Here, we present the user-friendly software framework Multi-Metabolic Evaluator (MultiMetEval), built upon SurreyFBA, which allows the user to compose collections of metabolic models that together can be subjected to flux balance analysis. Additionally, MultiMetEval implements functionalities for multi-objective analysis by calculating the Pareto front between two cellular objectives. Using a previously generated dataset of 38 actinobacterial genome-scale metabolic models, we show how these approaches can lead to exciting novel insights. Firstly, after incorporating several pathways for the biosynthesis of natural products into each of these models, comparative flux balance analysis predicted that species like Streptomyces that harbour the highest diversity of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters in their genomes do not necessarily have the metabolic network topology most suitable for compound overproduction. Secondly, multi-objective analysis of biomass production and natural product biosynthesis in these actinobacteria shows that the well-studied occurrence of discrete metabolic switches during the change of cellular objectives is inherent to their metabolic network architecture. Comparative and multi-objective modelling can lead to insights that could not be obtained by normal flux balance analyses. MultiMetEval provides a powerful platform that makes these analyses straightforward for biologists. Sources and binaries of MultiMetEval are freely available from
PMCID: PMC3522732  PMID: 23272111
3.  Eval: A software package for analysis of genome annotations 
BMC Bioinformatics  2003;4:50.
Eval is a flexible tool for analyzing the performance of gene annotation systems. It provides summaries and graphical distributions for many descriptive statistics about any set of annotations, regardless of their source. It also compares sets of predictions to standard annotations and to one another. Input is in the standard Gene Transfer Format (GTF). Eval can be run interactively or via the command line, in which case output options include easily parsable tab-delimited files.
To obtain the module package with documentation, go to and follow links for Resources, then Software. Please contact
PMCID: PMC270064  PMID: 14565849
4.  EuCAP, a Eukaryotic Community Annotation Package, and its application to the rice genome 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:388.
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 .
PMCID: PMC2151081  PMID: 17961238
5.  BEACON: automated tool for Bacterial GEnome Annotation ComparisON 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):616.
Genome annotation is one way of summarizing the existing knowledge about genomic characteristics of an organism. There has been an increased interest during the last several decades in computer-based structural and functional genome annotation. Many methods for this purpose have been developed for eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Our study focuses on comparison of functional annotations of prokaryotic genomes. To the best of our knowledge there is no fully automated system for detailed comparison of functional genome annotations generated by different annotation methods (AMs).
The presence of many AMs and development of new ones introduce needs to: a/ compare different annotations for a single genome, and b/ generate annotation by combining individual ones. To address these issues we developed an Automated Tool for Bacterial GEnome Annotation ComparisON (BEACON) that benefits both AM developers and annotation analysers. BEACON provides detailed comparison of gene function annotations of prokaryotic genomes obtained by different AMs and generates extended annotations through combination of individual ones. For the illustration of BEACON’s utility, we provide a comparison analysis of multiple different annotations generated for four genomes and show on these examples that the extended annotation can increase the number of genes annotated by putative functions up to 27 %, while the number of genes without any function assignment is reduced.
We developed BEACON, a fast tool for an automated and a systematic comparison of different annotations of single genomes. The extended annotation assigns putative functions to many genes with unknown functions. BEACON is available under GNU General Public License version 3.0 and is accessible at:
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1826-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4539851  PMID: 26283419
Genome annotation comparison; Gene function annotation; Functional annotation of bacterial genomes; Annotation methods; Bioinformatics
6.  Structural and functional-annotation of an equine whole genome oligoarray 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10(Suppl 11):S8.
The horse genome is sequenced, allowing equine researchers to use high-throughput functional genomics platforms such as microarrays; next-generation sequencing for gene expression and proteomics. However, for researchers to derive value from these functional genomics datasets, they must be able to model this data in biologically relevant ways; to do so requires that the equine genome be more fully annotated. There are two interrelated types of genomic annotation: structural and functional. Structural annotation is delineating and demarcating the genomic elements (such as genes, promoters, and regulatory elements). Functional annotation is assigning function to structural elements. The Gene Ontology (GO) is the de facto standard for functional annotation, and is routinely used as a basis for modelling and hypothesis testing, large functional genomics datasets.
An Equine Whole Genome Oligonucleotide (EWGO) array with 21,351 elements was developed at Texas A&M University. This 70-mer oligoarray was designed using the approximately 7× assembled and annotated sequence of the equine genome to be one of the most comprehensive arrays available for expressed equine sequences. To assist researchers in determining the biological meaning of data derived from this array, we have structurally annotated it by mapping the elements to multiple database accessions, including UniProtKB, Entrez Gene, NRPD (Non-Redundant Protein Database) and UniGene. We next provided GO functional annotations for the gene transcripts represented on this array. Overall, we GO annotated 14,531 gene products (68.1% of the gene products represented on the EWGO array) with 57,912 annotations. GAQ (GO Annotation Quality) scores were calculated for this array both before and after we added GO annotation. The additional annotations improved the meanGAQ score 16-fold. This data is publicly available at AgBase
Providing additional information about the public databases which link to the gene products represented on the array allows users more flexibility when using gene expression modelling and hypothesis-testing computational tools. Moreover, since different databases provide different types of information, users have access to multiple data sources. In addition, our GO annotation underpins functional modelling for most gene expression analysis tools and enables equine researchers to model large lists of differentially expressed transcripts in biologically relevant ways.
PMCID: PMC3226197  PMID: 19811692
7.  A semi-automated genome annotation comparison and integration scheme 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14:172.
Different genome annotation services have been developed in recent years and widely used. However, the functional annotation results from different services are often not the same and a scheme to obtain consensus functional annotations by integrating different results is in demand.
This article presents a semi-automated scheme that is capable of comparing functional annotations from different sources and consequently obtaining a consensus genome functional annotation result. In this study, we used four automated annotation services to annotate a newly sequenced genome--Arcobacter butzleri ED-1. Our scheme is divided into annotation comparison and annotation determination sections. In the functional annotation comparison section, we employed gene synonym lists to tackle term difference problems. Multiple techniques from information retrieval were used to preprocess the functional annotations. Based on the functional annotation comparison results, we designed a decision tree to obtain a consensus functional annotation result. Experimental results show that our approach can greatly reduce the workload of manual comparison by automatically comparing 87% of the functional annotations. In addition, it automatically determined 87% of the functional annotations, leaving only 13% of the genes for manual curation. We applied this approach across six phylogenetically different genomes in order to assess the performance consistency. The results showed that our scheme is able to automatically perform, on average, 73% and 86% of the annotation comparison and determination tasks, respectively.
We propose a semi-automatic and effective scheme to compare and determine genome functional annotations. It greatly reduces the manual work required in genome functional annotation. As this scheme does not require any specific biological knowledge, it is readily applicable for genome annotation comparison and genome re-annotation projects.
PMCID: PMC3680241  PMID: 23725374
Genome annotation comparison; Genome annotation determination; Automated annotation services
8.  GIFtS: annotation landscape analysis with GeneCards 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:348.
Gene annotation is a pivotal component in computational genomics, encompassing prediction of gene function, expression analysis, and sequence scrutiny. Hence, quantitative measures of the annotation landscape constitute a pertinent bioinformatics tool. GeneCards® is a gene-centric compendium of rich annotative information for over 50,000 human gene entries, building upon 68 data sources, including Gene Ontology (GO), pathways, interactions, phenotypes, publications and many more.
We present the GeneCards Inferred Functionality Score (GIFtS) which allows a quantitative assessment of a gene's annotation status, by exploiting the unique wealth and diversity of GeneCards information. The GIFtS tool, linked from the GeneCards home page, facilitates browsing the human genome by searching for the annotation level of a specified gene, retrieving a list of genes within a specified range of GIFtS value, obtaining random genes with a specific GIFtS value, and experimenting with the GIFtS weighting algorithm for a variety of annotation categories. The bimodal shape of the GIFtS distribution suggests a division of the human gene repertoire into two main groups: the high-GIFtS peak consists almost entirely of protein-coding genes; the low-GIFtS peak consists of genes from all of the categories. Cluster analysis of GIFtS annotation vectors provides the classification of gene groups by detailed positioning in the annotation arena. GIFtS also provide measures which enable the evaluation of the databases that serve as GeneCards sources. An inverse correlation is found (for GIFtS>25) between the number of genes annotated by each source, and the average GIFtS value of genes associated with that source. Three typical source prototypes are revealed by their GIFtS distribution: genome-wide sources, sources comprising mainly highly annotated genes, and sources comprising mainly poorly annotated genes. The degree of accumulated knowledge for a given gene measured by GIFtS was correlated (for GIFtS>30) with the number of publications for a gene, and with the seniority of this entry in the HGNC database.
GIFtS can be a valuable tool for computational procedures which analyze lists of large set of genes resulting from wet-lab or computational research. GIFtS may also assist the scientific community with identification of groups of uncharacterized genes for diverse applications, such as delineation of novel functions and charting unexplored areas of the human genome.
PMCID: PMC2774327  PMID: 19852797
9.  Genome-wide metabolic (re-) annotation of Kluyveromyces lactis 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:517.
Even before having its genome sequence published in 2004, Kluyveromyces lactis had long been considered a model organism for studies in genetics and physiology. Research on Kluyveromyces lactis is quite advanced and this yeast species is one of the few with which it is possible to perform formal genetic analysis. Nevertheless, until now, no complete metabolic functional annotation has been performed to the proteins encoded in the Kluyveromyces lactis genome.
In this work, a new metabolic genome-wide functional re-annotation of the proteins encoded in the Kluyveromyces lactis genome was performed, resulting in the annotation of 1759 genes with metabolic functions, and the development of a methodology supported by merlin (software developed in-house). The new annotation includes novelties, such as the assignment of transporter superfamily numbers to genes identified as transporter proteins. Thus, the genes annotated with metabolic functions could be exclusively enzymatic (1410 genes), transporter proteins encoding genes (301 genes) or have both metabolic activities (48 genes). The new annotation produced by this work largely surpassed the Kluyveromyces lactis currently available annotations. A comparison with KEGG’s annotation revealed a match with 844 (~90%) of the genes annotated by KEGG, while adding 850 new gene annotations. Moreover, there are 32 genes with annotations different from KEGG.
The methodology developed throughout this work can be used to re-annotate any yeast or, with a little tweak of the reference organism, the proteins encoded in any sequenced genome. The new annotation provided by this study offers basic knowledge which might be useful for the scientific community working on this model yeast, because new functions have been identified for the so-called metabolic genes. Furthermore, it served as the basis for the reconstruction of a compartmentalized, genome-scale metabolic model of Kluyveromyces lactis, which is currently being finished.
PMCID: PMC3508617  PMID: 23025710
Genome annotation; Kluyveromyces lactis; Metabolic functions; Transport systems; Merlin
10.  Assessing the impact of human genome annotation choice on RNA-seq expression estimates 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 11):S8.
Genome annotation is a crucial component of RNA-seq data analysis. Much effort has been devoted to producing an accurate and rational annotation of the human genome. An annotated genome provides a comprehensive catalogue of genomic functional elements. Currently, at least six human genome annotations are publicly available, including AceView Genes, Ensembl Genes, H-InvDB Genes, RefSeq Genes, UCSC Known Genes, and Vega Genes. Characteristics of these annotations differ because of variations in annotation strategies and information sources. When performing RNA-seq data analysis, researchers need to choose a genome annotation. However, the effect of genome annotation choice on downstream RNA-seq expression estimates is still unclear. This study (1) investigates the effect of different genome annotations on RNA-seq quantification and (2) provides guidelines for choosing a genome annotation based on research focus.
We define the complexity of human genome annotations in terms of the number of genes, isoforms, and exons. This definition facilitates an investigation of potential relationships between complexity and variations in RNA-seq quantification. We apply several evaluation metrics to demonstrate the impact of genome annotation choice on RNA-seq expression estimates. In the mapping stage, the least complex genome annotation, RefSeq Genes, appears to have the highest percentage of uniquely mapped short sequence reads. In the quantification stage, RefSeq Genes results in the most stable expression estimates in terms of the average coefficient of variation over all genes. Stable expression estimates in the quantification stage translate to accurate statistics for detecting differentially expressed genes. We observe that RefSeq Genes produces the most accurate fold-change measures with respect to a ground truth of RT-qPCR gene expression estimates.
Based on the observed variations in the mapping, quantification, and differential expression calling stages, we demonstrate that the selection of human genome annotation results in different gene expression estimates. When conducting research that emphasizes reproducible and robust gene expression estimates, a less complex genome annotation may be preferred. However, simpler genome annotations may limit opportunities for identifying or characterizing novel transcriptional or regulatory mechanisms. When conducting research that aims to be more exploratory, a more complex genome annotation may be preferred.
PMCID: PMC3816316  PMID: 24564364
11.  Visualizing the genome: techniques for presenting human genome data and annotations 
BMC Bioinformatics  2002;3:19.
In order to take full advantage of the newly available public human genome sequence data and associated annotations, biologists require visualization tools ("genome browsers") that can accommodate the high frequency of alternative splicing in human genes and other complexities.
In this article, we describe visualization techniques for presenting human genomic sequence data and annotations in an interactive, graphical format. These techniques include: one-dimensional, semantic zooming to show sequence data alongside gene structures; color-coding exons to indicate frame of translation; adjustable, moveable tiers to permit easier inspection of a genomic scene; and display of protein annotations alongside gene structures to show how alternative splicing impacts protein structure and function. These techniques are illustrated using examples from two genome browser applications: the Neomorphic GeneViewer annotation tool and ProtAnnot, a prototype viewer which shows protein annotations in the context of genomic sequence.
By presenting techniques for visualizing genomic data, we hope to provide interested software developers with a guide to what features are most likely to meet the needs of biologists as they seek to make sense of the rapidly expanding body of public genomic data and annotations.
PMCID: PMC119855  PMID: 12149135
12.  AISO: Annotation of Image Segments with Ontologies 
Large quantities of digital images are now generated for biological collections, including those developed in projects premised on the high-throughput screening of genome-phenome experiments. These images often carry annotations on taxonomy and observable features, such as anatomical structures and phenotype variations often recorded in response to the environmental factors under which the organisms were sampled. At present, most of these annotations are described in free text, may involve limited use of non-standard vocabularies, and rarely specify precise coordinates of features on the image plane such that a computer vision algorithm could identify, extract and annotate them. Therefore, researchers and curators need a tool that can identify and demarcate features in an image plane and allow their annotation with semantically contextual ontology terms. Such a tool would generate data useful for inter and intra-specific comparison and encourage the integration of curation standards. In the future, quality annotated image segments may provide training data sets for developing machine learning applications for automated image annotation.
We developed a novel image segmentation and annotation software application, “Annotation of Image Segments with Ontologies” (AISO). The tool enables researchers and curators to delineate portions of an image into multiple highlighted segments and annotate them with an ontology-based controlled vocabulary. AISO is a freely available Java-based desktop application and runs on multiple platforms. It can be downloaded at
AISO enables curators and researchers to annotate digital images with ontology terms in a manner which ensures the future computational value of the annotated images. We foresee uses for such data-encoded image annotations in biological data mining, machine learning, predictive annotation, semantic inference, and comparative analyses.
PMCID: PMC4290088  PMID: 25584184
Image annotation; Semantic web; Plant ontology; Image segmentation; Plant anatomy; Web services; Computer vision; Image curation; Machine learning
13.  MannDB – A microbial database of automated protein sequence analyses and evidence integration for protein characterization 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:459.
MannDB was created to meet a need for rapid, comprehensive automated protein sequence analyses to support selection of proteins suitable as targets for driving the development of reagents for pathogen or protein toxin detection. Because a large number of open-source tools were needed, it was necessary to produce a software system to scale the computations for whole-proteome analysis. Thus, we built a fully automated system for executing software tools and for storage, integration, and display of automated protein sequence analysis and annotation data.
MannDB is a relational database that organizes data resulting from fully automated, high-throughput protein-sequence analyses using open-source tools. Types of analyses provided include predictions of cleavage, chemical properties, classification, features, functional assignment, post-translational modifications, motifs, antigenicity, and secondary structure. Proteomes (lists of hypothetical and known proteins) are downloaded and parsed from Genbank and then inserted into MannDB, and annotations from SwissProt are downloaded when identifiers are found in the Genbank entry or when identical sequences are identified. Currently 36 open-source tools are run against MannDB protein sequences either on local systems or by means of batch submission to external servers. In addition, BLAST against protein entries in MvirDB, our database of microbial virulence factors, is performed. A web client browser enables viewing of computational results and downloaded annotations, and a query tool enables structured and free-text search capabilities. When available, links to external databases, including MvirDB, are provided. MannDB contains whole-proteome analyses for at least one representative organism from each category of biological threat organism listed by APHIS, CDC, HHS, NIAID, USDA, USFDA, and WHO.
MannDB comprises a large number of genomes and comprehensive protein sequence analyses representing organisms listed as high-priority agents on the websites of several governmental organizations concerned with bio-terrorism. MannDB provides the user with a BLAST interface for comparison of native and non-native sequences and a query tool for conveniently selecting proteins of interest. In addition, the user has access to a web-based browser that compiles comprehensive and extensive reports. Access to MannDB is freely available at .
PMCID: PMC1622758  PMID: 17044936
14.  Role of the parCBA Operon of the Broad-Host-Range Plasmid RK2 in Stable Plasmid Maintenance 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(22):6023-6030.
The par region of the stably maintained broad-host-range plasmid RK2 is organized as two divergent operons, parCBA and parDE, and a cis-acting site. parDE encodes a postsegregational killing system, and parCBA encodes a resolvase (ParA), a nuclease (ParB), and a protein of unknown function (ParC). The present study was undertaken to further delineate the role of the parCBA region in the stable maintenance of RK2 by first introducing precise deletions in the three genes and then assessing the abilities of the different constructs to stabilize RK2 in three strains of Escherichia coli and two strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The intact parCBA operon was effective in stabilizing a conjugation-defective RK2 derivative in E. coli MC1061K and RR1 but was relatively ineffective in E. coli MV10Δlac. In the two strains in which the parCBA operon was effective, deletions in parB, parC, or both parB and parC caused an approximately twofold reduction in the stabilizing ability of the operon, while a deletion in the parA gene resulted in a much greater loss of parCBA activity. For P. aeruginosa PAO1161Rifr, the parCBA operon provided little if any plasmid stability, but for P. aeruginosa PAC452Rifr, the RK2 plasmid was stabilized to a substantial extent by parCBA. With this latter strain, parA and res alone were sufficient for stabilization. The cer resolvase system of plasmid ColE1 and the loxP/Cre system of plasmid P1 were tested in comparison with the parCBA operon. We found that, not unlike what was previously observed with MC1061K, cer failed to stabilize the RK2 plasmid with par deletions in strain MV10Δlac, but this multimer resolution system was effective in stabilizing the plasmid in strain RR1. The loxP/Cre system, on the other hand, was very effective in stabilizing the plasmid in all three E. coli strains. These observations indicate that the parA gene, along with its res site, exhibits a significant level of plasmid stabilization in the absence of the parC and parB genes but that in at least one E. coli strain, all three genes are required for maximum stabilization. It cannot be determined from these results whether or not the stabilization effects seen with parCBA or the cer and loxP/Cre systems are strictly due to a reduction in the level of RK2 dimers and an increase in the number of plasmid monomer units or if these systems play a role in a more complex process of plasmid stabilization that requires as an essential step the resolution of plasmid dimers.
PMCID: PMC107679  PMID: 9811663
15.  Re-Annotator: Annotation Pipeline for Microarray Probe Sequences 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0139516.
Microarray technologies are established approaches for high throughput gene expression, methylation and genotyping analysis. An accurate mapping of the array probes is essential to generate reliable biological findings. However, manufacturers of the microarray platforms typically provide incomplete and outdated annotation tables, which often rely on older genome and transcriptome versions that differ substantially from up-to-date sequence databases. Here, we present the Re-Annotator, a re-annotation pipeline for microarray probe sequences. It is primarily designed for gene expression microarrays but can also be adapted to other types of microarrays. The Re-Annotator uses a custom-built mRNA reference database to identify the positions of gene expression array probe sequences. We applied Re-Annotator to the Illumina Human-HT12 v4 microarray platform and found that about one quarter (25%) of the probes differed from the manufacturer’s annotation. In further computational experiments on experimental gene expression data, we compared Re-Annotator to another probe re-annotation tool, ReMOAT, and found that Re-Annotator provided an improved re-annotation of microarray probes. A thorough re-annotation of probe information is crucial to any microarray analysis. The Re-Annotator pipeline is freely available at along with re-annotated files for Illumina microarrays HumanHT-12 v3/v4 and MouseRef-8 v2.
PMCID: PMC4591122  PMID: 26426330
16.  yrGATE: a web-based gene-structure annotation tool for the identification and dissemination of eukaryotic genes 
Genome Biology  2006;7(7):R58.
yrGATE is a new web-based tool for community gene and genome annotation.
Your Gene structure Annotation Tool for Eukaryotes (yrGATE) provides an Annotation Tool and Community Utilities for worldwide web-based community genome and gene annotation. Annotators can evaluate gene structure evidence derived from multiple sources to create gene structure annotations. Administrators regulate the acceptance of annotations into published gene sets. yrGATE is designed to facilitate rapid and accurate annotation of emerging genomes as well as to confirm, refine, or correct currently published annotations. yrGATE is highly portable and supports different standard input and output formats. The yrGATE software and usage cases are available at .
PMCID: PMC1779557  PMID: 16859520
17.  DNannotator: annotation software tool kit for regional genomic sequences 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3729-3735.
Sequence annotation is essential for genomics-based research. Investigators of a specific genomic region who have developed abundant local discoveries such as genes and genetic markers, or have collected annotations from multiple resources, can be overwhelmed by the difficulty in creating local annotation and the complexity of integrating all the annotations. Presenting such integrated data in a form suitable for data mining and high-throughput experimental design is even more daunting. DNannotator, a web application, was designed to perform batch annotation on a sizeable genomic region. It takes annotation source data, such as SNPs, genes, primers, and so on, prepared by the end-user and/or a specified target of genomic DNA, and performs de novo annotation. DNannotator can also robustly migrate existing annotations in GenBank format from one sequence to another. Annotation results are provided in GenBank format and in tab-delimited text, which can be imported and managed in a database or spreadsheet and combined with existing annotation as desired. Graphic viewers, such as Genome Browser or Artemis, can display the annotation results. Reference data (reports on the process) facilitating the user's evaluation of annotation quality are optionally provided. DNannotator can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC168949  PMID: 12824405
18.  EVALLER: a web server for in silico assessment of potential protein allergenicity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(Web Server issue):W694-W700.
Bioinformatics testing approaches for protein allergenicity, involving amino acid sequence comparisons, have evolved appreciably over the last several years to increased sophistication and performance. EVALLER, the web server presented in this article is based on our recently published ‘Detection based on Filtered Length-adjusted Allergen Peptides’ (DFLAP) algorithm, which affords in silico determination of potential protein allergenicity of high sensitivity and excellent specificity. To strengthen bioinformatics risk assessment in allergology EVALLER provides a comprehensive outline of its judgment on a query protein's potential allergenicity. Each such textual output incorporates a scoring figure, a confidence numeral of the assignment and information on high- or low-scoring matches to identified allergen-related motifs, including their respective location in accordingly derived allergens. The interface, built on a modified Perl Open Source package, enables dynamic and color-coded graphic representation of key parts of the output. Moreover, pertinent details can be examined in great detail through zoomed views. The server can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC1933222  PMID: 17537818
19.  Combined Evidence Annotation of Transposable Elements in Genome Sequences 
PLoS Computational Biology  2005;1(2):e22.
Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile, repetitive sequences that make up significant fractions of metazoan genomes. Despite their near ubiquity and importance in genome and chromosome biology, most efforts to annotate TEs in genome sequences rely on the results of a single computational program, RepeatMasker. In contrast, recent advances in gene annotation indicate that high-quality gene models can be produced from combining multiple independent sources of computational evidence. To elevate the quality of TE annotations to a level comparable to that of gene models, we have developed a combined evidence-model TE annotation pipeline, analogous to systems used for gene annotation, by integrating results from multiple homology-based and de novo TE identification methods. As proof of principle, we have annotated “TE models” in Drosophila melanogaster Release 4 genomic sequences using the combined computational evidence derived from RepeatMasker, BLASTER, TBLASTX, all-by-all BLASTN, RECON, TE-HMM and the previous Release 3.1 annotation. Our system is designed for use with the Apollo genome annotation tool, allowing automatic results to be curated manually to produce reliable annotations. The euchromatic TE fraction of D. melanogaster is now estimated at 5.3% (cf. 3.86% in Release 3.1), and we found a substantially higher number of TEs (n = 6,013) than previously identified (n = 1,572). Most of the new TEs derive from small fragments of a few hundred nucleotides long and highly abundant families not previously annotated (e.g., INE-1). We also estimated that 518 TE copies (8.6%) are inserted into at least one other TE, forming a nest of elements. The pipeline allows rapid and thorough annotation of even the most complex TE models, including highly deleted and/or nested elements such as those often found in heterochromatic sequences. Our pipeline can be easily adapted to other genome sequences, such as those of the D. melanogaster heterochromatin or other species in the genus Drosophila.
A first step in adding value to the large-scale DNA sequences generated by genome projects is the process of annotation—marking biological features on the raw string of adenines, cytosines, guanines, and thymines. The predominant goal in genome annotation thus far has been to identify gene sequences that encode proteins; however, many functional sequences exist in non-protein-coding regions and their annotation remains incomplete. Mobile, repetitive DNA segments known as transposable elements (TEs) are one class of functional sequence in non-protein-coding regions, which can make up large fractions of genome sequences (e.g., about 45% in the human) and can play important roles in gene and chromosome structure and regulation. As a consequence, there has been increasing interest in the computational identification of TEs in genome sequences. Borrowing current ideas from the field of gene annotation, the authors have developed a pipeline to predict TEs in genome sequences that combines multiple sources of evidence from different computational methods. The authors' combined-evidence pipeline represents an important step towards raising the standards of TE annotation to the same quality as that of genes, and should help catalyze their understanding of the biological role of these fascinating sequences.
PMCID: PMC1185648  PMID: 16110336
20.  Full-length messenger RNA sequences greatly improve genome annotation 
Genome Biology  2002;3(6):research0029.1-research0029.12.
Annotation of eukaryotic genomes is a complex endeavor that requires the integration of evidence from multiple, often contradictory, sources. With the ever-increasing amount of genome sequence data now available, methods for accurate identification of large numbers of genes have become urgently needed. In an effort to create a set of very high-quality gene models, we used the sequence of 5,000 full-length gene transcripts from Arabidopsis to re-annotate its genome. We have mapped these transcripts to their exact chromosomal locations and, using alignment programs, have created gene models that provide a reference set for this organism.
Approximately 35% of the transcripts indicated that previously annotated genes needed modification, and 5% of the transcripts represented newly discovered genes. We also discovered that multiple transcription initiation sites appear to be much more common than previously known, and we report numerous cases of alternative mRNA splicing. We include a comparison of different alignment software and an analysis of how the transcript data improved the previously published annotation.
Our results demonstrate that sequencing of large numbers of full-length transcripts followed by computational mapping greatly improves identification of the complete exon structures of eukaryotic genes. In addition, we are able to find numerous introns in the untranslated regions of the genes.
PMCID: PMC116726  PMID: 12093376
21.  Using computational predictions to improve literature-based Gene Ontology annotations: a feasibility study 
Annotation using Gene Ontology (GO) terms is one of the most important ways in which biological information about specific gene products can be expressed in a searchable, computable form that may be compared across genomes and organisms. Because literature-based GO annotations are often used to propagate functional predictions between related proteins, their accuracy is critically important. We present a strategy that employs a comparison of literature-based annotations with computational predictions to identify and prioritize genes whose annotations need review. Using this method, we show that comparison of manually assigned ‘unknown’ annotations in the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD) with InterPro-based predictions can identify annotations that need to be updated. A survey of literature-based annotations and computational predictions made by the Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) project at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) across several other databases shows that this comparison strategy could be used to maintain and improve the quality of GO annotations for other organisms besides yeast. The survey also shows that although GOA-assigned predictions are the most comprehensive source of functional information for many genomes, a large proportion of genes in a variety of different organisms entirely lack these predictions but do have manual annotations. This underscores the critical need for manually performed, literature-based curation to provide functional information about genes that are outside the scope of widely used computational methods. Thus, the combination of manual and computational methods is essential to provide the most accurate and complete functional annotation of a genome.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3067894  PMID: 21411447
22.  Improving pan-genome annotation using whole genome multiple alignment 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:272.
Rapid annotation and comparisons of genomes from multiple isolates (pan-genomes) is becoming commonplace due to advances in sequencing technology. Genome annotations can contain inconsistencies and errors that hinder comparative analysis even within a single species. Tools are needed to compare and improve annotation quality across sets of closely related genomes.
We introduce a new tool, Mugsy-Annotator, that identifies orthologs and evaluates annotation quality in prokaryotic genomes using whole genome multiple alignment. Mugsy-Annotator identifies anomalies in annotated gene structures, including inconsistently located translation initiation sites and disrupted genes due to draft genome sequencing or pseudogenes. An evaluation of species pan-genomes using the tool indicates that such anomalies are common, especially at translation initiation sites. Mugsy-Annotator reports alternate annotations that improve consistency and are candidates for further review.
Whole genome multiple alignment can be used to efficiently identify orthologs and annotation problem areas in a bacterial pan-genome. Comparisons of annotated gene structures within a species may show more variation than is actually present in the genome, indicating errors in genome annotation. Our new tool Mugsy-Annotator assists re-annotation efforts by highlighting edits that improve annotation consistency.
PMCID: PMC3142524  PMID: 21718539
23.  VESPA: software to facilitate genomic annotation of prokaryotic organisms through integration of proteomic and transcriptomic data 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:131.
The procedural aspects of genome sequencing and assembly have become relatively inexpensive, yet the full, accurate structural annotation of these genomes remains a challenge. Next-generation sequencing transcriptomics (RNA-Seq), global microarrays, and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS)-based proteomics have demonstrated immense value to genome curators as individual sources of information, however, integrating these data types to validate and improve structural annotation remains a major challenge. Current visual and statistical analytic tools are focused on a single data type, or existing software tools are retrofitted to analyze new data forms. We present Visual Exploration and Statistics to Promote Annotation (VESPA) is a new interactive visual analysis software tool focused on assisting scientists with the annotation of prokaryotic genomes though the integration of proteomics and transcriptomics data with current genome location coordinates.
VESPA is a desktop Java™ application that integrates high-throughput proteomics data (peptide-centric) and transcriptomics (probe or RNA-Seq) data into a genomic context, all of which can be visualized at three levels of genomic resolution. Data is interrogated via searches linked to the genome visualizations to find regions with high likelihood of mis-annotation. Search results are linked to exports for further validation outside of VESPA or potential coding-regions can be analyzed concurrently with the software through interaction with BLAST. VESPA is demonstrated on two use cases (Yersinia pestis Pestoides F and Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002) to demonstrate the rapid manner in which mis-annotations can be found and explored in VESPA using either proteomics data alone, or in combination with transcriptomic data.
VESPA is an interactive visual analytics tool that integrates high-throughput data into a genomic context to facilitate the discovery of structural mis-annotations in prokaryotic genomes. Data is evaluated via visual analysis across multiple levels of genomic resolution, linked searches and interaction with existing bioinformatics tools. We highlight the novel functionality of VESPA and core programming requirements for visualization of these large heterogeneous datasets for a client-side application. The software is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3364912  PMID: 22480257
24.  A unified gene catalog for the laboratory mouse reference genome 
Mammalian Genome  2015;26(7-8):295-304.
We report here a semi-automated process by which mouse genome feature predictions and curated annotations (i.e., genes, pseudogenes, functional RNAs, etc.) from Ensembl, NCBI and Vertebrate Genome Annotation database (Vega) are reconciled with the genome features in the Mouse Genome Informatics (MGI) database ( into a comprehensive and non-redundant catalog. Our gene unification method employs an algorithm (fjoin—feature join) for efficient detection of genome coordinate overlaps among features represented in two annotation data sets. Following the analysis with fjoin, genome features are binned into six possible categories (1:1, 1:0, 0:1, 1:n, n:1, n:m) based on coordinate overlaps. These categories are subsequently prioritized for assessment of annotation equivalencies and differences. The version of the unified catalog reported here contains more than 59,000 entries, including 22,599 protein-coding coding genes, 12,455 pseudogenes, and 24,007 other feature types (e.g., microRNAs, lincRNAs, etc.). More than 23,000 of the entries in the MGI gene catalog have equivalent gene models in the annotation files obtained from NCBI, Vega, and Ensembl. 12,719 of the features are unique to NCBI relative to Ensembl/Vega; 11,957 are unique to Ensembl/Vega relative to NCBI, and 3095 are unique to MGI. More than 4000 genome features fall into categories that require manual inspection to resolve structural differences in the gene models from different annotation sources. Using the MGI unified gene catalog, researchers can easily generate a comprehensive report of mouse genome features from a single source and compare the details of gene and transcript structure using MGI’s mouse genome browser.
PMCID: PMC4534496  PMID: 26084703
25.  annot8r: GO, EC and KEGG annotation of EST datasets 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:180.
The expressed sequence tag (EST) methodology is an attractive option for the generation of sequence data for species for which no completely sequenced genome is available. The annotation and comparative analysis of such datasets poses a formidable challenge for research groups that do not have the bioinformatics infrastructure of major genome sequencing centres. Therefore, there is a need for user-friendly tools to facilitate the annotation of non-model species EST datasets with well-defined ontologies that enable meaningful cross-species comparisons. To address this, we have developed annot8r, a platform for the rapid annotation of EST datasets with GO-terms, EC-numbers and KEGG-pathways.
annot8r automatically downloads all files relevant for the annotation process and generates a reference database that stores UniProt entries, their associated Gene Ontology (GO), Enzyme Commission (EC) and Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) annotation and additional relevant data. For each of GO, EC and KEGG, annot8r extracts a specific sequence subset from the UniProt dataset based on the information stored in the reference database. These three subsets are then formatted for BLAST searches. The user provides the protein or nucleotide sequences to be annotated and annot8r runs BLAST searches against these three subsets. The BLAST results are parsed and the corresponding annotations retrieved from the reference database. The annotations are saved both as flat files and also in a relational postgreSQL results database to facilitate more advanced searches within the results. annot8r is integrated with the PartiGene suite of EST analysis tools.
annot8r is a tool that assigns GO, EC and KEGG annotations for data sets resulting from EST sequencing projects both rapidly and efficiently. The benefits of an underlying relational database, flexibility and the ease of use of the program make it ideally suited for non-model species EST-sequencing projects.
PMCID: PMC2324097  PMID: 18400082

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