The goal of the Sequence Ontology (SO) project is to produce a structured controlled vocabulary with a common set of terms and definitions for parts of a genomic annotation, and to describe the relationships among them. Details of SO construction, design and use, particularly with regard to part-whole relationships are discussed and the practical utility of SO is demonstrated for a set of genome annotations from Drosophila melanogaster.
The Sequence Ontology (SO) is a structured controlled vocabulary for the parts of a genomic annotation. SO provides a common set of terms and definitions that will facilitate the exchange, analysis and management of genomic data. Because SO treats part-whole relationships rigorously, data described with it can become substrates for automated reasoning, and instances of sequence features described by the SO can be subjected to a group of logical operations termed extensional mereology operators.
The Gene Ontology (GO) project () develops and uses a set of structured, controlled vocabularies for community use in annotating genes, gene products and sequences (also see ). The GO Consortium continues to improve to the vocabulary content, reflecting the impact of several novel mechanisms of incorporating community input. A growing number of model organism databases and genome annotation groups contribute annotation sets using GO terms to GO's public repository. Updates to the AmiGO browser have improved access to contributed genome annotations. As the GO project continues to grow, the use of the GO vocabularies is becoming more varied as well as more widespread. The GO project provides an ontological annotation system that enables biologists to infer knowledge from large amounts of data.
The Gene Ontology (GO) is a collaborative effort that provides structured vocabularies for annotating the molecular function, biological role, and cellular location of gene products in a highly systematic way and in a species-neutral manner with the aim of unifying the representation of gene function across different organisms. Each contributing member of the GO Consortium independently associates GO terms to gene products from the organism(s) they are annotating. Here we introduce the Reference Genome project, which brings together those independent efforts into a unified framework based on the evolutionary relationships between genes in these different organisms. The Reference Genome project has two primary goals: to increase the depth and breadth of annotations for genes in each of the organisms in the project, and to create data sets and tools that enable other genome annotation efforts to infer GO annotations for homologous genes in their organisms. In addition, the project has several important incidental benefits, such as increasing annotation consistency across genome databases, and providing important improvements to the GO's logical structure and biological content.
Biological research is increasingly dependent on the availability of well-structured representations of biological data with detailed, accurate descriptions provided by the curators of the data repositories. The Reference Genome project's goal is to provide comprehensive functional annotation for the genomes of human as well as eleven organisms that are important models in biomedical research. To achieve this, we have developed an approach that superposes experimentally-based annotations onto the leaves of phylogenetic trees and then we manually annotate the function of the common ancestors, predicated on the assumption that the ancestors possessed the experimentally determined functions that are held in common at these leaves, and that these functions are likely to be conserved in all other descendents of each family.
The Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) project at the EBI (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/goa) provides high-quality electronic and manual associations (annotations) of Gene Ontology (GO) terms to UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB) entries. Annotations created by the project are collated with annotations from external databases to provide an extensive, publicly available GO annotation resource. Currently covering over 160 000 taxa, with greater than 32 million annotations, GOA remains the largest and most comprehensive open-source contributor to the GO Consortium (GOC) project. Over the last five years, the group has augmented the number and coverage of their electronic pipelines and a number of new manual annotation projects and collaborations now further enhance this resource. A range of files facilitate the download of annotations for particular species, and GO term information and associated annotations can also be viewed and downloaded from the newly developed GOA QuickGO tool (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/QuickGO), which allows users to precisely tailor their annotation set.
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.
The Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium (http://www.geneontology.org) (GOC) continues to develop, maintain and use a set of structured, controlled vocabularies for the annotation of genes, gene products and sequences. The GO ontologies are expanding both in content and in structure. Several new relationship types have been introduced and used, along with existing relationships, to create links between and within the GO domains. These improve the representation of biology, facilitate querying, and allow GO developers to systematically check for and correct inconsistencies within the GO. Gene product annotation using GO continues to increase both in the number of total annotations and in species coverage. GO tools, such as OBO-Edit, an ontology-editing tool, and AmiGO, the GOC ontology browser, have seen major improvements in functionality, speed and ease of use.
Researchers in biomedical informatics use ontologies and terminologies to annotate their data in order to facilitate data integration and translational discoveries. As the use of ontologies for annotation of biomedical datasets has risen, a common challenge is to identify ontologies that are best suited to annotating specific datasets. The number and variety of biomedical ontologies is large, and it is cumbersome for a researcher to figure out which ontology to use.
We present the Biomedical Ontology Recommender web service. The system uses textual metadata or a set of keywords describing a domain of interest and suggests appropriate ontologies for annotating or representing the data. The service makes a decision based on three criteria. The first one is coverage, or the ontologies that provide most terms covering the input text. The second is connectivity, or the ontologies that are most often mapped to by other ontologies. The final criterion is size, or the number of concepts in the ontologies. The service scores the ontologies as a function of scores of the annotations created using the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) Annotator web service. We used all the ontologies from the UMLS Metathesaurus and the NCBO BioPortal.
We compare and contrast our Recommender by an exhaustive functional comparison to previously published efforts. We evaluate and discuss the results of several recommendation heuristics in the context of three real world use cases. The best recommendations heuristics, rated ‘very relevant’ by expert evaluators, are the ones based on coverage and connectivity criteria. The Recommender service (alpha version) is available to the community and is embedded into BioPortal.
The Gene Ontology is the most commonly used controlled vocabulary for annotating proteins. The concepts in the ontology are organized as a directed acyclic graph, in which a node corresponds to a biological concept and a directed edge denotes the parent-child semantic relationship between a pair of terms. A large number of protein annotations further create links between proteins and their functional annotations, reflecting the contemporary knowledge about proteins and their functional relationships. This leads to a complex graph consisting of interleaved biological concepts and their associated proteins. What is needed is a simple, open source library that provides tools to not only create and view the Gene Ontology graph, but to analyze and manipulate it as well. Here we describe the development and use of GOGrapher, a Python library that can be used for the creation, analysis, manipulation, and visualization of Gene Ontology related graphs.
An object-oriented approach was adopted to organize the hierarchy of the graphs types and associated classes. An Application Programming Interface is provided through which different types of graphs can be pragmatically created, manipulated, and visualized. GOGrapher has been successfully utilized in multiple research projects, e.g., a graph-based multi-label text classifier for protein annotation.
The GOGrapher project provides a reusable programming library designed for the manipulation and analysis of Gene Ontology graphs. The library is freely available for the scientific community to use and improve.
Controlled vocabularies are common within bioinformatics resources. They can be used to
give a summary of the knowledge held about a particular entity. They are also used to
constrain values given for particular attributes of an entity. This helps create a shared
understanding of a domain and aids increased precision and recall during querying of
resources. Ontologies can also provide such facilities, but can also enhance their utility.
Controlled vocabularies are often simply lists of words, but may be viewed as a kind of
ontology. Ideally ontologies are structurally enriched with relationships between terms
within the vocabulary. Use of such rich forms of vocabularies in database annotation could
enhance those resources usability by both humans and computers. The representation of
the knowledge content of biological resources in a computationally accessible form opens
the prospect of greater support for a biologist investigating new data.
The Mammalian Phenotype Ontology (MP) is a structured vocabulary for describing mammalian phenotypes and serves as a critical tool for efficient annotation and comprehensive retrieval of phenotype data. Importantly, the ontology contains broad and specific terms, facilitating annotation of data from initial observations or screens and detailed data from subsequent experimental research. Using the ontology structure, data are retrieved inclusively, i.e., data annotated to chosen terms and to terms subordinate in the hierarchy. Thus, searching for “abnormal craniofacial morphology” also returns annotations to “megacephaly” and “microcephaly,” more specific terms in the hierarchy path. The development and refinement of the MP is ongoing, with new terms and modifications to its organization undergoing continuous assessment as users and expert reviewers propose expansions and revisions. A wealth of phenotype data on mouse mutations and variants annotated to the MP already exists in the Mouse Genome Informatics database. These data, along with data curated to the MP by many mouse mutagenesis programs and mouse repositories, provide a platform for comparative analyses and correlative discoveries. The MP provides a standard underpinning to mouse phenotype descriptions for existing and future experimental and large-scale phenotyping projects. In this review we describe the MP as it presently exists, its application to phenotype annotations, the relationship of the MP to other ontologies, and the integration of the MP within large-scale phenotyping projects. Finally we discuss future application of the MP in providing standard descriptors of the phenotype pipeline test results from the International Mouse Phenotype Consortium projects.
Unified, structured vocabularies and classifications freely provided by the Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium are widely accepted in most of the large scale gene annotation projects. Consequently, many tools have been created for use with the GO ontologies. WEGO (Web Gene Ontology Annotation Plot) is a simple but useful tool for visualizing, comparing and plotting GO annotation results. Different from other commercial software for creating chart, WEGO is designed to deal with the directed acyclic graph structure of GO to facilitate histogram creation of GO annotation results. WEGO has been used widely in many important biological research projects, such as the rice genome project and the silkworm genome project. It has become one of the daily tools for downstream gene annotation analysis, especially when performing comparative genomics tasks. WEGO, along with the two other tools, namely External to GO Query and GO Archive Query, are freely available for all users at . There are two available mirror sites at and . Any suggestions are welcome at email@example.com.
Analysis of functional genomics (transcriptomics and proteomics) datasets is hindered in agricultural species because agricultural genome sequences have relatively poor structural and functional annotation. To facilitate systems biology in these species we have established the curated, web-accessible, public resource ‘AgBase’ (). We have improved the structural annotation of agriculturally important genomes by experimentally confirming the in vivo expression of electronically predicted proteins and by proteogenomic mapping. Proteogenomic data are available from the AgBase proteogenomics link. We contribute Gene Ontology (GO) annotations and we provide a two tier system of GO annotations for users. The ‘GO Consortium’ gene association file contains the most rigorous GO annotations based solely on experimental data. The ‘Community’ gene association file contains GO annotations based on expert community knowledge (annotations based directly from author statements and submitted annotations from the community) and annotations for predicted proteins. We have developed two tools for proteomics analysis and these are freely available on request. A suite of tools for analyzing functional genomics datasets using the GO is available online at the AgBase site. We encourage and publicly acknowledge GO annotations from researchers and provide an online mechanism for agricultural researchers to submit requests for GO annotations.
Semantic similarity analysis facilitates automated semantic explanations of biological and clinical data annotated by biomedical ontologies. Gene ontology (GO) has become one of the most important biomedical ontologies with a set of controlled vocabularies, providing rich semantic annotations for genes and molecular phenotypes for diseases. Current methods for measuring GO semantic similarities are limited to considering only the ancestor terms while neglecting the descendants. One can find many GO term pairs whose ancestors are identical but whose descendants are very different and vice versa. Moreover, the lower parts of GO trees are full of terms with more specific semantics.
This study proposed a method of measuring semantic similarities between GO terms using the entire GO tree structure, including both the upper (ancestral) and the lower (descendant) parts. Comprehensive comparison studies were performed with well-known information content-based and graph structure-based semantic similarity measures with protein sequence similarities, gene expression-profile correlations, protein–protein interactions, and biological pathway analyses.
The proposed bidirectional measure of semantic similarity outperformed other graph-based and information content-based methods.
Bioinformatics; medical informatics; meta-data
The value of any kind of data is greatly enhanced when it exists in a form that allows it to be integrated with other data. One approach to integration is through the annotation of multiple bodies of data using common controlled vocabularies or ‘ontologies’. Unfortunately, the very success of this approach has led to a proliferation of ontologies, which itself creates obstacles to integration. The Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) consortium is pursuing a strategy to overcome this problem. Existing OBO ontologies, including the Gene Ontology, are undergoing coordinated reform, and new ontologies are being created on the basis of an evolving set of shared principles governing ontology development. The result is an expanding family of ontologies designed to be interoperable and logically well formed and to incorporate accurate representations of biological reality. We describe this OBO Foundry initiative and provide guidelines for those who might wish to become involved.
Motivation: The results of initial analyses for many high-throughput technologies commonly take the form of gene or protein sets, and one of the ensuing tasks is to evaluate the functional coherence of these sets. The study of gene set function most commonly makes use of controlled vocabulary in the form of ontology annotations. For a given gene set, the statistical significance of observing these annotations or ‘enrichment’ may be tested using a number of methods. Instead of testing for significance of individual terms, this study is concerned with the task of assessing the global functional coherence of gene sets, for which novel metrics and statistical methods have been devised.
Results: The metrics of this study are based on the topological properties of graphs comprised of genes and their Gene Ontology annotations. A novel aspect of these methods is that both the enrichment of annotations and the relationships among annotations are considered when determining the significance of functional coherence. We applied our methods to perform analyses on an existing database and on microarray experimental results. Here, we demonstrated that our approach is highly discriminative in terms of differentiating coherent gene sets from random ones and that it provides biologically sensible evaluations in microarray analysis. We further used examples to show the utility of graph visualization as a tool for studying the functional coherence of gene sets.
Availability: The implementation is provided as a freely accessible web application at: http://projects.dbbe.musc.edu/gosteiner. Additionally, the source code written in the Python programming language, is available under the General Public License of the Free Software Foundation.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Gramene (http://www.gramene.org/) is a comparative genome database for cereal crops
and a community resource for rice. We are populating and curating Gramene with
annotated rice (Oryza sativa) genomic sequence data and associated biological information
including molecular markers, mutants, phenotypes, polymorphisms and Quantitative Trait
Loci (QTL). In order to support queries across various data sets as well as across external
databases, Gramene will employ three related controlled vocabularies. The specific goal of
Gramene is, first to provide a Trait Ontology (TO) that can be used across the cereal
crops to facilitate phenotypic comparisons both within and between the genera. Second, a
vocabulary for plant anatomy terms, the Plant Ontology (PO) will facilitate the curation
of morphological and anatomical feature information with respect to expression,
localization of genes and gene products and the affected plant parts in a phenotype. The
TO and PO are both in the early stages of development in collaboration with the
International Rice Research Institute, TAIR and MaizeDB as part of the Plant Ontology
Consortium. Finally, as part of another consortium comprising macromolecular databases
from other model organisms, the Gene Ontology Consortium, we are annotating the
confirmed and predicted protein entries from rice using both electronic and manual
PeerGAD is a web-based database-driven application that allows community-wide peer-reviewed annotation of prokaryotic genome sequences. The application was developed to support the annotation of the Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato strain DC3000 genome sequence and is easily portable to other genome sequence annotation projects. PeerGAD incorporates several innovative design and operation features and accepts annotations pertaining to gene naming, role classification, gene translation and annotation derivation. The annotator tool in PeerGAD is built around a genome browser that offers users the ability to search and navigate the genome sequence. Because the application encourages annotation of the genome sequence directly by researchers and relies on peer review, it circumvents the need for an annotation curator while providing added value to the annotation data. Support for the Gene Ontology™ vocabulary, a structured and controlled vocabulary used in classification of gene roles, is emphasized throughout the system. Here we present the underlying concepts integral to the functionality of PeerGAD.
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
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.
As genome sequences are determined for increasing numbers of model organisms, demand has grown for better tools to facilitate unified genome annotation efforts by communities of biologists. Typically this process involves numerous experts from the field and the use of data from dispersed sources as evidence. This kind of collaborative annotation project requires specialized software solutions for efficient data tracking and processing.
As part of the scale-up phase of the ENCODE project (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements), the aim of the GENCODE project is to produce a highly accurate evidence-based reference gene annotation for the human genome. The AnnoTrack software system was developed to aid this effort. It integrates data from multiple distributed sources, highlights conflicts and facilitates the quick identification, prioritisation and resolution of problems during the process of genome annotation.
AnnoTrack has been in use for the last year and has proven a very valuable tool for large-scale genome annotation. Designed to interface with standard bioinformatics components, such as DAS servers and Ensembl databases, it is easy to setup and configure for different genome projects. The source code is available at http://annotrack.sanger.ac.uk.
The Gene Ontology (GO) (http://www.geneontology.org/) contains a set of terms for describing the activity and actions of gene products across all kingdoms of life. Each of these activities is executed in a location within a cell or in the vicinity of a cell. In order to capture this context, the GO includes a sub-ontology called the Cellular Component (CC) ontology (GO-CCO). The primary use of this ontology is for GO annotation, but it has also been used for phenotype annotation, and for the annotation of images. Another ontology with similar scope to the GO-CCO is the Subcellular Anatomy Ontology (SAO), part of the Neuroscience Information Framework Standard (NIFSTD) suite of ontologies. The SAO also covers cell components, but in the domain of neuroscience.
Recently, the GO-CCO was enriched in content and links to the Biological Process and Molecular Function branches of GO as well as to other ontologies. This was achieved in several ways. We carried out an amalgamation of SAO terms with GO-CCO ones; as a result, nearly 100 new neuroscience-related terms were added to the GO. The GO-CCO also contains relationships to GO Biological Process and Molecular Function terms, as well as connecting to external ontologies such as the Cell Ontology (CL). Terms representing protein complexes in the Protein Ontology (PRO) reference GO-CCO terms for their species-generic counterparts. GO-CCO terms can also be used to search a variety of databases.
In this publication we provide an overview of the GO-CCO, its overall design, and some recent extensions that make use of additional spatial information. One of the most recent developments of the GO-CCO was the merging in of the SAO, resulting in a single unified ontology designed to serve the needs of GO annotators as well as the specific needs of the neuroscience community.
Gene ontology; Cellular component ontology; Subcellular anatomy ontology; Neuroscience; Annotation; Ontology language; Ontology integration; Neuroscience information framework
The Gene Ontology (GO) project (http://www.geneontology.org/) provides structured, controlled vocabularies and classifications that cover several domains of molecular and cellular biology and are freely available for community use in the annotation of genes, gene products and sequences. Many model organism databases and genome annotation groups use the GO and contribute their annotation sets to the GO resource. The GO database integrates the vocabularies and contributed annotations and provides full access to this information in several formats. Members of the GO Consortium continually work collectively, involving outside experts as needed, to expand and update the GO vocabularies. The GO Web resource also provides access to extensive documentation about the GO project and links to applications that use GO data for functional analyses.
The Mouse Genome Informatics (MGI; http://www.informatics.jax.org/) database integrates genetic and genomic data with the primary mission of facilitating the use of the mouse as a model system for understanding human biology and disease processes. MGI is the authoritative source of official mouse genetic nomenclature, gene ontology annotations, mammalian phenotype annotations, and mouse anatomy terms. MGI staff enforce the use of standardized genetic nomenclature, ontologies, and controlled vocabularies to describe mouse sequence data, genes, strains, expression data, alleles, and phenotypes. Extensive links between gene-centric information in MGI and other informatics resources (e.g., OMIM, Ensembl, UCSC, NCBI, UniProt) are maintained and updated on a regular basis.
Using the Web-based query interfaces for MGI, users can query for a mouse gene or genes according to diverse biological attributes of those genes, including phenotype associations, gene expression, functional annotation, and genome location. The MGI MouseBLAST server allows users to interrogate the MGI database using nucleotide and/or protein sequences. Functional and phenotypic data from MGI can be viewed in a broader genomic context using an interactive genome browser called Mouse GBrowse. The power of the MGI database as a research tool for biomedicine stems from the degree to which data from diverse sources are integrated. Integration, in turn, allows the data to be evaluated in new contexts. For example, integration makes possible such complex queries as “Find all genes from Chromosome 1 where the function is annotated as transcription factor and there is a knockout allele that results in eye dysmorphology.”
The Plant Ontology (PO; http://www.plantontology.org/) is a publicly available, collaborative effort to develop and maintain a controlled, structured vocabulary (‘ontology’) of terms to describe plant anatomy, morphology and the stages of plant development. The goals of the PO are to link (annotate) gene expression and phenotype data to plant structures and stages of plant development, using the data model adopted by the Gene Ontology. From its original design covering only rice, maize and Arabidopsis, the scope of the PO has been expanded to include all green plants. The PO was the first multispecies anatomy ontology developed for the annotation of genes and phenotypes. Also, to our knowledge, it was one of the first biological ontologies that provides translations (via synonyms) in non-English languages such as Japanese and Spanish. As of Release #18 (July 2012), there are about 2.2 million annotations linking PO terms to >110,000 unique data objects representing genes or gene models, proteins, RNAs, germplasm and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) from 22 plant species. In this paper, we focus on the plant anatomical entity branch of the PO, describing the organizing principles, resources available to users and examples of how the PO is integrated into other plant genomics databases and web portals. We also provide two examples of comparative analyses, demonstrating how the ontology structure and PO-annotated data can be used to discover the patterns of expression of the LEAFY (LFY) and terpene synthase (TPS) gene homologs.
Bioinformatics; Comparative genomics; Genome annotation; Ontology; Plant anatomy; Terpene synthase
Predicting protein function has become increasingly demanding in the era of next generation sequencing technology. The task to assign a curator-reviewed function to every single sequence is impracticable. Bioinformatics tools, easy to use and able to provide automatic and reliable annotations at a genomic scale, are necessary and urgent. In this scenario, the Gene Ontology has provided the means to standardize the annotation classification with a structured vocabulary which can be easily exploited by computational methods.
Argot2 is a web-based function prediction tool able to annotate nucleic or protein sequences from small datasets up to entire genomes. It accepts as input a list of sequences in FASTA format, which are processed using BLAST and HMMER searches vs UniProKB and Pfam databases respectively; these sequences are then annotated with GO terms retrieved from the UniProtKB-GOA database and the terms are weighted using the e-values from BLAST and HMMER. The weighted GO terms are processed according to both their semantic similarity relations described by the Gene Ontology and their associated score. The algorithm is based on the original idea developed in a previous tool called Argot. The entire engine has been completely rewritten to improve both accuracy and computational efficiency, thus allowing for the annotation of complete genomes.
The revised algorithm has been already employed and successfully tested during in-house genome projects of grape and apple, and has proven to have a high precision and recall in all our benchmark conditions. It has also been successfully compared with Blast2GO, one of the methods most commonly employed for sequence annotation. The server is freely accessible at http://www.medcomp.medicina.unipd.it/Argot2.