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1.  Using a Seed-Network to Query Multiple Large-Scale Gene Expression Datasets from the Developing Retina in Order to Identify and Prioritize Experimental Targets 
Understanding the gene networks that orchestrate the differentiation of retinal progenitors into photoreceptors in the developing retina is important not only due to its therapeutic applications in treating retinal degeneration but also because the developing retina provides an excellent model for studying CNS development. Although several studies have profiled changes in gene expression during normal retinal development, these studies offer at best only a starting point for functional studies focused on a smaller subset of genes. The large number of genes profiled at comparatively few time points makes it extremely difficult to reliably infer gene networks from a gene expression dataset. We describe a novel approach to identify and prioritize from multiple gene expression datasets, a small subset of the genes that are likely to be good candidates for further experimental investigation. We report progress on addressing this problem using a novel approach to querying multiple large-scale expression datasets using a ‘seed network’ consisting of a small set of genes that are implicated by published studies in rod photoreceptor differentiation. We use the seed network to identify and sort a list of genes whose expression levels are highly correlated with those of multiple seed network genes in at least two of the five gene expression datasets. The fact that several of the genes in this list have been demonstrated, through experimental studies reported in the literature, to be important in rod photoreceptor function provides support for the utility of this approach in prioritizing experimental targets for further experimental investigation. Based on Gene Ontology and KEGG pathway annotations for the list of genes obtained in the context of other information available in the literature, we identified seven genes or groups of genes for possible inclusion in the gene network involved in differentiation of retinal progenitor cells into rod photoreceptors. Our approach to querying multiple gene expression datasets using a seed network constructed from known interactions between specific genes of interest provides a promising strategy for focusing hypothesis-driven experiments using large-scale ‘omics’ data.
PMCID: PMC2735966  PMID: 19812791
gene expression; gene network; cell fate determination; retina; photoreceptor
2.  EnRICH: Extraction and Ranking using Integration and Criteria Heuristics 
Background
High throughput screening technologies enable biologists to generate candidate genes at a rate that, due to time and cost constraints, cannot be studied by experimental approaches in the laboratory. Thus, it has become increasingly important to prioritize candidate genes for experiments. To accomplish this, researchers need to apply selection requirements based on their knowledge, which necessitates qualitative integration of heterogeneous data sources and filtration using multiple criteria. A similar approach can also be applied to putative candidate gene relationships. While automation can assist in this routine and imperative procedure, flexibility of data sources and criteria must not be sacrificed. A tool that can optimize the trade-off between automation and flexibility to simultaneously filter and qualitatively integrate data is needed to prioritize candidate genes and generate composite networks from heterogeneous data sources.
Results
We developed the java application, EnRICH (Extraction and Ranking using Integration and Criteria Heuristics), in order to alleviate this need. Here we present a case study in which we used EnRICH to integrate and filter multiple candidate gene lists in order to identify potential retinal disease genes. As a result of this procedure, a candidate pool of several hundred genes was narrowed down to five candidate genes, of which four are confirmed retinal disease genes and one is associated with a retinal disease state.
Conclusions
We developed a platform-independent tool that is able to qualitatively integrate multiple heterogeneous datasets and use different selection criteria to filter each of them, provided the datasets are tables that have distinct identifiers (required) and attributes (optional). With the flexibility to specify data sources and filtering criteria, EnRICH automatically prioritizes candidate genes or gene relationships for biologists based on their specific requirements. Here, we also demonstrate that this tool can be effectively and easily used to apply highly specific user-defined criteria and can efficiently identify high quality candidate genes from relatively sparse datasets.
doi:10.1186/1752-0509-7-4
PMCID: PMC3564850  PMID: 23320748
Qualitative integration; High-throughput data; Heterogeneous data; Network; Network visualization; Candidate prioritization
3.  BioNetwork Bench: Database and Software for Storage, Query, and Analysis of Gene and Protein Networks 
Gene and protein networks offer a powerful approach for integration of the disparate yet complimentary types of data that result from high-throughput analyses. Although many tools and databases are currently available for accessing such data, they are left unutilized by bench scientists as they generally lack features for effective analysis and integration of both public and private datasets and do not offer an intuitive interface for use by scientists with limited computational expertise. We describe BioNetwork Bench, an open source, user-friendly suite of database and software tools for constructing, querying, and analyzing gene and protein network models. It enables biologists to analyze public as well as private gene expression; interactively query gene expression datasets; integrate data from multiple networks; store and selectively share the data and results. Finally, we describe an application of BioNetwork Bench to the assembly and iterative expansion of a gene network that controls the differentiation of retinal progenitor cells into rod photoreceptors. The tool is available from http://bionetworkbench.sourceforge.net/
Background
The emergence of high-throughput technologies has allowed many biological investigators to collect a great deal of information about the behavior of genes and gene products over time or during a particular disease state. Gene and protein networks offer a powerful approach for integration of the disparate yet complimentary types of data that result from such high-throughput analyses. There are a growing number of public databases, as well as tools for visualization and analysis of networks. However, such databases and tools have yet to be widely utilized by bench scientists, as they generally lack features for effective analysis and integration of both public and private datasets and do not offer an intuitive interface for use by biological scientists with limited computational expertise.
Results
We describe BioNetwork Bench, an open source, user-friendly suite of database and software tools for constructing, querying, and analyzing gene and protein network models. BioNetwork Bench currently supports a broad class of gene and protein network models (eg, weighted and un-weighted, undirected graphs, multi-graphs). It enables biologists to analyze public as well as private gene expression, macromolecular interaction and annotation data; interactively query gene expression datasets; integrate data from multiple networks; query multiple networks for interactions of interest; store and selectively share the data as well as results of analyses. BioNetwork Bench is implemented as a plug-in for, and hence is fully interoperable with, Cytoscape, a popular open-source software suite for visualizing macromolecular interaction networks. Finally, we describe an application of BioNetwork Bench to the problem of assembly and iterative expansion of a gene network that controls the differentiation of retinal progenitor cells into rod photoreceptors.
Conclusions
BioNetwork Bench provides a suite of open source software for construction, querying, and selective sharing of gene and protein networks. Although initially aimed at a community of biologists interested in retinal development, the tool can be adapted easily to work with other biological systems simply by populating the associated database with the relevant datasets.
doi:10.4137/BBI.S9728
PMCID: PMC3498971
network analysis; software; network contruction; network integration
4.  Neurologic Manifestations of Leishmania spp. Infection 
When listing common clinical signs of the spectra of Leishmania-derived diseases, neurologic malfunctions are not commonly included. Despite this, there are multiple reported instances both in human and veterinary medicine where neurologic manifestations, whether central or peripheral, are described. In this review, we describe neurologic manifestations seen during infection with Leishmania spp. with some discussion of the implicit effect of inflammation on the blood brain barrier in both medical and veterinary cases. Taken together, the material discussed here suggests that in patients from Leishmania-endemic areas, when observing neurologic symptoms, causation secondary to infection with Leishmania spp. should be highly considered.
PMCID: PMC3110707  PMID: 21666756
leishmaniasis; neurologic; ocular; CNS; macrophage
5.  Mouse Retinal Development: a Dark Horse Model for Systems Biology Research 
The developing retina is an excellent model to study cellular fate determination and differentiation in the context of a complex tissue. Over the last decade, many basic principles and key genes that underlie these processes have been experimentally identified. In this review, we construct network models to summarize known gene interactions that underlie determination and fundamentally affect differentiation of each retinal cell type. These networks can act as a scaffold to assemble subsequent discoveries. In addition, these summary networks provide a rational segue to systems biology approaches necessary to understand the many events leading to appropriate cellular determination and differentiation in the developing retina and other complex tissues.
doi:10.4137/BBI.S6930
PMCID: PMC3118678  PMID: 21698072
retina; cell fate determination; network; systems biology

Results 1-5 (5)