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Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;338(6104):222-226.
We present a DNA library preparation method that has allowed us to reconstruct a high coverage (30X) genome sequence of a Denisovan, an extinct relative of Neandertals. The quality of this genome allows a direct estimation of Denisovan heterozygosity indicating that genetic diversity in these archaic hominins was extremely low. It also allows tentative dating of the specimen on the basis of “missing evolution” in its genome, detailed measurements of Denisovan and Neandertal admixture into present-day human populations, and the generation of a near-complete catalog of genetic changes that swept to high frequency in modern humans since their divergence from Denisovans.
PMCID: PMC3617501  PMID: 22936568
3.  freeIbis: an efficient basecaller with calibrated quality scores for Illumina sequencers 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(9):1208-1209.
Motivation: The conversion of the raw intensities obtained from next-generation sequencing platforms into nucleotide sequences with well-calibrated quality scores is a critical step in the generation of good sequence data. While recent model-based approaches can yield highly accurate calls, they require a substantial amount of processing time and/or computational resources. We previously introduced Ibis, a fast and accurate basecaller for the Illumina platform. We have continued active development of Ibis to take into account developments in the Illumina technology, as well as to make Ibis fully open source.
Results: We introduce here freeIbis, which offers significant improvements in sequence accuracy owing to the use of a novel multiclass support vector machine (SVM) algorithm. Sequence quality scores are now calibrated based on empirically observed scores, thus providing a high correlation to their respective error rates. These improvements result in downstream advantages including improved genotyping accuracy.
Availability and implementation: FreeIbis is freely available for use under the GPL ( It requires a Python interpreter and a C++ compiler. Tailored versions of LIBOCAS and LIBLINEAR are distributed along with the package.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3634191  PMID: 23471300
4.  The bonobo genome compared with the chimpanzee and human genomes 
Nature  2012;486(7404):527-531.
Two African apes are the closest living relatives of humans: the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the bonobo (Pan paniscus). Although they are similar in many respects, bonobos and chimpanzees differ strikingly in key social and sexual behaviours1–4, and for some of these traits they show more similarity with humans than with each other. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the bonobo genome to study its evolutionary relationship with the chimpanzee and human genomes. We find that more than three per cent of the human genome is more closely related to either the bonobo or the chimpanzee genome than these are to each other. These regions allow various aspects of the ancestry of the two ape species to be reconstructed. In addition, many of the regions that overlap genes may eventually help us understand the genetic basis of phenotypes that humans share with one of the two apes to the exclusion of the other.
PMCID: PMC3498939  PMID: 22722832
5.  Paving the future: finding suitable ISMB venues 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(19):2556-2559.
The International Society for Computational Biology, ISCB, organizes the largest event in the field of computational biology and bioinformatics, namely the annual international conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology, the ISMB. This year at ISMB 2012 in Long Beach, ISCB celebrated the 20th anniversary of its flagship meeting. ISCB is a young, lean and efficient society that aspires to make a significant impact with only limited resources. Many constraints make the choice of venues for ISMB a tough challenge. Here, we describe those challenges and invite the contribution of ideas for solutions.
PMCID: PMC3463122  PMID: 22796959
6.  Annotation of primate miRNAs by high throughput sequencing of small RNA libraries 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:116.
In addition to genome sequencing, accurate functional annotation of genomes is required in order to carry out comparative and evolutionary analyses between species. Among primates, the human genome is the most extensively annotated. Human miRNA gene annotation is based on multiple lines of evidence including evidence for expression as well as prediction of the characteristic hairpin structure. In contrast, most miRNA genes in non-human primates are annotated based on homology without any expression evidence. We have sequenced small-RNA libraries from chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan and rhesus macaque from multiple individuals and tissues. Using patterns of miRNA expression in conjunction with a model of miRNA biogenesis we used these high-throughput sequencing data to identify novel miRNAs in non-human primates.
We predicted 47 new miRNAs in chimpanzee, 240 in gorilla, 55 in orangutan and 47 in rhesus macaque. The algorithm we used was able to predict 64% of the previously known miRNAs in chimpanzee, 94% in gorilla, 61% in orangutan and 71% in rhesus macaque. We therefore added evidence for expression in between one and five tissues to miRNAs that were previously annotated based only on homology to human miRNAs. We increased from 60 to 175 the number miRNAs that are located in orthologous regions in humans and the four non-human primate species studied here.
In this study we provide expression evidence for homology-based annotated miRNAs and predict de novo miRNAs in four non-human primate species. We increased the number of annotated miRNA genes and provided evidence for their expression in four non-human primates. Similar approaches using different individuals and tissues would improve annotation in non-human primates and allow for further comparative studies in the future.
PMCID: PMC3328248  PMID: 22453055
7.  Transcription Factors Are Targeted by Differentially Expressed miRNAs in Primates 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;4(4):552-564.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules involved in the regulation of mammalian gene expression. Together with other transcription regulators, miRNAs modulate the expression of genes and thereby potentially contribute to tissue and species diversity. To identify miRNAs that are differentially expressed between tissues and/or species, and the genes regulated by these, we have quantified expression of miRNAs and messenger RNAs in five tissues from multiple human, chimpanzee, and rhesus macaque individuals using high-throughput sequencing. The breadth of this tissue and species data allows us to show that downregulation of target genes by miRNAs is more pronounced between tissues than between species and that downregulation is more pronounced for genes with fewer binding sites for expressed miRNAs. Intriguingly, we find that tissue- and species-specific miRNAs target transcription factor genes (TFs) significantly more often than expected. Through their regulatory effect on transcription factors, miRNAs may therefore exert an indirect influence on a larger proportion of genes than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3342879  PMID: 22454130
microRNA; transcription factor; gene expression; gene regulation; primates
8.  Analysis of Human Accelerated DNA Regions Using Archaic Hominin Genomes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32877.
Several previous comparisons of the human genome with other primate and vertebrate genomes identified genomic regions that are highly conserved in vertebrate evolution but fast-evolving on the human lineage. These human accelerated regions (HARs) may be regions of past adaptive evolution in humans. Alternatively, they may be the result of non-adaptive processes, such as biased gene conversion. We captured and sequenced DNA from a collection of previously published HARs using DNA from an Iberian Neandertal. Combining these new data with shotgun sequence from the Neandertal and Denisova draft genomes, we determine at least one archaic hominin allele for 84% of all positions within HARs. We find that 8% of HAR substitutions are not observed in the archaic hominins and are thus recent in the sense that the derived allele had not come to fixation in the common ancestor of modern humans and archaic hominins. Further, we find that recent substitutions in HARs tend to have come to fixation faster than substitutions elsewhere in the genome and that substitutions in HARs tend to cluster in time, consistent with an episodic rather than a clock-like process underlying HAR evolution. Our catalog of sequence changes in HARs will help prioritize them for functional studies of genomic elements potentially responsible for modern human adaptations.
PMCID: PMC3296746  PMID: 22412940
9.  Towards big data science in the decade ahead from ten years of InCoB and the 1st ISCB-Asia Joint Conference 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12(Suppl 13):S1.
The 2011 International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB) conference, which is the annual scientific conference of the Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet), is hosted by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is co-organized with the first ISCB-Asia conference of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB). InCoB and the sequencing of the human genome are both celebrating their tenth anniversaries and InCoB’s goalposts for the next decade, implementing standards in bioinformatics and globally distributed computational networks, will be discussed and adopted at this conference. Of the 49 manuscripts (selected from 104 submissions) accepted to BMC Genomics and BMC Bioinformatics conference supplements, 24 are featured in this issue, covering software tools, genome/proteome analysis, systems biology (networks, pathways, bioimaging) and drug discovery and design.
PMCID: PMC3278825  PMID: 22372736
10.  InCoB celebrates its tenth anniversary as first joint conference with ISCB-Asia 
BMC Genomics  2011;12(Suppl 3):S1.
In 2009 the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) started to roll out regional bioinformatics conferences in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The open and competitive bid for the first meeting in Asia (ISCB-Asia) was awarded to Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet) which has been running the International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB) in the Asia-Pacific region since 2002. InCoB/ISCB-Asia 2011 is held from November 30 to December 2, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Of 104 manuscripts submitted to BMC Genomics and BMC Bioinformatics conference supplements, 49 (47.1%) were accepted. The strong showing of Asia among submissions (82.7%) and acceptances (81.6%) signals the success of this tenth InCoB anniversary meeting, and bodes well for the future of ISCB-Asia.
PMCID: PMC3333168  PMID: 22369160
11.  Deep proteome and transcriptome mapping of a human cancer cell line 
More than 10 000 proteins were identified by high-resolution mass spectrometry in a human cancer cell line. The data cover most of the functional proteome as judged by RNA-seq data and it reveals the expression range of different protein classes.
While the number and identity of proteins expressed in a single human cell type is currently unknown, this fundamental question can be addressed by advanced mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics. Online liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution MS and MS/MS yielded 166 420 peptides with unique amino-acid sequence from HeLa cells. These peptides identified 10 255 different human proteins encoded by 9207 human genes, providing a lower limit on the proteome in this cancer cell line. Deep transcriptome sequencing revealed transcripts for nearly all detected proteins. We calculate copy numbers for the expressed proteins and show that the abundances of >90% of them are within a factor 60 of the median protein expression level. Comparisons of the proteome and the transcriptome, and analysis of protein complex databases and GO categories, suggest that we achieved deep coverage of the functional transcriptome and the proteome of a single cell type.
PMCID: PMC3261714  PMID: 22068331
mass spectrometry; proteomics; RNA-Seq; systems biology; transcriptomics
12.  Towards BioDBcore: a community-defined information specification for biological databases 
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources; and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
PMCID: PMC3017395  PMID: 21205783
13.  Towards BioDBcore: a community-defined information specification for biological databases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D7-D10.
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
PMCID: PMC3013734  PMID: 21097465
14.  Relations as patterns: bridging the gap between OBO and OWL 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:441.
Most biomedical ontologies are represented in the OBO Flatfile Format, which is an easy-to-use graph-based ontology language. The semantics of the OBO Flatfile Format 1.2 enforces a strict predetermined interpretation of relationship statements between classes. It does not allow flexible specifications that provide better approximations of the intuitive understanding of the considered relations. If relations cannot be accurately expressed then ontologies built upon them may contain false assertions and hence lead to false inferences. Ontologies in the OBO Foundry must formalize the semantics of relations according to the OBO Relationship Ontology (RO). Therefore, being able to accurately express the intended meaning of relations is of crucial importance. Since the Web Ontology Language (OWL) is an expressive language with a formal semantics, it is suitable to de ne the meaning of relations accurately.
We developed a method to provide definition patterns for relations between classes using OWL and describe a novel implementation of the RO based on this method. We implemented our extension in software that converts ontologies in the OBO Flatfile Format to OWL, and also provide a prototype to extract relational patterns from OWL ontologies using automated reasoning. The conversion software is freely available at, and can be accessed via a web interface.
Explicitly defining relations permits their use in reasoning software and leads to a more flexible and powerful way of representing biomedical ontologies. Using the extended langua0067e and semantics avoids several mistakes commonly made in formalizing biomedical ontologies, and can be used to automatically detect inconsistencies. The use of our method enables the use of graph-based ontologies in OWL, and makes complex OWL ontologies accessible in a graph-based form. Thereby, our method provides the means to gradually move the representation of biomedical ontologies into formal knowledge representation languages that incorporates an explicit semantics. Our method facilitates the use of OWL-based software in the back-end while ontology curators may continue to develop ontologies with an OBO-style front-end.
PMCID: PMC2942855  PMID: 20807438
15.  Statistical Tests for Associations between Two Directed Acyclic Graphs 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e10996.
Biological data, and particularly annotation data, are increasingly being represented in directed acyclic graphs (DAGs). However, while relevant biological information is implicit in the links between multiple domains, annotations from these different domains are usually represented in distinct, unconnected DAGs, making links between the domains represented difficult to determine. We develop a novel family of general statistical tests for the discovery of strong associations between two directed acyclic graphs. Our method takes the topology of the input graphs and the specificity and relevance of associations between nodes into consideration. We apply our method to the extraction of associations between biomedical ontologies in an extensive use-case. Through a manual and an automatic evaluation, we show that our tests discover biologically relevant relations. The suite of statistical tests we develop for this purpose is implemented and freely available for download.
PMCID: PMC2886832  PMID: 20585388
16.  Computational challenges in the analysis of ancient DNA 
Genome Biology  2010;11(5):R47.
A new method of next-generation sequencing analysis is presented which takes into account the biases characteristic of ancient, including Neandertal, DNA samples.
High-throughput sequencing technologies have opened up a new avenue for studying extinct organisms. Here we identify and quantify biases introduced by particular characteristics of ancient DNA samples. These analyses demonstrate the importance of closely related genomic sequence for correctly identifying and classifying bona fide endogenous DNA fragments. We show that more accurate genome divergence estimates from ancient DNA sequence can be attained using at least two outgroup genomes and appropriate filtering.
PMCID: PMC2898072  PMID: 20441577
17.  Applying the functional abnormality ontology pattern to anatomical functions 
Several biomedical ontologies cover the domain of biological functions, including molecular and cellular functions. However, there is currently no publicly available ontology of anatomical functions.
Consequently, no explicit relation between anatomical structures and their functions is expressed in the anatomy ontologies that are available for various species. Such an explicit relation between anatomical structures and their functions would be useful both for defining the classes of the anatomy and the phenotype ontologies accurately.
We provide an ontological analysis of functions and functional abnormalities. From this analysis, we derive an approach to the automatic extraction of anatomical functions from existing ontologies which uses a combination of natural language processing, graph-based analysis of the ontologies and formal inferences. Additionally, we introduce a new relation to link material objects to processes that realize the function of these objects. This relation is introduced to avoid a needless duplication of processes already covered by the Gene Ontology in a new ontology of anatomical functions.
Ontological considerations on the nature of functional abnormalities and their representation in current phenotype ontologies show that we can extract a skeleton for an ontology of anatomical functions by using a combination of process, phenotype and anatomy ontologies automatically. We identify several limitations of the current ontologies that still need to be addressed to ensure a consistent and complete representation of anatomical functions and their abnormalities.
The source code and results of our analysis are available at
PMCID: PMC2895731  PMID: 20618982
18.  The ontology of biological sequences 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:377.
Biological sequences play a major role in molecular and computational biology. They are studied as information-bearing entities that make up DNA, RNA or proteins. The Sequence Ontology, which is part of the OBO Foundry, contains descriptions and definitions of sequences and their properties. Yet the most basic question about sequences remains unanswered: what kind of entity is a biological sequence? An answer to this question benefits formal ontologies that use the notion of biological sequences and analyses in computational biology alike.
We provide both an ontological analysis of biological sequences and a formal representation that can be used in knowledge-based applications and other ontologies. We distinguish three distinct kinds of entities that can be referred to as "biological sequence": chains of molecules, syntactic representations such as those in biological databases, and the abstract information-bearing entities. For use in knowledge-based applications and inclusion in biomedical ontologies, we implemented the developed axiom system for use in automated theorem proving.
Axioms are necessary to achieve the main goal of ontologies: to formally specify the meaning of terms used within a domain. The axiom system for the ontology of biological sequences is the first elaborate axiom system for an OBO Foundry ontology and can serve as starting point for the development of more formal ontologies and ultimately of knowledge-based applications.
PMCID: PMC2785798  PMID: 19919720
19.  Improved base calling for the Illumina Genome Analyzer using machine learning strategies 
Genome Biology  2009;10(8):R83.
Ibis is an accurate, fast and easy-to-use base caller for the Illumina Genome Analyzer that reduces error rates and increases output of usable reads.
The Illumina Genome Analyzer generates millions of short sequencing reads. We present Ibis (Improved base identification system), an accurate, fast and easy-to-use base caller that significantly reduces the error rate and increases the output of usable reads. Ibis is faster and more robust with respect to chemistry and technology than other publicly available packages. Ibis is freely available under the GPL from .
PMCID: PMC2745764  PMID: 19682367
20.  A complete Neandertal mitochondrial genome sequence determined by high-throughput sequencing 
Cell  2008;134(3):416-426.
A complete mitochondrial (mt) genome sequence was reconstructed from a 38,000-year-old Neandertal individual using 8,341 mtDNA sequences identified among 4.8 Gb of DNA generated from ~0.3 grams of bone. Analysis of the assembled sequence unequivocally establishes that the Neandertal mtDNA falls outside the variation of extant human mtDNAs and allows an estimate of the divergence date between the two mtDNA lineages of 660,000±140,000 years. Of the 13 proteins encoded in the mtDNA, subunit 2 of cytochrome c oxidase of the mitochondrial electron transport chain has experienced the largest number of amino acid substitutions in human ancestors since the separation from Neandertals. There is evidence that purifying selection in the Neandertal mtDNA was reduced compared to other primate lineages suggesting that the effective population size of Neandertals was small.
PMCID: PMC2602844  PMID: 18692465
21.  BOWiki: an ontology-based wiki for annotation of data and integration of knowledge in biology 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10(Suppl 5):S5.
Ontology development and the annotation of biological data using ontologies are time-consuming exercises that currently require input from expert curators. Open, collaborative platforms for biological data annotation enable the wider scientific community to become involved in developing and maintaining such resources. However, this openness raises concerns regarding the quality and correctness of the information added to these knowledge bases. The combination of a collaborative web-based platform with logic-based approaches and Semantic Web technology can be used to address some of these challenges and concerns.
We have developed the BOWiki, a web-based system that includes a biological core ontology. The core ontology provides background knowledge about biological types and relations. Against this background, an automated reasoner assesses the consistency of new information added to the knowledge base. The system provides a platform for research communities to integrate information and annotate data collaboratively.
The BOWiki and supplementary material is available at . The source code is available under the GNU GPL from .
PMCID: PMC2679405  PMID: 19426462
23.  PatMaN: rapid alignment of short sequences to large databases 
Bioinformatics  2008;24(13):1530-1531.
Summary: We present a tool suited for searching for many short nucleotide sequences in large databases, allowing for a predefined number of gaps and mismatches. The commandline-driven program implements a non-deterministic automata matching algorithm on a keyword tree of the search strings. Both queries with and without ambiguity codes can be searched. Search time is short for perfect matches, and retrieval time rises exponentially with the number of edits allowed.
Availability: The C++ source code for PatMaN is distributed under the GNU General Public License and has been tested on the GNU/Linux operating system. It is available from
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2718670  PMID: 18467344
24.  Representing default knowledge in biomedical ontologies: application to the integration of anatomy and phenotype ontologies 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:377.
Current efforts within the biomedical ontology community focus on achieving interoperability between various biomedical ontologies that cover a range of diverse domains. Achieving this interoperability will contribute to the creation of a rich knowledge base that can be used for querying, as well as generating and testing novel hypotheses. The OBO Foundry principles, as applied to a number of biomedical ontologies, are designed to facilitate this interoperability. However, semantic extensions are required to meet the OBO Foundry interoperability goals. Inconsistencies may arise when ontologies of properties – mostly phenotype ontologies – are combined with ontologies taking a canonical view of a domain – such as many anatomical ontologies. Currently, there is no support for a correct and consistent integration of such ontologies.
We have developed a methodology for accurately representing canonical domain ontologies within the OBO Foundry. This is achieved by adding an extension to the semantics for relationships in the biomedical ontologies that allows for treating canonical information as default. Conclusions drawn from default knowledge may be revoked when additional information becomes available. We show how this extension can be used to achieve interoperability between ontologies, and further allows for the inclusion of more knowledge within them. We apply the formalism to ontologies of mouse anatomy and mammalian phenotypes in order to demonstrate the approach.
Biomedical ontologies require a new class of relations that can be used in conjunction with default knowledge, thereby extending those currently in use. The inclusion of default knowledge is necessary in order to ensure interoperability between ontologies.
PMCID: PMC2180186  PMID: 17925014
25.  Comparison of Protein and mRNA Expression Evolution in Humans and Chimpanzees 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(2):e216.
Even though mRNA expression levels are commonly used as a proxy for estimating functional differences that occur at the protein level, the relation between mRNA and protein expression is not well established. Further, no study to date has tested whether the evolutionary differences in mRNA expression observed between species reflect those observed in protein expression. Since a large proportion of mRNA expression differences observed between mammalian species appears to have no functional consequences for the phenotype, it is conceivable that many or most mRNA expression differences are not reflected at the protein level. If this is true, then differences in protein expression may largely reflect functional adaptations observed in species phenotypes. In this paper, we present the first direct comparison of mRNA and protein expression differences seen between humans and chimpanzees. We reproducibly find a significant positive correlation between mRNA expression and protein expression differences. This correlation is comparable in magnitude to that found between mRNA and protein expression changes at different developmental stages or in different physiological conditions within one species. Noticeably, this correlation is mainly due to genes with large expression differences between species. Our study opens the door to a new level of understanding of regulatory evolution and poses many new questions that remain to be answered.
PMCID: PMC1789144  PMID: 17299596

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