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1.  Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia 
Nature  2010;468(7327):1053-1060.
Using DNA extracted from a finger bone found in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, we have sequenced the genome of an archaic hominin to about 1.9-fold coverage. This individual is from a group that shares a common origin with Neanderthals. This population was not involved in the putative gene flow from Neanderthals into Eurasians; however, the data suggest that it contributed 4–6% of its genetic material to the genomes of present-day Melanesians. We designate this hominin population ‘Denisovans’ and suggest that it may have been widespread in Asia during the Late Pleistocene epoch. A tooth found in Denisova Cave carries a mitochondrial genome highly similar to that of the finger bone. This tooth shares no derived morphological features with Neanderthals or modern humans, further indicating that Denisovans have an evolutionary history distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans.
PMCID: PMC4306417  PMID: 21179161
2.  The landscape of Neandertal ancestry in present-day humans 
Nature  2014;507(7492):354-357.
Analyses of Neandertal genomes have revealed that Neandertals have contributed genetic variants to modern humans1–2. The antiquity of Neandertal gene flow into modern humans means that regions that derive from Neandertals in any one human today are usually less than a hundred kilobases in size. However, Neandertal haplotypes are also distinctive enough that several studies have been able to detect Neandertal ancestry at specific loci1,3–8. Here, we have systematically inferred Neandertal haplotypes in the genomes of 1,004 present-day humans12. Regions that harbor a high frequency of Neandertal alleles in modern humans are enriched for genes affecting keratin filaments suggesting that Neandertal alleles may have helped modern humans adapt to non-African environments. Neandertal alleles also continue to shape human biology, as we identify multiple Neandertal-derived alleles that confer risk for disease. We also identify regions of millions of base pairs that are nearly devoid of Neandertal ancestry and enriched in genes, implying selection to remove genetic material derived from Neandertals. Neandertal ancestry is significantly reduced in genes specifically expressed in testis, and there is an approximately 5-fold reduction of Neandertal ancestry on chromosome X, which is known to harbor a disproportionate fraction of male hybrid sterility genes20–22. These results suggest that part of the reduction in Neandertal ancestry near genes is due to Neandertal alleles that reduced fertility in males when moved to a modern human genetic background.
PMCID: PMC4072735  PMID: 24476815
3.  The complete genome sequence of a Neandertal from the Altai Mountains 
Nature  2013;505(7481):43-49.
We present a high-quality genome sequence of a Neandertal woman from Siberia. We show that her parents were related at the level of half siblings and that mating among close relatives was common among her recent ancestors. We also sequenced the genome of a Neandertal from the Caucasus to low coverage. An analysis of the relationships and population history of available archaic genomes and 25 present-day human genomes shows that several gene flow events occurred among Neandertals, Denisovans and early modern humans, possibly including gene flow into Denisovans from an unknown archaic group. Thus, interbreeding, albeit of low magnitude, occurred among many hominin groups in the Late Pleistocene. In addition, the high quality Neandertal genome allows us to establish a definitive list of substitutions that became fixed in modern humans after their separation from the ancestors of Neandertals and Denisovans.
PMCID: PMC4031459  PMID: 24352235
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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  OBML – Ontologies in Biomedicine and Life Sciences 
Journal of Biomedical Semantics  2011;2(Suppl 4):I1.
The OBML 2010 workshop, held at the University of Mannheim on September 9-10, 2010, is the 2nd in a series of meetings organized by the Working Group “Ontologies in Biomedicine and Life Sciences” of the German Society of Computer Science (GI) and the German Society of Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology (GMDS). Integrating, processing and applying the rapidly expanding information generated in the life sciences — from public health to clinical care and molecular biology — is one of the most challenging problems that research in these fields is facing today. As the amounts of experimental data, clinical information and scientific knowledge increase, there is a growing need to promote interoperability of these resources, support formal analyses, and to pre-process knowledge for further use in problem solving and hypothesis formulation.
The OBML workshop series pursues the aim of gathering scientists who research topics related to life science ontologies, to exchange ideas, discuss new results and establish relationships. The OBML group promotes the collaboration between ontologists, computer scientists, bio-informaticians and applied logicians, as well as the cooperation with physicians, biologists, biochemists and biometricians, and supports the establishment of this new discipline in research and teaching. Research topics of OBML 2010 included medical informatics, Semantic Web applications, formal ontology, bio-ontologies, knowledge representation as well as the wide range of applications of biomedical ontologies to science and medicine. A total of 14 papers were presented, and from these we selected four manuscripts for inclusion in this special issue.
An interdisciplinary audience from all areas related to biomedical ontologies attended OBML 2010. In the future, OBML will continue as an annual meeting that aims to bridge the gap between theory and application of ontologies in the life sciences. The next event emphasizes the special topic of the ontology of phenotypes, in Berlin, Germany on October 6-7, 2011.
PMCID: PMC3194167  PMID: 21996496
16.  Addressing challenges in the production and analysis of illumina sequencing data 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:382.
Advances in DNA sequencing technologies have made it possible to generate large amounts of sequence data very rapidly and at substantially lower cost than capillary sequencing. These new technologies have specific characteristics and limitations that require either consideration during project design, or which must be addressed during data analysis. Specialist skills, both at the laboratory and the computational stages of project design and analysis, are crucial to the generation of high quality data from these new platforms. The Illumina sequencers (including the Genome Analyzers I/II/IIe/IIx and the new HiScan and HiSeq) represent a widely used platform providing parallel readout of several hundred million immobilized sequences using fluorescent-dye reversible-terminator chemistry. Sequencing library quality, sample handling, instrument settings and sequencing chemistry have a strong impact on sequencing run quality. The presence of adapter chimeras and adapter sequences at the end of short-insert molecules, as well as increased error rates and short read lengths complicate many computational analyses. We discuss here some of the factors that influence the frequency and severity of these problems and provide solutions for circumventing these. Further, we present a set of general principles for good analysis practice that enable problems with sequencing runs to be identified and dealt with.
PMCID: PMC3163567  PMID: 21801405
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

Results 1-25 (35)