Animal toxins are of interest to a wide range of scientists, due to their numerous applications in pharmacology, neurology, hematology, medicine, and drug research. This, and to a lesser extent the development of new performing tools in transcriptomics and proteomics, has led to an increase in toxin discovery. In this context, providing publicly available data on animal toxins has become essential. The UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot Tox-Prot program (http://www.uniprot.org/program/Toxins) plays a crucial role by providing such an access to venom protein sequences and functions from all venomous species. This program has up to now curated more than 5’000 venom proteins to the high-quality standards of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot (release 2012_02). Proteins targeted by these toxins are also available in the knowledgebase. This paper describes in details the type of information provided by UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot for toxins, as well as the structured format of the knowledgebase.
UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot Tox-Prot program; Database; Curation; Venom protein; Animal toxin; Bioinformatics
The IMEx consortium is an international collaboration between major public interaction data providers to share curation effort and make a non-redundant set of protein interactions available in a single search interface on a common website (www.imexconsortium.org). Common curation rules have been developed and a central registry is used to manage the selection of articles to enter into the dataset. The advantages of such a service to the user, quality control measures adopted and data distribution practices are discussed.
Motivation: Combinatorial interactions of transcription factors with cis-regulatory elements control the dynamic progression through successive cellular states and thus underpin all metazoan development. The construction of network models of cis-regulatory elements, therefore, has the potential to generate fundamental insights into cellular fate and differentiation. Haematopoiesis has long served as a model system to study mammalian differentiation, yet modelling based on experimentally informed cis-regulatory interactions has so far been restricted to pairs of interacting factors. Here, we have generated a Boolean network model based on detailed cis-regulatory functional data connecting 11 haematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) regulator genes.
Results: Despite its apparent simplicity, the model exhibits surprisingly complex behaviour that we charted using strongly connected components and shortest-path analysis in its Boolean state space. This analysis of our model predicts that HSPCs display heterogeneous expression patterns and possess many intermediate states that can act as ‘stepping stones’ for the HSPC to achieve a final differentiated state. Importantly, an external perturbation or ‘trigger’ is required to exit the stem cell state, with distinct triggers characterizing maturation into the various different lineages. By focusing on intermediate states occurring during erythrocyte differentiation, from our model we predicted a novel negative regulation of Fli1 by Gata1, which we confirmed experimentally thus validating our model. In conclusion, we demonstrate that an advanced mammalian regulatory network model based on experimentally validated cis-regulatory interactions has allowed us to make novel, experimentally testable hypotheses about transcriptional mechanisms that control differentiation of mammalian stem cells.
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Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
The yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is frequently used as a model for studying the cell cycle. The cells are rod-shaped and divide by medial fission. The process of cell division, or cytokinesis, is controlled by a network of signaling proteins called the Septation Initiation Network (SIN); SIN proteins associate with the SPBs during nuclear division (mitosis). Some SIN proteins associate with both SPBs early in mitosis, and then display strongly asymmetric signal intensity at the SPBs in late mitosis, just before cytokinesis. This asymmetry is thought to be important for correct regulation of SIN signaling, and coordination of cytokinesis and mitosis. In order to study the dynamics of organelles or large protein complexes such as the spindle pole body (SPB), which have been labeled with a fluorescent protein tag in living cells, a number of the image analysis problems must be solved; the cell outline must be detected automatically, and the position and signal intensity associated with the structures of interest within the cell must be determined.
We present a new 2D and 3D image analysis system that permits versatile and robust analysis of motile, fluorescently labeled structures in rod-shaped cells. We have designed an image analysis system that we have implemented as a user-friendly software package allowing the fast and robust image-analysis of large numbers of rod-shaped cells. We have developed new robust algorithms, which we combined with existing methodologies to facilitate fast and accurate analysis. Our software permits the detection and segmentation of rod-shaped cells in either static or dynamic (i.e. time lapse) multi-channel images. It enables tracking of two structures (for example SPBs) in two different image channels. For 2D or 3D static images, the locations of the structures are identified, and then intensity values are extracted together with several quantitative parameters, such as length, width, cell orientation, background fluorescence and the distance between the structures of interest. Furthermore, two kinds of kymographs of the tracked structures can be established, one representing the migration with respect to their relative position, the other representing their individual trajectories inside the cell. This software package, called “RodCellJ”, allowed us to analyze a large number of S. pombe cells to understand the rules that govern SIN protein asymmetry. (Continued on next page)
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“RodCellJ” is freely available to the community as a package of several ImageJ plugins to simultaneously analyze the behavior of a large number of rod-shaped cells in an extensive manner. The integration of different image-processing techniques in a single package, as well as the development of novel algorithms does not only allow to speed up the analysis with respect to the usage of existing tools, but also accounts for higher accuracy. Its utility was demonstrated on both 2D and 3D static and dynamic images to study the septation initiation network of the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. More generally, it can be used in any kind of biological context where fluorescent-protein labeled structures need to be analyzed in rod-shaped cells.
RodCellJ is freely available under http://bigwww.epfl.ch/algorithms.html.
Cell segmentation; Protein tracking; Rod shape; Kymograph; Asymmetry; Fluorescence time-lapse microscopy
Motivation: Analysis of millions of pyro-sequences is currently playing a crucial role in the advance of environmental microbiology. Taxonomy-independent, i.e. unsupervised, clustering of these sequences is essential for the definition of Operational Taxonomic Units. For this application, reproducibility and robustness should be the most sought after qualities, but have thus far largely been overlooked.
Results: More than 1 million hyper-variable internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) sequences of fungal origin have been analyzed. The ITS1 sequences were first properly extracted from 454 reads using generalized profiles. Then, otupipe, cd-hit-454, ESPRIT-Tree and DBC454, a new algorithm presented here, were used to analyze the sequences. A numerical assay was developed to measure the reproducibility and robustness of these algorithms. DBC454 was the most robust, closely followed by ESPRIT-Tree. DBC454 features density-based hierarchical clustering, which complements the other methods by providing insights into the structure of the data.
Availability: An executable is freely available for non-commercial users at ftp://ftp.vital-it.ch/tools/dbc454. It is designed to run under MPI on a cluster of 64-bit Linux machines running Red Hat 4.x, or on a multi-core OSX system.
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The annotation of protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) is an important task of UniProtKB curators and, with continuing improvements in experimental methodology, an ever greater number of articles are being published on this topic. To help curators cope with this growing body of information we have developed a system which extracts information from the scientific literature for the most frequently annotated PTMs in UniProtKB.
The procedure uses a pattern-matching and rule-based approach to extract sentences with information on the type and site of modification. A ranked list of protein candidates for the modification is also provided. For PTM extraction, precision varies from 57% to 94%, and recall from 75% to 95%, according to the type of modification. The procedure was used to track new publications on PTMs and to recover potential supporting evidence for phosphorylation sites annotated based on the results of large scale proteomics experiments.
The information retrieval and extraction method we have developed in this study forms the basis of a simple tool for the manual curation of protein post-translational modifications in UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot. Our work demonstrates that even simple text-mining tools can be effectively adapted for database curation tasks, providing that a thorough understanding of the working process and requirements are first obtained. This system can be accessed at http://eagl.unige.ch/PTM/.
Summary: The PROSITE resource provides a rich and well annotated source of signatures in the form of generalized profiles that allow protein domain detection and functional annotation. One of the major limiting factors in the application of PROSITE in genome and metagenome annotation pipelines is the time required to search protein sequence databases for putative matches. We describe an improved and optimized implementation of the PROSITE search tool pfsearch that, combined with a newly developed heuristic, addresses this limitation. On a modern x86_64 hyper-threaded quad-core desktop computer, the new pfsearchV3 is two orders of magnitude faster than the original algorithm.
Availability and implementation: Source code and binaries of pfsearchV3 are freely available for download at http://web.expasy.org/pftools/#pfsearchV3, implemented in C and supported on Linux. PROSITE generalized profiles including the heuristic cut-off scores are available at the same address.
A heme-containing transmembrane ferric reductase domain (FRD) is found in bacterial and eukaryotic protein families, including ferric reductases (FRE), and NADPH oxidases (NOX). The aim of this study was to understand the phylogeny of the FRD superfamily. Bacteria contain FRD proteins consisting only of the ferric reductase domain, such as YedZ and short bFRE proteins. Full length FRE and NOX enzymes are mostly found in eukaryotic cells and all possess a dehydrogenase domain, allowing them to catalyze electron transfer from cytosolic NADPH to extracellular metal ions (FRE) or oxygen (NOX). Metazoa possess YedZ-related STEAP proteins, possibly derived from bacteria through horizontal gene transfer. Phylogenetic analyses suggests that FRE enzymes appeared early in evolution, followed by a transition towards EF-hand containing NOX enzymes (NOX5- and DUOX-like). An ancestral gene of the NOX(1-4) family probably lost the EF-hands and new regulatory mechanisms of increasing complexity evolved in this clade. Two signature motifs were identified: NOX enzymes are distinguished from FRE enzymes through a four amino acid motif spanning from transmembrane domain 3 (TM3) to TM4, and YedZ/STEAP proteins are identified by the replacement of the first canonical heme-spanning histidine by a highly conserved arginine. The FRD superfamily most likely originated in bacteria.
ViralZone (http://viralzone.expasy.org) is a knowledge repository that allows users to learn about viruses including their virion structure, replication cycle and host–virus interactions. The information is divided into viral fact sheets that describe virion shape, molecular biology and epidemiology for each viral genus, with links to the corresponding annotated proteomes of UniProtKB. Each viral genus page contains detailed illustrations, text and PubMed references. This new update provides a linked view of viral molecular biology through 133 new viral ontology pages that describe common steps of viral replication cycles shared by several viral genera. This viral cell-cycle ontology is also represented in UniProtKB in the form of annotated keywords. In this way, users can navigate from the description of a replication-cycle event, to the viral genus concerned, and the associated UniProtKB protein records.
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.
PROSITE (http://prosite.expasy.org/) consists of documentation entries describing protein domains, families and functional sites, as well as associated patterns and profiles to identify them. It is complemented by ProRule a collection of rules, which increases the discriminatory power of these profiles and patterns by providing additional information about functionally and/or structurally critical amino acids. PROSITE signatures, together with ProRule, are used for the annotation of domains and features of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot entries. Here, we describe recent developments that allow users to perform whole-proteome annotation as well as a number of filtering options that can be combined to perform powerful targeted searches for biological discovery. The latest version of PROSITE (release 20.85, of 30 August 2012) contains 1308 patterns, 1039 profiles and 1041 ProRules.
ExPASy (http://www.expasy.org) has worldwide reputation as one of the main bioinformatics resources for proteomics. It has now evolved, becoming an extensible and integrative portal accessing many scientific resources, databases and software tools in different areas of life sciences. Scientists can henceforth access seamlessly a wide range of resources in many different domains, such as proteomics, genomics, phylogeny/evolution, systems biology, population genetics, transcriptomics, etc. The individual resources (databases, web-based and downloadable software tools) are hosted in a ‘decentralized’ way by different groups of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and partner institutions. Specifically, a single web portal provides a common entry point to a wide range of resources developed and operated by different SIB groups and external institutions. The portal features a search function across ‘selected’ resources. Additionally, the availability and usage of resources are monitored. The portal is aimed for both expert users and people who are not familiar with a specific domain in life sciences. The new web interface provides, in particular, visual guidance for newcomers to ExPASy.
Genome-wide association studies have been instrumental in identifying genetic variants associated with complex traits such as human disease or gene expression phenotypes. It has been proposed that extending existing analysis methods by considering interactions between pairs of loci may uncover additional genetic effects. However, the large number of possible two-marker tests presents significant computational and statistical challenges. Although several strategies to detect epistasis effects have been proposed and tested for specific phenotypes, so far there has been no systematic attempt to compare their performance using real data. We made use of thousands of gene expression traits from linkage and eQTL studies, to compare the performance of different strategies. We found that using information from marginal associations between markers and phenotypes to detect epistatic effects yielded a lower false discovery rate (FDR) than a strategy solely using biological annotation in yeast, whereas results from human data were inconclusive. For future studies whose aim is to discover epistatic effects, we recommend incorporating information about marginal associations between SNPs and phenotypes instead of relying solely on biological annotation. Improved methods to discover epistatic effects will result in a more complete understanding of complex genetic effects.
Rhea (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/rhea) is a comprehensive resource of expert-curated biochemical reactions. Rhea provides a non-redundant set of chemical transformations for use in a broad spectrum of applications, including metabolic network reconstruction and pathway inference. Rhea includes enzyme-catalyzed reactions (covering the IUBMB Enzyme Nomenclature list), transport reactions and spontaneously occurring reactions. Rhea reactions are described using chemical species from the Chemical Entities of Biological Interest ontology (ChEBI) and are stoichiometrically balanced for mass and charge. They are extensively manually curated with links to source literature and other public resources on metabolism including enzyme and pathway databases. This cross-referencing facilitates the mapping and reconciliation of common reactions and compounds between distinct resources, which is a common first step in the reconstruction of genome scale metabolic networks and models.
UniPathway (http://www.unipathway.org) is a fully manually curated resource for the representation and annotation of metabolic pathways. UniPathway provides explicit representations of enzyme-catalyzed and spontaneous chemical reactions, as well as a hierarchical representation of metabolic pathways. This hierarchy uses linear subpathways as the basic building block for the assembly of larger and more complex pathways, including species-specific pathway variants. All of the pathway data in UniPathway has been extensively cross-linked to existing pathway resources such as KEGG and MetaCyc, as well as sequence resources such as the UniProt KnowledgeBase (UniProtKB), for which UniPathway provides a controlled vocabulary for pathway annotation. We introduce here the basic concepts underlying the UniPathway resource, with the aim of allowing users to fully exploit the information provided by UniPathway.
Phylogenomic databases provide orthology predictions for species with fully sequenced genomes. Although the goal seems well-defined, the content of these databases differs greatly. Seven ortholog databases (Ensembl Compara, eggNOG, HOGENOM, InParanoid, OMA, OrthoDB, Panther) were compared on the basis of reference trees. For three well-conserved protein families, we observed a generally high specificity of orthology assignments for these databases. We show that differences in the completeness of predicted gene relationships and in the phylogenetic information are, for the great majority, not due to the methods used, but to differences in the underlying database concepts. According to our metrics, none of the databases provides a fully correct and comprehensive protein classification. Our results provide a framework for meaningful and systematic comparisons of phylogenomic databases. In the future, a sustainable set of ‘Gold standard’ phylogenetic trees could provide a robust method for phylogenomic databases to assess their current quality status, measure changes following new database releases and diagnose improvements subsequent to an upgrade of the analysis procedure.
conceptual comparison; phylogenomic databases; quality assessment; reference gene trees
This article introduces a new interface for T-Coffee, a consistency-based multiple sequence alignment program. This interface provides an easy and intuitive access to the most popular functionality of the package. These include the default T-Coffee mode for protein and nucleic acid sequences, the M-Coffee mode that allows combining the output of any other aligners, and template-based modes of T-Coffee that deliver high accuracy alignments while using structural or homology derived templates. These three available template modes are Expresso for the alignment of protein with a known 3D-Structure, R-Coffee to align RNA sequences with conserved secondary structures and PSI-Coffee to accurately align distantly related sequences using homology extension. The new server benefits from recent improvements of the T-Coffee algorithm and can align up to 150 sequences as long as 10 000 residues and is available from both http://www.tcoffee.org and its main mirror http://tcoffee.crg.cat.
Cancer genomes frequently contain somatic copy number alterations (SCNA) that can significantly perturb the expression level of affected genes and thus disrupt pathways controlling normal growth. In melanoma, many studies have focussed on the copy number and gene expression levels of the BRAF, PTEN and MITF genes, but little has been done to identify new genes using these parameters at the genome-wide scale. Using karyotyping, SNP and CGH arrays, and RNA-seq, we have identified SCNA affecting gene expression (‘SCNA-genes’) in seven human metastatic melanoma cell lines. We showed that the combination of these techniques is useful to identify candidate genes potentially involved in tumorigenesis. Since few of these alterations were recurrent across our samples, we used a protein network-guided approach to determine whether any pathways were enriched in SCNA-genes in one or more samples. From this unbiased genome-wide analysis, we identified 28 significantly enriched pathway modules. Comparison with two large, independent melanoma SCNA datasets showed less than 10% overlap at the individual gene level, but network-guided analysis revealed 66% shared pathways, including all but three of the pathways identified in our data. Frequently altered pathways included WNT, cadherin signalling, angiogenesis and melanogenesis. Additionally, our results emphasize the potential of the EPHA3 and FRS2 gene products, involved in angiogenesis and migration, as possible therapeutic targets in melanoma. Our study demonstrates the utility of network-guided approaches, for both large and small datasets, to identify pathways recurrently perturbed in cancer.
The molecular diversity of viruses complicates the interpretation of viral genomic and proteomic data. To make sense of viral gene functions, investigators must be familiar with the virus host range, replication cycle and virion structure. Our aim is to provide a comprehensive resource bridging together textbook knowledge with genomic and proteomic sequences. ViralZone web resource (www.expasy.org/viralzone/) provides fact sheets on all known virus families/genera with easy access to sequence data. A selection of reference strains (RefStrain) provides annotated standards to circumvent the exponential increase of virus sequences. Moreover ViralZone offers a complete set of detailed and accurate virion pictures.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major disease affecting nearly 280 million people worldwide. Whilst the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to disease are poorly understood, dysfunction of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells is key event for disease development. Monitoring the gene expression profiles of pancreatic beta-cells under several genetic or chemical perturbations has shed light on genes and pathways involved in T2DM. The EuroDia database has been established to build a unique collection of gene expression measurements performed on beta-cells of three organisms, namely human, mouse and rat. The Gene Expression Data Analysis Interface (GEDAI) has been developed to support this database. The quality of each dataset is assessed by a series of quality control procedures to detect putative hybridization outliers. The system integrates a web interface to several standard analysis functions from R/Bioconductor to identify differentially expressed genes and pathways. It also allows the combination of multiple experiments performed on different array platforms of the same technology. The design of this system enables each user to rapidly design a custom analysis pipeline and thus produce their own list of genes and pathways. Raw and normalized data can be downloaded for each experiment. The flexible engine of this database (GEDAI) is currently used to handle gene expression data from several laboratory-run projects dealing with different organisms and platforms.
Database URL: http://eurodia.vital-it.ch
Motivation: Genome-wide association studies have become widely used tools to study effects of genetic variants on complex diseases. While it is of great interest to extend existing analysis methods by considering interaction effects between pairs of loci, the large number of possible tests presents a significant computational challenge. The number of computations is further multiplied in the study of gene expression quantitative trait mapping, in which tests are performed for thousands of gene phenotypes simultaneously.
Results: We present FastEpistasis, an efficient parallel solution extending the PLINK epistasis module, designed to test for epistasis effects when analyzing continuous phenotypes. Our results show that the algorithm scales with the number of processors and offers a reduction in computation time when several phenotypes are analyzed simultaneously. FastEpistasis is capable of testing the association of a continuous trait with all single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) pairs from 500 000 SNPs, totaling 125 billion tests, in a population of 5000 individuals in 29, 4 or 0.5 days using 8, 64 or 512 processors.
Availability: FastEpistasis is open source and available free of charge only for non-commercial users from http://www.vital-it.ch/software/FastEpistasis
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Although research on influenza lasted for more than 100 years, it is still one of the most prominent diseases causing half a million human deaths every year. With the recent observation of new highly pathogenic H5N1 and H7N7 strains, and the appearance of the influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 swine-like lineage, a collaborative effort to share observations on the evolution of this virus in both animals and humans has been established. The OpenFlu database (OpenFluDB) is a part of this collaborative effort. It contains genomic and protein sequences, as well as epidemiological data from more than 27 000 isolates. The isolate annotations include virus type, host, geographical location and experimentally tested antiviral resistance. Putative enhanced pathogenicity as well as human adaptation propensity are computed from protein sequences. Each virus isolate can be associated with the laboratories that collected, sequenced and submitted it. Several analysis tools including multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic analysis and sequence similarity maps enable rapid and efficient mining. The contents of OpenFluDB are supplied by direct user submission, as well as by a daily automatic procedure importing data from public repositories. Additionally, a simple mechanism facilitates the export of OpenFluDB records to GenBank. This resource has been successfully used to rapidly and widely distribute the sequences collected during the recent human swine flu outbreak and also as an exchange platform during the vaccine selection procedure. Database URL: http://openflu.vital-it.ch.
Peptide toxins synthesized by venomous animals have been extensively studied in the last decades. To be useful to the scientific community, this knowledge has been stored, annotated and made easy to retrieve by several databases. The aim of this article is to present what type of information users can access from each database. ArachnoServer and ConoServer focus on spider toxins and cone snail toxins, respectively. UniProtKB, a generalist protein knowledgebase, has an animal toxin-dedicated annotation program that includes toxins from all venomous animals. Finally, the ATDB metadatabase compiles data and annotations from other databases and provides toxin ontology.
animal toxin; ArachnoServer; ATDB; ConoServer; database; Tox-Prot; UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot; venom protein
DREAM is an initiative that allows researchers to assess how well their methods or approaches can describe and predict networks of interacting molecules . Each year, recently acquired datasets are released to predictors ahead of publication. Researchers typically have about three months to predict the masked data or network of interactions, using any predictive method. Predictions are assessed prior to an annual conference where the best predictions are unveiled and discussed. Here we present the strategy we used to make a winning prediction for the DREAM3 phosphoproteomics challenge. We used Amelia II, a multiple imputation software method developed by Gary King, James Honaker and Matthew Blackwell in the context of social sciences to predict the 476 out of 4624 measurements that had been masked for the challenge. To chose the best possible multiple imputation parameters to apply for the challenge, we evaluated how transforming the data and varying the imputation parameters affected the ability to predict additionally masked data. We discuss the accuracy of our findings and show that multiple imputations applied to this dataset is a powerful method to accurately estimate the missing data. We postulate that multiple imputations methods might become an integral part of experimental design as a mean to achieve cost savings in experimental design or to increase the quantity of samples that could be handled for a given cost.
A new approach to detect deletions in divergentgenomes combines short read sequencing and tilling array data. Its utility is demonstrated on Arabidopsis strains.
Identification of small polymorphisms from next generation sequencing short read data is relatively easy, but detection of larger deletions is less straightforward. Here, we analyzed four divergent Arabidopsis accessions and found that intersection of absent short read coverage with weak tiling array hybridization signal reliably flags deletions. Interestingly, individual deletions were frequently observed in two or more of the accessions examined, suggesting that variation in gene content partly reflects a common history of deletion events.