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1.  The pathway ontology – updates and applications 
Background
The Pathway Ontology (PW) developed at the Rat Genome Database (RGD), covers all types of biological pathways, including altered and disease pathways and captures the relationships between them within the hierarchical structure of a directed acyclic graph. The ontology allows for the standardized annotation of rat, and of human and mouse genes to pathway terms. It also constitutes a vehicle for easy navigation between gene and ontology report pages, between reports and interactive pathway diagrams, between pathways directly connected within a diagram and between those that are globally related in pathway suites and suite networks. Surveys of the literature and the development of the Pathway and Disease Portals are important sources for the ongoing development of the ontology. User requests and mapping of pathways in other databases to terms in the ontology further contribute to increasing its content. Recently built automated pipelines use the mapped terms to make available the annotations generated by other groups.
Results
The two released pipelines – the Pathway Interaction Database (PID) Annotation Import Pipeline and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) Annotation Import Pipeline, make available over 7,400 and 31,000 pathway gene annotations, respectively. Building the PID pipeline lead to the addition of new terms within the signaling node, also augmented by the release of the RGD “Immune and Inflammatory Disease Portal” at that time. Building the KEGG pipeline lead to a substantial increase in the number of disease pathway terms, such as those within the ‘infectious disease pathway’ parent term category. The ‘drug pathway’ node has also seen increases in the number of terms as well as a restructuring of the node. Literature surveys, disease portal deployments and user requests have contributed and continue to contribute additional new terms across the ontology. Since first presented, the content of PW has increased by over 75%.
Conclusions
Ongoing development of the Pathway Ontology and the implementation of pipelines promote an enriched provision of pathway data. The ontology is freely available for download and use from the RGD ftp site at ftp://rgd.mcw.edu/pub/ontology/pathway/ or from the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) BioPortal website at http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/PW.
doi:10.1186/2041-1480-5-7
PMCID: PMC3922094  PMID: 24499703
Biological pathway; Ontology; Pipeline; Pathway annotations; Pathway diagrams
2.  Exploring Genetic, Genomic, and Phenotypic Data at the Rat Genome Database 
The laboratory rat, Rattus norvegicus, is an important model of human health and disease, and experimental findings in the rat have relevance to human physiology and disease. The Rat Genome Database (RGD, http://rgd.mcw.edu) is a model organism database that provides access to a wide variety of curated rat data including disease associations, phenotypes, pathways, molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components for genes, quantitative trait loci, and strains. We present an overview of the database followed by specific examples that can be used to gain experience in employing RGD to explore the wealth of functional data available for the rat.
doi:10.1002/0471250953.bi0114s40
PMCID: PMC3555435  PMID: 23255149
rat; database; quantitative trait locus; ontology; genomics; gene
3.  The clinical measurement, measurement method and experimental condition ontologies: expansion, improvements and new applications 
Background
The Clinical Measurement Ontology (CMO), Measurement Method Ontology (MMO), and Experimental Condition Ontology (XCO) were originally developed at the Rat Genome Database (RGD) to standardize quantitative rat phenotype data in order to integrate results from multiple studies into the PhenoMiner database and data mining tool. These ontologies provide the framework for presenting what was measured, how it was measured, and under what conditions it was measured.
Results
There has been a continuing expansion of subdomains in each ontology with a parallel 2–3 fold increase in the total number of terms, substantially increasing the size and improving the scope of the ontologies. The proportion of terms with textual definitions has increased from ~60% to over 80% with greater synchronization of format and content throughout the three ontologies. Representation of definition source Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI) has been standardized, including the removal of all non-URI characters, and systematic versioning of all ontology files has been implemented. The continued expansion and success of these ontologies has facilitated the integration of more than 60,000 records into the RGD PhenoMiner database. In addition, new applications of these ontologies, such as annotation of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL), have been added at the sites actively using them, including RGD and the Animal QTL Database.
Conclusions
The improvements to these three ontologies have been substantial, and development is ongoing. New terms and expansions to the ontologies continue to be added as a result of active curation efforts at RGD and the Animal QTL database. Use of these vocabularies to standardize data representation for quantitative phenotypes and quantitative trait loci across databases for multiple species has demonstrated their utility for integrating diverse data types from multiple sources. These ontologies are freely available for download and use from the NCBO BioPortal website at http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/1583 (CMO), http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/1584 (MMO), and http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/1585 (XCO), or from the RGD ftp site at ftp://rgd.mcw.edu/pub/ontology/.
doi:10.1186/2041-1480-4-26
PMCID: PMC3882879  PMID: 24103152
4.  The Vertebrate Trait Ontology: a controlled vocabulary for the annotation of trait data across species 
Background
The use of ontologies to standardize biological data and facilitate comparisons among datasets has steadily grown as the complexity and amount of available data have increased. Despite the numerous ontologies available, one area currently lacking a robust ontology is the description of vertebrate traits. A trait is defined as any measurable or observable characteristic pertaining to an organism or any of its substructures. While there are several ontologies to describe entities and processes in phenotypes, diseases, and clinical measurements, one has not been developed for vertebrate traits; the Vertebrate Trait Ontology (VT) was created to fill this void.
Description
Significant inconsistencies in trait nomenclature exist in the literature, and additional difficulties arise when trait data are compared across species. The VT is a unified trait vocabulary created to aid in the transfer of data within and between species and to facilitate investigation of the genetic basis of traits. Trait information provides a valuable link between the measurements that are used to assess the trait, the phenotypes related to the traits, and the diseases associated with one or more phenotypes. Because multiple clinical and morphological measurements are often used to assess a single trait, and a single measurement can be used to assess multiple physiological processes, providing investigators with standardized annotations for trait data will allow them to investigate connections among these data types.
Conclusions
The annotation of genomic data with ontology terms provides unique opportunities for data mining and analysis. Links between data in disparate databases can be identified and explored, a strategy that is particularly useful for cross-species comparisons or in situations involving inconsistent terminology. The VT provides a common basis for the description of traits in multiple vertebrate species. It is being used in the Rat Genome Database and Animal QTL Database for annotation of QTL data for rat, cattle, chicken, swine, sheep, and rainbow trout, and in the Mouse Phenome Database to annotate strain characterization data. In these databases, data are also cross-referenced to applicable terms from other ontologies, providing additional avenues for data mining and analysis. The ontology is available at http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/50138.
doi:10.1186/2041-1480-4-13
PMCID: PMC3851175  PMID: 23937709
Quantitative trait loci; Gene association; Trait ontology
5.  Analysis of disease-associated objects at the Rat Genome Database 
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier resource for genetic, genomic and phenotype data for the laboratory rat, Rattus norvegicus. In addition to organizing biological data from rats, the RGD team focuses on manual curation of gene–disease associations for rat, human and mouse. In this work, we have analyzed disease-associated strains, quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genes from rats. These disease objects form the basis for seven disease portals. Among disease portals, the cardiovascular disease and obesity/metabolic syndrome portals have the highest number of rat strains and QTL. These two portals share 398 rat QTL, and these shared QTL are highly concentrated on rat chromosomes 1 and 2. For disease-associated genes, we performed gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis across portals using RatMine enrichment widgets. Fifteen GO terms, five from each GO aspect, were selected to profile enrichment patterns of each portal. Of the selected biological process (BP) terms, ‘regulation of programmed cell death’ was the top enriched term across all disease portals except in the obesity/metabolic syndrome portal where ‘lipid metabolic process’ was the most enriched term. ‘Cytosol’ and ‘nucleus’ were common cellular component (CC) annotations for disease genes, but only the cancer portal genes were highly enriched with ‘nucleus’ annotations. Similar enrichment patterns were observed in a parallel analysis using the DAVID functional annotation tool. The relationship between the preselected 15 GO terms and disease terms was examined reciprocally by retrieving rat genes annotated with these preselected terms. The individual GO term–annotated gene list showed enrichment in physiologically related diseases. For example, the ‘regulation of blood pressure’ genes were enriched with cardiovascular disease annotations, and the ‘lipid metabolic process’ genes with obesity annotations. Furthermore, we were able to enhance enrichment of neurological diseases by combining ‘G-protein coupled receptor binding’ annotated genes with ‘protein kinase binding’ annotated genes.
Database URL: http://rgd.mcw.edu
doi:10.1093/database/bat046
PMCID: PMC3689439  PMID: 23794737
6.  PhenoMiner: quantitative phenotype curation at the rat genome database 
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier repository of rat genomic and genetic data and currently houses >40 000 rat gene records as well as human and mouse orthologs, >2000 rat and 1900 human quantitative trait loci (QTLs) records and >2900 rat strain records. Biological information curated for these data objects includes disease associations, phenotypes, pathways, molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components. Recently, a project was initiated at RGD to incorporate quantitative phenotype data for rat strains, in addition to the currently existing qualitative phenotype data for rat strains, QTLs and genes. A specialized curation tool was designed to generate manual annotations with up to six different ontologies/vocabularies used simultaneously to describe a single experimental value from the literature. Concurrently, three of those ontologies needed extensive addition of new terms to move the curation forward. The curation interface development, as well as ontology development, was an ongoing process during the early stages of the PhenoMiner curation project.
Database URL: http://rgd.mcw.edu
doi:10.1093/database/bat015
PMCID: PMC3630803  PMID: 23603846
7.  The Rat Genome Database 2013—data, tools and users 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2013;14(4):520-526.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) was started >10 years ago to provide a core genomic resource for rat researchers. Currently, RGD combines genetic, genomic, pathway, phenotype and strain information with a focus on disease. RGD users are provided with access to structured and curated data from the molecular level through the organismal level. Those users access RGD from all over the world. End users are not only rat researchers but also researchers working with mouse and human data. Translational research is supported by RGD’s comparative genetics/genomics data in disease portals, in GBrowse, in VCMap and on gene report pages. The impact of RGD also goes beyond the traditional biomedical researcher, as the influence of RGD reaches bioinformaticians, tool developers and curators. Import of RGD data into other publicly available databases expands the influence of RGD to a larger set of end users than those who avail themselves of the RGD website. The value of RGD continues to grow as more types of data and more tools are added, while reaching more types of end users.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbt007
PMCID: PMC3713714  PMID: 23434633
database; genome; rat; disease; human
8.  The updated RGD Pathway Portal utilizes increased curation efficiency and provides expanded pathway information 
Human Genomics  2013;7(1):4.
The RGD Pathway Portal provides pathway annotations for rat, human and mouse genes and pathway diagrams and suites, all interconnected via the pathway ontology. Diagram pages present the diagram and description, with diagram objects linked to additional resources. A newly-developed dual-functionality web application composes the diagram page. Curators input the description, diagram, references and additional pathway objects. The application combines these with tables of rat, human and mouse pathway genes, including genetic information, analysis tool and reference links, and disease, phenotype and other pathway annotations to pathway genes. The application increases the information content of diagram pages while expediting publication.
doi:10.1186/1479-7364-7-4
PMCID: PMC3598722  PMID: 23379628
Curation; Databases; Ontologies; Pathways; Tools
10.  Multiscale Modeling and Data Integration in the Virtual Physiological Rat Project 
Annals of Biomedical Engineering  2012;40(11):2365-2378.
It has become increasingly evident that the descriptions of many complex diseases are only possible by taking into account multiple influences at different physiological scales. To do this with computational models often requires the integration of several models that have overlapping scales (genes to molecules, molecules to cells, cells to tissues). The Virtual Physiological Rat (VPR) Project, a National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) funded National Center of Systems Biology, is tasked with mechanistically describing several complex diseases and is therefore identifying methods to facilitate the process of model integration across physiological scales. In addition, the VPR has a considerable experimental component and the resultant data must be integrated into these composite multiscale models and made available to the research community. A perspective of the current state of the art in model integration and sharing along with archiving of experimental data will be presented here in the context of multiscale physiological models. It was found that current ontological, model and data repository resources and integrative software tools are sufficient to create composite models from separate existing models and the example composite model developed here exhibits emergent behavior not predicted by the separate models.
doi:10.1007/s10439-012-0611-7
PMCID: PMC3463790  PMID: 22805979
Semantic annotation; Model merging; Model repositories; Biomedical ontologies; Data dissemination; Model sharing; Mechanistic physiological models; Virtual Physiological Rat
11.  Three Ontologies to Define Phenotype Measurement Data 
Background: There is an increasing need to integrate phenotype measurement data across studies for both human studies and those involving model organisms. Current practices allow researchers to access only those data involved in a single experiment or multiple experiments utilizing the same protocol. Results: Three ontologies were created: Clinical Measurement Ontology, Measurement Method Ontology and Experimental Condition Ontology. These ontologies provided the framework for integration of rat phenotype data from multiple studies into a single resource as well as facilitated data integration from multiple human epidemiological studies into a centralized repository. Conclusion: An ontology based framework for phenotype measurement data affords the ability to successfully integrate vital phenotype data into critical resources, regardless of underlying technological structures allowing the user to easily query and retrieve data from multiple studies.
doi:10.3389/fgene.2012.00087
PMCID: PMC3361058  PMID: 22654893
ontology; phenotype
12.  Ontology searching and browsing at the Rat Genome Database 
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier repository of rat genomic and genetic data and currently houses over 40 000 rat gene records, as well as human and mouse orthologs, 1857 rat and 1912 human quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and 2347 rat strains. Biological information curated for these data objects includes disease associations, phenotypes, pathways, molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components. RGD uses more than a dozen different ontologies to standardize annotation information for genes, QTLs and strains. That means a lot of time can be spent searching and browsing ontologies for the appropriate terms needed both for curating and mining the data. RGD has upgraded its ontology term search to make it more versatile and more robust. A term search result is connected to a term browser so the user can fine-tune the search by viewing parent and children terms. Most publicly available term browsers display a hierarchical organization of terms in an expandable tree format. RGD has replaced its old tree browser format with a ‘driller’ type of browser that allows quicker drilling up and down through the term branches, which has been confirmed by testing. The RGD ontology report pages have also been upgraded. Expanded functionality allows more choice in how annotations are displayed and what subsets of annotations are displayed. The new ontology search, browser and report features have been designed to enhance both manual data curation and manual data extraction.
Database URL: http://rgd.mcw.edu/rgdweb/ontology/search.html
doi:10.1093/database/bas016
PMCID: PMC3308169  PMID: 22434847
13.  RGD: A comparative genomics platform 
Human genomics  2011;5(2):124-129.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) (http://rgd.mcw.edu) provides a comprehensive platform for comparative genomics and genetics research. RGD houses gene, QTL and polymorphic marker data for rat, mouse and human and provides easy access to data through sophisticated searches, disease portals, interactive pathway diagrams and rat and human genome browsers.
PMCID: PMC3222152  PMID: 21296746
genomics; database; disease
14.  The Rat Genome Database Pathway Portal 
The set of interacting molecules collectively referred to as a pathway or network represents a fundamental structural unit, the building block of the larger, highly integrated networks of biological systems. The scientific community's interest in understanding the fine details of how pathways work, communicate with each other and synergize, and how alterations in one or several pathways may converge into a disease phenotype, places heightened demands on pathway data and information providers. To meet such demands, the Rat Genome Database [(RGD) http://rgd.mcw.edu] has adopted a multitiered approach to pathway data acquisition and presentation. Resources and tools are continuously added or expanded to offer more comprehensive pathway data sets as well as enhanced pathway data manipulation, exploration and visualization capabilities. At RGD, users can easily identify genes in pathways, see how pathways relate to each other and visualize pathways in a dynamic and integrated manner. They can access these and other components from several entry points and effortlessly navigate between them and they can download the data of interest. The Pathway Portal resources at RGD are presented, and future directions are discussed.
Database URL: http://rgd.mcw.edu
doi:10.1093/database/bar010
PMCID: PMC3072770  PMID: 21478484
15.  The Rat Genome Database curation tool suite: a set of optimized software tools enabling efficient acquisition, organization, and presentation of biological data 
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier repository of rat genomic and genetic data and currently houses over 40 000 rat gene records as well as human and mouse orthologs, 1771 rat and 1911 human quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and 2209 rat strains. Biological information curated for these data objects includes disease associations, phenotypes, pathways, molecular functions, biological processes and cellular components. A suite of tools has been developed to aid curators in acquiring and validating data objects, assigning nomenclature, attaching biological information to objects and making connections among data types. The software used to assign nomenclature, to create and edit objects and to make annotations to the data objects has been specifically designed to make the curation process as fast and efficient as possible. The user interfaces have been adapted to the work routines of the curators, creating a suite of tools that is intuitive and powerful.
Database URL: http://rgd.mcw.edu
doi:10.1093/database/bar002
PMCID: PMC3041158  PMID: 21321022
16.  RGD: A comparative genomics platform 
Human Genomics  2011;5(2):124-129.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) (http://rgd.mcw.edu) provides a comprehensive platform for comparative genomics and genetics research. RGD houses gene, QTL and polymorphic marker data for rat, mouse and human and provides easy access to data through sophisticated searches, disease portals, interactive pathway diagrams and rat and human genome browsers.
doi:10.1186/1479-7364-5-2-124
PMCID: PMC3222152  PMID: 21296746
genomics; database; disease
18.  The Rat Genome Database 2009: variation, ontologies and pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D744-D749.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD, http://rgd.mcw.edu) was developed to provide a core resource for rat researchers combining genetic, genomic, pathway, phenotype and strain information with a focus on disease. RGD users are provided with access to structured and curated data from the molecular level through to the level of the whole organism, including the variations associated with disease phenotypes. To fully support use of the rat as a translational model for biological systems and human disease, RGD continues to curate these datasets while enhancing and developing tools to allow efficient and effective access to the data in a variety of formats including linear genome viewers, pathway diagrams and biological ontologies. To support pathophysiological analysis of data, RGD Disease Portals provide an entryway to integrated gene, QTL and strain data specific to a particular disease. In addition to tool and content development and maintenance, RGD promotes rat research and provides user education by creating and disseminating tutorials on the curated datasets, submission processes, and tools available at RGD. By curating, storing, integrating, visualizing and promoting rat data, RGD ensures that the investment made into rat genomics and genetics can be leveraged by all interested investigators.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn842
PMCID: PMC2686558  PMID: 18996890
19.  The Rat Genome Database, update 2007—Easing the path from disease to data and back again 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;35(Database issue):D658-D662.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD, ) is one of the core resources for rat genomics and recent developments have focused on providing support for disease-based research using the rat model. Recognizing the importance of the rat as a disease model we have employed targeted curation strategies to curate genes, QTL and strain data for neurological and cardiovascular disease areas. This work has centered on rat but also includes data for mouse and human to create ‘disease portals’ that provide a unified view of the genes, QTL and strain models for these diseases across the three species. The disease curation efforts combined with normal curation activities have served to greatly increase the content of the database, particularly for biological information, including gene ontology, disease, pathway and phenotype ontology annotations. In addition to improving the features and database content, community outreach has been expanded to demonstrate how investigators can leverage the resources at RGD to facilitate their research and to elicit suggestions and needs for future developments. We have published a number of papers that provide additional information on the ontology annotations and the tools at RGD for data mining and analysis to better enable researchers to fully utilize the database.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl988
PMCID: PMC1761441  PMID: 17151068
20.  Using Multiple Ontologies to Integrate Complex Biological Data 
Comparative and Functional Genomics  2005;6(7-8):373-378.
The strength of the rat as a model organism lies in its utility in pharmacology, biochemistry and physiology research. Data resulting from such studies is difficult to represent in databases and the creation of user-friendly data mining tools has proved difficult. The Rat Genome Database has developed a comprehensive ontology-based data structure and annotation system to integrate physiological data along with environmental and experimental factors, as well as genetic and genomic information. RGD uses multiple ontologies to integrate complex biological information from the molecular level to the whole organism, and to develop data mining and presentation tools. This approach allows RGD to indicate not only the phenotypes seen in a strain but also the specific values under each diet and atmospheric condition, as well as gender differences. Harnessing the power of ontologies in this way allows the user to gather and filter data in a customized fashion, so that a researcher can retrieve all phenotype readings for which a high hypoxia is a factor. Utilizing the same data structure for expression data, pathways and biological processes, RGD will provide a comprehensive research platform which allows users to investigate the conditions under which biological processes are altered and to elucidate the mechanisms of disease.
doi:10.1002/cfg.498
PMCID: PMC2447497  PMID: 18629202
21.  Rat Genome Database (RGD): mapping disease onto the genome 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(1):125-128.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD, http://rgd.mcw.edu) is an NIH-funded project whose stated mission is ‘to collect, consolidate and integrate data generated from ongoing rat genetic and genomic research efforts and make these data widely available to the scientific community’. In a collaboration between the Bioinformatics Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Jackson Laboratory and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, RGD has been created to meet these stated aims. The rat is uniquely suited to its role as a model of human disease and the primary focus of RGD is to aid researchers in their study of the rat and in applying their results to studies in a wider context. In support of this we have integrated a large amount of rat genetic and genomic resources in RGD and these are constantly being expanded through ongoing literature and bulk dataset curation. RGD version 2.0, released in June 2001, includes curated data on rat genes, quantitative trait loci (QTL), microsatellite markers and rat strains used in genetic and genomic research. VCMap, a dynamic sequence-based homology tool was introduced, and allows researchers of rat, mouse and human to view mapped genes and sequences and their locations in the other two organisms, an essential tool for comparative genomics. In addition, RGD provides tools for gene prediction, radiation hybrid mapping, polymorphic marker selection and more. Future developments will include the introduction of disease-based curation expanding the curated information to cover popular disease systems studied in the rat. This will be integrated with the emerging rat genomic sequence and annotation pipelines to provide a high-quality disease-centric resource, applicable to human and mouse via comparative tools such as VCMap. RGD has a defined community outreach focus with a Visiting Scientist program and the Rat Community Forum, a web-based forum for rat researchers and others interested in using the rat as an experimental model. Thus, RGD is not only a valuable resource for those working with the rat but also for researchers in other model organisms wishing to harness the existing genetic and physiological data available in the rat to complement their own work.
PMCID: PMC99132  PMID: 11752273

Results 1-21 (21)