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.
rat; database; quantitative trait locus; ontology; genomics; gene
Rat models have been used to investigate physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms for decades. With the availability of the rat genome and other online resources, tools to identify rat models that mimic human disease are an important step in translational research. Despite the large number of papers published each year using rat models, integrating this information remains a problem. Resources for the rat genome are continuing to grow rapidly, while resources providing access to rat phenotype data are just emerging. An overview of rat models of disease, tools to characterize strain by phenotype and genotype, and steps being taken to integrate rat physiological data is presented in this article. Integrating functional and physiological data with the rat genome will build a solid research platform to facilitate innovative studies to unravel the mechanisms resulting in disease.
phenotype; physiological genomics; database; rat strains; disease models; genome
Brown Norway rats (BN, BN/NHsdMcwi) are profoundly resistant to developing acute kidney injury (AKI) following ischemia reperfusion. To help define the genetic basis for this resistance, we used consomic rats, in which individual chromosomes from BN rats were placed into the genetic background of Dahl SS rats (SS, SS/JrHsdMcwi) to determine which chromosomes contain alleles contributing to protection from AKI. The parental strains had dramatically different sensitivity to ischemia reperfusion with plasma creatinine levels following 45 minutes of ischemia and 24 hours reperfusion of 4.1 and 1.3 mg/dl in SS and in BN, respectively. No consomic strain showed protection similar to the parental BN strain. Nine consomic strains (SS-7BN, SS-XBN, SS-8BN, SS-4BN, SS-15BN, SS-3BN, SS-10BN, SS-6BN, and SS-5BN) showed partial protection (plasma creatinine about 2.5-3.0 mg/dl), suggesting that multiple alleles contribute to the severity of AKI. In silico analysis was performed using disease ontology database terms and renal function quantitative trait loci from the rat genome database on the BN chromosomes giving partial protection from AKI. This tactic identified at least 36 candidate genes, with several previously linked to the pathophysiology of AKI. Thus, natural variants of these alleles or yet to be identified alleles on these chromosomes provide protection against AKI. These alleles may be potential modulators of AKI in susceptible patient populations.
acute kidney injury; genetic susceptibility
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.
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.
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.
database; genome; rat; disease; human
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.
Curation; Databases; Ontologies; Pathways; Tools
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.
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.
The rat has long been a model favored by physiologists, pharmacologists, and neuroscientists. However, over the last two decades, many investigators in these fields have turned to the mouse because of its gene modification technologies and extensive genomic resources. While the genomic resources of the rat have nearly caught-up, gene targeting has lagged far behind, limiting the value of the rat for many investigators. In the last two years, advances in transposon- and zinc finger nuclease-mediated gene knockout as well as the establishment and culturing of embryonic and inducible pluripotent stem cells have created new opportunities for rat genetic research. Here, we provide a high-level description and potential uses of these new technologies for investigators using the rat for biomedical research.
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
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
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.