TORONTO, Aug. 25 - Scientists at the Blueprint Initiative research program, led by Dr. Christopher Hogue at Mount Sinai Hospital's Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, have created a new visual language called OntoGlyphs to identify the biological attributes of molecules in general and particularly the ones found in the Biomolecular Interaction Networks Database.
Freely available to academic, government, and corporate scientists worldwide, BIND offers data spanning molecular interactions between proteins, small-molecules and nucleic acids, as well as genetic interaction networks in a standardized format. BIND is being constructed from direct submissions by independent researchers and through the in-house curation of peer-reviewed literature, based on the world's most comprehensive integrated bioinformatics standards for storing biomolecular interactions, sequence, taxonomy, structure, and literature information.
The term "OntoGlyph" is derived from the concepts of gene ontology (Onto) and symbols or pictorial representations (Glyphs). In total, there are 83 OntoGlyph characters, which represent three types of molecule attributes: function, binding, and cellular localization. Ontoglyphs are derived from a combination of the U.S. National Centre for Biological Information's Cluster of Orthologous Groups functional categories and GO terms, and are based on grouping the nearly 17,000 GO terms in the categories used most frequently by biologists in describing genes and protein function.
Using this geometrical language, Blueprint researchers can create, store, and combine symbols efficiently and on the fly.
With a few mouse clicks in the BIND Interaction Viewer, individual OntoGlyphs can be selected, highlighted, and manipulated, allowing researchers to hide all of the molecules involved in a certain pathway or not found within a particular cellular compartment, such as the nucleus.
This mechanism helps researchers to make better sense of complex interaction networks by allowing them to focus on specific subsets of the data, without the distraction of secondary or tertiary partners. Similarly, through pattern recognition, researchers are more likely to see linkages through common interacting partners between different pathways that have not yet been identified in the literature. This has the potential to open new doors of scientific inquiry.
The Blueprint Initiative is a research program of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Led by principal investigator Dr. Christopher Hogue, Blueprint develops, hosts, and maintains public biological databases and bioinformatics software tools such as BIND, SeqHound, and Distributed Folding.