Concept: European Bioinformatics Institute
Since 2010, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s (EMBL) Heidelberg laboratory and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have jointly run bioinformatics training courses developed specifically for secondary school science teachers within Europe and EMBL member states. These courses focus on introducing bioinformatics, databases, and data-intensive biology, allowing participants to explore resources and providing classroom-ready materials to support them in sharing this new knowledge with their students. In this article, we chart our progress made in creating and running three bioinformatics training courses, including how the course resources are received by participants and how these, and bioinformatics in general, are subsequently used in the classroom. We assess the strengths and challenges of our approach, and share what we have learned through our interactions with European science teachers.
RDF is an emerging technology for describing, publishing and linking life science data. As a major provider of bioinformatics data and services, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is committed to making data readily accessible to the community in ways that meet existing demand. The EBI RDF platform has been developed to meet an increasing demand to coordinate RDF activities across the institute and provides a new entry point to querying and exploring integrated resources available at the EBI.
The 2016 Database Issue of Nucleic Acids Research starts with overviews of the resources provided by three major bioinformatics centers, the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics (SIB). Also included are descriptions of 62 new databases and updates on 95 databases that have been previously featured in NAR plus 17 previously described elsewhere. A number of papers in this issue deal with resources on nucleic acids, including various kinds of non-coding RNAs and their interactions, molecular dynamics simulations of nucleic acid structure, and two databases of super-enhancers. The protein database section features important updates on the EBI’s Pfam, PDBe and PRIDE databases, as well as a variety of resources on pathways, metabolomics and metabolic modeling. This issue also includes updates on popular metagenomics resources, such as MG-RAST, EBI Metagenomics, and probeBASE, as well as a newly compiled Human Pan-Microbe Communities database. A significant fraction of the new and updated databases are dedicated to the genetic basis of disease, primarily cancer, and various aspects of drug research, including resources for patented drugs, their side effects, withdrawn drugs, and potential drug targets. A further six papers present updated databases of various antimicrobial and anticancer peptides. The entire Database Issue is freely available online on the Nucleic Acids Research website (http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/). The NAR online Molecular Biology Database Collection, http://www.oxfordjournals.org/nar/database/c/, has been updated with the addition of 88 new resources and removal of 23 obsolete websites, which brought the current listing to 1685 databases.
The HMMER website, available at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/hmmer/, provides access to the protein homology search algorithms found in the HMMER software suite. Since the first release of the website in 2011, the search repertoire has been expanded to include the iterative search algorithm, jackhmmer. The continued growth of the target sequence databases means that traditional tabular representations of significant sequence hits can be overwhelming to the user. Consequently, additional ways of presenting homology search results have been developed, allowing them to be summarised according to taxonomic distribution or domain architecture. The taxonomy and domain architecture representations can be used in combination to filter the results according to the needs of a user. Searches can also be restricted prior to submission using a new taxonomic filter, which not only ensures that the results are specific to the requested taxonomic group, but also improves search performance. The repertoire of profile hidden Markov model libraries, which are used for annotation of query sequences with protein families and domains, has been expanded to include the libraries from CATH-Gene3D, PIRSF, Superfamily and TIGRFAMs. Finally, we discuss the relocation of the HMMER webserver to the European Bioinformatics Institute and the potential impact that this will have.
High-throughput technologies are widely used in the field of functional genomics and used in an increasing number of applications. For many ‘wet lab’ scientists, the analysis of the large amount of data generated by such technologies is a major bottleneck that can only be overcome through very specialized training in advanced data analysis methodologies and the use of dedicated bioinformatics software tools. In this article, we wish to discuss the challenges related to delivering training in the analysis of high-throughput sequencing data and how we addressed these challenges in the hands-on training courses that we have developed at the European Bioinformatics Institute.
The PRoteomics IDEntifications (PRIDE, http://www.ebi.ac.uk/pride) database at the European Bioinformatics Institute is one of the most prominent data repositories of mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics data. Here, we summarize recent developments in the PRIDE database and related tools. First, we provide up-to-date statistics in data content, splitting the figures by groups of organisms and species, including peptide and protein identifications, and post-translational modifications. We then describe the tools that are part of the PRIDE submission pipeline, especially the recently developed PRIDE Converter 2 (new submission tool) and PRIDE Inspector (visualization and analysis tool). We also give an update about the integration of PRIDE with other MS proteomics resources in the context of the ProteomeXchange consortium. Finally, we briefly review the quality control efforts that are ongoing at present and outline our future plans.
The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) supports life-science research throughout the world by providing open data, open-source software and analytical tools, and technical infrastructure (https://www.ebi.ac.uk). We accommodate an increasingly diverse range of data types and integrate them, so that biologists in all disciplines can explore life in ever-increasing detail. We maintain over 40 data resources, many of which are run collaboratively with partners in 16 countries (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/services). Submissions continue to increase exponentially: our data storage has doubled in less than two years to 120 petabytes. Recent advances in cellular imaging and single-cell sequencing techniques are generating a vast amount of high-dimensional data, bringing to light new cell types and new perspectives on anatomy. Accordingly, one of our main focus areas is integrating high-quality information from bioimaging, biobanking and other types of molecular data. This is reflected in our deep involvement in Open Targets, stewarding of plant phenotyping standards (MIAPPE) and partnership in the Human Cell Atlas data coordination platform, as well as the 2017 launch of the Omics Discovery Index. This update gives a birds-eye view of EMBL-EBI’s approach to data integration and service development as genomics begins to enter the clinic.
New technologies are revolutionising biological research and its applications by making it easier and cheaper to generate ever-greater volumes and types of data. In response, the services and infrastructure of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI, www.ebi.ac.uk) are continually expanding: total disk capacity increases significantly every year to keep pace with demand (75 petabytes as of December 2015), and interoperability between resources remains a strategic priority. Since 2014 we have launched two new resources: the European Variation Archive for genetic variation data and EMPIAR for two-dimensional electron microscopy data, as well as a Resource Description Framework platform. We also launched the Embassy Cloud service, which allows users to run large analyses in a virtual environment next to EMBL-EBI’s vast public data resources.
The availability of comprehensive information about enzymes plays an important role in answering questions relevant to interdisciplinary fields such as biochemistry, enzymology, biofuels, bioengineering and drug discovery. At the EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute, we have developed an enzyme portal (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/enzymeportal) to provide this wealth of information on enzymes from multiple in-house resources addressing particular data classes: protein sequence and structure, reactions, pathways and small molecules. The fact that these data reside in separate databases makes information discovery cumbersome. The main goal of the portal is to simplify this process for end users.
The DNA Data Bank of Japan Center (DDBJ Center; http://www.ddbj.nig.ac.jp) maintains and provides public archival, retrieval and analytical services for biological information. The contents of the DDBJ databases are shared with the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) within the framework of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC). Since 2013, the DDBJ Center has been operating the Japanese Genotype-phenotype Archive (JGA) in collaboration with the National Bioscience Database Center (NBDC) in Japan. In addition, the DDBJ Center develops semantic web technologies for data integration and sharing in collaboration with the Database Center for Life Science (DBCLS) in Japan. This paper briefly reports on the activities of the DDBJ Center over the past year including submissions to databases and improvements in our services for data retrieval, analysis, and integration.