SWAT4LS2009 – Keynote Alan Ruttenberg: Semantic Web Technology to Support Studying the Relation of HLA Structure Variation to Disease

(These are live-blogging notes from Alan’s keynote…so don’t expect any coherent text….use them as bullt points to follow the gist of the argument.)

The Science Commons:

  • a project of the Creative Commons
  • 6 people
  • CC specializes CC to science
  • information discovery and re-use
  • establish legal clarity around data sharing and encourage automated attribution and provenance

Semantic Web for Biologist because it maximizes value o scientific work by removing repeat experimentation.

ImmPort Semantic Integration Feasibility Project

  • Immport is an immunology database and analysis portal
  • Goals:metaanalysis
  • Question: how can ontology help data integration for data from many sources

Using semantics to help integrate sequence features of HLA with disorders

  • Curation of sequence features
  • Linking to disorders
  • Associating allele sequences with peptide structures with nomenclature with secondary structure with human phenotype etc etc etc…

Talks about elements of representation

  • pdb structures translated into ontology-bases respresentations
  • canonical MHC molecule instances constructed from IMGT
  • relate each residue in pdb to the canonical residue if exists
  • use existing ontologies
  • contact points between peptide and other chains computed using JMOL following IMGT. Represented as relation between residue instances.
  • Structural features have fiat parts

Connecting Allele Names to Disease Names

  • use papers as join factors: papers mention both disease and allele – noisy
  • use regex and rewrites applied to titles and abstracts to fish out links between diseases and alleles

Correspondence of molecules with allele structures is difficult.

  • use blast to fiind closest allele match between pdb and allele sequence
  • every pdb and allele residue has URI
  • relate matching molecules
  • relate each allele residue to the canonical allele
  • annotate various residoes with various coordinate systems

This creates massive map that can be navigated and queried. Example queries:

  • What autoimmune diseases can de indexed against a given allele?
  • What are the variant residues at a position?
  • Classification of amino acids
  • Show alleles perturned at contacts of 1AGB

Summary of Progress to Date:
Elements of Approach in Place: Structure, Variation, transfer of annotation via alignment, information extraction from literature etc…

Nuts and Bolts:

  • Primary source
  • Local copy of souce
  • Scripts transforms to RDF
  • Exports RDF Bundles
  • Get selected RDF Bundles and load into triple store
  • Parsers generate in memory structures (python, java)
  • Template files are instructions to fomat these into owl
  • Modeling is iteratively refined by editiing templates
  • RDF loaded into Neurocommons, some amount of reasoning

RDFHerd package management for data


Can we reduce the burden of data integration?

  • Too many people are doing data integration – wasting effort
  • Use web as platform
  • Too many ontologies…here’s the social pressure again


  • have lawyers bless every bit of data integration
  • reasoning over triple stores
  • SPARQL over HTTP
  • Understand and exploit ontology and reasoning
  • Grow a software ecosystem like Firefox
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2 Responses to SWAT4LS2009 – Keynote Alan Ruttenberg: Semantic Web Technology to Support Studying the Relation of HLA Structure Variation to Disease

  1. Pingback: Semantic Web Applications and Tools for the Life Sciences (SWAT4LS) 2009, Amsterdam « O'Really?

  2. Pingback: Semantic Web Tools and Applications for Life Sciences 2009 – A Personal Summary « Semantic Science

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