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Open Access Software

galaxieEST: addressing EST identity through automated phylogenetic analysis

R Henrik Nilsson1, Balaji Rajashekar2, Karl-Henrik Larsson1 and Björn M Ursing3*

Author Affiliations

1 Göteborg University, Botanical Institute, Box 461, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

2 Lund University, Department of Microbial Ecology, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden

3 Karolinska Institutet, Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, Berzelius väg 35 SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Bioinformatics 2004, 5:87  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-87

Published: 5 July 2004

Abstract

Background

Research involving expressed sequence tags (ESTs) is intricately coupled to the existence of large, well-annotated sequence repositories. Comparatively complete and satisfactory annotated public sequence libraries are, however, available only for a limited range of organisms, rendering the absence of sequences and gene structure information a tangible problem for those working with taxa lacking an EST or genome sequencing project. Paralogous genes belonging to the same gene family but distinguished by derived characteristics are particularly prone to misidentification and erroneous annotation; high but incomplete levels of sequence similarity are typically difficult to interpret and have formed the basis of many unsubstantiated assumptions of orthology.

In these cases, a phylogenetic study of the query sequence together with the most similar sequences in the database may be of great value to the identification process. In order to facilitate this laborious procedure, a project to employ automated phylogenetic analysis in the identification of ESTs was initiated.

Results

galaxieEST is an open source Perl-CGI script package designed to complement traditional similarity-based identification of EST sequences through employment of automated phylogenetic analysis. It uses a series of BLAST runs as a sieve to retrieve nucleotide and protein sequences for inclusion in neighbour joining and parsimony analyses; the output includes the BLAST output, the results of the phylogenetic analyses, and the corresponding multiple alignments. galaxieEST is available as an on-line web service for identification of fungal ESTs and for download / local installation for use with any organism group at http://galaxie.cgb.ki.se/galaxieEST.html webcite.

Conclusions

By addressing sequence relatedness in addition to similarity, galaxieEST provides an integrative view on EST origin and identity, which may prove particularly useful in cases where similarity searches return one or more pertinent, but not full, matches and additional information on the query EST is needed.