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Statistical Viewer: a tool to upload and integrate linkage and association data as plots displayed within the Ensembl genome browser

Judith E Stenger12*, Hong Xu12, Carol Haynes12, Elizabeth R Hauser12, Margaret Pericak-Vance12, Pascal J Goldschmidt-Clermont2 and Jeffery M Vance12

Author Affiliations

1 The Duke Center for Human Genetics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2005, 6:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-6-95

Published: 12 April 2005

Abstract

Background

To facilitate efficient selection and the prioritization of candidate complex disease susceptibility genes for association analysis, increasingly comprehensive annotation tools are essential to integrate, visualize and analyze vast quantities of disparate data generated by genomic screens, public human genome sequence annotation and ancillary biological databases. We have developed a plug-in package for Ensembl called "Statistical Viewer" that facilitates the analysis of genomic features and annotation in the regions of interest defined by linkage analysis.

Results

Statistical Viewer is an add-on package to the open-source Ensembl Genome Browser and Annotation System that displays disease study-specific linkage and/or association data as 2 dimensional plots in new panels in the context of Ensembl's Contig View and Cyto View pages. An enhanced upload server facilitates the upload of statistical data, as well as additional feature annotation to be displayed in DAS tracts, in the form of Excel Files. The Statistical View panel, drawn directly under the ideogram, illustrates lod score values for markers from a study of interest that are plotted against their position in base pairs. A module called "Get Map" easily converts the genetic locations of markers to genomic coordinates. The graph is placed under the corresponding ideogram features a synchronized vertical sliding selection box that is seamlessly integrated into Ensembl's Contig- and Cyto- View pages to choose the region to be displayed in Ensembl's "Overview" and "Detailed View" panels. To resolve Association and Fine mapping data plots, a "Detailed Statistic View" plot corresponding to the "Detailed View" may be displayed underneath.

Conclusion

Features mapping to regions of linkage are accentuated when Statistic View is used in conjunction with the Distributed Annotation System (DAS) to display supplemental laboratory information such as differentially expressed disease genes in private data tracks. Statistic View is a novel and powerful visual feature that enhances Ensembl's utility as valuable resource for integrative genomic-based approaches to the identification of candidate disease susceptibility genes. At present there are no other tools that provide for the visualization of 2-dimensional plots of quantitative data scores against genomic coordinates in the context of a primary public genome annotation browser.