Page hits for Jonathan Pevsner’s web-based Dragon database doubled the day after a paper on the project appeared in the journal Bioinformatics, a response that Pevsner said indicates an overwhelming need for such a tool in genomics research.
Dragon (Database Referencing of Array Genes Online) was developed to help annotate and interpret microarray experiments. It extracts information relevant to the analysis of differential gene expression data from publicly available databases, such as Swiss-Prot, Pfam, Unigene, and KEGG, and compiles it in a single location.
Users can submit a list of Genbank accession numbers and expression values for thousands of genes from a microarray experiment using the Annotate page on the Dragon website. They can then indicate particular characteristics and Dragon annotates the list simultaneously.
Another feature, Dragon View, acts as a companion to the annotation feature. A suite of visualization tools represents whether families of related genes are all regulated in a similar manner or whether genes in the same cellular pathway are all differentially regulated.
Pevsner, principal investigator in the department of neurology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md., and graduate student Chris Bouton implemented the database with Perl scripts with MySQL as the backend database. It runs on a RedHat 6.2 based Dell Poweredge 6300 server that Merck Pharmaceuticals donated in a “no strings” arrangement, according to Pevsner.
Dragon is freely available online (www.kennedykrieger.org/pevsnerlab/dragon.htm).