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RESOURCERER: A resource database for DNA microarrays
  
By
Edward R. Winstead


Scientists are increasingly using DNA microarrays, or gene chips, to study changes in gene expression associated with human diseases. Much of the published data have been generated using several dozen human, mouse, and rat microarrays. Until now, however, scientists using a mouse microarray could not easily identify a corresponding set of genes on a human microarray. A new online database called RESOURCERER meets this need.


The database includes 30 microarrays available from companies such as Affymetrix, of Santa Clara, California, and publicly funded research institutions, such as the US National Institute of Aging. Users can view the annotation for the elements on the chips—gene sequences or partial gene sequences—and click through to other genomic databases.

"This database is the glue that binds together data from different microarray resources," says John Quackenbush, who led the team that developed RESOURCERER at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland. "It allows you to generate comparisons for genes in the same species or across species."

The comparative approach works like this: Researchers using mouse microarrays to profile animal tumors can search the database for microarrays that contain human versions of the mouse genes on their chip. They can then search the scientific literature for potentially relevant studies done with the human microarrays that correspond to the mouse chips.

A paper describing the database in Genome Biology reports that RESOURCERER was used to facilitate comparisons between patterns of expression observed in rodent models of tumor metastasis and those seen in patients.

"Our long-term goal is to leverage existing genomic data to provide a richer picture of what gene expression data are telling us," says Quackenbush. To this end, he adds, RESOURCERER will be continually updated and expanded as new microarray tools are developed.

See related GNN articles
»Profiling the placenta: Gene expression in mouse embryonic and placental tissues
»Researchers annotate mouse microarray used in studies of early development

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Tsai, J. et al. RESOURCERER: a database for annotating and linking microarray resources within and across species. Genome Biol 2 (October 19, 2001).
 

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