A framework for protein classification

In Proceedings of the 2003 German Conference on Bioinformatics, Vol. II. pp. 55-57 (2003)
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It is widely understood that protein functions can be exhaustively described in terms of no single parameter, whether this be amino acid sequence or the three-dimensional structure of the underlying protein molecule. This means that a number of different attributes must be used to create an ontology of protein functions. Certainly much of the required information is already stored in databases such as Swiss-Prot, Protein Data Bank, SCOP and MIPS. But the latter have been developed for different purposes and the separate data-structures which they employ are not conducive to the needed data integration. When we attempt to classify the entities in the domain of proteins, we find ourselves faced with a number of cross-cutting principles of classification. Our question here is: how can we bring together these separate taxonomies in order to describe protein functions? Our proposed answer is: via a careful top-level ontological analysis of the relevant principles of classification, combined with a new framework for the simultaneous manipulation of classifications constructed for different purposes.



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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo

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