Background: Brucella species are Gram-negative, facultative intracellular bacteria that cause brucellosis in humans and animals. Sequences of four Brucella genomes have been published, and various Brucella gene and genome data and analysis resources exist. A web gateway to integrate these resources will greatly facilitate Brucella research. Brucella genome data in current databases is largely derived from computational analysis without experimental validation typically found in peer-reviewed publications. It is partially due to the lack of a literature mining and curation system able to efficiently incorporate the large amount of literature data into genome annotation. It is further hypothesized that literature-based Brucella gene annotation would increase understanding of complicated Brucella pathogenesis mechanisms.
Results: The Brucella Bioinformatics Portal (BBP) is developed to integrate existing Brucella genome data and analysis tools with literature mining and curation. The BBP InterBru database and Brucella Genome Browser allow users to search and analyze genes of 4 currently available Brucella genomes and link to more than 20 existing databases and analysis programs. Brucella literature publications in PubMed are extracted and can be searched by a TextPresso-powered natural language processing method, a MeSH browser, a keywords search, and an automatic literature update service. To efficiently annotate Brucella genes using the large amount of literature publications, a literature mining and curation system coined Limix is developed to integrate computational literature mining methods with a PubSearch-powered manual curation and management system. The Limix system is used to quickly find and confirm 107 Brucella gene mutations including 75 genes shown to be essential for Brucella virulence. The 75 genes are further clustered using COG. In addition, 62 Brucella genetic interactions are extracted from literature publications. These results make possible more comprehensive investigation of Brucella pathogenesis. Other BBP features include publication email alert service, Brucella researchers' contact database, and discussion forum.
Conclusion: BBP is a gateway for Brucella researchers to search, analyze, and curate Brucella genome data originated from public databases and literature. Brucella gene mutations and genetic interactions are annotated using Limix leading to better understanding of Brucella pathogenesis.