Ontology driven modeling for the knowledge of genetic susceptibility to disease

Kobe J Med Sci. 2009 May 12;55(3):E53-66.


For the machine helped exploring the relationships between genetic factors and complex diseases, a well-structured conceptual framework of the background knowledge is needed. However, because of the complexity of determining a genetic susceptibility factor, there is no formalization for the knowledge of genetic susceptibility to disease, which makes the interoperability between systems impossible. Thus, the ontology modeling language OWL was used for formalization in this paper. After introducing the Semantic Web and OWL language propagated by W3C, we applied text mining technology combined with competency questions to specify the classes of the ontology. Then, an N-ary pattern was adopted to describe the relationships among these defined classes. Based on the former work of OGSF-DM (Ontology of Genetic Susceptibility Factors to Diabetes Mellitus), we formalized the definition of "Genetic Susceptibility", "Genetic Susceptibility Factor" and other classes by using OWL-DL modeling language; and a reasoner automatically performed the classification of the class "Genetic Susceptibility Factor".

Conclusion: The ontology driven modeling is used for formalization the knowledge of genetic susceptibility to complex diseases. More importantly, when a class has been completely formalized in an ontology, the OWL reasoning can automatically compute the classification of the class, in our case, the class of "Genetic Susceptibility Factors". With more types of genetic susceptibility factors obtained from the laboratory research, our ontologies always needs to be refined, and many new classes must be taken into account to harmonize with the ontologies. Using the ontologies to develop the semantic web needs to be applied in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Knowledge
  • Language
  • Models, Genetic
  • Semantics
  • User-Computer Interface