Background: In the post-genomic era, multi-faceted research on complex disorders such as autism has generated diverse types of molecular information related to its pathogenesis. The rapid accumulation of putative candidate genes/loci for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and ASD-related animal models poses a major challenge for systematic analysis of their content. We previously created the Autism Database (AutDB) to provide a publicly available web portal for ongoing collection, manual annotation, and visualization of genes linked to ASD. Here, we describe the design, development, and integration of a new module within AutDB for ongoing collection and comprehensive cataloguing of ASD-related animal models.
Description: As with the original AutDB, all data is extracted from published, peer-reviewed scientific literature. Animal models are annotated with a new standardized vocabulary of phenotypic terms developed by our researchers which is designed to reflect the diverse clinical manifestations of ASD. The new Animal Model module is seamlessly integrated to AutDB for dissemination of diverse information related to ASD. Animal model entries within the new module are linked to corresponding candidate genes in the original "Human Gene" module of the resource, thereby allowing for cross-modal navigation between gene models and human gene studies. Although the current release of the Animal Model module is restricted to mouse models, it was designed with an expandable framework which can easily incorporate additional species and non-genetic etiological models of autism in the future.
Conclusions: Importantly, this modular ASD database provides a platform from which data mining, bioinformatics, and/or computational biology strategies may be adopted to develop predictive disease models that may offer further insights into the molecular underpinnings of this disorder. It also serves as a general model for disease-driven databases curating phenotypic characteristics of corresponding animal models.