Background: Gene set analysis is a powerful method of deducing biological meaning for an a priori defined set of genes. Numerous tools have been developed to test statistical enrichment or depletion in specific pathways or gene ontology (GO) terms. Major difficulties towards biological interpretation are integrating diverse types of annotation categories and exploring the relationships between annotation terms of similar information.
Results: GARNET (Gene Annotation Relationship NEtwork Tools) is an integrative platform for gene set analysis with many novel features. It includes tools for retrieval of genes from annotation database, statistical analysis & visualization of annotation relationships, and managing gene sets. In an effort to allow access to a full spectrum of amassed biological knowledge, we have integrated a variety of annotation data that include the GO, domain, disease, drug, chromosomal location, and custom-defined annotations. Diverse types of molecular networks (pathways, transcription and microRNA regulations, protein-protein interaction) are also included. The pair-wise relationship between annotation gene sets was calculated using kappa statistics. GARNET consists of three modules--gene set manager, gene set analysis and gene set retrieval, which are tightly integrated to provide virtually automatic analysis for gene sets. A dedicated viewer for annotation network has been developed to facilitate exploration of the related annotations.
Conclusions: GARNET (gene annotation relationship network tools) is an integrative platform for diverse types of gene set analysis, where complex relationships among gene annotations can be easily explored with an intuitive network visualization tool (http://garnet.isysbio.org/ or http://ercsb.ewha.ac.kr/garnet/).