VIZ-GRAIL: visualizing functional connections across disease loci

Bioinformatics. 2011 Jun 1;27(11):1589-90. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btr185. Epub 2011 Apr 19.


Motivation: As disease loci are rapidly discovered, an emerging challenge is to identify common pathways and biological functionality across loci. Such pathways might point to potential disease mechanisms. One strategy is to look for functionally related or interacting genes across genetic loci. Previously, we defined a statistical strategy, Gene Relationships Across Implicated Loci (GRAIL), to identify whether pair-wise gene relationships defined using PubMed text similarity are enriched across loci. Here, we have implemented VIZ-GRAIL, a software tool to display those relationships and to depict the underlying biological patterns.

Results: Our tool can seamlessly interact with the GRAIL web site to obtain the results of analyses and create easy to read visual displays. To most clearly display results, VIZ-GRAIL arranges genes and genetic loci to minimize intersecting pair-wise gene connections. VIZ-GRAIL can be easily applied to other types of functional connections, beyond those from GRAIL. This method should help investigators appreciate the presence of potentially important common functions across loci.

Availability: The GRAIL algorithm is implemented online at VIZ-GRAIL source-code is at

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Computer Graphics
  • Disease / genetics*
  • Genes
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Software*