Background: In multicellular organisms, an intercellular signaling network communicates information from the environment or distant tissues to defined target cells. Intercellular signaling (mostly mediated by hormones) can affect the metabolic state and the gene expression program of target cells, thereby coordinating development, homeostasis of the organism and its reactions to external stimuli. Knowledge of the components of the intercellular signaling (specifically: the endocrine) network and their relations is an important, though so far a largely neglected part of systems biology.
Description: EndoNet is an information resource about the endocrine system in human. The content of this database comprises information about the biological components of the endocrine system, like hormones, receptors and cells, as well as their relations like the secretion or the binding of a hormone to its receptor. All data within EndoNet have been manually annotated from the scientific literature. The web interface of EndoNet provides the content by a detailed page for each component. These pages list information about the component, links to external resources including literature as well as to related entities of EndoNet. The anatomical ontology Cytomer is used, in conjunction with the Ontology Based Answers service (OBA), to query and list related anatomical structures ranging from the level of individual cells to complete organs. While querying the web interface the user can add components to an individual network. This network, or the complete network stored in the database, can be further analyzed in a configurable pipeline or can be exported in various formats.
Conclusion: EndoNet is an important and unique information resource about the intercellular signaling network. Since the intercellular network is an integral part of systems biology, EndoNet provides essential information for analyzing interaction between different cellular networks.