The field of comparative genomics is concerned with the study of similarities and differences between the information encoded in the genomes of organisms. A common approach is to define gene families by clustering protein sequences based on sequence similarity, and analyse protein cluster presence and absence in different species groups as a guide to biology. Due to the high dimensionality of these data, downstream analysis of protein clusters inferred from large numbers of species, or species with many genes, is non-trivial, and few solutions exist for transparent, reproducible and customisable analyses. We present KinFin, a streamlined software solution capable of integrating data from common file formats and delivering aggregative annotation of protein clusters. KinFin delivers analyses based on systematic taxonomy of the species analysed, or on user-defined groupings of taxa, for example sets based on attributes such as life history traits, organismal phenotypes, or competing phylogenetic hypotheses. Results are reported through graphical and detailed text output files. We illustrate the utility of the KinFin pipeline by addressing questions regarding the biology of filarial nematodes, which include parasites of veterinary and medical importance. We resolve the phylogenetic relationships between the species and explore functional annotation of proteins in clusters in key lineages and between custom taxon sets, identifying gene families of interest. KinFin can easily be integrated into existing comparative genomic workflows and promotes transparent and reproducible analysis of clustered protein data.
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