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On gene ontology and function annotation

  • Debnath Pal
Biomedical Informatics Publishing Group
Publication Date
Feb 21, 2006
  • Biology


The effort of function annotation does not merely involve associating a gene with some structured vocabulary that describes action. Rather the details of the actions, the components of the actions, the larger context of the actions are important issues that are of direct relevance, because they help understand the biological system to which the gene/protein belongs. Currently Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium offers the most comprehensive sets of relationships to describe gene/protein activity. However, its choice to segregate gene ontology to subdomains of molecular function, biological process and cellular component is creating significant limitations in terms of future scope of use. If we are to understand biology in its total complexity, comprehensive ontologies in larger biological domains are essential. A vigorous discussion on this topic is necessary for the larger benefit of the biological community. I highlight this point because larger-bio-domain ontologies cannot be simply created by integrating subdomain ontologies. Relationships in larger bio-domain-ontologies are more complex due to larger size of the system and are therefore more labor intensive to create. The current limitations of GO will be a handicap in derivation of more complex relationships from the high throughput biology data.

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