The Glycome Analytics Platform: an integrative framework for glycobioinformatics

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Motivation: Complex carbohydrates play a central role in cellular communication and in disease development. O- and N-glycans, which are post-translationally attached to proteins and lipids, are sugar chains that are rooted, tree structures. Independent efforts to develop computational tools for analyzing complex carbohydrate structures have been designed to exploit specific databases requiring unique formatting and limited transferability. Attempts have been made at integrating these resources, yet it remains difficult to communicate and share data across several online resources. A disadvantage of the lack of coordination between development efforts is the inability of the user community to create reproducible analyses (workflows). The latter results in the more serious unreliability of glycomics metadata.

Results: In this paper, we realize the significance of connecting multiple online glycan resources that can be used to design reproducible experiments for obtaining, generating and analyzing cell glycomes. To address this, a suite of tools and utilities, have been integrated into the analytic functionality of the Galaxy bioinformatics platform to provide a Glycome Analytics Platform (GAP).

Using this platform, users can design in silico workflows to manipulate various formats of glycan sequences and analyze glycomes through access to web data and services. We illustrate the central functionality and features of the GAP by way of example; we analyze and compare the features of the N-glycan glycome of monocytic cells sourced from two separate data depositions.

This paper highlights the use of reproducible research methods for glycomics analysis and the GAP presents an opportunity for integrating tools in glycobioinformatics.

Availability and Implementation: This software is open-source and available online at or

Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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