Integrated Access to Metabolic and Genomic Data


Karp, P.D. and Paley, S. Integrated Access to Metabolic and Genomic Data. Journal of Computational Biology, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 191-212, 1996.


The EcoCyc system consists of a knowledge base (KB) that describes the genes and intermediary metabolism of Escherichia coli, and a graphical user interface (GUI) for accessing that knowledge. This paper addresses two problems: How can we create a GUI that provides integrated access to metabolic and genomic data? We describe the design and implementation of visual presentations that closely mimic those found in the biology literature, and that offer hypertext navigation among related entities, and multiple views of the same entity. We employ a frame knowledge representation system (FRS) called HyperTHEO to manage the EcoCyc knowledge base. Among the advantages of FRSs are an expressive data model for capturing the complexities of biological information, and schema-evolution capabilities that facilitate the constant schema changes that biological databases tend to undergo. HyperTHEO also includes rule-based inference facilities that are the foundation of expert systems, a constraint language for maintaining data integrity, and a declarative query language. A graphic KB editor and browser allow the EcoCyc developers to interactively inspect and modify this evolving KB.

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