- Bioinformatics is the application of informatics
(computer science, information theory, statistics)
to the discovery of biological knowledge.
| || → the means... |
| ...to an end ← || |
- Molecular biology systems (DNA, RNA, protein, cells)
formed the first kind of information processing system on the planet.
Bioinformatics applies the third kind of information processing
system, computers, to biological problems.
- The biological
that DNA, specifically the coding part of a gene, is trancribed
to messenger RNA (mRNA), and this mRNA is translated to a protein.
Around 2000± it became apparent that
much more DNA than just the coding DNA, perhaps most DNA, is
transcribed to RNA and that much of this RNA is
involved in regulating gene expression and who knows what else.
- Some bioinformatics problems:
- Sequence assembly is the piecing together of
relatively short sequences, as output by a sequencing machine,
into a longer sequence, e.g., a chromosome.
- Compression techniques can assess the information content
of sequences and other biological data.
This can be used for pattern discovery.
- The alignment problem is to discover if all or part of
two (or more) sequences are related and, if so, how.
- Multiple alignment seeks to discover if several sequences
are related and, if so, how.
- A phylogenetic (evolutionary) tree shows how several sequences,
and thus the species to which they belong, are thought to be related
by evolutionary descent.
One place to start the search for a phylogenetic tree is from a
multiple alignment, although the tree and the alignment are mutually
dependent, like a chicken and an egg.
- Protein structure, the three dimensional folding of a protein, determines
a large part of the function of the protein and predicting
protein structure is one of the grails of bioinformatics
(and almost as elusive).
- Systems biology includes the analysis of how the thousands of proteins
in a complex organism interact to make the products that the organism needs,
in the right proportions, in the right places, at the right times.