Sequential Growth In Bioinformatics


Bioinformatics stretched its wings over the endless boundaries of spectacular success, worldwide recognition, and remote communication at every nook and corner in this world. There are certain historical landmarks in the sequential growth in the development of bioinformatics that need to be mentioned in this particular context ; and, therefore, these are as enumerated under :

1. Staden Package. It solely involved the DNA sequencing and analysis.

2. PROPHET. It was primarily developed in USA as national computing resource for ‘Life Science Research’ specially tailor-made to fulfil the dire and urgent requirements of basic data analysis and their consequent effective management. In actual practice, PROPHET essentially involved a host of such activities as : precise analyses of raw data, production of graphics, simulation models, and detailed investigation with regard to molecular structure of macromolecules embracing nucleic acids (viz., DNA, RNA) and an array of proteins.

3. BIONET [Abbreviation of : Biology Network]. Amos Bairoch (1980s) founded in Europe a user-friendly club christened as BIONET, for those who were intimately associated with the study of ‘life-sciences’ using microcomputers to enable them share their acquired knowledge, wisdom, and experiences for the use of ‘computers’, and exchange software packages amongst themselves to enlighten and broaden the horizons of ever-increasing in-puts in Bioinformatics.

4. NAPDB [Nucleic Acid Protein Data Bank]. NAPDB package was duly released in 1984 with a big bang. It was accompanied by two EMBL’s* nucleotide sequence databases at the time of its distribution, and a protein databank of 1200 sequences.

5. COMPSEQ. Amos Bairoch in mid 1984 altered the name of NAPDB to COMPSEQ after disposing of the ‘exclusive rights’ another established organization known GENOFIT. In mid 1985, COMPSEQ first released a PC-compatible version with thirty three programmes. In 1986, the popularity of COMPSEQ even spread outside Europe.

6. PC-GENE. A California-based software company known as Intelli-Genetics bought over the ‘exclusive rights’ of COMPSEQ from GENOFIT in late 1980s. PC-GENE is appropriately provided with an unique protein and nucleic acid sequence analysis package that could be utilized in two different ways, namely :

(a) Translation of a given ‘gene sequence’ into an amino acid sequence of a protein even including its secondary emanating structures, if any, and

(b) Critical comparison of a given ‘gene sequence’ with the sequences already available in the database.

PC-GENE continued to acclaim its wide popularity and befitting acceptance in the number of programmes offered and number of its genuine users simultaneously. Eventually, it came up with a good number of successive releases, for instance :

  • Major new version with several new functions in 1989 having an altogehter seventy-six programmes, and
  • Last 6.85 version released in 1995 essentially possessed eighty-two programmes.

7. PROSITE. Amos Bairoch, in mid-1980s, succeeded in the development of a so-called ‘dictionary of sites and patterns in proteins’, which was exclusively aimed at creating a database of protein sequences and structural correlations.

8. SEQUANELREF. It was evolved as a combination of PROSITE with another software, SEQUANELREF, that could help in carrying out the analysis and adequate comparison of sequences which were already available in PROSITE.

9. SWISS-PORT. It came into being in 1986 as a ‘protein databank’, that is found to be still well known and popular amongst its users for providing an extremely important and vital source for protein sequence and structure.

10. SWISS-2D-PAGE. Early 1990s witnessed the epoch making discovery and emergence of proteomics databases, SWISS-2D-PAGE that essentially carried the valuable data strategically positioned on two dimensional polyacrylamide gel-electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) maps of proteins from a wide spectrum of tissues belonging to a number of organisms.

11. Networking Tools and Web Services. From 1991 to 1995 one has observed the meaningful development in the direction of networking tools e.g., WAIS and Gopher ; and Web Services e.g., ExPASY that particularly eased out the channel of remote communication.

It is, however, pertinent to mention at this juncture that with effect from 1995 onwards the highly specialized latest dimensions to biotechnology emerged as a full bloom altogether new discipline invariably termed as ‘bioinformatics’. Thus, many tertiary institutions of higher learning in India and abroad promulgated well defined academic curriculum to impart independent and advanced courses in the field of ‘bioinformatics’.