BLACKSBURG, Va., Jul. 24, 2003-– Researchers from Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech today announced the release of a newly updated version of ESTAP, an organizational tool that uses informatics to interpret high-throughput data from Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) projects. This updated version contains new features that allow users to analyze their data even more efficiently.

ESTs are markers that denote specific types of genetic material in cells, known as ribonucleic acid (RNA). RNA is the chemical messenger in cells that travels from the cell nucleus to be coded for proteins, which are essential to the structure and function of living organisms. Through EST projects, the scientific community discovers the latest gene functions and studies them more thoroughly.

ESTAP software, an automated system, allows researchers to use informatics in their work. Most EST projects involve sequencing 4,000-20,000 ESTs, creating an unmanageable amount of data. With ESTAP, a database handles the data and results, quickly and consistently analyzing the sequences. The first version of ESTAP was released in January 2002. This version of ESTAP provides two new features: ESTAP is now able to handle sequences from a genomic DNA library (up to 10,000 sequences). In addition, it now can clean, BLAST and assemble the genomic DNA sequences. The software also incorporates InterProScan, a tool developed at EBI that combines different protein signature recognition methods into one resource.

This software project was funded in collaboration with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the University of Nevada at Reno.

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Published by Public Relations, July 23, 2003