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Bioinformatics. 2014 Jan 1;30(1):139-40. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btt539. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Pattern search in BioPAX models.

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Computational Biology Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA, Tri-Institutional Training Program in Computational Biology and Medicine, New York, NY 10065, USA and Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, The Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E1, Canada.



BioPAX is a standard language for representing complex cellular processes, including metabolic networks, signal transduction and gene regulation. Owing to the inherent complexity of a BioPAX model, searching for a specific type of subnetwork can be non-trivial and difficult.


We developed an open source and extensible framework for defining and searching graph patterns in BioPAX models. We demonstrate its use with a sample pattern that captures directed signaling relations between proteins. We provide search results for the pattern obtained from the Pathway Commons database and compare these results with the current data in signaling databases SPIKE and SignaLink. Results show that a pattern search in public pathway data can identify a substantial amount of signaling relations that do not exist in signaling databases.


BioPAX-pattern software was developed in Java. Source code and documentation is freely available at under Lesser GNU Public License.

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