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FEBS J. 2014 Jan;281(2):572-82. doi: 10.1111/febs.12562. Epub 2013 Oct 25.

Challenges for an enzymatic reaction kinetics database.

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Scientific Databases and Visualization Group, Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), Germany.


The scientific literature contains a tremendous amount of kinetic data describing the dynamic behaviour of biochemical reactions over time. These data are needed for computational modelling to create models of biochemical reaction networks and to obtain a better understanding of the processes in living cells. To extract the knowledge from the literature, biocurators are required to understand a paper and interpret the data. For modellers, as well as experimentalists, this process is very time consuming because the information is distributed across the publication and, in most cases, is insufficiently structured and often described without standard terminology. In recent years, biological databases for different data types have been developed. The advantages of these databases lie in their unified structure, searchability and the potential for augmented analysis by software, which supports the modelling process. We have developed the SABIO-RK database for biochemical reaction kinetics. In the present review, we describe the challenges for database developers and curators, beginning with an analysis of relevant publications up to the export of database information in a standardized format. The aim of the present review is to draw the experimentalist's attention to the problem (from a data integration point of view) of incompletely and imprecisely written publications. We describe how to lower the barrier to curators and improve this situation. At the same time, we are aware that curating experimental data takes time. There is a community concerned with making the task of publishing data with the proper structure and annotation to ontologies much easier. In this respect, we highlight some useful initiatives and tools.


biocuration; database; ontology; reaction kinetics; standardization

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