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J Biomed Semantics. 2016 May 4;7:24. doi: 10.1186/s13326-016-0066-0. eCollection 2016.

The Non-Coding RNA Ontology (NCRO): a comprehensive resource for the unification of non-coding RNA biology.

Author information

School of Computing, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, 36688-0002 USA.
Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 84112-5775 Utah USA.
Department of Philosophy, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, 14260-4150 New York USA.
Genome Informatics, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, 04609-1523 USA.
Computer and Information Science Department, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1202 USA.
Miracle Query, Inc., Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1202 USA.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington D.C., 20007-1485 USA.
School of Dental Medicine, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, 14214-8006 New York USA.
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 66047-7621 Kansas USA.
Health Sciences Research, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, 55905-0001 Minnesota USA.
Center for Computational Science, University of Miami, Miami, 33146-2960 Florida USA.
Department of Microbiology & Immunology, First Affiliated Hospital, Kunming Medical University, Kunming, Yunnan, 650032 China.
Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109-5624 USA.
Department of Computer Science, University of Central Florida, Orlando, 32816-2362 Florida USA.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, 63110-0001 USA.
Mitchell Cancer Institute, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, 36604-1405 USA.
Department of Biology, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, 36688-0002 USA.


In recent years, sequencing technologies have enabled the identification of a wide range of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Unfortunately, annotation and integration of ncRNA data has lagged behind their identification. Given the large quantity of information being obtained in this area, there emerges an urgent need to integrate what is being discovered by a broad range of relevant communities. To this end, the Non-Coding RNA Ontology (NCRO) is being developed to provide a systematically structured and precisely defined controlled vocabulary for the domain of ncRNAs, thereby facilitating the discovery, curation, analysis, exchange, and reasoning of data about structures of ncRNAs, their molecular and cellular functions, and their impacts upon phenotypes. The goal of NCRO is to serve as a common resource for annotations of diverse research in a way that will significantly enhance integrative and comparative analysis of the myriad resources currently housed in disparate sources. It is our belief that the NCRO ontology can perform an important role in the comprehensive unification of ncRNA biology and, indeed, fill a critical gap in both the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Library and the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) BioPortal. Our initial focus is on the ontological representation of small regulatory ncRNAs, which we see as the first step in providing a resource for the annotation of data about all forms of ncRNAs. The NCRO ontology is free and open to all users, accessible at:


Biomedical ontology; Data annotation; Domain ontology; Non-coding RNA; Ontology development; Reference ontology

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