Open Access Methodology

Semantic Web integration of Cheminformatics resources with the SADI framework

Leonid L Chepelev1* and Michel Dumontier123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

2 School of Computer Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

3 Institute of Biochemistry, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Cheminformatics 2011, 3:16  doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-16

Published: 16 May 2011

Abstract

Background

The diversity and the largely independent nature of chemical research efforts over the past half century are, most likely, the major contributors to the current poor state of chemical computational resource and database interoperability. While open software for chemical format interconversion and database entry cross-linking have partially addressed database interoperability, computational resource integration is hindered by the great diversity of software interfaces, languages, access methods, and platforms, among others. This has, in turn, translated into limited reproducibility of computational experiments and the need for application-specific computational workflow construction and semi-automated enactment by human experts, especially where emerging interdisciplinary fields, such as systems chemistry, are pursued. Fortunately, the advent of the Semantic Web, and the very recent introduction of RESTful Semantic Web Services (SWS) may present an opportunity to integrate all of the existing computational and database resources in chemistry into a machine-understandable, unified system that draws on the entirety of the Semantic Web.

Results

We have created a prototype framework of Semantic Automated Discovery and Integration (SADI) framework SWS that exposes the QSAR descriptor functionality of the Chemistry Development Kit. Since each of these services has formal ontology-defined input and output classes, and each service consumes and produces RDF graphs, clients can automatically reason about the services and available reference information necessary to complete a given overall computational task specified through a simple SPARQL query. We demonstrate this capability by carrying out QSAR analysis backed by a simple formal ontology to determine whether a given molecule is drug-like. Further, we discuss parameter-based control over the execution of SADI SWS. Finally, we demonstrate the value of computational resource envelopment as SADI services through service reuse and ease of integration of computational functionality into formal ontologies.

Conclusions

The work we present here may trigger a major paradigm shift in the distribution of computational resources in chemistry. We conclude that envelopment of chemical computational resources as SADI SWS facilitates interdisciplinary research by enabling the definition of computational problems in terms of ontologies and formal logical statements instead of cumbersome and application-specific tasks and workflows.

Graphical abstract