GOurmet: A tool for quantitative comparison and visualization of gene expression profiles based on gene ontology (GO) distributions

Jason M. Doherty, Lynn K. Carmichael, Jason C. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: The ever-expanding population of gene expression profiles (EPs) from specified cells and tissues under a variety of experimental conditions is an important but difficult resource for investigators to utilize effectively. Software tools have been recently developed to use the distribution of gene ontology (GO) terms associated with the genes in an EP to identify specific biological functions or processes that are over- or under-represented in that EP relative to other EPs. Additionally, it is possible to use the distribution of GO terms inherent to each EP to relate that EP as a whole to other EPs. Because GO term annotation is organized in a tree-like cascade of variable granularity, this approach allows the user to relate (eg., by hierarchical clustering) EPs of varying length and from different platforms (eg., GeneChip, SAGE, EST library). Results: Here we present GOurmet, a software package that calculates the distribution of GO terms represented by the genes in an individual expression profile (EP), clusters multiple EPs based on these integrated GO term distributions, and provides users several tools to visualize and compare EPs. GOurmet is particularly useful in meta-analysis to examine EPs of specified cell types (e.g., tissue-specific stem cells) that are obtained through different experimental procedures. GOurmet also introduces a new tool, the Targetoid plot, which allows users to dynamically render the multi-dimensional relationships among individual elements in any clustering analysis. The Targetoid plotting tool allows users to select any element as the center of the plot, and the program will then represent all other elements in the cluster as a function of similarity to the selected central element. Conclusion: GOurmet is a user-friendly, GUI-based software package that greatly facilitates analysis of results generated by multiple EPs. The clustering analysis features a dynamic targetoid plot that is generalizable for use with any clustering application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151
JournalBMC bioinformatics
StatePublished - Mar 17 2006


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