A team of scientists from the IBCh RAS (Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry at Russian Academy of Sciences) has developed a toolkit to treat large volumes of data during DNA decoding. This development should accelerate the informational analysis of immune system genes and assist in creating treatments and therapies for diseases associated with disruptions in the adaptive immunity. The study’s results have been published in BMC Genomics.
“Our program optimizes the work performed by researchers and helps develop and test new hypotheses on the formation and operation of the adaptive immunity system,” – said Ivan Zvyagin, a researcher at the Laboratory of Comparative and Functional Genomics of the IBCh RAS and one of the study’s authors. – “Most importantly, the data analysis in this area is vital for the development of new therapies for many serious autoimmune and oncological diseases, as well as allergies.”
The receptor genes by which the cells of immune systems and antibodies in the human body recognize an infection can be classified as V – variable, D – diversity and J – joining. During the process called V (D) J – recombination, the V, D and J groups are joined together using one fragment from each forming a unique sequence for encoding the antigen-recognizing part of the receptor. The recombination provides a great variety of possible receptors structures, at least 109 of them, and hence, the same number of pathogenic organisms can be recognized and deactivated by immune system cells and antibodies. The entire set of possibilities for the structure of these receptors is called immune repertory.
Recent advances in molecular biology make it possible to determine the encoding sequence of these hypervariable receptors, but the possible sequences and combinations vary so diversely that analyzing the data without using specific applications is difficult and time-consuming. In this respect, the newly developed program called VDJviz provides a visual representation of the characteristics of receptor sequences and the ability to make comparisons based on various decoding parameters. According to Zvyagin and his colleagues, the program is user-friendly, free of charge for academic purposes and does not require any special programming skills. The program can be downloaded or used online.