Richard O. Chen, Ramon Feiciano, and Russ B. Altman
The world wide web (WWW) has become critical for storing and disseminating biological data. It offers an additional opportunity, however, to support distributed computation and sharing of results. Currently, computational analysis tools are often separated from the data in a manner that makes iterative hypothesis testing cumbersome. We hypothesize that the cycle of scientific reasoning (using data to build models, and evaluating models in light of data) can be facilitated with resources thai link computations with semantic models of the data. RIBOWEB is all on-line knowledge-based resource that supports the creation of three-dimensional models of the 30S ribosomal subunit. It has three components: (I) knowledge base containing representations of the essential physical comPonents and published structural data, (II) computational modules that use the knowledge base to build or analyze structural models, and (III) a web-based user interface that supports multiple users, sessions and computations. We have built a prototype of RIBOWEB, and have used it to refine a rough model of the central domain of the 30S subunit from E. coli. procedure. Our results suggest that sophisticated and integrated computational capabilities can be delivered to biologists using this simple three-component architecture.