ZENBU genome browser

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Revision as of 20:37, 18 October 2012 by Jessica Severin (talk | contribs) (Multiple views on the same data)
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The ZENBU genome browser [gLyphs] is designed to provide an advanced tool for not only visualizing genomics data, but also for interactively processing the data. While most genome browsers provide static visualization images, data in the ZENBU system is dynamically manipulatable by the users of the system.

ZENBU genomebrowser wold.jpg

Views are collections of tracks

The ZENBU genome browser is launched with a previously saved view configuration. A view is simply a collection of tracks with a title and description. This can be considered like an interactive figure of a paper. Any user who is loggged into the system can save and share views with other users. This is done through the save view Save view button.jpg button at the top of the genome browser.

The system will also automatically save temporary views as the user makes changes. This autosave enables the use of the web browser "back arrow" to undo changes. Although these temporary views are in the system with unique URLs, they are not permanent and will be deleted after a period of time. To ensure your view is permanent and can be re-accessed in the future, users should login and explicitly save the view.

Users can manipulate the order of tracks in their views through "click and drag" of the side-bar or title-bar.

Each view receives a unique URL for sharing with your collaborators via email or for bookmarking. For example this URL links to the ZENBU genome browser view shown above

Multiple views on the same data

Unlike other genome browsers, ZENBU does not need to link the track visualization to specific upload file formats. This means with ZENBU, the user can upload their data once and then manipulate it in ZENBU to create many views with the same data. Where other genome browsers like UCSC or IGV require many different visualization file formats to support each different visualization track style, ZENBU can focus on a few common data interchange file formats (BAM, BED, GTF/GFF, OSCTable). This makes ZENBU more like a bioinformatics processing tool rather than just a visualization tool (genome browser).

Because the data is loaded once and visualization/processing is performed by ZENBU, the data content of all tracks is guaranteed to be synchronized and one can see exactly how each track was made by looking at the ZENBU data processing scripting in each track. This makes the tracks of ZENBU "data transparent"

In this example RNAseq data was loaded once from BAM files and then processed by ZENBU to create 7 different visualization tracks.

Wold RNAseq many views same data.png

For many more examples of how ZENBU can process and visualize the same uploaded data into many different visualizations, please check out both the data processing sections and the experimental case studies sections of the documentation.

Tracks for data visualization and processing

The main aspect of the ZENBU genome browser is the concept of a track. The tracks in ZENBU are completely user definable and encapsulate the concepts of

  1. dynamic data source pooling to create a track virtual DataSource by choosing a collection (one or more) of primary data sources
  2. data processing
  3. data visualization

Data pooling

The ZENBU system allows for the dynamic creation of merged data sets referred to as data stream pools. This provides for a great deal of flexibility when configuring tracks. It no longer is necessary to pre-merge your datasets prior to upload. Data can be loaded in an atomic, singular manner and then ZENBU can perform the mix-and-matching of data sources when users configure their tracks.

A Data Stream Pool can also be though of as the virtual DataSource for a ZENBU track configuration

Dynamic track based data processing

One of unique features of the ZENBU system is the ability to apply data processing and analysis on-demand at query time and as part of the visualization process. This means that raw or unprocessed data can be loaded into the ZENBU system which translates it into the internal Data Model, and then ZENBU can perform many of the data manipulations and analysis that previously required bioinformatics experts with knowledge of the unix command line and a collection of bioinformatics tools.

The data processing system is applied on a track level at query time. This means that no intermediary result needs to be stored in a database or on disk. This allows the user to modify processing parameters and immediately see the effect of the change in the visualization. It also makes the system very fast since data is processed in memory and there is no overhead of reading and writing to slow disks.

Because data processing is applied on each track, and tracks are loaded independently, there is a level of parallelism inherent in the design of the system. The processed data result generated by ZENBU on-demand can also be downloaded into data files for further analysis by external systems like R, BioConductor, or BioPython.

Data processing is controlled through a Scripting system based on chaining Processing modules together in a manner similar to digital signal processing [1]


The Tracks in the ZENBU gLyphs genome browser fall into three main categories of visualization styles

  • Annotation tracks: where the data sources only contain genomic information and no expression
  • Expression tracks: where expression level is displayed without feature boundaries in a style similar to the UCSC genome browser 'wiggle' but in an user interactive tool.
    LongRNASeq CSH exonic expression.png
  • Hybrid tracks: ZENBU enhanced visualization which allow for processed data to contain both genomic features and multi-experiment expression data
    Hybrid tracks longRNAseq.png

For details on all the different visualization styles and configuration options, please refer to the Track Visualization Styles section of the documentation.

Downloading processed track data

Since tracks contain dynamic pooling of data and data processing, the data output of a ZENBU track may be useful for bioinformaticians to utilize as part of external data analysis. To enable this each track has the ability to export its processed data into local files via the download data control Track controls-download.jpg

For details please refer to the Data Download section of the documentation.

Experiment expression data graph


Adding tracks to the view

Creating new tracks

New tracks can be added to views through the configure new track control Create-new-track.jpg which brings up this "configure new track" interface

Create new track panel.jpg

For details on Creating new tracks, please see the Configuring Tracks section of the documentation

Adding Predefined Tracks Into the View

Previous saved and shared tracks can be added into a view of the genome browser through the add predefined tracks control Add-shared-track.jpg. Tracks are one of the types of configurations which can be saved and shared among users. This interface allows these previously saved and shared tracks to be added into ones view. Clicking the "add predefined tracks" button brings uo this control panel

Add predef tracks panel.png

It provides the user with options to search the available tracks, filter based on which collaboration the track was shared with, and then select one-or-more tracks to add to your view

Saving and Sharing Views

Any user who is logged into the system can save and share view configurations with other users. This is done through the save view Save view button.jpg button at the top of the genome browser. This will bring up the "save configuration panel"

Saveview panel.png

When saving a view, users can enter both a "configuration name" and a description of the view. All text entered will be searchable with the metadata search system at a later time in the data explorer.

The user must also select the user collaboration into which the view will be saved and shared with. Views are only shared into a single collaboration, but can latter be moved to a different collaboration through the editing panel which can be accessed in the data explorer views section

Saveview select collaboration.png

After saving, top of the genome browser view will display the new "configuration name" and description and a new unique URL is generated which allows direct access to this view.

Saveview new url title desc.png

Only users who have logged into the system can save and share views with others. Guests will be reminded to login before trying to save.
Saveview user login.png

Exporting View as SVG Image


Controls and widgets

Track control widgets

The widgets and controls on each track which enables the user to modify and move the track.

  • close track Track controls-closetrack.jpg which will delete the track from the view
  • reconfigure track Track controls-reconfigure track.jpg brings up the Reconfigure Track interface which allows users to reconfigure how the track is built.
  • copy track Track controls-copytrack.jpg which will duplicate a track in the view. This is very useful when used in combination with track-reconfiguration. It is sometimes easier to take an existing track and modify it to get your desired track-configuration, and this copy tool enables this.
  • download data Track controls-download.jpg brings up the Download Track data interface. This enables users to download their processing results into several different file formats for use in external systems or for additional analysis. This panel also provides interfacing for user control of the TracCache building system
  • contract Track controls-contract.jpg contracts the track so that it is no longer active. Track remains with its title bar so it can be reactivated and expanded later.
  • expand track Track controls-expand.jpg expands or opens a previously contracted track

navigation controls

There are several ways the user can change the genomic location of the Genome Browser

Glyphs navigation buttons.png

Glyphs feature-search-egr1.png

Glyphs gene-search-metadata.png

Gylyphs direct coordinate entry.png

For details please refer to the Region Location section of the documentation.