Molecular ORphan PHEnOtype MatchEr

Molecular ORphan PHEnOtype MatchEr

Decades after the sequencing of the human genome, why do so many human genes remain poorly understood?

“Software is eating the world”, as internet pioneer Marc Andreessen said. As programming has gained greater adoption across scientific disciplines, numerous online biology resources and software packages have been developed to help scientists discover gene function. Despite considerable advances in both molecular biology and computation, a large fraction, ~25%, of human genes remain poorly characterized. Numerous algorithms have been developed to predict gene function through sequence, conservation, and structure. While these tools have improved the understanding of previously studied genes, less has been done to unmask the functions for the large pool of poorly characterized genes. Furthermore, existing computational tools for identifying novel gene functions often have cumbersome user interfaces and not well-maintained. Thus, computational accessibility to new biology remains limited.


  • How does it work?

    The goal of MORPHEOME is to generate community-driven, molecular biology research papers. It is designed to surface understudied genes to researchers who can subsequently publish on them. You can contribute by either uploading your own data or by searching for genes relevant to whatever biomedical topic that interests you, e.g., a disease, a gene, a biochemical process. MORPHEOME returns the most related biomedical term, i.e., MeSH (medical subject heading), a top-cited gene most connected to the MeSH term, and an orphan gene that we identified as interacting with the top-cited gene.

  • How does MORPHEOME help generate new research papers?

    Researchers who have uploaded data will be notified of a potentially impactful top-cited/orphan gene pair in one of their datasets once this pair crosses a threshold of three (3) pieces of unpublished data that supports it. This will allow these researchers to decide if they would like to collaborate on a paper on this gene pair. The reason MORPHEOME waits for three pieces of evidence is that many papers have at least three figures, so the idea is those three pieces of data could be figures in the potential paper.

    In addition to contributing one's own data, researchers can search for top-cited/orphan gene pairs to publish on the search page. MORPHEOME provides the references that enable the researcher to reach out to the authors of the data.

  • What type of data can I upload to MORPHEOME?

    You can upload gene expression, genetic screen, post-translational modification, GWAS, subcellular localization data. It can be on any species, on any tissue, or with any treatment. The idea is that MORPHEOME considers all genes in the dataset you provide as interacting in a genetic sense. This means that all combinations of gene pairs in this dataset will be added to the list of datasets where the gene-pairs were detected. Each interaction is shown as a green square when searching for it on the search page.

  • Why would I upload my data to MORPHEOME?

    It gives you the potential to make new collaborations and potentially published a paper on the data that involves it. It also will help understudied genes get more attention.

  • Why do you need your email when I'm uploading data?

    We need your email address to both give you and your team's credit for the data or to determine who should get credit for the data you upload. We will reach out to all the authors once a gene-pair crosses a threshold of four unpublished interactions.

For inquiries, please contact timrpeterson[at]wustl[dot]edu. Signup for updates below: