About - DAnCER - Wodak Lab


Epigenetics plays a key role in DNA replication, transcription and repair, and its disruption is implicated in the development of many forms of cancer and other diseases. As a result, there is now a growing number of projects dedicated to the study of chromatin modification (CM) - a crucial component of epigenetic processes. Similarly to other cellular processes, chromatin modification is carried out by groups of physically interacting proteins, and anomalies in protein interactions often lead to disease phenotypes. Yet there remains a dearth of public databases and analysis tools that explore the relationship between chromatin machinery and human disease, especially in the context of protein-interaction networks. DAnCER's goal is to fill this gap. It has been developed to serve as the core bioinformatics resource for seven experimental and bioinformatics laboratories working together to unravel the mechanisms of chromatin modifications and their relation to human disease. Since molecular networks are essential to the understanding of biological processes, this research effort strives to explore CM-related genes in the full context of protein complexes, gene-expression regulation and pathways. To gain additional insights into the CM process in human cells, it also explores patterns of evolutionary conservation across model organisms - from sequence, domain composition and 3D structure, to interaction patterns and regulatory mechanisms.

Data Content and features

At its core, DAnCER collates records of CM-related genes from human and several model organisms, which were curated from literature and from other experimentally-annotations genomic databases (so-called 'confirmed' CM genes). This collection is then significantly expanded with hundreds of additional genes ('putative' CM genes), whose CM function has not yet been experimentally validated, but was predicted by our team based on their similarity in sequence and protein-domain composition to 'confirmed' CM genes. For all genes and proteins, DAnCER also displays information on homology relationships, domain architecture, membership in protein complexes, comparison to known protein 3D structures (a fuzzy-match scan performed over the entire Protein Data Bank), classification of 3D structures into SCOP families, and other supporting evidence.

A key novel feature of DAnCER is its network-based approach to disease annotations. For each human CM-related gene, DAnCER shows diseases that are associated not only with that gene but also with any of its interacting partners. Disease annotations are obtained from the well-curated OMIM resource (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/omim), and are visually mapped onto the entire human protein-interaction network.


  • Emili Lab, Donnelly CCBR, University of Toronto
  • Greenblatt Lab, Donnelly CCBR, University of Toronto
  • Parkinson Lab, Research Institute of the Hospital for Sick Children
  • Rossant Lab, Research Institute of the Hospital for Sick Children
  • Tyers Lab, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Wodak Lab, Research Institute of the Hospital for Sick Children
  • Zhang Lab, Donnelly CCBR, University of Toronto
Browse all genes in DAnCER.
DAnCER 2.3
Disease Annotated Chromatin Epigenetics Resource
Watch a webinar (or browse the slides) on how to use DAnCER here.