March 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 6)
Strong Points: Nicely organized, good help tutorial
Weak Points: Nothing major
Sure, you’re familiar with your “carbon footprint,” but are you acquainted with the “Virtual Footprint” (now in Version 3.0)? Unfortunately, this name provides no clues whatsoever regarding the purpose of the website. For that, look to the subtitle: “The Bacterial Regulon Analyzer.” In simpler terms, Virtual Footprint was designed to analyze transcription factor binding sites. There are two analyses from which to choose: Regulon Analysis (analysis of an entire prokaryotic genome) and Promoter Analysis (fairly self explanatory). The “Help” section provides some background information regarding the methods used in the analysis (including some intimidating mathematical equations), as well as a guided tour/easy example. I would definitely recommend that visitors to the site heed the direction to “try this first.” The website also links to the PRODORIC database (from which Virtual Footprint derives its library), a database of gene expression and regulation in prokaryotes.