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The MIRAGE (Minimum Information Required for A Glycomics Experiment) project will define checklists for the standardization of experimental glycomics data and meta information. The project was started in November 2011 after the Glycomcis community agreed that there is a common need for this standardization effort. Currently the main group, which consists of glyco-analytics and bioinformatics experts from around the world, has defined the aims of the project, established an organizational structure and defined initial timelines.


Aims of MIRAGE

Glycomics is an emerging discipline focused on identifying the glycoconjugate structures in biological samples and determining how the abundances of these important molecules change, for example, as cells differentiate or as disease progresses. However, comprehensive description of a glycomics experiment is challenging due to the structural complexity of glycoconjugates and biological complexity of the processes that lead to their formation in vivo. Failure to provide a minimal set of meta data describing sample’s biological history, physical manipulation and chemical analysis make it very difficult to interpret, evaluate and reproduce glycomics analyses that are disseminated as journal articles or database entries. To address the unique data reporting aspects of glycoanalytics, the Minimum Information Required for A Glycomics Experiment (MIRAGE) has recently been established. Implementation of MIRAGE will improve the quality of journal articles describing glycomics analyses by encouraging authors to include the most important data and metadata that characterize their experiments. It will also will provide a basis for improving the quality of data contained in carbohydrate structure databases and make it possible to develop and implement more effective software for mining glycomics data.

Implementation of MIRAGE will be based on lessons learned from development of previous "minimum information" standards such as MIAPE[1] (The Minimum Information for A Proteomics Experiment). For example, "MIRAGE aims neither to dictate or control the experimental techniques used in a glyco-analysis nor to establish a metric for judging the quality of an experiment. Rather, it merely enumerates the information (data and metadata) that should be provided when the results of a glycoanalytic study are submitted to a journal or database." (2nd Beilstein symposium on Glyco-BioInformatics - York and Ranzinger) The philosophical basis for MIRAGE will be very similar that of MIAPE: [1] "It has always been a matter of policy that the PSI should neither attempt to produce standard operating procedures specifying how particular techniques should be performed nor attempt to establish quality assessment benchmarks. We do not believe it is the job of this body to dictate to the proteomics community how it should perform experiments or analyses." MIRAGE and MIAPE will also share two fundamental criteria [1] required for its broad acceptance by the glycobiology community:

  1. sufficiency: "The … guidelines should require sufficient information about a data set and its experimental context to allow a reader to understand and critically evaluate the interpretation and conclusions, and to support their experimental corroboration."
  2. practicability: "Achieving compliance ... should not be so burdensome as to prohibit its widespread use."

Organizational Structure of MIRAGE

Figure 1. Three pillars of MIRAGE.

The organization of MIRAGE is based on at least three mainstays (see Figure 1):

  1. Main group: This is the entire working group which, as of now, consists of the participants of the Kick-off meeting. The main group is separated into subgroups (Working groups) with subclasses for specific areas, i.e. structural analysis, interaction analysis and bioinformatics. In each subgroup the responsibilities for co-ordination of the subgroup work and documentation of aims, scopes and results will be defined and allocated to subgroup members. The subgroups can seek for external consultation and will directly interact with the glycomics community.
  2. Co-ordination: The work of the main group is co-ordinated by Carsten Kettner (Beilstein-Institut, Frankfurt, Germany), René Ranzinger and Will York (both CCRC, University of Athens, GA, USA). The co-ordinators will:
    • be responsible for the financial support of MIRAGE (funding) and online publications (e.g. this WiKi)
    • organize meetings
    • interact with the community which includes glycoscientists, societies, journal editors, funding agencies and the scientific community at large
  3. The Advisory Board: Leading scientists in glycobiology support MIRAGE and some of them have agreed to devote time to contributing to this initiative as scientific advisors and promoters. They will
    • Critically review the outcomes of both the main group and the subgroups
    • Promote the reporting guidelines within the community (PR)
    • Contact the journals and discuss MIRAGE at the editorial board meetings
    • link MIRAGE to related projects.

Working groups

There are currently three main working groups:


Current Projects


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Taylor CF, Paton NW, Lilley KS, Binz PA, Julian RK Jr, Jones AR, Zhu W, Apweiler R, Aebersold R, Deutsch EW, Dunn MJ, Heck AJ, Leitner A, Macht M, Mann M, Martens L, Neubert TA, Patterson SD, Ping P, Seymour SL, Souda P, Tsugita A, Vandekerckhove J, Vondriska TM, Whitelegge JP, Wilkins MR, Xenarios I, Yates JR 3rd, Hermjakob H:
    The minimum information about a proteomics experiment (MIAPE).
    Nat Biotechnol. 2007; 25 (8) : 887-893 (PMID:17687369) (doi:10.1038/nbt1329)
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