With the current deluge of data, computational methods have become indispensable to biological investigations. Originally developed for the analysis of biological sequences, bioinformatics now encompasses a wide range of subject areas including structural biology, genomics and gene expression studies. In this review, we provided an introduction and overview of the current state of field. In particular, we discussed the types of biological information and databases that are commonly used, examined some of the studies that are being conducted – with reference to transcription regulatory systems – and finally looked at several practical applications of the field.
Two principal approaches underpin all studies in bioinformatics. First is that of comparing and grouping the data according to biologically meaningful similarities and second, that of analysing one type of data to infer and understand the observations for another type of data. These approaches are reflected in the main aims of the field, which are to understand and organise the information associated with biological molecules on a large scale. As a result, bioinformatics has not only provided greater depth to biological investigations, but added the dimension of breadth as well. In this way, we are able to examine individual systems in detail and also compare them with those that are related in order to uncover common principles that apply across many systems and highlight unusual features that are unique to some.