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1.  Ensembl 2014 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(D1):D749-D755.
Ensembl ( creates tools and data resources to facilitate genomic analysis in chordate species with an emphasis on human, major vertebrate model organisms and farm animals. Over the past year we have increased the number of species that we support to 77 and expanded our genome browser with a new scrollable overview and improved variation and phenotype views. We also report updates to our core datasets and improvements to our gene homology relationships from the addition of new species. Our REST service has been extended with additional support for comparative genomics and ontology information. Finally, we provide updated information about our methods for data access and resources for user training.
PMCID: PMC3964975  PMID: 24316576
2.  Current status and new features of the Consensus Coding Sequence database  
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(D1):D865-D872.
The Consensus Coding Sequence (CCDS) project ( is a collaborative effort to maintain a dataset of protein-coding regions that are identically annotated on the human and mouse reference genome assemblies by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and Ensembl genome annotation pipelines. Identical annotations that pass quality assurance tests are tracked with a stable identifier (CCDS ID). Members of the collaboration, who are from NCBI, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of California Santa Cruz, provide coordinated and continuous review of the dataset to ensure high-quality CCDS representations. We describe here the current status and recent growth in the CCDS dataset, as well as recent changes to the CCDS web and FTP sites. These changes include more explicit reporting about the NCBI and Ensembl annotation releases being compared, new search and display options, the addition of biologically descriptive information and our approach to representing genes for which support evidence is incomplete. We also present a summary of recent and future curation targets.
PMCID: PMC3965069  PMID: 24217909
3.  Ensembl 2013 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(D1):D48-D55.
The Ensembl project ( provides genome information for sequenced chordate genomes with a particular focus on human, mouse, zebrafish and rat. Our resources include evidenced-based gene sets for all supported species; large-scale whole genome multiple species alignments across vertebrates and clade-specific alignments for eutherian mammals, primates, birds and fish; variation data resources for 17 species and regulation annotations based on ENCODE and other data sets. Ensembl data are accessible through the genome browser at and through other tools and programmatic interfaces.
PMCID: PMC3531136  PMID: 23203987
4.  Tracking and coordinating an international curation effort for the CCDS Project 
The Consensus Coding Sequence (CCDS) collaboration involves curators at multiple centers with a goal of producing a conservative set of high quality, protein-coding region annotations for the human and mouse reference genome assemblies. The CCDS data set reflects a ‘gold standard’ definition of best supported protein annotations, and corresponding genes, which pass a standard series of quality assurance checks and are supported by manual curation. This data set supports use of genome annotation information by human and mouse researchers for effective experimental design, analysis and interpretation. The CCDS project consists of analysis of automated whole-genome annotation builds to identify identical CDS annotations, quality assurance testing and manual curation support. Identical CDS annotations are tracked with a CCDS identifier (ID) and any future change to the annotated CDS structure must be agreed upon by the collaborating members. CCDS curation guidelines were developed to address some aspects of curation in order to improve initial annotation consistency and to reduce time spent in discussing proposed annotation updates. Here, we present the current status of the CCDS database and details on our procedures to track and coordinate our efforts. We also present the relevant background and reasoning behind the curation standards that we have developed for CCDS database treatment of transcripts that are nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) candidates, for transcripts containing upstream open reading frames, for identifying the most likely translation start codons and for the annotation of readthrough transcripts. Examples are provided to illustrate the application of these guidelines.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3308164  PMID: 22434842
5.  Ensembl 2012 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(D1):D84-D90.
The Ensembl project ( provides genome resources for chordate genomes with a particular focus on human genome data as well as data for key model organisms such as mouse, rat and zebrafish. Five additional species were added in the last year including gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) and Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) bringing the total number of supported species to 61 as of Ensembl release 64 (September 2011). Of these, 55 species appear on the main Ensembl website and six species are provided on the Ensembl preview site (Pre!Ensembl; with preliminary support. The past year has also seen improvements across the project.
PMCID: PMC3245178  PMID: 22086963
6.  Ensembl 2011 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D800-D806.
The Ensembl project ( seeks to enable genomic science by providing high quality, integrated annotation on chordate and selected eukaryotic genomes within a consistent and accessible infrastructure. All supported species include comprehensive, evidence-based gene annotations and a selected set of genomes includes additional data focused on variation, comparative, evolutionary, functional and regulatory annotation. The most advanced resources are provided for key species including human, mouse, rat and zebrafish reflecting the popularity and importance of these species in biomedical research. As of Ensembl release 59 (August 2010), 56 species are supported of which 5 have been added in the past year. Since our previous report, we have substantially improved the presentation and integration of both data of disease relevance and the regulatory state of different cell types.
PMCID: PMC3013672  PMID: 21045057
7.  QuickGO: a user tutorial for the web-based Gene Ontology browser 
The Gene Ontology (GO) has proven to be a valuable resource for functional annotation of gene products. At well over 27 000 terms, the descriptiveness of GO has increased rapidly in line with the biological data it represents. Therefore, it is vital to be able to easily and quickly mine the functional information that has been made available through these GO terms being associated with gene products. QuickGO is a fast, web-based tool for browsing the GO and all associated GO annotations provided by the GOA group. After undergoing a redevelopment, QuickGO is now able to offer many more features beyond simple browsing. Users have responded well to the new tool and given very positive feedback about its usefulness. This tutorial will demonstrate how some of these features could be useful to the researcher wanting to discover more about their dataset, particular areas of biology or to find new ways of directing their research.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC2794795  PMID: 20157483
8.  QuickGO: a web-based tool for Gene Ontology searching 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(22):3045-3046.
Summary: QuickGO is a web-based tool that allows easy browsing of the Gene Ontology (GO) and all associated electronic and manual GO annotations provided by the GO Consortium annotation groups QuickGO has been a popular GO browser for many years, but after a recent redevelopment it is now able to offer a greater range of facilities including bulk downloads of GO annotation data which can be extensively filtered by a range of different parameters and GO slim set generation.
Availability and Implementation: QuickGO has implemented in JavaScript, Ajax and HTML, with all major browsers supported. It can be queried online at The software for QuickGO is freely available under the Apache 2 licence and can be downloaded from
PMCID: PMC2773257  PMID: 19744993
9.  The GOA database in 2009—an integrated Gene Ontology Annotation resource 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D396-D403.
The Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) project at the EBI ( provides high-quality electronic and manual associations (annotations) of Gene Ontology (GO) terms to UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB) entries. Annotations created by the project are collated with annotations from external databases to provide an extensive, publicly available GO annotation resource. Currently covering over 160 000 taxa, with greater than 32 million annotations, GOA remains the largest and most comprehensive open-source contributor to the GO Consortium (GOC) project. Over the last five years, the group has augmented the number and coverage of their electronic pipelines and a number of new manual annotation projects and collaborations now further enhance this resource. A range of files facilitate the download of annotations for particular species, and GO term information and associated annotations can also be viewed and downloaded from the newly developed GOA QuickGO tool (, which allows users to precisely tailor their annotation set.
PMCID: PMC2686469  PMID: 18957448
10.  AgBase: a functional genomics resource for agriculture 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:229.
Many agricultural species and their pathogens have sequenced genomes and more are in progress. Agricultural species provide food, fiber, xenotransplant tissues, biopharmaceuticals and biomedical models. Moreover, many agricultural microorganisms are human zoonoses. However, systems biology from functional genomics data is hindered in agricultural species because agricultural genome sequences have relatively poor structural and functional annotation and agricultural research communities are smaller with limited funding compared to many model organism communities.
To facilitate systems biology in these traditionally agricultural species we have established "AgBase", a curated, web-accessible, public resource for structural and functional annotation of agricultural genomes. The AgBase database includes a suite of computational tools to use GO annotations. We use standardized nomenclature following the Human Genome Organization Gene Nomenclature guidelines and are currently functionally annotating chicken, cow and sheep gene products using the Gene Ontology (GO). The computational tools we have developed accept and batch process data derived from different public databases (with different accession codes), return all existing GO annotations, provide a list of products without GO annotation, identify potential orthologs, model functional genomics data using GO and assist proteomics analysis of ESTs and EST assemblies. Our journal database helps prevent redundant manual GO curation. We encourage and publicly acknowledge GO annotations from researchers and provide a service for researchers interested in GO and analysis of functional genomics data.
The AgBase database is the first database dedicated to functional genomics and systems biology analysis for agriculturally important species and their pathogens. We use experimental data to improve structural annotation of genomes and to functionally characterize gene products. AgBase is also directly relevant for researchers in fields as diverse as agricultural production, cancer biology, biopharmaceuticals, human health and evolutionary biology. Moreover, the experimental methods and bioinformatics tools we provide are widely applicable to many other species including model organisms.
PMCID: PMC1618847  PMID: 16961921
11.  An evaluation of GO annotation retrieval for BioCreAtIvE and GOA 
BMC Bioinformatics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S17.
The Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) database aims to provide high-quality supplementary GO annotation to proteins in the UniProt Knowledgebase. Like many other biological databases, GOA gathers much of its content from the careful manual curation of literature. However, as both the volume of literature and of proteins requiring characterization increases, the manual processing capability can become overloaded.
Consequently, semi-automated aids are often employed to expedite the curation process. Traditionally, electronic techniques in GOA depend largely on exploiting the knowledge in existing resources such as InterPro. However, in recent years, text mining has been hailed as a potentially useful tool to aid the curation process.
To encourage the development of such tools, the GOA team at EBI agreed to take part in the functional annotation task of the BioCreAtIvE (Critical Assessment of Information Extraction systems in Biology) challenge.
BioCreAtIvE task 2 was an experiment to test if automatically derived classification using information retrieval and extraction could assist expert biologists in the annotation of the GO vocabulary to the proteins in the UniProt Knowledgebase.
GOA provided the training corpus of over 9000 manual GO annotations extracted from the literature. For the test set, we provided a corpus of 200 new Journal of Biological Chemistry articles used to annotate 286 human proteins with GO terms. A team of experts manually evaluated the results of 9 participating groups, each of which provided highlighted sentences to support their GO and protein annotation predictions. Here, we give a biological perspective on the evaluation, explain how we annotate GO using literature and offer some suggestions to improve the precision of future text-retrieval and extraction techniques. Finally, we provide the results of the first inter-annotator agreement study for manual GO curation, as well as an assessment of our current electronic GO annotation strategies.
The GOA database currently extracts GO annotation from the literature with 91 to 100% precision, and at least 72% recall. This creates a particularly high threshold for text mining systems which in BioCreAtIvE task 2 (GO annotation extraction and retrieval) initial results precisely predicted GO terms only 10 to 20% of the time.
Improvements in the performance and accuracy of text mining for GO terms should be expected in the next BioCreAtIvE challenge. In the meantime the manual and electronic GO annotation strategies already employed by GOA will provide high quality annotations.
PMCID: PMC1869009  PMID: 15960829
12.  The Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) Database: sharing knowledge in Uniprot with Gene Ontology 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(Database issue):D262-D266.
The Gene Ontology Annotation (GOA) database ( aims to provide high-quality electronic and manual annotations to the UniProt Knowledgebase (Swiss-Prot, TrEMBL and PIR-PSD) using the standardized vocabulary of the Gene Ontology (GO). As a supplementary archive of GO annotation, GOA promotes a high level of integration of the knowledge represented in UniProt with other databases. This is achieved by converting UniProt annotation into a recognized computational format. GOA provides annotated entries for nearly 60 000 species (GOA-SPTr) and is the largest and most comprehensive open-source contributor of annotations to the GO Consortium annotation effort. By integrating GO annotations from other model organism groups, GOA consolidates specialized knowledge and expertise to ensure the data remain a key reference for up-to-date biological information. Furthermore, the GOA database fully endorses the Human Proteomics Initiative by prioritizing the annotation of proteins likely to benefit human health and disease. In addition to a non-redundant set of annotations to the human proteome (GOA-Human) and monthly releases of its GO annotation for all species (GOA-SPTr), a series of GO mapping files and specific cross-references in other databases are also regularly distributed. GOA can be queried through a simple user-friendly web interface or downloaded in a parsable format via the EBI and GO FTP websites. The GOA data set can be used to enhance the annotation of particular model organism or gene expression data sets, although increasingly it has been used to evaluate GO predictions generated from text mining or protein interaction experiments. In 2004, the GOA team will build on its success and will continue to supplement the functional annotation of UniProt and work towards enhancing the ability of scientists to access all available biological information. Researchers wishing to query or contribute to the GOA project are encouraged to email:
PMCID: PMC308756  PMID: 14681408
14.  The InterPro Database, 2003 brings increased coverage and new features 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(1):315-318.
InterPro, an integrated documentation resource of protein families, domains and functional sites, was created in 1999 as a means of amalgamating the major protein signature databases into one comprehensive resource. PROSITE, Pfam, PRINTS, ProDom, SMART and TIGRFAMs have been manually integrated and curated and are available in InterPro for text- and sequence-based searching. The results are provided in a single format that rationalises the results that would be obtained by searching the member databases individually. The latest release of InterPro contains 5629 entries describing 4280 families, 1239 domains, 95 repeats and 15 post-translational modifications. Currently, the combined signatures in InterPro cover more than 74% of all proteins in SWISS-PROT and TrEMBL, an increase of nearly 15% since the inception of InterPro. New features of the database include improved searching capabilities and enhanced graphical user interfaces for visualisation of the data. The database is available via a webserver ( and anonymous FTP (
PMCID: PMC165493  PMID: 12520011

Results 1-14 (14)