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1.  Genetic Variations and Diseases in UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot: The Ins and Outs of Expert Manual Curation 
Human Mutation  2014;35(8):927-935.
During the last few years, next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have accelerated the detection of genetic variants resulting in the rapid discovery of new disease-associated genes. However, the wealth of variation data made available by NGS alone is not sufficient to understand the mechanisms underlying disease pathogenesis and manifestation. Multidisciplinary approaches combining sequence and clinical data with prior biological knowledge are needed to unravel the role of genetic variants in human health and disease. In this context, it is crucial that these data are linked, organized, and made readily available through reliable online resources. The Swiss-Prot section of the Universal Protein Knowledgebase (UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot) provides the scientific community with a collection of information on protein functions, interactions, biological pathways, as well as human genetic diseases and variants, all manually reviewed by experts. In this article, we present an overview of the information content of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot to show how this knowledgebase can support researchers in the elucidation of the mechanisms leading from a molecular defect to a disease phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4107114  PMID: 24848695
UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot; database; manual curation; genetic variants; disease; functional annotation; controlled vocabulary
2.  An Integrated Ontology Resource to Explore and Study Host-Virus Relationships 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108075.
Our growing knowledge of viruses reveals how these pathogens manage to evade innate host defenses. A global scheme emerges in which many viruses usurp key cellular defense mechanisms and often inhibit the same components of antiviral signaling. To accurately describe these processes, we have generated a comprehensive dictionary for eukaryotic host-virus interactions. This controlled vocabulary has been detailed in 57 ViralZone resource web pages which contain a global description of all molecular processes. In order to annotate viral gene products with this vocabulary, an ontology has been built in a hierarchy of UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB) keyword terms and corresponding Gene Ontology (GO) terms have been developed in parallel. The results are 65 UniProtKB keywords related to 57 GO terms, which have been used in 14,390 manual annotations; 908,723 automatic annotations and propagated to an estimation of 922,941 GO annotations. ViralZone pages, UniProtKB keywords and GO terms provide complementary tools to users, and the three resources have been linked to each other through host-virus vocabulary.
PMCID: PMC4169452  PMID: 25233094
3.  Fifteen years SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics: life science databases, tools and support 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(Web Server issue):W436-W441.
The SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics ( was created in 1998 as an institution to foster excellence in bioinformatics. It is renowned worldwide for its databases and software tools, such as UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot, PROSITE, SWISS-MODEL, STRING, etc, that are all accessible on, SIB's Bioinformatics Resource Portal. This article provides an overview of the scientific and training resources SIB has consistently been offering to the life science community for more than 15 years.
PMCID: PMC4086091  PMID: 24792157
4.  The UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot Tox-Prot program: a central hub of integrated venom protein data 
Toxicon  2012;60(4):551-557.
Animal toxins are of interest to a wide range of scientists, due to their numerous applications in pharmacology, neurology, hematology, medicine, and drug research. This, and to a lesser extent the development of new performing tools in transcriptomics and proteomics, has led to an increase in toxin discovery. In this context, providing publicly available data on animal toxins has become essential. The UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot Tox-Prot program ( plays a crucial role by providing such an access to venom protein sequences and functions from all venomous species. This program has up to now curated more than 5’000 venom proteins to the high-quality standards of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot (release 2012_02). Proteins targeted by these toxins are also available in the knowledgebase. This paper describes in details the type of information provided by UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot for toxins, as well as the structured format of the knowledgebase.
PMCID: PMC3393831  PMID: 22465017
UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot Tox-Prot program; Database; Curation; Venom protein; Animal toxin; Bioinformatics
5.  Application of text-mining for updating protein post-translational modification annotation in UniProtKB 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14:104.
The annotation of protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) is an important task of UniProtKB curators and, with continuing improvements in experimental methodology, an ever greater number of articles are being published on this topic. To help curators cope with this growing body of information we have developed a system which extracts information from the scientific literature for the most frequently annotated PTMs in UniProtKB.
The procedure uses a pattern-matching and rule-based approach to extract sentences with information on the type and site of modification. A ranked list of protein candidates for the modification is also provided. For PTM extraction, precision varies from 57% to 94%, and recall from 75% to 95%, according to the type of modification. The procedure was used to track new publications on PTMs and to recover potential supporting evidence for phosphorylation sites annotated based on the results of large scale proteomics experiments.
The information retrieval and extraction method we have developed in this study forms the basis of a simple tool for the manual curation of protein post-translational modifications in UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot. Our work demonstrates that even simple text-mining tools can be effectively adapted for database curation tasks, providing that a thorough understanding of the working process and requirements are first obtained. This system can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC3660268  PMID: 23517090
6.  pfsearchV3: a code acceleration and heuristic to search PROSITE profiles 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(9):1215-1217.
Summary: The PROSITE resource provides a rich and well annotated source of signatures in the form of generalized profiles that allow protein domain detection and functional annotation. One of the major limiting factors in the application of PROSITE in genome and metagenome annotation pipelines is the time required to search protein sequence databases for putative matches. We describe an improved and optimized implementation of the PROSITE search tool pfsearch that, combined with a newly developed heuristic, addresses this limitation. On a modern x86_64 hyper-threaded quad-core desktop computer, the new pfsearchV3 is two orders of magnitude faster than the original algorithm.
Availability and implementation: Source code and binaries of pfsearchV3 are freely available for download at, implemented in C and supported on Linux. PROSITE generalized profiles including the heuristic cut-off scores are available at the same address.
PMCID: PMC3634184  PMID: 23505298
7.  ViralZone: recent updates to the virus knowledge resource 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(Database issue):D579-D583.
ViralZone ( is a knowledge repository that allows users to learn about viruses including their virion structure, replication cycle and host–virus interactions. The information is divided into viral fact sheets that describe virion shape, molecular biology and epidemiology for each viral genus, with links to the corresponding annotated proteomes of UniProtKB. Each viral genus page contains detailed illustrations, text and PubMed references. This new update provides a linked view of viral molecular biology through 133 new viral ontology pages that describe common steps of viral replication cycles shared by several viral genera. This viral cell-cycle ontology is also represented in UniProtKB in the form of annotated keywords. In this way, users can navigate from the description of a replication-cycle event, to the viral genus concerned, and the associated UniProtKB protein records.
PMCID: PMC3531065  PMID: 23193299
8.  HAMAP in 2013, new developments in the protein family classification and annotation system 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(Database issue):D584-D589.
HAMAP (High-quality Automated and Manual Annotation of Proteins—available at is a system for the classification and annotation of protein sequences. It consists of a collection of manually curated family profiles for protein classification, and associated annotation rules that specify annotations that apply to family members. HAMAP was originally developed to support the manual curation of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot records describing microbial proteins. Here we describe new developments in HAMAP, including the extension of HAMAP to eukaryotic proteins, the use of HAMAP in the automated annotation of UniProtKB/TrEMBL, providing high-quality annotation for millions of protein sequences, and the future integration of HAMAP into a unified system for UniProtKB annotation, UniRule. HAMAP is continuously updated by expert curators with new family profiles and annotation rules as new protein families are characterized. The collection of HAMAP family classification profiles and annotation rules can be browsed and viewed on the HAMAP website, which also provides an interface to scan user sequences against HAMAP profiles.
PMCID: PMC3531088  PMID: 23193261
9.  New and continuing developments at PROSITE 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(Database issue):D344-D347.
PROSITE ( consists of documentation entries describing protein domains, families and functional sites, as well as associated patterns and profiles to identify them. It is complemented by ProRule a collection of rules, which increases the discriminatory power of these profiles and patterns by providing additional information about functionally and/or structurally critical amino acids. PROSITE signatures, together with ProRule, are used for the annotation of domains and features of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot entries. Here, we describe recent developments that allow users to perform whole-proteome annotation as well as a number of filtering options that can be combined to perform powerful targeted searches for biological discovery. The latest version of PROSITE (release 20.85, of 30 August 2012) contains 1308 patterns, 1039 profiles and 1041 ProRules.
PMCID: PMC3531220  PMID: 23161676
10.  Toward interoperable bioscience data 
Nature genetics  2012;44(2):121-126.
To make full use of research data, the bioscience community needs to adopt technologies and reward mechanisms that support interoperability and promote the growth of an open ‘data commoning’ culture. Here we describe the prerequisites for data commoning and present an established and growing ecosystem of solutions using the shared ‘Investigation-Study-Assay’ framework to support that vision.
PMCID: PMC3428019  PMID: 22281772
11.  Rhea—a manually curated resource of biochemical reactions 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D754-D760.
Rhea ( is a comprehensive resource of expert-curated biochemical reactions. Rhea provides a non-redundant set of chemical transformations for use in a broad spectrum of applications, including metabolic network reconstruction and pathway inference. Rhea includes enzyme-catalyzed reactions (covering the IUBMB Enzyme Nomenclature list), transport reactions and spontaneously occurring reactions. Rhea reactions are described using chemical species from the Chemical Entities of Biological Interest ontology (ChEBI) and are stoichiometrically balanced for mass and charge. They are extensively manually curated with links to source literature and other public resources on metabolism including enzyme and pathway databases. This cross-referencing facilitates the mapping and reconciliation of common reactions and compounds between distinct resources, which is a common first step in the reconstruction of genome scale metabolic networks and models.
PMCID: PMC3245052  PMID: 22135291
12.  The UniProt-GO Annotation database in 2011 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D565-D570.
The GO annotation dataset provided by the UniProt Consortium (GOA: is a comprehensive set of evidenced-based associations between terms from the Gene Ontology resource and UniProtKB proteins. Currently supplying over 100 million annotations to 11 million proteins in more than 360 000 taxa, this resource has increased 2-fold over the last 2 years and has benefited from a wealth of checks to improve annotation correctness and consistency as well as now supplying a greater information content enabled by GO Consortium annotation format developments. Detailed, manual GO annotations obtained from the curation of peer-reviewed papers are directly contributed by all UniProt curators and supplemented with manual and electronic annotations from 36 model organism and domain-focused scientific resources. The inclusion of high-quality, automatic annotation predictions ensures the UniProt GO annotation dataset supplies functional information to a wide range of proteins, including those from poorly characterized, non-model organism species. UniProt GO annotations are freely available in a range of formats accessible by both file downloads and web-based views. In addition, the introduction of a new, normalized file format in 2010 has made for easier handling of the complete UniProt-GOA data set.
PMCID: PMC3245010  PMID: 22123736
13.  UniPathway: a resource for the exploration and annotation of metabolic pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D761-D769.
UniPathway ( is a fully manually curated resource for the representation and annotation of metabolic pathways. UniPathway provides explicit representations of enzyme-catalyzed and spontaneous chemical reactions, as well as a hierarchical representation of metabolic pathways. This hierarchy uses linear subpathways as the basic building block for the assembly of larger and more complex pathways, including species-specific pathway variants. All of the pathway data in UniPathway has been extensively cross-linked to existing pathway resources such as KEGG and MetaCyc, as well as sequence resources such as the UniProt KnowledgeBase (UniProtKB), for which UniPathway provides a controlled vocabulary for pathway annotation. We introduce here the basic concepts underlying the UniPathway resource, with the aim of allowing users to fully exploit the information provided by UniPathway.
PMCID: PMC3245108  PMID: 22102589
14.  ViralZone: a knowledge resource to understand virus diversity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D576-D582.
The molecular diversity of viruses complicates the interpretation of viral genomic and proteomic data. To make sense of viral gene functions, investigators must be familiar with the virus host range, replication cycle and virion structure. Our aim is to provide a comprehensive resource bridging together textbook knowledge with genomic and proteomic sequences. ViralZone web resource ( provides fact sheets on all known virus families/genera with easy access to sequence data. A selection of reference strains (RefStrain) provides annotated standards to circumvent the exponential increase of virus sequences. Moreover ViralZone offers a complete set of detailed and accurate virion pictures.
PMCID: PMC3013774  PMID: 20947564
15.  The UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot knowledgebase and its Plant Proteome Annotation Program 
Journal of proteomics  2008;72(3):567-573.
The UniProt knowledgebase, UniProtKB, is the main product of the UniProt consortium. It consists of two sections, UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot, the manually curated section, and UniProtKB/TrEMBL, the computer translation of the EMBL/GenBank/DDBJ nucleotide sequence database. Taken together, these two sections cover all the proteins characterized or inferred from all publicly available nucleotide sequences. The Plant Proteome Annotation Program (PPAP) of UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot focuses on the manual annotation of plant-specific proteins and protein families. Our major effort is currently directed towards the two model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa. In UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot, redundancy is minimized by merging all data from different sources in a single entry. The proposed protein sequence is frequently modified after comparison with ESTs, full length transcripts or homologous proteins from other species. The information present in manually curated entries allows the reconstruction of all described isoforms. The annotation also includes proteomics data such as PTM and protein identification MS experimental results. UniProtKB and the other products of the UniProt consortium are accessible online at
PMCID: PMC2689360  PMID: 19084081
Database; UniProt; Manual annotation; Plant; Proteomics; PTM
16.  OpenFluDB, a database for human and animal influenza virus 
Although research on influenza lasted for more than 100 years, it is still one of the most prominent diseases causing half a million human deaths every year. With the recent observation of new highly pathogenic H5N1 and H7N7 strains, and the appearance of the influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 swine-like lineage, a collaborative effort to share observations on the evolution of this virus in both animals and humans has been established. The OpenFlu database (OpenFluDB) is a part of this collaborative effort. It contains genomic and protein sequences, as well as epidemiological data from more than 27 000 isolates. The isolate annotations include virus type, host, geographical location and experimentally tested antiviral resistance. Putative enhanced pathogenicity as well as human adaptation propensity are computed from protein sequences. Each virus isolate can be associated with the laboratories that collected, sequenced and submitted it. Several analysis tools including multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic analysis and sequence similarity maps enable rapid and efficient mining. The contents of OpenFluDB are supplied by direct user submission, as well as by a daily automatic procedure importing data from public repositories. Additionally, a simple mechanism facilitates the export of OpenFluDB records to GenBank. This resource has been successfully used to rapidly and widely distribute the sequences collected during the recent human swine flu outbreak and also as an exchange platform during the vaccine selection procedure. Database URL:
PMCID: PMC2911839  PMID: 20624713
17.  Animal Toxins: How is Complexity Represented in Databases? 
Toxins  2010;2(2):262-282.
Peptide toxins synthesized by venomous animals have been extensively studied in the last decades. To be useful to the scientific community, this knowledge has been stored, annotated and made easy to retrieve by several databases. The aim of this article is to present what type of information users can access from each database. ArachnoServer and ConoServer focus on spider toxins and cone snail toxins, respectively. UniProtKB, a generalist protein knowledgebase, has an animal toxin-dedicated annotation program that includes toxins from all venomous animals. Finally, the ATDB metadatabase compiles data and annotations from other databases and provides toxin ontology.
PMCID: PMC3202812  PMID: 22069583
animal toxin; ArachnoServer; ATDB; ConoServer; database; Tox-Prot; UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot; venom protein
18.  HAMAP: a database of completely sequenced microbial proteome sets and manually curated microbial protein families in UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D471-D478.
The growth in the number of completely sequenced microbial genomes (bacterial and archaeal) has generated a need for a procedure that provides UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot-quality annotation to as many protein sequences as possible. We have devised a semi-automated system, HAMAP (High-quality Automated and Manual Annotation of microbial Proteomes), that uses manually built annotation templates for protein families to propagate annotation to all members of manually defined protein families, using very strict criteria. The HAMAP system is composed of two databases, the proteome database and the family database, and of an automatic annotation pipeline. The proteome database comprises biological and sequence information for each completely sequenced microbial proteome, and it offers several tools for CDS searches, BLAST options and retrieval of specific sets of proteins. The family database currently comprises more than 1500 manually curated protein families and their annotation templates that are used to annotate proteins that belong to one of the HAMAP families. On the HAMAP website, individual sequences as well as whole genomes can be scanned against all HAMAP families. The system provides warnings for the absence of conserved amino acid residues, unusual sequence length, etc. Thanks to the implementation of HAMAP, more than 200 000 microbial proteins have been fully annotated in UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot (HAMAP website:
PMCID: PMC2686602  PMID: 18849571

Results 1-18 (18)