September 11 Webinar: A beginner’s guide to genes and sequences at NCBI


On Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 12 PM, NCBI staff will present a webinar for people with limited experience working with gene and sequence information. You will learn about the kinds of data available for genes and sequences, how to select the most informative records, and how to find related genes and sequences using pre-computed information and the BLAST sequence search service.

  • Date and time: Wed, Sep 11, 2019 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT
  • Register

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about attending the webinar. A few days after the live presentation, you can view the recording on the NCBI YouTube channel. You can learn about future webinars on the Webinars and Courses page.

Evidence for naming the protein now on non-redundant refseq records (WP_ accessions)


We are now showing the curated evidence used for assigning names and, if possible, gene symbols, publications, and Enzyme Commission numbers on nearly 70% (83 million) microbial RefSeq proteins. This evidence includes a hierarchical collection of curated Hidden Markov Model (HMM)-based and BLAST-based protein families, and conserved domain architectures.

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A new way to find an expanded set of similar genes


We recently showed you a new a way to search for and view sets of orthologous genes  from vertebrates. You can now get an additional set of search results that we are calling similar genes.  These are related through protein architecture to the orthologous gene set and include genes from all metazoans and selected plant, fungal, and protist species. You can quickly find related genes within a species, compare them to those from other annotated metazoan genomes, and have access to other useful gene resources. To find a set of similar genes, enter a gene symbol or select the gene symbol + orthologs option from the selections menu.

For example if you search for ‘AGO2 orthologs‘,  in addition to the  link to orthologs from vertebrates, you’ll get a link to a set of similar genes (Genes with similar protein architectures) across a broad evolutionary spectrum that includes genes from invertebrates, fungi, and green plants (Figure 1).

AGO2_Fig1Figure 1.  Genes with similar protein architectures to AGO2. The original search was AGO2 orthologs, which brings up the suggestion box with the links to similar genes as well as the AGO2 vertebrate orthologs. The similar genes include entries from a broad taxonomic range of eukaryotic organisms.

If you search for ‘GH1‘, you’ll get a link to similar genes that includes members of the growth hormone family that are not part of NCBI’s vertebrate ortholog set.

GH1_Fig2.pngFigure 2. The human subset of genes with similar protein architectures to GH1 showing other members (paralogs) of the GH1 gene family (GH2, CSH1, CSH2, CSHL1). These are not included in the ortholog set.

Try out the  following searches and follow the links to the Genes with similar protein architectures

Please  let us know what you think!

New BLAST results for specialized searches now available for testing


As you probably know,  BLAST has been offering a new results page as an option for standard BLAST for you to test and provide feedback since April. See our post from earlier this spring for more details. We have just added new results pages (Figure 1) for the following four specialized BLAST services for you to test.

  1. PSI-BLAST
  2. PHI-BLAST
  3. DELTA-BLAST
  4. Align two or more sequences

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Have you tried BLAST+ (2.9.0) and version 5 BLAST databases (dbV5)?


We recently updated the version 5 BLAST protein databases, (dbV5), on our FTP site to be completely accession-based.  As we described in a previous post, this means they now contain the gi-less proteins from the  NCBI Pathogen Project and other high-throughput projects. The v5 databases are also compatible with proteins from PDB structures with multi-character chain identifiers and will include these as they become available in our other protein systems. Only the latest version of BLAST+ (2.9.0, download) will work with the updated v5 databases and allow you to access all of the most recent protein data. At the end of September 2019, we will stop updating the version 4 BLAST databases and offer the v5 databases as the default for download.

For more information on the new database version and BLAST+ (2.9.0), see the previous NCBI Insights article and the recording of our recent webinar.

Searching for orthologous genes at NCBI


NCBI is testing a new way to find and retrieve orthologous vertebrate genes. To find orthologs enter a gene symbol (e.g. RAG1) or a gene symbol combined with a taxonomic group (e.g. primate RAG1). Select the matching entry from the suggestions menu or you can select the orthologs option (e.g. Rag1 orthologs) to see all orthologs. Your search will return a results link to the set of orthologs provided by NCBI’s Gene resource. Click on the results link to see information for that ortholog group (Figure 1).

search

Figure 1.  Search  for Rag1 orthologs showing the link to the set of RAG1 genes from vertebrates.

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BLAST+ 2.9.0 now available with enhanced support for new database format and improved performance


The BLAST+ 2.9.0 release is now available from our FTP site.  This latest release has enhanced support for the new BLAST database version (BLASTDBv5).

  • The 2.9.0 programs handle the new four character identifiers for chains of 3D structure records from RCSB Protein Data Bank (PDB).  The previous version of the BLAST databases and programs do not support these identifiers. See the MMDB News for additional details about the PDB change and the impact on NCBI Structure resources.
  • Another important improvement in  2.9.0 is the ability to configure the output separator for tabular and CSV output formats. See the BLAST Manual for details

More  improvements and a few bug fixes with this release are detailed in the release notes.

For more information on new database version, BLASTDBv5 (download), see the previous NCBI Insights article and the recording of our webinar. We will continue to update the BLAST databases in their current version (BLASTDBv4) until September 2019.

Autosuggest comes to Gene, Nucleotide and other databases


If you’ve been searching in Gene, Nucleotide, Protein, Genome or Assembly databases, you’ve probably noticed the new search experience we introduced in September to interpret several common language searches and offer improved results. We’re excited to announce we’ve added as-you-type suggestions to the search bar in these databases.

Here’s a peek at the new menu in the NCBI Gene database.

"human" is typed in the search box and a drop-down menu shows the most popular results

Figure 1. Typing into the search box brings up automatic suggestions of the most popular queries.

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Improved Search Now Available Across NCBI Databases


Earlier this year, we announced the release of a new and improved search feature that interprets plain language to give better results for common searches. This feature, originally developed in NCBI Labs and later released on the NCBI All Databases search, is now available across several NCBI resources: Nucleotide, Protein, Gene, Genome, and Assembly. Whether you are searching for a specific gene or for a whole genome, you will now retrieve NCBI’s best results regardless of the database  you search.

The image below shows the results for a search for human INS in the Nucleotide database. Even though this is a Nucleotide search, the results include relevant information from Gene, Protein, Taxonomy,  plus links to the NCBI reference sequences (RefSeq) as well as access to BLAST and the insulin gene region in NCBI’s genome browser, the Genome Data Viewer.KIS_nuccore_smallFigure 1.  The new natural language search result in the Nucleotide database from a search for human INS.

Try out this new search capability and let us know what you think. And keep visiting the NCBI Labs search page to try our latest experiments, which we’ll also announce here on NCBI Insights.

 

Hey Professors! Get your free personal assistant — an NCBI Account!


Professors, we know you’re busy ­­— really, really busy.  You have to develop and teach your courses and labs, coordinate and run your journal clubs and seminars, direct your lab’s research efforts, write grants and publications, counsel and mentor your students, and stay current on everything related to your teaching and research topics.

NCBI has information that can help with all of this, but there are so many interesting records and so little time to organize them. Sign up (Help) for or log in (Help) to your free NCBI Account and let us help you get started and get organized!

Read on – or watch the video embedded below – to learn more about what you can do with your NCBI Account.

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