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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New International Protein Naming Guidelines promote clarity and consistency


Consistent protein nomenclature is indispensable for communication, literature searching and entry retrieval. NCBI, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the Protein Information Resource (PIR) and the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics (SIB) revised and reorganized previous guidelines from UniProt and NCBI. This joint effort produced universal guidelines in nomenclature and protein naming to promote clarity in communication and improve consistency in data retrieval across databases.

These guidelines are exclusively focused on nomenclature, providing rules about universal formatting and protein naming choices; they do not include best practices for identifying or predicting function. They cover usage of language, abbreviations, symbols, punctuation, notation, terms and style. Sources of protein names and options for protein naming are also discussed.

During the 2018 INSDC annual meeting, the three collaborating sequence databases (DDBJ, EBI and GenBank) agreed to recommend these guidelines to their submitters. The Protein Naming Guidelines working group plans to write a peer-reviewed publication about protein naming and to track future changes to this document in GitHub.

June 20 NCBI Minute: Getting the Genomic Context for BLAST Protein Matches


Do you ever want to see the flanking genes of a protein match from a BLAST search?  On June 20th, we’ll show you how to see the genomic context of bacterial proteins using the identical protein report and the graphical sequence viewer. You will also learn to use these reports in detail and how to get these genomic contexts in batch for a set of protein matches using the identical proteins report and EDirect .

Date and time: Wed, June 20, 2018 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT

Click to 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.

Bioinformatics paper uses NCBI open data to analyze drug response


study (PMID: 28158543) published in the July 2017 issue of Bioinformatics collects, classifies and analyzes single nucleotide variants (SNVs) that may affect response to currently approved drugs. They identified 2,640 SNVs of interest, most of which occur rarely in populations (minor allele frequency <0.01).

The researchers used protein sequence alignment tools and mined open data from multiple information resources accessed through E-utilities including PubChem Compound (Kim et al., 2016 PMID: 26400175), NCBI Gene (Maglott D, et al., 2014. PMID: 25355515), NCBI Protein (Sayers, 2013), MMDB (Madej et al., 2012 PMID: 22135289), PDB (Berman et al., 2000 PMID: 10592235), dbSNP (Sherry et al., 2001 PMID: 11125122), and ClinVar (Landrum et al., 2016 PMID: 26582918).

Questions, comments, and other feedback may be sent to Yanli Wang.