NCBI Replacing Obsolete NCBI Genomes (chromosome) and Removing Human ALU repeat elements (alu_repeats) BLAST databases


NCBI will discontinue both the NCBI Genomes (chromosome) and the Human ALU repeat elements (alu_repeats) BLAST databases in October 2017.

Better alternatives to NCBI Genomes (chromosome)

The existing NCBI Genomes (chromosome) database does not offer complete and non-redundant coverage of genome data. The newly added NCBI RefSeq Genomes Database (refseq_genomes) and the RefSeq Representative Genomes Database (refseq_representative_genomes) are more useful alternatives to the chromosome database. You can select these databases from the database pull-down list on any general BLAST form that searches a nucleotide database (blastn, tblastn).

nucleotide-nucleotide BLAST database menu

Figure 1. The nucleotide-nucleotide BLAST database menu with the recommended (RefSeq Genome and Representative genomes) and deprecated (NCBI genomes (chromosomes) and Human ALU repeats) databases highlighted.

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Identical Protein Groups: Non-redundant access to protein records


Have you ever searched the NCBI Protein database and been overwhelmed with the number of sequences returned? Have you tried searching with a protein name, thinking that would greatly limit the results, only to still be presented with many sequences (all with the same name)? It’s a common problem in this time of greatly expanding sequence databases powered by large-scale genomic sequencing of similar organisms. Redundancy in the sequence databases is high and only getting worse.

To address this, in 2013 NCBI released the WP records, which collect identical protein sequences annotated on bacterial genomes. In 2014, NCBI released the Identical Protein Reports on Protein records, which displays information about all other proteins identical to that protein. Now, we are releasing a new resource: Identical Protein Groups (IPG).  IPG offers several features:

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RefSeq release 83 now public


RefSeq release 83 is now accessible online, via FTP and through NCBI’s programming utilities. This full release incorporates genomic, transcript, and protein data available as of July 17, 2017, and contains 132,052,465 records, including 88,385,530 proteins, 19,634,664 RNAs, and sequences from 71,356 organisms. The release is provided in several directories as a complete dataset and as divided by logical groupings. More information about RefSeq release 83 is available in the release notes.

Future changes

NCBI will phase out support for non-human organisms in the dbSNP and dbVar databases. These databases will stop accepting submissions for non-human SNPs in September 2017. The interactive websites for these databases and related NCBI services, including RefSeq flatfiles, will stop presenting non-human variant data in November 2017.

RefSeq Functional Elements now public


NCBI is pleased to announce the initial data release of RefSeq Functional Elements, a resource that provides RefSeq and Gene records for experimentally validated human and mouse non-genic functional elements. Data can be accessed via GeneNucleotideBLASTBioProjectGraphical Displays and FTP.

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RefSeq release 82 now public


RefSeq release 82 is accessible online, via FTP and through NCBI’s programming utilities. This full release incorporates genomic, transcript, and protein data available as of May 8, 2017 and contains 127,098,289 records, including 84,756,971 proteins, 18,901,573 RNAs, and sequences from 69,035 organisms. The release is provided in several directories as a complete dataset and also as divided by logical groupings.

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Genome data download made easy!


This blog post is directed toward Assembly users.

A new “Download assemblies” button is now available in the Assembly database. This makes it easy to download data for multiple genomes without having to write scripts.

For example, you can run a search in Assembly and use check boxes (see left side of screenshot below) to refine the set of genome assemblies of interest. Then, just open the “Download assemblies” menu, choose the source database (GenBank or RefSeq), choose the file type, and start the download. An archive file will be saved to your computer that can be expanded into a folder containing your selected genome data files.
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