Posts Tagged ‘production’

Pfam 33.1 is released

June 11, 2020

We are pleased to announce the release of Pfam 33.1! Some of you may have noticed that we never released Pfam 33.0 – we had initially planned to do so in March 2020, but due to the global pandemic, we redirected our efforts to updating the Pfam SARS-CoV-2 models instead (see previous blog posts Pfam SARS-CoV-2 special update and Pfam SARS-CoV-2 special update (part 2)). We have added these updated models to the Pfam 33.0 release, along with a few other families that we had built since the data for Pfam 33.0 were frozen, to create Pfam 33.1.

Pfam 33.1 contains a total of 18259 families and 635 clans. Since the last release, we have built 355 new families and killed 25 families. We regularly receive feedback from users about families or domains that are missing in Pfam, and typically add many user submitted families at each release. We include the submitters name and ORCID identifier as an author of such Pfam entries. This helps people to get credit for community activities that improve molecular biology databases such as Pfam.

One such user submission was from Heli Mönttinen (University of Helsinki) who submitted a large scale clustering of virus families. Based on this clustering we added 88 new families to Pfam. 

We have also added 8 new clans since the last Pfam release. One of the new clans is the TSP1 superfamily (CL0692). Previously a single family (PF00090) attempted to identify all known TSP1 domains.  Based on structural work by Marko Hyvönen (University of Cambridge) and colleagues we have added an additional three families (PF19028PF19030 and PF19035) to Pfam. These new families have both improved the coverage of the TSP1 domain, and better modelled the variations in disulphide binding across the structure space.           

Figure 1. Organisation of the TSP1 clan in Pfam shown as a sequence similarity network. Image taken from Xu et al.

Finally, we are very happy to welcome Sara and Lowri who are working as curators for both the Pfam and InterPro resources and are already making great contributions to the resources.

Posted by Jaina and Alex

Pfam SARS-CoV-2 special update (part 2)

April 6, 2020

This post presents an update to last week’s post. Since the initial release of the 40 Pfam profile HMMs that match SARS-CoV-2, we have now produced a set of flatfiles that are more typical of a Pfam release.  These files make our updated annotations that describe the entries available for download, prior to being released via the Pfam website. Moreover, you can now use the multiple sequence alignments to investigate the conserved positions across different coronavirus proteins. Figure 1 shows the alignment of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (PF09408 N.B. the Pfam website still shows the old alignment).


Figure 1 – Excerpt of the Betacoronavirus spike glycoprotein S1, receptor binding domain alignment (Pfam accession PF09408), rendered using Jalview. The SARS-CoV-2 sequence is the last sequence in the alignment.

Finally, we have made some very minor changes to the family descriptions and one name change from the last release.  You can now access all the updated files here:

In this directory you can find the updated seed (Pfam-A.SARS-CoV-2.seed) and full alignments (Pfam-A.SARS-CoV-2.full) in Stockholm format based on the Pfamseq database, which contains sequences of the UniProt Reference Proteomes.  We provide a file with matches to UniProtKB 2019_08 (Pfam-A.SARS-CoV-2.full.uniprot). We also provide a set of alignments for each of the families which include matches to the SARS-CoV-2 sequences which are not as yet present in the Pfamseq database. These alignments can be found in aligned fasta format here or as a tar gzipped library here.

Posted by The Pfam team

Pfam SARS-CoV-2 special update

April 2, 2020

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has mobilised a worldwide research effort to understand the pathogen itself and the mechanism of COVID-19 disease, as well as to identify treatment options. Although Pfam already provided useful annotation for SARS-CoV-2, we decided to update our models and annotations for this virus in an effort to help the research community. This post explains what was done and how we are making the data available as quickly as possible.

What have we done?

We assessed all the protein sequences provided by UniProt via its new COVID-19 portal (, identified those which lacked an existing Pfam model, and set about building models as required. In some cases we built families based on recently solved structures of SARS-CoV-2 proteins. For example, we built three new families representing the three structural domains of the NSP15 protein (Figure 1) based on the structure by Youngchang Kim and colleagues ( In other cases, such as Pfam’s RNA dependent RNA polymerase family (PF00680), we took our existing family and extended its taxonomic range to ensure it included the new SARS-CoV-2 sequences.

Figure 1. The structure of NSP15 (PDB:6VWW) from Kim et al. shows the three new Pfam domains. (1) CoV_NSP15_N (PF19219) Coronavirus replicase NSP15, N-terminal oligomerisation domain in red, (2) CoV_NSP15_M (PF19216) Coronavirus replicase NSP15, middle domain in blue and (3) CoV_NSP15_C (PF19215) Coronavirus replicase NSP15, uridylate-specific endoribonuclease in green.

We have also stratified our ID nomenclature and descriptions of the families to ensure they are both correct and consistent. The majority of the family identifiers now begin with either CoV, for coronavirus specific families, or bCoV for the families which are specific to the betacoronavirus clade, which SARS-CoV-2 belongs to. We have also fixed inconsistencies in the naming and descriptions of the various non-structural proteins, using NSPx for those proteins encoded by the replicase polyprotein, and NSx for those encoded by other ORFs. We are grateful to Philippe Le Mercier from the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics who gave us valuable guidance for our nomenclature.

Where are the data?

You can access a small HMM library (Pfam-A.SARS-CoV-2.hmm) for all the Pfam families that match the SARS-CoV-2 protein sequences on the Pfam FTP site:

You can also find a file (matches.scan) showing the matches of the models against the SARS-CoV-2 sequences in the same FTP location. These updates are not yet available on the Pfam website. We anticipate making them available in 6-8 weeks.  We hope you find our SARS-CoV-2 models useful for your research, and as always we welcome your feedback via email at

How to use this library?

This library is not compatible with the pfam_scan software that we normally recommend to reproduce Pfam matches, as this library only contains a small subset of models.  If you wish to compare these models to your own sequences, please use the following HMMER commands:

$ hmmpress  Pfam-A.SARS-CoV-2.hmm

This only needs to be performed once. Then to compare your sequences (in a file called my.fasta) to this special Pfam profile HMM library, then:

$ hmmscan --cut_ga --domtblout matches.scan Pfam-A.SARS-CoV-2.hmm my.fasta

The –domtblout option enables you to save the matches in a more convenient tabular form, if you do not want to parse the HMMER output.

And finally

We will be making Pfam alignments available during the next week and will produce another blog post describing them.

Posted by The Pfam team

Pfam 31.0 is released

March 8, 2017

Pfam 31.0 contains a total of 16712 families and 604 clans. Since the last release, we have built 415 new families, killed 9 families and created 11 new clans.  We have also been working on expanding our clan classification; in Pfam 31.0, over 36% of Pfam entries are placed within a clan. Read the rest of this entry »

Pfam 30.0 is available

July 1, 2016

Pfam 30.0, our second release based on UniProt reference proteomes, is now available. The new release contains a total of 16,306 families, with 22 new families and 11 families killed since the last release. The UniProt reference proteome set has expanded and now includes 17.7 million sequences, compared with 11.9 million when we made Pfam 29.0. In this release, we have updated the annotations on hundreds of Pfam entries, and renamed some of our Domains of Unknown Function (DUF) families.

DUFs are protein domains whose function is uncharacterised. Over time, as scientific knowledge increases and new data about proteins comes to light, more information about the function of a domain may become available. As a result, DUFs can be renamed and re-annotated with more meaningful descriptions. As part of Pfam 30.0, we have re-annotated 116 DUFs based on updated information in the UniProtKB database, the scientific literature, and feedback from Pfam and InterPro users. Examples of some our DUF updates in Pfam 30.0 are given below:


  • PF10265, created in release 23.0 and originally named DUF2217, has been renamed to Miga, a family of proteins that promote mitochondrial fusion.
  • PF10229, created in release 23.0 and originally named DUF2246, has been renamed as MMADHC, as it represents methylmalonic aciduria and homocystinuria type D proteins and their homologues.  The structure of this domain is shown below.



Structure of MMADHC dimer, PDB:5CV0


  • PF12822, created in release 25.0 and originally named DUF3816, has been renamed to ECF_trnsprt, since it contains proteins identified as the substrate-specific component of energy-coupling factor (ECF) transporters.

Please note that we may change the identifier for a family (e.g. DUF2217), but we never change the accession for a family (e.g. PF10265).

If you find any more DUFs that can be assigned a name based on function, or any other annotation updates, please get in touch with us (


TreeFam 9 is now available!

May 3, 2013

We are happy to announce that TreeFam 9 is online and you can find it under

TreeFam 9 now has 109 species (vs. 79 in TreeFam 8) and is based on data from Ensembl v69, Ensembl Genomes v16, Wormbase and JGI.

This release marks an important step for TreeFam as it is the first release build since TreeFam has been resurrected.
Here is a list of the most important changes in TreeFam 9:

  • New website layout (adopting the Pfam/Rfam/Dfam layout)
  • Infrastructure move of web servers and databases to the EBI
  • Sequence search against the library of TreeFam family profiles
  • new tree visualisations in pure javascript using D3, e.g. see the BRCA2 gene tree here.
  • Pairwise homology download

We hope you find all the information you are looking for. If you don’t, please let us know so that we can include the information you want. The old website will remain online here.

If you have questions, suggestions or find bugs, don’t hesitate to contact us through our new forum here.

Happy treefamming,

the TreeFam team
(Fabian, Mateus)

Pfam 27.0 is now available!

March 22, 2013

In a blog post published just over a year ago, I proposed a number of changes to the content of Pfam to improve scalability and usability of the database.  These changes came into effect a few days ago, when we released Pfam 27.0.  This release of Pfam contains a total of 14831 families, with 1182 new families and 22 families killed since release 26.0. 80% of all proteins in UniProt contain a match to at least one Pfam domain, and 58% of all residues in the sequence database fall within a Pfam domain. Read the rest of this entry »

Does my family of interest have a determined 3D protein structure?

May 9, 2012

Two related questions that we are often asked via the Pfam helpdesk is ‘Which families have a known three-dimensional structure?’ and ‘Why is a particular a PDB structure not found in Pfam’.  You may think that there are obvious answers to these questions – but as with many things in life the answer is not necessarily as straight forward as you would have thought. In this joint posting between Andreas Prlic (senior scientist at RCSB Protein Data Bank) and myself (Rob Finn, Pfam Production Lead), we will elaborate on the way the PDB and Pfam cross referencing occurs, why discrepancies occurred in the past and describe the pipeline that the RCSB PDB has implemented using the HMMER web services API, which should provide the most current answer to these  questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed Pfam release changes

February 27, 2012

The current Pfam release, version 26.0, took approximately 4 months to nurse through the various stages of updating the sequence database, resolving overlaps between families, rebuilding the MySQL database and performing all of the post-processing that constitutes the ‘release’.  The production team strives to make two releases a year, but I really do not fancy spend two thirds of a year on Pfam releases.  Thus, with my colleagues, I have been reviewing what we do and why we do it and, probably more importantly, assessing how much different sections of the Web site are used.  Below is a list of changes that are going to happen in the next release, release 27.0.

Read the rest of this entry »