Reactome: A Curated Pathway Database

Reactome celebrates release of 10,000th annotated protein


The Reactome team is pleased to announce that it met a major milestone in October 2016 with the annotation and release of its 10,000th human protein. Reactome ( is an open access curated knowledgebase which relates human genes, proteins and other biomolecules to the biological pathways and processes in which they participate. It is a key resource for the biomedical research community, and is widely used by researchers around the world to interpret high-throughput experiments in genetics, genomics and proteomics. Given that the human genome contains roughly 20,000 protein-coding genes in total, the annotation of the 10,000th protein means that Reactome now covers half of the protein-coding portion of the genome. This makes Reactome the most comprehensive open access pathway knowledgebase available to the scientific community.

By relating genes and proteins to normal and abnormal biological pathways, Reactome allows researchers to identify patterns in large data sets. For example, researchers can use Reactome to reduce an experiment that identified thousands of genes whose activities are altered in a disease to a manageable number of key biological pathways that are disrupted by these changes. Researchers can then combine Reactome with other databases to find drugs and protein targets that might reverse the pathway alterations, or to devise ways of diagnosing the disease at an early stage. Via its web site, online tools, and specialized visualization and analysis applications, Reactome has been incorporated into more than 400 third-party genome analysis tools, and has been cited more than 4,000 times in the scientific literature. 

Reactome has been in continuous operation since 2004 and is an international collaboration among the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Canada, New York University School of Medicine in the United States, and the European Bioinformatics Institute in the United Kingdom. It is staffed by expert biological curators, bioinformaticians and computer scientists. Much of its content is provided by community authors and peer reviewers who are assisted by the curatorial staff. The Reactome content, including pathway data and the software infrastructure, are available to all comers free of charge under a Creative Commons open access license. Reactome is supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health, the Ontario Research Fund, the University of Toronto, OpenTargets, Genome Canada, and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

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