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Database Profile


General information

Full name: Clusters of Orthologous Genes
Description: COG contains phylogenetic classification of proteins encoded in complete genomes.
Year founded: 1997
Last update: 2014
Version: v1.0
Real time : Checking...
Country/Region: United States
Data type:
Data object:
Database category:
Major organism:

Contact information

University/Institution: National Center for Biotechnology Information
Address: Bethesda, MD 2094, USA
City: Bethesda
Province/State: MD
Country/Region: United States
Contact name (PI/Team): Eugene V. Koonin
Contact email (PI/Helpdesk):


COG database update: focus on microbial diversity, model organisms, and widespread pathogens. [PMID: 33167031]
Michael Y Galperin, Yuri I Wolf, Kira S Makarova, Roberto Vera Alvarez, David Landsman, Eugene V Koonin

The Clusters of Orthologous Genes (COG) database, also referred to as the Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins, was created in 1997 and went through several rounds of updates, most recently, in 2014. The current update, available at, substantially expands the scope of the database to include complete genomes of 1187 bacteria and 122 archaea, typically, with a single genome per genus. In addition, the current version of the COGs includes the following new features: (i) the recently deprecated NCBI's gene index (gi) numbers for the encoded proteins are replaced with stable RefSeq or GenBank\ENA\DDBJ coding sequence (CDS) accession numbers; (ii) COG annotations are updated for >200 newly characterized protein families with corresponding references and PDB links, where available; (iii) lists of COGs grouped by pathways and functional systems are added; (iv) 266 new COGs for proteins involved in CRISPR-Cas immunity, sporulation in Firmicutes and photosynthesis in cyanobacteria are included; and (v) the database is made available as a web page, in addition to FTP. The current release includes 4877 COGs. Future plans include further expansion of the COG collection by adding archaeal COGs (arCOGs), splitting the COGs containing multiple paralogs, and continued refinement of COG annotations.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2021:49(D1) | 8 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
Expanded microbial genome coverage and improved protein family annotation in the COG database. [PMID: 25428365]
Galperin MY, Makarova KS, Wolf YI, Koonin EV.

Microbial genome sequencing projects produce numerous sequences of deduced proteins, only a small fraction of which have been or will ever be studied experimentally. This leaves sequence analysis as the only feasible way to annotate these proteins and assign to them tentative functions. The Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs) database (, first created in 1997, has been a popular tool for functional annotation. Its success was largely based on (i) its reliance on complete microbial genomes, which allowed reliable assignment of orthologs and paralogs for most genes; (ii) orthology-based approach, which used the function(s) of the characterized member(s) of the protein family (COG) to assign function(s) to the entire set of carefully identified orthologs and describe the range of potential functions when there were more than one; and (iii) careful manual curation of the annotation of the COGs, aimed at detailed prediction of the biological function(s) for each COG while avoiding annotation errors and overprediction. Here we present an update of the COGs, the first since 2003, and a comprehensive revision of the COG annotations and expansion of the genome coverage to include representative complete genomes from all bacterial and archaeal lineages down to the genus level. This re-analysis of the COGs shows that the original COG assignments had an error rate below 0.5% and allows an assessment of the progress in functional genomics in the past 12 years. During this time, functions of many previously uncharacterized COGs have been elucidated and tentative functional assignments of many COGs have been validated, either by targeted experiments or through the use of high-throughput methods. A particularly important development is the assignment of functions to several widespread, conserved proteins many of which turned out to participate in translation, in particular rRNA maturation and tRNA modification. The new version of the COGs is expected to become an important tool for microbial genomics. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research 2014. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2015:43(Database issue) | 448 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
Archaeal Clusters of Orthologous Genes (arCOGs): An Update and Application for Analysis of Shared Features between Thermococcales, Methanococcales, and Methanobacteriales. [PMID: 25764277]
Makarova KS, Wolf YI, Koonin EV.

With the continuously accelerating genome sequencing from diverse groups of archaea and bacteria, accurate identification of gene orthology and availability of readily expandable clusters of orthologous genes are essential for the functional annotation of new genomes. We report an update of the collection of archaeal Clusters of Orthologous Genes (arCOGs) to cover, on average, 91% of the protein-coding genes in 168 archaeal genomes. The new arCOGs were constructed using refined algorithms for orthology identification combined with extensive manual curation, including incorporation of the results of several completed and ongoing research projects in archaeal genomics. A new level of classification is introduced, superclusters that untie two or more arCOGs and more completely reflect gene family evolution than individual, disconnected arCOGs. Assessment of the current archaeal genome annotation in public databases indicates that consistent use of arCOGs can significantly improve the annotation quality. In addition to their utility for genome annotation, arCOGs also are a platform for phylogenomic analysis. We explore this aspect of arCOGs by performing a phylogenomic study of the Thermococci that are traditionally viewed as the basal branch of the Euryarchaeota. The results of phylogenomic analysis that involved both comparison of multiple phylogenetic trees and a search for putative derived shared characters by using phyletic patterns extracted from the arCOGs reveal a likely evolutionary relationship between the Thermococci, Methanococci, and Methanobacteria. The arCOGs are expected to be instrumental for a comprehensive phylogenomic study of the archaea.

Life (Basel). 2015:5(1) | 75 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
Updated clusters of orthologous genes for Archaea: a complex ancestor of the Archaea and the byways of horizontal gene transfer. [PMID: 23241446]
Wolf YI, Makarova KS, Yutin N, Koonin EV.

Collections of Clusters of Orthologous Genes (COGs) provide indispensable tools for comparative genomic analysis, evolutionary reconstruction and functional annotation of new genomes. Initially, COGs were made for all complete genomes of cellular life forms that were available at the time. However, with the accumulation of thousands of complete genomes, construction of a comprehensive COG set has become extremely computationally demanding and prone to error propagation, necessitating the switch to taxon-specific COG collections. Previously, we reported the collection of COGs for 41 genomes of Archaea (arCOGs). Here we present a major update of the arCOGs and describe evolutionary reconstructions to reveal general trends in the evolution of Archaea. The updated version of the arCOG database incorporates 91% of the pangenome of 120 archaea (251,032 protein-coding genes altogether) into 10,335 arCOGs. Using this new set of arCOGs, we performed maximum likelihood reconstruction of the genome content of archaeal ancestral forms and gene gain and loss events in archaeal evolution. This reconstruction shows that the last Common Ancestor of the extant Archaea was an organism of greater complexity than most of the extant archaea, probably with over 2,500 protein-coding genes. The subsequent evolution of almost all archaeal lineages was apparently dominated by gene loss resulting in genome streamlining. Overall, in the evolution of Archaea as well as a representative set of bacteria that was similarly analyzed for comparison, gene losses are estimated to outnumber gene gains at least 4 to 1. Analysis of specific patterns of gene gain in Archaea shows that, although some groups, in particular Halobacteria, acquire substantially more genes than others, on the whole, gene exchange between major groups of Archaea appears to be largely random, with no major 'highways' of horizontal gene transfer. The updated collection of arCOGs is expected to become a key resource for comparative genomics, evolutionary reconstruction and functional annotation of new archaeal genomes. Given that, in spite of the major increase in the number of genomes, the conserved core of archaeal genes appears to be stabilizing, the major evolutionary trends revealed here have a chance to stand the test of time. This article was reviewed by (for complete reviews see the Reviewers' Reports section): Dr. PLG, Prof. PF, Dr. PL (nominated by Prof. JPG).

Biol Direct. 2012:7() | 101 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
Clusters of orthologous genes for 41 archaeal genomes and implications for evolutionary genomics of archaea. [PMID: 18042280]
Makarova KS, Sorokin AV, Novichkov PS, Wolf YI, Koonin EV.

An evolutionary classification of genes from sequenced genomes that distinguishes between orthologs and paralogs is indispensable for genome annotation and evolutionary reconstruction. Shortly after multiple genome sequences of bacteria, archaea, and unicellular eukaryotes became available, an attempt on such a classification was implemented in Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs). Rapid accumulation of genome sequences creates opportunities for refining COGs but also represents a challenge because of error amplification. One of the practical strategies involves construction of refined COGs for phylogenetically compact subsets of genomes. New Archaeal Clusters of Orthologous Genes (arCOGs) were constructed for 41 archaeal genomes (13 Crenarchaeota, 27 Euryarchaeota and one Nanoarchaeon) using an improved procedure that employs a similarity tree between smaller, group-specific clusters, semi-automatically partitions orthology domains in multidomain proteins, and uses profile searches for identification of remote orthologs. The annotation of arCOGs is a consensus between three assignments based on the COGs, the CDD database, and the annotations of homologs in the NR database. The 7538 arCOGs, on average, cover approximately 88% of the genes in a genome compared to a approximately 76% coverage in COGs. The finer granularity of ortholog identification in the arCOGs is apparent from the fact that 4538 arCOGs correspond to 2362 COGs; approximately 40% of the arCOGs are new. The archaeal gene core (protein-coding genes found in all 41 genome) consists of 166 arCOGs. The arCOGs were used to reconstruct gene loss and gene gain events during archaeal evolution and gene sets of ancestral forms. The Last Archaeal Common Ancestor (LACA) is conservatively estimated to possess 996 genes compared to 1245 and 1335 genes for the last common ancestors of Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota, respectively. It is inferred that LACA was a chemoautotrophic hyperthermophile that, in addition to the core archaeal functions, encoded more idiosyncratic systems, e.g., the CASS systems of antivirus defense and some toxin-antitoxin systems. The arCOGs provide a convenient, flexible framework for functional annotation of archaeal genomes, comparative genomics and evolutionary reconstructions. Genomic reconstructions suggest that the last common ancestor of archaea might have been (nearly) as advanced as the modern archaeal hyperthermophiles. ArCOGs and related information are available at:

Biol Direct. 2007:2() | 119 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
The COG database: an updated version includes eukaryotes. [PMID: 12969510]
Tatusov RL, Fedorova ND, Jackson JD, Jacobs AR, Kiryutin B, Koonin EV, Krylov DM, Mazumder R, Mekhedov SL, Nikolskaya AN, Rao BS, Smirnov S, Sverdlov AV, Vasudevan S, Wolf YI, Yin JJ, Natale DA.

The availability of multiple, essentially complete genome sequences of prokaryotes and eukaryotes spurred both the demand and the opportunity for the construction of an evolutionary classification of genes from these genomes. Such a classification system based on orthologous relationships between genes appears to be a natural framework for comparative genomics and should facilitate both functional annotation of genomes and large-scale evolutionary studies. We describe here a major update of the previously developed system for delineation of Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs) from the sequenced genomes of prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes and the construction of clusters of predicted orthologs for 7 eukaryotic genomes, which we named KOGs after eukaryotic orthologous groups. The COG collection currently consists of 138,458 proteins, which form 4873 COGs and comprise 75% of the 185,505 (predicted) proteins encoded in 66 genomes of unicellular organisms. The eukaryotic orthologous groups (KOGs) include proteins from 7 eukaryotic genomes: three animals (the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and Homo sapiens), one plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, two fungi (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe), and the intracellular microsporidian parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi. The current KOG set consists of 4852 clusters of orthologs, which include 59,838 proteins, or approximately 54% of the analyzed eukaryotic 110,655 gene products. Compared to the coverage of the prokaryotic genomes with COGs, a considerably smaller fraction of eukaryotic genes could be included into the KOGs; addition of new eukaryotic genomes is expected to result in substantial increase in the coverage of eukaryotic genomes with KOGs. Examination of the phyletic patterns of KOGs reveals a conserved core represented in all analyzed species and consisting of approximately 20% of the KOG set. This conserved portion of the KOG set is much greater than the ubiquitous portion of the COG set (approximately 1% of the COGs). In part, this difference is probably due to the small number of included eukaryotic genomes, but it could also reflect the relative compactness of eukaryotes as a clade and the greater evolutionary stability of eukaryotic genomes. The updated collection of orthologous protein sets for prokaryotes and eukaryotes is expected to be a useful platform for functional annotation of newly sequenced genomes, including those of complex eukaryotes, and genome-wide evolutionary studies.

BMC Bioinformatics. 2003:4() | 2327 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
The COG database: new developments in phylogenetic classification of proteins from complete genomes. [PMID: 11125040]
Tatusov RL, Natale DA, Garkavtsev IV, Tatusova TA, Shankavaram UT, Rao BS, Kiryutin B, Galperin MY, Fedorova ND, Koonin EV.

The database of Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs), which represents an attempt on a phylogenetic classification of the proteins encoded in complete genomes, currently consists of 2791 COGs including 45 350 proteins from 30 genomes of bacteria, archaea and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/COG). In addition, a supplement to the COGs is available, in which proteins encoded in the genomes of two multicellular eukaryotes, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and shared with bacteria and/or archaea were included. The new features added to the COG database include information pages with structural and functional details on each COG and literature references, improvements of the COGNITOR program that is used to fit new proteins into the COGs, and classification of genomes and COGs constructed by using principal component analysis.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2001:29(1) | 1090 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
The COG database: a tool for genome-scale analysis of protein functions and evolution. [PMID: 10592175]
Tatusov RL, Galperin MY, Natale DA, Koonin EV.

Rational classification of proteins encoded in sequenced genomes is critical for making the genome sequences maximally useful for functional and evolutionary studies. The database of Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs) is an attempt on a phylogenetic classification of the proteins encoded in 21 complete genomes of bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes (http://www. ncbi.nlm. The COGs were constructed by applying the criterion of consistency of genome-specific best hits to the results of an exhaustive comparison of all protein sequences from these genomes. The database comprises 2091 COGs that include 56-83% of the gene products from each of the complete bacterial and archaeal genomes and approximately 35% of those from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. The COG database is accompanied by the COGNITOR program that is used to fit new proteins into the COGs and can be applied to functional and phylogenetic annotation of newly sequenced genomes.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2000:28(1) | 1787 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)
A genomic perspective on protein families. [PMID: 9381173]
Tatusov RL, Koonin EV, Lipman DJ.

In order to extract the maximum amount of information from the rapidly accumulating genome sequences, all conserved genes need to be classified according to their homologous relationships. Comparison of proteins encoded in seven complete genomes from five major phylogenetic lineages and elucidation of consistent patterns of sequence similarities allowed the delineation of 720 clusters of orthologous groups (COGs). Each COG consists of individual orthologous proteins or orthologous sets of paralogs from at least three lineages. Orthologs typically have the same function, allowing transfer of functional information from one member to an entire COG. This relation automatically yields a number of functional predictions for poorly characterized genomes. The COGs comprise a framework for functional and evolutionary genome analysis.

Science. 1997:278(5338) | 2001 Citations (from Europe PMC, 2021-06-19)


All databases:
26/5061 (99.506%)
Phylogeny and homology:
3/216 (99.074%)
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Created on: 2015-06-20
Curated by:
lin liu [2021-03-28]
lin liu [2021-01-21]
Dong Zou [2018-03-06]
Lina Ma [2016-08-16]
Mengwei Li [2016-04-12]
Mengwei Li [2016-03-31]
Zhang Zhang [2015-12-13]
Mengwei Li [2015-12-03]
Lina Ma [2015-11-18]
Lina Ma [2015-11-17]
Mengwei Li [2015-06-27]