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BMC Bioinformatics. 2010 Apr 30;11:223. doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-11-223.

From IMGT-ONTOLOGY to IMGT/LIGMotif: the IMGT standardized approach for immunoglobulin and T cell receptor gene identification and description in large genomic sequences.

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Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire d'ImmunoGénétique Moléculaire LIGM, UPR CNRS 1142, Institut de Génétique Humaine IGH, 141 rue de la Cardonille, 34396 Montpellier cedex 5, France.



The antigen receptors, immunoglobulins (IG) and T cell receptors (TR), are specific molecular components of the adaptive immune response of vertebrates. Their genes are organized in the genome in several loci (7 in humans) that comprise different gene types: variable (V), diversity (D), joining (J) and constant (C) genes. Synthesis of the IG and TR proteins requires rearrangements of V and J, or V, D and J genes at the DNA level, followed by the splicing at the RNA level of the rearranged V-J and V-D-J genes to C genes. Owing to the particularities of IG and TR gene structures related to these molecular mechanisms, conventional bioinformatic software and tools are not adapted to the identification and description of IG and TR genes in large genomic sequences. In order to answer that need, IMGT, the international ImMunoGeneTics information system, has developed IMGT/LIGMotif, a tool for IG and TR gene annotation. This tool is based on standardized rules defined in IMGT-ONTOLOGY, the first ontology in immunogenetics and immunoinformatics.


IMGT/LIGMotif currently annotates human and mouse IG and TR loci in large genomic sequences. The annotation includes gene identification and orientation on DNA strand, description of the V, D and J genes by assigning IMGT labels, gene functionality, and finally, gene delimitation and cluster assembly. IMGT/LIGMotif analyses sequences up to 2.5 megabase pairs and can analyse them in batch files.


IMGT/LIGMotif is currently used by the IMGT biocurators to annotate, in a first step, IG and TR genomic sequences of human and mouse in new haplotypes and those of closely related species, nonhuman primates and rat, respectively. In a next step, and following enrichment of its reference databases, IMGT/LIGMotif will be used to annotate IG and TR of more distantly related vertebrate species. IMGT/LIGMotif is available at

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