The number of protein records in the UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB: continues to grow rapidly as a result of genome sequencing and the prediction of protein-coding genes. Providing functional annotation for these proteins presents a significant and continuing challenge.


In response to this challenge, UniProt has developed a method of annotation, known as UniRule, based on expertly curated rules, which integrates related systems (RuleBase, HAMAP, PIRSR, PIRNR) developed by the members of the UniProt consortium. UniRule uses protein family signatures from InterPro, combined with taxonomic and other constraints, to select sets of reviewed proteins which have common functional properties supported by experimental evidence. This annotation is propagated to unreviewed records in UniProtKB that meet the same selection criteria, most of which do not have (and are never likely to have) experimentally verified functional annotation. Release 2020_01 of UniProtKB contains 6496 UniRule rules which provide annotation for 53 million proteins, accounting for 30% of the 178 million records in UniProtKB. UniRule provides scalable enrichment of annotation in UniProtKB.

Availability and implementation

UniRule rules are integrated into UniProtKB and can be viewed at UniRule rules and the code required to run the rules, are publicly available for researchers who wish to annotate their own sequences. The implementation used to run the rules is known as UniFIRE and is available at

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