Downloading Transcript Databases

The first step after installing Jannovar is to obtain a transcript database. This database stores information about the transcripts, such as the location of a transcript and its exons, its CDS start and end position, and the transcript sequence. There are three major sources of annotation databases for the main model organisms: (1) the UCSC genome browser, (2) the Ensembl project, and (3) the RefSeq database at NCBI. Each database is linked to a certain release of a reference genome.

Displaying Available Database


You can use your own datasources by editing the ini file. See datasource_ for more information.

Jannovar has built-in support for the human and mouse genomes in releases hg18, hg19, hg38, mm9, and mm10. For each release, the database can originate from the sources ucsc, ensembl, and refseq. Further, the database can be limited to the curated transcripts only when using RefSeq: refseq_curated.

The genome release names and the source names are joint into database descriptors such as hg19/ucsc and hg38/refseq. You can view the built-in database names using the db-list Jannovar command:

$ java -jar jannovar-cli-0.36.jar db-list

Database Download

A database can be downloaded using the download command. You can pass a list of database source names to this command. For each, Jannovar will download the database files over the network to the directory data/${source} This directory is created if necessary. When a to be downloaded file already exists, Jannovar will not attempt to overwrite this file.


If you have problems with downloading files (e.g., because of proxy settings) and later on building the database fails then you should delete the directory data/${source} and retry downloading the file.

Finally, Jannovar will build a file with the extension .ser in the directory data, e.g. data/hg19_ucsc.ser.


If you are behind a proxy then you have to pass the appropriate argument to Jannovar download. For most users, adding --proxy should suffice. Advanced proxy settings and details are explained in the section Proxy Settings

Let us now download the RefSeq and UCSC annotations for human release hg19:

$ java -jar jannovar-cli-0.36.jar download -d hg19/refseq -d hg19/ucsc