GENCODE (Ensembl) GENCODE V20 (Ensembl 76) Track Settings
Gene Annotations from GENCODE Version 20 (Ensembl 76)

Track collection: GENCODE Gene Annotations (Ensembl)

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 Basic  Genes  Basic Gene Annotation Set from GENCODE Version 20 (Ensembl 76)   Schema 
 Comprehensive  Genes  Comprehensive Gene Annotation Set from GENCODE Version 20 (Ensembl 76)   Schema 
 Pseudogenes  Genes  Pseudogene Annotation Set from GENCODE Version 20 (Ensembl 76)   Schema 
 2-way Pseudogenes  2-way  2-way Pseudogene Annotation Set from GENCODE Version 20 (Ensembl 76)   Schema 
 PolyA  PolyA  PolyA Transcript Annotation Set from GENCODE Version 20 (Ensembl 76)   Schema 


The GENCODE Genes track (version 20, August 2014) shows high-quality manual annotations merged with evidence-based automated annotations across the entire human genome generated by the GENCODE project. The GENCODE gene set presents a full merge between HAVANA manual annotation process and Ensembl automatic annotation pipeline. Priority is given to the manually curated HAVANA annotation using predicted Ensembl annotations when there are no corresponding manual annotations. The annotation was carried out on genome assembly GRCh38 (hg38).

As of GENCODE Version 11, Ensembl and GENCODE have converged. The gene annotations in the GENCODE comprehensive set are the same as the corresponding Ensembl release. UCSC will continue to provide a separate Ensembl track on Human in the same format as the Ensembl tracks on other organisms.

Display Conventions and Configuration

This track is a multi-view composite track that contains differing data sets (views). Instructions for configuring multi-view tracks are here. To show only selected subtracks, uncheck the boxes next to the tracks that you wish to hide.

Views available on this track are:
The gene annotations in this view are divided into three subtracks:
  • GENCODE Basic set is a subset of the Comprehensive set. The selection criteria are described in the methods section.
  • GENCODE Comprehensive set contains all GENCODE coding and non-coding transcript annotations, including polymorphic pseudogenes. This includes both manual and automatic annotations. This is a super-set of the Basic set.
  • GENCODE Pseudogenes include all annotations except polymorphic pseudogenes.
  • GENCODE 2-way Pseudogenes contains pseudogenes predicted by both the Yale Pseudopipe and UCSC Retrofinder pipelines. The set was derived by looking for 50 base pairs of overlap between pseudogenes derived from both sets based on their chromosomal coordinates. When multiple Pseudopipe predictions map to a single Retrofinder prediction, only one match is kept for the 2-way consensus set.
  • GENCODE PolyA contains polyA signals and sites manually annotated on the genome based on transcribed evidence (ESTs and cDNAs) of 3' end of transcripts containing at least 3 A's not matching the genome.

Filtering is available for the items in the GENCODE Basic, Comprehensive and Pseudogene tracks using the following criteria:

  • Transcript class: filter by the basic biological function of a transcript annotation
    • All - don't filter by transcript class
    • coding - display protein coding transcripts, including polymorphic pseudogenes
    • nonCoding - display non-protein coding transcripts
    • pseudo - display pseudogene transcript annotations
    • problem - display problem transcripts (Biotypes of retained_intron, TEC, or disrupted_domain)
  • Transcript Annotation Method: filter by the method used to create the annotation
    • All - don't filter by transcript class
    • manual - display manually created annotations, including those that are also created automatically
    • automatic - display automatically created annotations, including those that are also created manually
    • manual_only - display manually created annotations that were not annotated by the automatic method
    • automatic_only - display automatically created annotations that were not annotated by the manual method
  • Transcript Biotype: filter transcripts by biotype
  • Support Level: filter transcripts by transcription support level

Coloring for the gene annotations is based on the annotation type:

  • coding
  • non-coding
  • pseudogene
  • problem
  • all 2-way pseudogenes
  • all polyA annotations


The GENCODE project aims to annotate all evidence-based gene features on the human reference sequence with high accuracy by integrating computational approaches (including comparative methods), manual annotation and targeted experimental verification. This goal includes identifying all protein-coding loci with associated alternative variants, non-coding loci which have transcript evidence, and pseudogenes. For a detailed description of the methods and references used, see Harrow et al. (2006).

GENCODE Basic Set selection: The GENCODE Basic Set is intended to provide a simplified subset of the GENCODE transcript annotations that will be useful to the majority of users. The goal was to have a high-quality basic set that also covered all loci. Selection of GENCODE annotations for inclusion in the basic set was determined independently for the coding and non-coding transcripts at each gene locus.

  • Criteria for selection of coding transcripts (including polymorphic pseudogenes) at a given locus:
    • All full-length coding transcripts (except problem transcripts or transcripts that are nonsense-mediated decay) was included in the basic set.
    • If there were no transcripts meeting the above criteria, then the partial coding transcript with the largest CDS was included in the basic set (excluding problem transcripts).
  • Criteria for selection of non-coding transcripts at a given locus:
    • All full-length non-coding transcripts (except problem transcripts) with a well characterized biotype (see below) were included in the basic set.
    • If there were no transcripts meeting the above criteria, then the largest non-coding transcript was included in the basic set (excluding problem transcripts)..
  • It no transcripts were included by either the above criteria, the longest problem transcript is included.

Non-coding transcript categorization: Non-coding transcripts are categorized using their biotype and the following criteria:

  • well characterized: antisense, Mt_rRNA, Mt_tRNA, miRNA, rRNA, snRNA, snoRNA
  • poorly characterized: 3prime_overlapping_ncrna, lincRNA, misc_RNA, non_coding, processed_transcript, sense_intronic, sense_overlapping

Transcription Support Level (TSL): It is important that users understand how to assess transcript annotations that they see in GENCODE. While some transcript models have a high level of support through the full length of their exon structure, there are also transcripts that are poorly supported and that should be considered speculative. The Transcription Support Level (TSL) is a method to highlight the well-supported and poorly-supported transcript models for users. The method relies on the primary data that can support full-length transcript structure: mRNA and EST alignments supplied by UCSC and Ensembl.

The mRNA and EST alignments are compared to the GENCODE transcripts and the transcripts are scored according to how well the alignment matches over its full length. The GENCODE TSL provides a consistent method of evaluating the level of support that a GENCODE transcript annotation is actually expressed in humans. Human transcript sequences from the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (GenBank, ENA, and DDBJ) are used as the evidence for this analysis. Exonerate RNA alignments from Ensembl, BLAT RNA and EST alignments from the UCSC Genome Browser Database are used in the analysis. Erroneous transcripts and libraries identified in lists maintained by the Ensembl, UCSC, HAVANA and RefSeq groups are flagged as suspect. GENCODE annotations for protein-coding and non-protein-coding transcripts are compared with the evidence alignments.

Annotations in the MHC region and other immunological genes are not evaluated, as automatic alignments tend to be very problematic. Methods for evaluating single-exon genes are still being developed and they are not included in the current analysis. Multi-exon GENCODE annotations are evaluated using the criteria that all introns are supported by an evidence alignment and the evidence alignment does not indicate that there are unannotated exons. Small insertions and deletions in evidence alignments are assumed to be due to polymorphisms and not considered as differing from the annotations. All intron boundaries must match exactly. The transcript start and end locations are allowed to differ.

The following categories are assigned to each of the evaluated annotations:

  • tsl1 - all splice junctions of the transcript are supported by at least one non-suspect mRNA
  • tsl2 - the best supporting mRNA is flagged as suspect or the support is from multiple ESTs
  • tsl3 - the only support is from a single EST
  • tsl4 - the best supporting EST is flagged as suspect
  • tsl5 - no single transcript supports the model structure
  • tslNA - the transcript was not analyzed for one of the following reasons:
    • pseudogene annotation, including transcribed pseudogenes
    • human leukocyte antigen (HLA) transcript
    • immunoglobin gene transcript
    • T-cell receptor transcript
    • single-exon transcript (will be included in a future version)


GENCODE GTF files are available from the GENCODE release 20 site.


Selected transcript models are verified experimentally by RT-PCR amplification followed by sequencing. Those experiments can be found at GEO:

  • GSE34797:[E-MTAB-684] - Batch IV is based on chromosome 3, 4 and 5 annotations from GENCODE 4 (January 2010).
  • GSE34820:[E-MTAB-737] - Batch V is based on annotations from GENCODE 6 (November 2010).
  • GSE34821:[E-MTAB-831] - Batch VI is based on annotations from GENCODE 6 (November 2010) as well as transcript models predicted by the Ensembl Genebuild group based on the Illumina Human BodyMap 2.0 data.

See Harrow et al. (2006) for information on verification techniques.

Release Notes

GENCODE version 20 corresponds to Ensembl 76 and Vega 56.

See also: The GENCODE Project


This GENCODE release is the result of a collaborative effort among the following laboratories: (contact: GENCODE at the Sanger Institute)

Lab/Institution Contributors
GENCODE Principal Investigator Tim Hubbard
HAVANA manual annotation group, Wellcome Trust Sanger Insitute (WTSI), Hinxton, UK Jennifer Harrow, Timothy Cutts, Bronwen Aken, James Gilbert, Jyoti Choudhary, Ed Griffiths, Jose Manuel Gonzalez, Electra Tapanari, Daniel Barrell, Adam Frankish, Andrew Berry, Alexandra Bignell, Veronika Boychenko, Claire Davidson, Gloria Despacio-Reyes, Mike Kay, Deepa Manthravadi, Gaurab Mukherjee, Catherine Snow, Gemma Barson, Matt Hardy, Joanne Howes
Centre de Regulació Genòmica (CRG), Barcelona, Spain Roderic Guigó, Julien Lagarde, Barbara Uszczyńska
Genome Bioinformatics, University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), USA David Haussler, Rachel Harte, Mark Diekhans, Benedict Paten, Joel Armstrong
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab,Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, USA Manolis Kellis, Irwin Jungreis
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Yale University (Yale), USA Mark Gerstein, Suganthi Balasubramanian, Ekta Khurana, Cristina Sisu, Baikang Pei, Yan Zhang, Mihali Felipe
Center for Integrative Genomics,University of Lausanne, Switzerland Alexandre Reymond, Cedric Howald, Anne-Maud Ferreira, Jacqueline Chrast
Structural Computational Biology Group, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO), Madrid, Spain Alfonso Valencia, Michael Tress, José Manuel Rodríguez, Victor de la Torre
Former members of the GENCODE project Felix Kokocinski, Toby Hunt, Gary Saunders, Sarah Grubb, Thomas Derrien, Andrea Tanzer, Gang Fang, Mihali Felipe, Michael Brent, Randall Brown, Jeltje van Baren, Stephen Searle


Harrow J, Frankish A, Gonzalez JM, Tapanari E, Diekhans M, Kokocinski F, Aken BL, Barrell D, Zadissa A, Searle S et al. GENCODE: the reference human genome annotation for The ENCODE Project. Genome Res. 2012 Sep;22(9):1760-74. PMID: 22955987; PMC: PMC3431492

Harrow J, Denoeud F, Frankish A, Reymond A, Chen CK, Chrast J, Lagarde J, Gilbert JG, Storey R, Swarbreck D et al. GENCODE: producing a reference annotation for ENCODE. Genome Biol. 2006;7 Suppl 1:S4.1-9. PMID: 16925838; PMC: PMC1810553

A full list of GENCODE publications are available at The GENCODE Project web site.

Data Release Policy

GENCODE data are available for use without restrictions.