CAGECAT: The CompArative GEne Cluster Analysis Toolbox for rapid search and visualisation of homologous gene clusters

Matthias van den Belt, Cameron Gilchrist, Thomas J. Booth, Yit Heng Chooi, Marnix H. Medema, Mohammad Alanjary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Co-localized sets of genes that encode specialized functions are common across microbial genomes and occur in genomes of larger eukaryotes as well. Important examples include Biosynthetic Gene Clusters (BGCs) that produce specialized metabolites with medicinal, agricultural, and industrial value (e.g. antimicrobials). Comparative analysis of BGCs can aid in the discovery of novel metabolites by highlighting distribution and identifying variants in public genomes. Unfortunately, gene-cluster-level homology detection remains inaccessible, time-consuming and difficult to interpret. Results: The comparative gene cluster analysis toolbox (CAGECAT) is a rapid and user-friendly platform to mitigate difficulties in comparative analysis of whole gene clusters. The software provides homology searches and downstream analyses without the need for command-line or programming expertise. By leveraging remote BLAST databases, which always provide up-to-date results, CAGECAT can yield relevant matches that aid in the comparison, taxonomic distribution, or evolution of an unknown query. The service is extensible and interoperable and implements the cblaster and clinker pipelines to perform homology search, filtering, gene neighbourhood estimation, and dynamic visualisation of resulting variant BGCs. With the visualisation module, publication-quality figures can be customized directly from a web-browser, which greatly accelerates their interpretation via informative overlays to identify conserved genes in a BGC query. Conclusion: Overall, CAGECAT is an extensible software that can be interfaced via a standard web-browser for whole region homology searches and comparison on continually updated genomes from NCBI. The public web server and installable docker image are open source and freely available without registration at: .

Original languageEnglish
Article number181
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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