Generating MiAIRR compliant GenBank/TLS submissions


The MiAIRR standard (minimal information about adaptive immune receptor repertoires) is a minimal reporting standard for experiments using sequencing-based technologies to study adaptive immune receptors (T and B cell receptors). The current version (1.0) of the standard was published in Rubelt et al, 2017 and accepted by the general assembly at the annual AIRR Community meeting in December 2017.

MiAIRR recommends submission of raw read data to the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) and submission of processed and annotated data to the Targeted Locus Study (TLS) section of GenBank.

This example will cover generation of files for submission to TLS starting from Change-O formatted data. For complete details of the required and optional elements of the TLS submission see the AIRR Standards documentation site.

Special attention should be paid to the REQUIRED elements. Note that GenBank expects there to be a CDS element that corresponds to the JUNCTION. If submitting single-cell heavy:light paired BCR data, GenBank expects separate files for the heavy, the kappa, and the lambda chains. Note that even though the kappa and the lambda chain sequences should be in separate files, their misc_feature comments should both read immunoglobulin light chain variable region, per AIRR standard requirements. In addition, every effort should be made to make sure that the values of the attributes for GenBank submission match those of the BioSample attributes. In particular, if the BioSample specifies a strain value (e.g. for mouse data), then a strain attribute MUST be included when preparing GenBank submission, and that value MUST match the BioSample value.

Example data

We have hosted a small example data set resulting from the UMI barcoded MiSeq workflow described in the pRESTO documentation. The files can be downloded from here:

Change-O Example Files

The following examples use the HD13M_db-pass.tsv database file and HD13M_template.sbt file provided in the example bundle, which has already undergone the IgBLAST annotation, parsing, and filtering operations.

Generating files for submission



C region annotations must use official gene symbols (IGHM, IGHG, etc) so that they are properly recognized by remote databases. If your annotations are not of this form, then they must be updated prior to generating the GenBank/TLS submission files. The following example shows how to use the update subcommand of ParseDb to rename the values in the c_call column. The files provided for this example already have correctly annotated c_call information, so the following is hypothetical example (db.tsv) with existing annotation of the for IgM, IgG, etc: update -d db.tsv -f c_call \
    -u IgA IgD IgE IgG IgM \

Creating ASN files

ASN submission files are generated using the genbank subcommand of ConvertDb as follows: genbank -d HD13M_db-pass.tsv \
    --product "immunoglobulin heavy chain" \
    --db "IMGT/GENE-DB" \
    --inf "IgBLAST:1.14.0" \
    --organism "Homo sapiens" \
    --tissue "Peripheral blood" \
    --cell-type "B cell" \
    --isolate HD13M \
    --cf c_call \
    --nf duplicate_count \
    --asis-id \
    --asn \
    --sbt HD13M_template.sbt \
    --outdir HD13M_TLS

The resulting output in the HD13M_TLS folder will include a number of files. The Sequin file HD13M_db-pass_genbank.sqn is the file that will be used for submission and the GenBank record file HD13M_db-pass_genbank.gbf is similar to what the submission will look like once it has been accepted by GenBank.

The command above manually specifies several required and optional annotations. Alternatively, sample information (organism, sex, isolate, tissue_type, cell_type) can be specified in a separate yaml file and provided via the -y argument. Additional harmonized BioSample attributes, which are not convered by the existing commandline arguments, may be provided in the yaml file. Note, the yaml file adds only sample features, so it cannot be used to specify source features (--product, --mol, --inf and --db arguments), parsing arguments, or run parameters (–label`, --exec, etc). Features specified in the yaml file will override equivalent features specified through the corresponding commandline arguments.


The example shown above automatically runs tbl2asn, because the --asn argument was specified. ConvertDb can be run without running tbl2asn, which will generate only the feature table (S43_update_genbank.tbl) and fasta (HD13M_db-pass_genbank.fsa) files required to run tbl2asn manually via the command:

tbl2asn -p . -a s -V vb -t S43_template.sbt


When running tbl2asn using the --asn argument to ConvertDb there is no internal validation that the records passing the filters in ConvertDb also pass the filters in tbl2asn. As such, it is recommended that the number of sequences in the output .sqn file be verified against the number of sequences in the .tbl and .fsa output files. From the command line, this can be achieved via:

grep -c iupacna *.sqn


There is a known issue with the --asn argument. In some environments, for reasons that are presently unknown, tbl2asn may fail to recongizing the input fasta file and report an error stating Unable to read any FASTA records. Running tbl2asn manually should resolve the issue.

Submitting to GenBank/TLS using SequinMacroSend

After generating the .sqn files, you can submit them as MiAIRR compliant GenBank/TLS records using GenBank’s SequinMacroSend service.

When submitting, simply add the keyword AIRR to the subject line in the submission system and it will be routed accordingly.


Currently, the SequinMacroSend system cannot accept files over 512MB in size. For submissions over the size limit, you must split them into smaller files and note in the submission comments that they are a part of a split submission. Note, the .sqn files used for submission are usually about 30 times the size of the original tab-delimited Change-O file. See the split subcommand of ParseDb for one approach to logically dividing large submissions.