KEGG (http://www.kegg.jp/ or http://www.genome.jp/kegg/) is an encyclopedia of genes and genomes. Assigning functional meanings to genes and genomes both at the molecular and higher levels is the primary objective of the KEGG database project. Molecular-level functions are stored in the KO (KEGG Orthology) database, where each KO is defined as a functional ortholog of genes and proteins. Higher-level functions are represented by networks of molecular interactions, reactions and relations in the forms of KEGG pathway maps, BRITE hierarchies and KEGG modules. In the past the KO database was developed for the purpose of defining nodes of molecular networks, but now the content has been expanded and the quality improved irrespective of whether or not the KOs appear in the three molecular network databases. The newly introduced addendum category of the GENES database is a collection of individual proteins whose functions are experimentally characterized and from which an increasing number of KOs are defined. Furthermore, the DISEASE and DRUG databases have been improved by systematic analysis of drug labels for better integration of diseases and drugs with the KEGG molecular networks. KEGG is moving towards becoming a comprehensive knowledge base for both functional interpretation and practical application of genomic information.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.