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Harmonizing pathway databases using Biological Expression Language (BEL)

Project description

PathMe is a Python package aimed to convert KEGG [2] [3] [4], Reactome [5] [6], and WikiPathways [7] [8] [9] to Biological Expression Language (BEL).

This project is the continuation of the ComPath web application aimed at exploring, analyzing, and curating pathway knowledge in a gene-centric view. This different approach involves converting all the pathways in these resources into BEL as a pivotal integration schema to harmonize entities and relationships in order across these multiple resources; thus, enabling a more comprehensive evaluation of pathway cross-talks, consensus, and boundaries. Additionally, PathMe is complemented with the PathMe-Viewer, a web application that enables querying, browsing, and navigating pathway knowledge assisted by a user-friendly visualization.

Database Versions

PathMe currently uses the following versions of the databases:

  • KEGG: Up-to-date (KEGG does not have tag its releases)

  • Reactome: 67 Release

  • WikiPathways: March 2020 Release


If you use PathMe in your work, please consider citing:

Installation Current version on PyPI Stable Supported Python Versions Apache-2.0

pathme can be directly installed from PyPi with pip:

$ python3 -m pip install pathme

To use the latest version install directly from GitHub:

$ python3 -m pip install git+
  1. or in editable mode with:

$ git clone
$ cd pathme
$ python3 -m pip install -e .

How to Use

Before using PathMe, make sure you have installed and populated the Bio2BEL HGNC and Bio2BEL ChEBI databases (Simple run:”python3 -m bio2bel_hgnc populate” and “python3 -m bio2bel_chebi populate”) in your favourite terminal.

Each database has three main commands: download, bel, and summarize:

  1. Download content

PathMe first requires to download the raw files from the original pathway databases. This can be accomplished by running the command (‘database’ can be either KEGG, Reactome, or WikiPathways). E.g., python3 -m pathme kegg download

$ python3 -m pathme <database> download
  1. Generate BEL Graphs

Once the raw files are downloaded, you can run the following to command to generate BELGraphs that will be exported as Python pickles files for further analysis. Furthermore, the conversion to BEL can be tuned differently for each database by using specific commands. For example, KEGG parameters are shown when running “python3 -m pathme kegg bel –help”. Finally, please bear in mind that converting the Reactome files take up to 8 hours due to the large amount of its RDF file.

$ python3 -m pathme <database> bel
  1. Summarize

Summarizes the result of the conversion to BEL.

$ python3 -m pathme <database> summarize

Advanced Parameters

KEGG Functionalities

The KEGG module of PathMe is able to handle KGML differently depending on the goal. By default, KEGG groups together the complex of nodes (e.g., gene families) into one node as it is depicted in the KEGG cartoons and represented in the KGML files. However, this behavior can be modified by adding the parameter –flatten=True in the exporting command. Example:

$ python3 -m pathme kegg bel --flatten

Export PathMe

Run the following command to see the different formats that you can export PathMe to (e.g., CX, SPIA, etc.):

$ python3 -m pathme export --help


PathMe is a scientific software that has been developed in an academic capacity, and thus comes with no warranty or guarantee of maintenance, support, or back-up of data.



PathMe makes use of KEGG KGML files that are downloaded via the KEGG API for academic purposes (please make sure you comply their Terms and Conditions).



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