Rfam is a comprehensive collection of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) families, represented by multiple sequence alignments and profile stochastic context-free grammars. Rfam aims to facilitate the identification and classification of new members of known sequence families, and distributes annotation of ncRNAs in over 200 complete genome sequences. The data provide the first glimpses of conservation of multiple ncRNA families across a wide taxonomic range. A small number of large families are essential in all three kingdoms of life, with large numbers of smaller families specific to certain taxa. Recent improvements in the database are discussed, together with challenges for the future. Rfam is available on the Web at http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Software/Rfam/ and http://rfam.wustl.edu/.
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