Helper Tool


To help develop new models we provide the tool macsyprofile which is to be used as post treatement.

It is ran over a previous macsyfinder analysis:

  • it extracts from raw HMMER output files the hits and computes the profile coverage for each of them.

  • it enables to filter the hits in a user-defined manner, to test other values of filtering parameters than those used with the MacSyFinder run.

  • it writes down the results in a file in tsv format hmm_coverage.tsv.

usage: macsyprofile [-h] [--coverage-profile COVERAGE_PROFILE]
                    [--i-evalue-sel I_EVALUE_SEL]
                    [--best-hits {score,i_eval,profile_coverage}] [-p PATTERN]
                    [-o OUT] [-f] [-V] [-v] [--mute]

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    | |  | | (_| | (__ ___) | |_| |  __/| | | (_) |  _| | |  __/
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MacSyProfile - MacSyFinder profile helper tool

positional arguments:
  previous_run          The path to a macsyfinder results directory.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --coverage-profile COVERAGE_PROFILE
                        Minimal profile coverage required for the hit
                        alignment with the profile to allow the hit selection
                        for systems detection. (default no threshold)
  --i-evalue-sel I_EVALUE_SEL
                        Maximal independent e-value for Hmmer hits to be
                        selected for systems detection. (default: no selection
                        based on i-evalue)
  --best-hits {score,i_eval,profile_coverage}
                        If several hits match the same replicon, same gene.
                        Select only the best one (based on best 'score' or
                        'i_evalue' or 'profile_coverage')
  -p PATTERN, --pattern PATTERN
                        pattern to filter the hmm files to analyse.
  -o OUT, --out OUT     the path to a file to write results.
  --index-dir INDEX_DIR
                        Specifies the path to a directory to store/read the sequence index
                        when the sequence-db dir is not writable.
  -f, --force           force to write output even the file already exists
                        (overwrite it).
  -V, --version         show program's version number and exit
  -v, --verbosity       Increases the verbosity level. There are 4 levels:
                        Error messages (default), Warning (-v), Info (-vv) and
  --mute                Mute the log on stdout. (continue to log on
                        macsyfinder.log) (default: False)

For more details, visit the MacSyFinder website and see the MacSyFinder documentation.

For instance:

>macsyprofile  macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX

will analyse the HMMER raw outputs stored in macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results directory and the results will be stored in macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmm_coverage.tsv file

Setting filtering parameters

This helper tool is designed to help the user test the relevance of the HMM profiles used, what filtering parameters for HMMER to be used, and understand why some components might be unexpectedly missing from the MacSyFinder results. This can thus help to improve the models - for instance for the genomic location parameters (is a component not found cause it should be listed as a loner?).

Therefore by default, the filtering parameters are very loose so that most hits found with HMMER will be reported, even the weakest ones.

However, it is possible to filter hits to be extracted based on the profile coverage with –coverage-profile or the i-evalue (–i-evalue-sel) to be a bit more stringent.

Also, it is possible to use the –best-hits in order to report only the best hit for a given protein sequence when several profiles were matching hit.

Using patterns with “–pattern”

If in previous_run/hmmer_results you have the following files:


But you are interested only in ComM family genes, you can specify the option --pattern 'ComM*' For instance:

>macsyprofile --pattern 'ComM*'  macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comB.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comC.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comEA.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comEB.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comEC.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comGA.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comGB.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comGC.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comGD.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comGE.search_hmm.out
found 79 hits
result is in 'macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmm_coverage.tsv'


The patterns available are the glob patterns (the jokers usable with unix ls command )

>macsyprofile --pattern 'ComM_com?C' -f macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comEC.search_hmm.out
parsing macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmmer_results/ComM_comGC.search_hmm.out
found 16 hits
result is in 'macsyfinder-2021XXXX_XX-XX-XX/hmm_coverage.tsv'

A useful example for modellers?

>macsyprofile --best-hits i_eval --i-evalue-sel 0.001 --coverage-profile 0.5 -o msf_GCF_003149495.1_ASM314949v1_tff-sf/hmm_coverage_best-hits_ieval_default_filter_MSF.tsv msf_GCF_003149495.1_ASM314949v1_tff-sf
found 221 hits
result is in 'msf_GCF_003149495.1_ASM314949v1_tff-sf/hmm_coverage_best-hits_ieval_default_filter_MSF.tsv'

This command line might be useful to macsy-models modellers, as it consists in extracting all relevant hits that are used by the MacSyFinder engine to search systems, when using the default parameters:

  • the proteins are assigned with their best hits (i-evalue based) when they match several profiles (–best-hits i_eval option)

  • the default filtering parameters (i-evalue and profile coverage) are used (–i-evalue-sel and –coverage-profile options)

By using this command line that lists all hits available for MacSyFinder to search for systems, one could be interested in comparing this list to the list of hits that end in being assigned to systems (listed e.g. in best_solution.tsv). This can help to determine why a component is missing from a system: is it because there are no good hits for it, or is it because it does not comply to the co-localization rules defined in the systems’ model?

Parsing macsyprofile outputs

The macsyprofile output is a tabulated separated values (.tsv) files The first lines which are comments (starting with ‘#’) display the tool version and the complete command line used. Then follow the results. The first line of results is a header line.

# macsyprofile 2.0rc1
# macsyprofile --pattern ComM* --coverage-profile 0.5 macsyfinder-20201202_15-17-46/
hit_id  replicon_name   position_hit    hit_sequence_length     gene_name       i_eval  score   profile_coverage        sequence_coverage       begin   end
GCF_000006745_021980    GCF_000006745   2198    291     ComM_comC       2.500e-40       136.400 0.942   0.708   62      267
GCF_000006745_007650    GCF_000006745   765     253     ComM_comC       9.600e-31       105.100 0.937   0.798   43      244


This file can be easily parsed using the Python pandas library.

import pandas as pd

systems = pd.read_csv("path/to/hmm_coverage.tsv", sep='\t', comment='#')


The macsyprofile tool is not compliant with results produced with macsyfinder v1. If you get Cannot find models in conf file XXX. May be these results have been generated with an old version of macsyfinder. Check the configuration file, if [models] section contains models_1 = XXX YYY remove the _1 from models models = XXX YYY