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The popular MuTect variant tool:

http://archive.broadinstitute.org/cancer/cga/mutect_run

has the following VCF option:

--cosmic < comic.vcf >

Q: What is this cosmic VCF file? What's the purpose of the file?

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VCF is an abbreviation for Variant Call Format. It is a file format for SNPs.

COSMIC stands for Catalogue Of Somatic Mutations In Cancer. It is a database.

Have a look at the links for more information.

A COSMIC VCF is likely just a file in VCF format file containing data coming from the COSMIC data base.

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Without looking at any mutect docs and how it might use this, the COSMIC VCF would refer to a VCF from the cosmic database http://cancer.sanger.ac.uk/cosmic/

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