DATABASE: Mapping Life's Reactions

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Science  11 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5677, pp. 1575
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5677.1575e

A cell works hard to stay alive, performing tasks as varied as slicing apart glucose, mending frayed DNA, and responding to hormones. To unravel such biochemical reactions or trace the connections between pathways, visit the Reactome, a newly revamped site from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and the Gene Ontology Consortium.

Designed for everyone from teachers who need an online textbook to researchers hoping to fill gaps in our knowledge, Reactome brims with peer-reviewed biological pathways. The site focuses on reactions in humans but also includes examples from rats, mice, and other model organisms. Pick a cellular job—say, mRNA processing—and find out where it occurs, which proteins and other molecules participate, and what other activities they influence. Uncover more details about a gene or protein by connecting to databases such as UniProt and Ensembl. Handy tools include the Pathfinder function, which provides steps between reactants and products. So far, Reactome spans cell division to lipid metabolism to DNA repair. The curators—who glean the info from the literature or DNA similarities—plan to add a new batch of pathways about every 3 months. Above, protons slip into an endosome, a step in recycling the insulin receptor.

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