RESOURCES: When Proteins Go Awry

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Science  10 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5643, pp. 205
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5643.205b

Proteins are the cell's proletariat. Their labors keep a cell in shape and allow it to move, divide, break down food, and chat with other cells. Researchers trying to unravel how these hard-working molecules accomplish the tasks of living or trigger illness can find a wealth of data at the Human Protein Reference Database, a joint production of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Institute of Bioinformatics in Bangalore, India.

Profiling nearly 3000 proteins, including more than 1400 blamed for human maladies, the new site supplies data such as which tissues a particular protein is active in, what other proteins it interacts with, its target molecules, and its role in diseases. Project head Akhilesh Pandey of Johns Hopkins and colleagues gleaned the information from the disease-genes storehouse Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, more than 100,000 published papers, and other protein databases. By carefully sorting and comparing, they could spot unrecognized links between proteins and weed out shaky findings. (For details, see this month's issue of Genome Research.) Along with entries on individual molecules, you can call up maps that illustrate the interconnections among proteins. The results are free for noncommercial users. The site will hold 10,000 entries by year's end.

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