The structural data comes from experiments using x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron microscopy and other methods. After a scientist submits a structure, the experimental data - the deposit - is validated and annotated. Coordinating with the biological journals that publish the discovery of new protein structures, the PDB also ensures that the data is available in the public domain.
As the PDB grows and evolves, one of its central challenges will be the expanded integration of its wealth of information with other biological data, images and research articles.
According to Kim Henrick of the European Bioinformatics Institute, "The PDB must expand both in the storage and annotation of protein production information and into other 3-D structure fields with linkages made to electron microscopy (EM) data. EM experimental data will make an enormous impact in the next five years in molecular biology."
Over the next five years, the PDB's challenges will also include keeping up with the increasing complexity and volume of deposited structures, meeting the demands for more complex queries, and providing more detailed annotation of the experiments and the structures.
Along with serving scientists, the PDB also serves as an educational resource for students and educators at all levels, thus another challenge is to meet the needs of an expanding, diverse and global user community.