Thorough, searchable database of human proteins unveiled

Like expert curators who verify and create catalogs of the world's great art collections, an international team of scientists has developed a human protein database they say will change the way biology is done. The team unveils the online Human Protein Reference Database in the October issue of Genome Research.

The database, which currently contains scientist-compiled entries on the 3,000 most-studied human proteins, including their known roles in health and disease, is expected to hold comprehensive information on 10,000 human proteins by year's end. Importantly, this database includes known interactions between proteins, creating a web that ties separate discoveries together.

"This is the real beginning of systems biology in the human," says principal investigator Akhilesh Pandey, Ph.D., assistant professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins. "We wanted to make the best human protein database ever, so research could go faster and available information could be easier to find and easier to organize."

Pandey says advances in technology have made getting data much easier, but processing it and interpreting observations are now the big hurdles in laboratories.

"It has remained difficult to put together a big picture of biology, to see how one set of observations intersects with and complements others," he says. "With this single database, biologists now will be able to quickly review what is known about the proteins and how they interact, speeding the creation of new hypotheses to test in the lab."

The 3,000 proteins currently in the database are known to interact with anywhere from tens to hundreds of other proteins. Online, a user can pull up a visual web of protein-protein interactions with just the click of a mouse.

"The entries have been critically reviewed, making the information in the database as accurate and complete as possible," says Pandey. "Scientists can eve

Contact: Joanna Downer
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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