Protein Data Bank archives 50,000th molecule structure
Research archive doubles in size since 2004
With its origins in a handwritten petition circulated at a scientific meeting, the Protien Data Bank is the single worldwide repository for the three-dimensional structures of large molecules and nucleic acids.
Under the direction of Rutgers Board of Governors Professor Helen Berman, this free, online library allows biological researchers and students to study, store, and share molecular information on a global scale.
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Founded in 1971 with seven structures at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the archive is managed by a consortium called the worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB). The RCSB (Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics) PDB, based at Rutgers and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is responsible for releasing PDB entries into the archive after they have been reviewed and annotated.
At Rutgers, RCSB PDB members annotate structures and develop the sophisticated infrastructure needed to handle these complex data. The primary FTP site is based at SDSC, which serves as the distribution center.
Today the PDB archive receives approximately 25 new structures from scientists each day – and more than 5 million files are downloaded from the PDB archive every month. Users include structural biologists, computational biologists, biochemists, and molecular biologists in academia, government and industry as well as educators and students.
Notable examples include recent structures of the adrenergic receptor, which will revolutionize the discovery of drugs to fight heart disease, allergies and numerous other diseases, and the structures of many enzymes from HIV, which have been pivotal in the design of new therapies to fight AIDS.
“Advances in science and technology have helped the archive grow by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years,” Berman said. She noted that the size of the PDB has doubled in just the last three and a half years.
Philip E. Bourne, associate director of the RCSB PDB and professor of pharmacology at UCSD, estimates the PDB will triple to 150,000 structures by 2014,
The RCSB PDB presents a comprehensive website and database that lets users search, analyze, and visualize the structures of biological macromolecules and their relationships to sequence, function and disease. In addition, it features a “Molecule of the Month” series, which recently published its 100th installment. (Read related story on Molecule of the Month.)
The database is supported by funds from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Office of Science, the Department of Energy, the National Library of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Research Resources, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases.