September 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 16)
Strong Points: Nice help secton, large database
Weak Points: Somewhat cumbersome web design, database not intuitive
GPCRs (or G Protein-Coupled Receptors) may not sound like the most interesting things in the world, but I assure you that their functions are multitudinous and vital to our survival. GPCRs are involved in immunity, olfaction, and communication in the nervous system, to name a few. And while the number of human GPCRs is striking, the variability among this receptor family is even greater due to the presence of natural variants (short-handed as NaVa’s) of each receptor. The GCPR Natural Variants Database presents exactly what it advertises: a collection of these variants, including rare mutations (frequency <1%), polymorphisms (frequency >1%), and variants of unknown allelic frequency. The website’s design seems a bit rough around the edges, but the split-screen organization actually works quite well for this database. It is not the most intuitive database to browse, although there is a thorough how-to section on the opening page.