July 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 13)
Strong Points: Organization
Weak Points: Limited species in some databases
I know a number of people who curse their immune systems whenever they get sick, yet I wonder how many of them appreciate the fact that without an immune system, they wouldn’t last long at all. Our immune systems are truly amazing, and this fact is made quite clear when exploring the offerings of the ImMunoGeneTics project. This site offers a collection of databases of T-cell receptors, immunoglobulins, and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of vertebrate species. There are sequence alignments tools for immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor sequences, though only for a few species such as human, mouse, cow, and sheep. The human MHC (referred to as HLA) database includes an allele ethnicity tool, which allows one to access the reported ethnicity of the individuals whose allele sequences are included in the database. There are many tools on this site, which is well organized and easy to maneuver. So, take advantage…and don’t forget to thank your immune system every once in a while!