September 15, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 16)
Strong Points: Useful tools for protein structure
Weak Points: Nothing significant
Proteins can largely be thought of as a group of structures that are literally assembled from pieces over evolutionary time. An ATP binding site for one enzyme will likely resemble the ATP binding site of another. Identifying and tallying these architectural building blocks, or domains, is the focus of NCBI’s Conserved Domain Database. By using multiple sequences of alignments of conserved domains, the site maximizes the possibility that researchers will be able to get clues to the function of a newly discovered protein and also measure evolutionary relationships between the same protein in different organisms. The site provides easy access to analyses by offering a box where sequences are pasted in. Tools for visualizing structures afford views of known domains.