October 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 17)
Strong Points: Nicely organized database
Weak Points: None
One of the surprises of the human genome project was that the number of genes discovered was considerably fewer than most had expected. I mean, for gosh sakes, we are at the top of the biological kingdom aren’t we? Shouldn’t we have the most genes? Before anyone accuses me of being a species-ist, I should pull the tongue from my cheek and report a bit on some of the reasons for the low numbers. It turns out that genes are, of course, spliced in eukaryotes, so mixing and matching of optional coding sequences gives rise to an enormous number of possible unique sequences—a phenomenon that is the basis also for immune system diversity. Tracking alternative splicing of genes is therefore both important and daunting. EMBL/EBI’s AltSplice site is an excellent resource that provides visitors with an easy-to-use database full of alternative splicing information. A full page query form allows users to specify many parameters, including chromosome number, chromosome location, splice events, gene names, location of gene expression, and much more. A welcome research tool, well done.