February 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 3)
Strong Points: Interesting info on novel peptides
Weak Points: Disappointingly small
Pop quiz—what are penaeidins? If you answered a group of antimicrobial peptides, you know a lot more about the topic of this site than I did when I discovered it. A group of peptides originally isolated from a shrimp, the penaeidins are involved in the innate immunity of some vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. They may be important for organisms that lack adaptive immunity, or so the opening page of the site says. The database hosted at this site called PenBase is a bit disappointing, at least in its number of entries—29. This is more of what I would call a list than a database. Visitors can Blast an unknown sequence against PenBase, and that may be its most useful function. Primer sets for amplifying these coding sequences are known. The novelty and economic potential of these molecules merit a serious scan of the contents of the site.