Happy anniversary, PDBe!

A 3D print-out of beta-galactosidase
3D print-out of the structure of beta-galactosidase, an enzyme that catalyses the hydrolysis of lactose into galactose and glucose. Beta-galactosidase is one of the biggest occupants of EMPIAR: EMBL-EBI's resource for raw, 2D structural data.

print

Ewan Birney celebrates 20 years of the Protein Data Bank in Europe by paying homage to nine of its most intriguing tenants in his “Structures of Christmas” series of blog posts.

Nowadays, we can see the position of atoms as if we had vision millions of times sharper than human eyes allow. This is the gift of structural biology – the science of figuring out the three-dimensional structures of molecules (usually proteins), and correlating their shape to their function. Such insights give us clues about how changing a molecule’s shape could change what it does. That’s essentially how medicines work.

Determining the shapes of molecules is painstaking work, so sharing that knowledge openly with scientists around the world is essential for publicly funded research to proceed efficiently. EMBL-EBI is at the heart of open data in the life sciences, and hosts the European arm of the world’s longest-running molecular data resource: the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Launched in 1971, the PDB is now a worldwide collaboration (wwPDB) hosting databases in the US, Japan and Europe. Each of these data resources inspires innovation and promotes understanding of the fundamental processes of life.

As the Protein Data Bank in Europe (PDBe) looks back on its 20th year in operation – and celebrates its annotation of the PDB’s 25,000th structure today – Ewan Birney pays homage to some of its most intriguing tenants.

Nine “Structures of Christmas”