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UniProt release 8.4

Published July 25, 2006


Happy anniversary, Swiss-Prot!

On July 21st 1986, the first Swiss-Prot release was created. It contained close to 4,000 protein sequence entries and was produced by a single graduate student, Amos Bairoch, at the University of Geneva. In 1996, while Swiss-Prot was rapidly growing (60,000 entries) and was used worldwide, the granting agencies could not find a solution to finance it. Without the support of thousands of users, Swiss-Prot would not be celebrating its 20th anniversary today! This financial crisis was solved by the creation of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, and additional resources were provided by license fees paid by commercial users, Swiss-Prot remaining freely accessible to the academic community.

The first Swiss-Prot annotators used to annotate protein sequences concomitant with the submission of the nucleotide coding sequences to the EMBL database. However, the increase of submissions made it impossible to keep pace. In collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), a solution was found with the creation of TrEMBL, a computer-annotated supplement to Swiss-Prot in 1996, which contained roughly 60,000 entries in its first release.

In 2006, a staff of 60 annotators at the SIB and the EBI, supported by a dedicated programming team, is maintaining Swiss-Prot. Close to 250,000 entries are currently in the knowledgebase. Interestingly, 10 years were necessary to reach the first 50,000 protein sequence entries, while 50,000 proteins can now be manually annotated in about 18 months. In parallel, TrEMBL's exponential growth results in a database containing close to 3 millions entries.

Since 2002, both databases are at the heart of the UniProt project and together they constitute the UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB), one of 3 UniProt components. UniProt is produced by a collaboration between 3 institutes, SIB, EBI and PIR (Protein Information Resource). This single, centralized, authoritative resource for protein sequences and functional information aims to make protein data available, to facilitate their retrieval and to provide new tools to help in their analysis. Since Swiss-Prot became UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot, the access to the knowledgebase is free again for commercial users. Currently 160 persons are involved in the UniProt services to the scientific community.

The means have changed, but the 20 year old key idea of a graduate student to share knowledge is still, and more than ever, vivid.

UniProtKB News

Large scale analyses

The term 'LARGE SCALE ANALYSIS' was added in RP lines for references that report large screen results to indicate that results have not been extensively studied.

AC   P33304