With efforts mounting to characterize protein functions following genome sequencing, bioinformatics has emerged as a key technology. Three such developments were showcased at a recent genomics conference in San Diego:
WHALES (Web Homology Alert Service)--This keeps National Institutes of Health intramural scientists aware of new releases in the databases for DNA and protein sequences. It's based on stored, user-defined profiles that are processed weekly, with results returned by E-mail. The service can handle text or sequence queries, searching Genbank for DNA data and Genpept, Swiss-Prot, or PDB (Protein Data Base) for protein sequences. In use for less than six months so far, in a typical week the service compares about 550 profiles against 100,000 new database entries, primarily helping researchers to match sequences of unknown function that they have sequenced, or to find new homologues of known sequences.
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