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A high-quality database of molecules of the immune system

Christopher J Thorpe

  • Correspondence: Christopher J Thorpe

Author Affiliations

Genome Biology 2000, 1:reports202  doi:10.1186/gb-2000-1-1-reports202


The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://genomebiology.com/2000/1/1/reports/202


Received:1 September 1999
Published:17 March 2000

© 2000 BioMed Central Ltd

Content

This integrated immunogenetics database specializes in immunoglobulins, T-cell receptors and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. First created in 1989, the database has been a European project since 1992, and is maintained in close collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). IMGT is composed of two major databases: IMTT/LIGM-DB, a database of immunoglobulin and T-cell receptors from humans and other vertebrates; and IMGT/HLA-DB, a database of human MHC molecules (HLA). The site also contains annotated illustrations of secondary structure and crystallographic structures.

Navigation

Consistent links to the referring page, and back to the home page, make navigation easy. In addition, the site has a useful 'You are here' display at the top of each page that enables orientation within the site. The search function did not easily yield the expected results, and in general it was easier to browse the site for the relevant information.

Reporter's comments

Timeliness

The site is regularly updated and each page is stamped with a creation date and a modification date. Most pages appeared to have been updated within the previous month.

Best feature

The most important feature of this site is the clear categorization and display of sequences. The alignments of genes in specific immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor lineages clearly show the important features - the sequence changes - by only showing differences from a prototypic sequence. This, coupled with the regular updates, makes the site an important resource.

Wish list

The search function is in need of alteration. Search results, which are generated by an external search engine, are difficult to rank for importance, and do not always lead directly to the desired sequence; but given that navigation in the site is good, this is not a serious problem.

Related websites

Additional human MHC information is available from HLA Informatics Group, Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust.

Table of links

Assumptions made about all sites unless otherwise specified:
The site is free, in English and no registration is required. It is relatively quick to download, can be navigated by an 'intermediate' user, and no problems with connection were found. The site does not stipulate that any particular browser be used and no special software/plug-ins are required to view the site. There are relatively few gratuitous images and each page has its own URL, allowing it to be bookmarked.