A high-quality database of molecules of the immune system
- Christopher J Thorpe
© BioMed Central Ltd 2000
Received: 1 September 1999
Published: 17 March 2000
This integrated immunogenetics database specializes in immunoglobulins, T-cell receptors and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Additional human MHC information is available from HLA Informatics Group, Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust.