How You Can Help Solve Chemistry’s Protein Problem

Biochemistry has adopted manuscript submission guidelines to address the recent increases in entries to protein databases such as UniProt and GenBank/RefSeq. This surge of new entries affects chemists’ ability to unambiguously identify proteins that are described or characterized in a manuscript. This trend has also led to an increase in database misannotations, which hurts research efforts.

The guideline asks authors to include database accession IDs in their manuscripts for proteins that are subjected to experimental investigation. UniProt accession IDs are encouraged; however, because not all entries in the NCBI database are present in the UniProt database, NCBI accession IDs also can be provided. For previously uncharacterized proteins, use verified functional annotations, either in the text where the protein is first described or in a list at the end of the manuscript (e.g., in a Data Availability section). UniProt scans manuscripts electronically for the accession IDs, thereby connecting these to entries in the databases.

Learn more about chemistry’s “protein problem” and how researchers can help address it:

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Biochemistry is taking this step because its Editors recognize the adverse effects that incorrect protein annotations have on chemical and biological research, including chemical and systems biology, as well as pharmaceutical and chemical product development. But Biochemistry cannot solve the problem alone.

Biochemistry hopes that these guidelines will be “contagious”, i.e., other journals will adopt similar requirements for authors to include accession IDs for proteins that are experimentally characterized,” writes Biochemistry Associate Editor John A. Gerlt in an editorial. “We also suggest that authors familiar with the Biochemistry guidelines include accession IDs in manuscripts for other journals (ACS or otherwise), with a note to the handling Editor that the manuscript includes accession IDs to facilitate the transfer of annotations to the protein databases.”

Read these important new guidelines from Biochemistry.

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