BLACKSBURG, Va., December 3, 2008 - Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech have launched a publicly available database that allows users to investigate how different proteins interact with each other when pathogens infect their hosts. PIG - the pathogen interaction gateway - is described in a recent article published in Nucleic Acids Research1.

Protein-protein interactions play a key role in initiating infection for many pathogens. The PIG resource is a one-stop shop of integrated host-pathogen protein-protein interactions from several public resources. The purpose of the database is to provide researchers with the information and resources needed to facilitate their research on these interactions. PIG provides an easy to use web interface for accessing and using data that would otherwise require the navigation of several websites. It is also a platform upon which various tools can be developed for identifying potential drug targets for therapeutics. The PIG resource currently focuses on known human-pathogen interactions (viral and bacterial) and contains 20,113 host-pathogen protein-protein interactions for 206 different pathogen strains (November 2008).

Tim Driscoll (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech), Matthew Dyer (formerly Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech; currently at the University of Washington, Seattle), T. M. Murali (Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech) and Bruno W. Sobral (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute) completed the work described in the paper.

Earlier in the year, the research team provided the first global analysis of human proteins interacting with viral proteins and proteins in other pathogens2. In that study, the scientists examined publicly available experimental data for 190 different pathogens that comprise 10,477 interactions between human and pathogen proteins. This approach provided a highly detailed network map of human proteins interfacing with proteins in different pathogens. This type of research helps to reveal possible key intervention points for the future development of therapeutics against infectious diseases.

PIG is supported by funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grant HHSN26620040035C).

The PIG database can be accessed by visiting

1 PIG: the pathogen interaction gateway, Nucleic Acids Research, 2008, doi:10.1093/nar/gkn799.

2 The landscape of human proteins interacting with viruses and other pathogens, PLoS Pathogens 4(2): e32. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0040032



Barry Whyte

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Published by Barry Whyte, December 03, 2008