How to use UniProt

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What is UniProt?

UniProt is a database focused on delivering expert information on protein function and expression, which can be easily navigated using the built in UniProtKB tool.



This hub holds not only essential data on proteins, but also many annotations, cross-references, and other computational data, which are essential when exploring the relations between genes or conducting research on novel treatment targets for example.

How does it get protein sequences?

Almost all of the protein sequences found on UniProtKB come from public nucleic acid databases like GeneBank or EMBL-Bank, where scientists upload coding sequences, which are later translated.

How to perform a search on UniProtKB:

Once you are on the UniProt website, you should select UniProtKB from the drop-down menu on the left side of the search bar.

In this case, we will be searching for the HLA gene: the human version of MHC class I. Once you write the name in the search bar and click search, you will get related results with the one we are searching for near the top.

Once you click on the name of the target gene, you will see several categories of information. You will be able to see different reviewed and accepted entries about its protein’s function, tissue expression, different post-translational modifications, interactions with other proteins and its structure to name a few.



Tissue specificity is quite important, because if you are planning to work with a protein which has a very specific tissue expression, looking it up on UniProt can help when choosing which tissue to take the sample from for your assay.



Furthermore, you are able to see all proteins with 100%, 90% and 50% similar identity, which can influence the choice of primary and secondary antibodies you may use.


This database is really handy when starting a new experiment and choosing which antibodies to purchase, as you can look up existing data on your target protein and make the correct choice.  

Different search categories in UniProt

As seen above, the free text search bar allows for different criteria to be used in a query. For example, you can lookup gene names, protein names and by disease name (which shows all associated proteins and genes).



Also, you can use different keywords to get results with related genes and proteins, like a specific antibiotic or biological process. Last but not least, UniProt can group results into species search or gene ontology terms, all useful for research.


All of these search options allow you to not only look up your target protein, but also to see which others are directly related to it in the same or different species and how they interact with it.