Millenium Science Summer School of the Institute of Education

July 17-21st 2000

Visit to the bioinformatics group in the
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at University College London


The links below are a short and simple introduction to genomics and protein structures.

Feel free to follow links on the pages and ask questions if you are interested in something particular.

1. Genomes

a) Sequencing Centres

Genomes are now routinely sequenced, and there are a few large centres involved in the human and other
The Sanger Centre is in England, outside Cambridge. (Click on

b) Entrez Genome Browser

This page is the part of the genome repository of one of the large sequence databases in the US.
Once a gene or a genome has been sequenced experimentally, the sequence is sent to this database
and deposited there.
That way, both experimental and computational scientists everywhere can access the sequence.

c) Prominent Organisms

This is a summary of the of the more well-known organisms whose genomes have been sequenced.

d) Escherichia coli

This is a front page for acces to the E. coli genome. The round circle represents its chromosome, the circular DNA
in bacteria that is the genome. Each line is a gene.

Click on a part of the circular chromosome to get down to the level of individual genes, and then click on a gene
and explore the genome!

e) Human Genome in the Ensembl Database

This is a new European database for the Human Genome and other organisms. Click on one of the pictures of a
chromosome to explore the human genome.

2. Protein Structures

Most genes encode a protein. The amino acid chain of a protein adopts a specific
3-dimensional structure made up of two types of elements: alpha-helices and beta-strands.

a) CATH Protein Structure Classification Database

The CATH database is developed in this laboratory, and organises all protein structures in
a hierarchical manner.

Choose the Browse or Search Classification option.

The 4 different levels represent different elements of secondary structure of a protein.
The top right panel describes the sublevels of Mainly Alpha structures.
Click on the binoculars to see an example of a mainly-alpha protein.

Go further down to see mainly-beta proteins via the binoculars. Can you see the difference?

To see a special type of protein that binds DNA and controls genes on the DNA, click on the
pictures for the entry 2gli. Can you tell which part is DNA and which part is protein?

b) Proteins even move: Movie Gallery of Macromolecular Motions at Yale

Click on the "morph ID"  in the left column, then click the "Play 2D Movie" button.

Written by Sarah Teichmann,