Protein families and domains are invaluable pointers that help biologists to find distantly related proteins and to predict their functions. A daunting array of resources, each with different strengths and weaknesses, is now available to search genomes and proteomes for "protein signatures" - diagnostic entities that are used to recognise a particular domain or protein family. In order for the end user to use these resources effectively in their research, it is necessary to amalgamate them together into a single resource (a database called "InterPro"). The continued generation of these signatures, their annotation and integration into InterPro and the provision of software and databases to serve them to the public is therefore of great importance to the life science community.

The IMPACT (IMproving Protein Annotation through Coordination and Technology) project involves a Consortium of 9 experienced partners, some of whom have been collaborating for almost 10 years in the field of protein family and domain prediction (These include the InterPro, PRINTS, Prosite, SuperFamily, SMART, Pfam, Gene3D and ProDom databases). IMPACT aims to harness existing technologies (such as web services and distributed computing) and use them to dramatically improve existing information resources.

IMPACT and standardisation

As an e-Infrastructure initiative, the concept of adhering to common standards is core to the IMPACT project. As a result, the IMPACT consortium will define and adopt new data formats to facilitate information exchange between partners, as well as enabling delivery of new data to users.

IMPACT will also actively participate in community-based standardisation, in order to ensure inter-operability with other resources, such as those in the GRID computing community.