WE researchers often joke that no-one ever publishes negative results, but that doesn’t mean to say that negative results aren’t extremely useful. On one level, knowledge of such negative results can prevent you repeating the same mistakes that countless other researchers, in other labs, have undoubtedly made over the years. On the other hand, they can provide a valuable dataset with which to generate new and useful information. One such example is the ‘Negatome Database‘, which has been reported by Smialowski et al.1 in Nucleic Acids Research advance access (November 17, 2009).
The Negatome is a collection of protein and domain (functional units of proteins) pairs that are unlikely to be engaged in direct physical interactions. But why on Earth would we want to know about proteins that don’t interact with each other; in fact, why do we need to know about proteins that interact at all?
Researchers recognize that that a cell doesn’t function purely by the action of individual proteins, but instead by large macromolecular complexes mediated by many interacting proteins. The image to the left indicates an example macromolecular ‘machine’, in this case those involved in signal processing at the neuronal synapses (and which are likely to be working quite hard right now!).