Protein Data Bank (PDB): The Single Global Macromolecular Structure Archive

  • Stephen K. BurleyEmail author
  • Helen M. Berman
  • Gerard J. Kleywegt
  • John L. Markley
  • Haruki Nakamura
  • Sameer Velankar
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1607)


The Protein Data Bank (PDB)––the single global repository of experimentally determined 3D structures of biological macromolecules and their complexes––was established in 1971, becoming the first open-access digital resource in the biological sciences. The PDB archive currently houses ~130,000 entries (May 2017). It is managed by the Worldwide Protein Data Bank organization (wwPDB;, which includes the RCSB Protein Data Bank (RCSB PDB;, the Protein Data Bank Japan (PDBj;, the Protein Data Bank in Europe (PDBe;, and BioMagResBank (BMRB; The four wwPDB partners operate a unified global software system that enforces community-agreed data standards and supports data Deposition, Biocuration, and Validation of ~11,000 new PDB entries annually ( The RCSB PDB currently acts as the archive keeper, ensuring disaster recovery of PDB data and coordinating weekly updates. wwPDB partners disseminate the same archival data from multiple FTP sites, while operating complementary websites that provide their own views of PDB data with selected value-added information and links to related data resources. At present, the PDB archives experimental data, associated metadata, and 3D-atomic level structural models derived from three well-established methods: crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), and electron microscopy (3DEM). wwPDB partners are working closely with experts in related experimental areas (small-angle scattering, chemical cross-linking/mass spectrometry, Forster energy resonance transfer or FRET, etc.) to establish a federation of data resources that will support sustainable archiving and validation of 3D structural models and experimental data derived from integrative or hybrid methods.

Key words

Protein Data Bank PDB Worldwide Protein Data Bank wwPDB PDBx/mmCIF Chemical Component Dictionary Crystallography NMR spectroscopy NMR-STAR NMR Exchange Format NEF 3D electron microscopy Integrative or hybrid methods 



The RCSB PDB is supported by the National Science Foundation (DBI 1338415), National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy; PDBe by the Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, MRC, EU, CCP4 , and EMBL-EBI; PDBj by JST-NBDC; and BMRB by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (GM109046). We thank Christine Zardecki for expert help with manuscript preparation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen K. Burley
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Helen M. Berman
    • 1
  • Gerard J. Kleywegt
    • 4
  • John L. Markley
    • 5
  • Haruki Nakamura
    • 6
  • Sameer Velankar
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank, Center for Integrative Proteomics, Research, Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, and Department of Chemistry and Chemical BiologyRutgers, The State University of New JerseyPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers Cancer Institute of New JerseyRobert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and San Diego Supercomputer CenterUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Protein Data Bank in EuropeEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory–European Bioinformatics InstituteCambridgeUK
  5. 5.BioMagResBank, Department of BiochemistryUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  6. 6.Protein Data Bank Japan, Institute for Protein ResearchOsaka UniversityOsakaJapan

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