Background: Protein-protein interaction (PPI) databases have become a major resource for investigating biological networks and pathways in cells. A number of publicly available repositories for human PPIs are currently available. Each of these databases has their own unique features with a large variation in the type and depth of their annotations.
Results: We analyzed the major publicly available primary databases that contain literature curated PPI information for human proteins. This included BIND, DIP, HPRD, IntAct, MINT, MIPS, PDZBase and Reactome databases. The number of binary non-redundant human PPIs ranged from 101 in PDZBase and 346 in MIPS to 11,367 in MINT and 36,617 in HPRD. The number of genes annotated with at least one interactor was 9,427 in HPRD, 4,975 in MINT, 4,614 in IntAct, 3,887 in BIND and <1,000 in the remaining databases. The number of literature citations for the PPIs included in the databases was 43,634 in HPRD, 11,480 in MINT, 10,331 in IntAct, 8,020 in BIND and <2,100 in the remaining databases.
Conclusion: Given the importance of PPIs, we suggest that submission of PPIs to repositories be made mandatory by scientific journals at the time of manuscript submission as this will minimize annotation errors, promote standardization and help keep the information up to date. We hope that our analysis will help guide biomedical scientists in selecting the most appropriate database for their needs especially in light of the dramatic differences in their content.