What’s the answer? Database anomalies

BioStar is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions. We are members of the community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at BioStar that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those questions and answers here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at BioStar.

The question for the week:

Incorrect/unusual entries in main databases (GenBank, UniProt, PDb)? Pierre Poulain asks ” I… advise my students to be cautious with the data they can find in these databases. To illustrate this, I found quite unusual entries in GenBank:..” and he then lists some good ones.

There were several interesting, and funny, answers including one from our own Mary,

My favorite bizarre database item was a PubMed one. This was long before that NCBI ROLF blog was created. I was searching for genes identified in the transition to gray hair. This was not useful….

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12079806

This is the TITLE (note, not the abstract):

I am a 64-year-old man, and I’ve always been proud of my perfect health record. I’ve also been proud of my full head of hair, even after the gray started creeping in. Four months ago I caught pneumonia and spent eight days in the hospital (three in intensive care). It took a while, but I’m finally back to normal – except that my hair is falling out. It comes out in clumps when I shampoo or even comb it, and it’s gotten noticeably thin all over. I remember reading about Propecia in your newsletter but I don’t have the old issue. Should I try the medication?

Check out the other answers for good examples as to why the researcher should always double-check the data.