The University of Alabama at Birmingham issued a statement last week asking that 11 structures be removed from the Protein Data Bank, as they are quite possibly fabricated. Wow. Very little detail was given by UAB’s statement (below), or by the media. Apparently all the structures are tied to one person, HMK Murthy, who could not be reached or traced, as reported by the Birmingham News.

The structures’ PDB codes are:

1CMW, 1DF9/2QID, 1G40, 1G44, 1L6L, 2OU1, 1RID, 1Y8E, 2A01, and 2HR0 Some of them are still in the databank.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has requested that the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank remove certain protein structure files deposited by a former UAB employee. UAB also has identified nine publications related to the same protein structures that should be retracted from various scientific journals, and is making those journals aware of this matter.

Allegations of data fabrication and/or falsification were made concerning certain protein structures published by the former UAB employee. In accordance with UAB’s scientific integrity policy, and that of the Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, UAB empanelled a committee of experts with no conflicting interests to investigate these allegations. After a thorough examination of the available data, which included a re-analysis of each structure alleged to have been fabricated, the committee found a preponderance of evidence that structures 1BEF, 1CMW, 1DF9/2QID, 1G40, 1G44, 1L6L, 2OU1, 1RID, 1Y8E, 2A01, and 2HR0 were more likely than not falsified and/or fabricated and recommended that they be removed from the public record.

“Scientific misconduct is absolutely unacceptable,” said UAB Scientific Integrity Officer Richard B. Marchase, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Economic Development. “It was important that the files be removed from the database and the articles be retracted to ensure that future research in the areas of macromolecular structure analysis and the function of proteins could continue uncompromised by faulty data.”

Some of these structures date back to 2002; this has been going on for quite a while then.  Apparently the investigation ended May 2009, but UAB only  issued a statrement today. The associated papers are also being retracted.  If anyone has more information on this strange affair, please share here.

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5 Responses to “Structuregate?”

  1. Steve says:

    Wow. Here’s a link to an Evernote summary of the structure pages on Pub Med. I think I did all of them:

  2. Iddo says:

    A posting Kevin Karplus to the pdb-l (possibly) expanding the list to 1bgx 1ay1 1hef 1heg 1sbg 1hps 1hos. Also, it seems that RosettaHoles which assesses core packing did not like 1bgx (it’s in the RosettaHoles paper, linked from Kevin’s posting.

    From the RosettaHoles paper (published online 2-DEC-2008): “Eight of the outliers, (checking for anomalous core packing, IF) (PDB codes 2A01, 1BEF, 1RID, 1Y8E, 1BGX, 1G44, 2QID, 1G40) are from the Murthy group.”

  3. rpg says:

    Ah… I wondered what had become of this. It was quite apparent two years ago that the Murthy data were fabricated, at least to those of us with any structural smarts at all. When people like Randy Read say ‘hang on a minute…’ you should listen to them.

  4. Hari Jayaram says:

    There was a great discussion on the ccp4bb on 08/17/07 about the several flags raised by one of these structures . Makes great reading .
    I made a PDF and log file archive of it and put it up.

  5. Iddo says:

    Hari: thanks for compiling and archiving that thread, it makes for very enlightening reading material. I was unaware that this has been going on for so long.