Molecular and Cellular Proteomics

Edited by:
  • Ralph A. Bradshaw
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 12/yr. $350, $75 (members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), online access free this year

Suppose you have just finished an exciting study involving the identification of hundreds of proteins that are part of a complex, or that change in response to some condition. Where can you publish your results? This is a real problem. If you send them to a biological journal, the reviewers may tell you that that you should get functional data for the proteins, which could take you the rest of your career. If you send them to a technologically or analytically orientated journal, they will say that your methods have already been adequately described in the literature and so your paper is not very interesting. So you may just sit on your proteins, and have them worked up by incoming graduate students over the years, which would be a loss to the scientific community.

Enter Molecular and Cellular Proteomics (MCP), a spin-off from the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), the official outlet for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. This new journal is dedicated to studies just like the one described above, and therefore meets a real need.

Judging from the articles published in the first few issues, the mission statement and the composition of the editorial board, MCP takes an expansive view of proteomics, embracing subjects such as bioinformatics related to proteomics, protein databases, two-hybrid methods for protein interactions, two-dimensional gel studies, and mass-spectrometric methods.

There are three categories for original articles: research, database and technology. Another new feature is the online site, which, as well as displaying an electronic version of the printed journal, is intended to function as an associated database for the proteomics investigations described in the papers. This material can be much more extensive than usual, and MCP is working on navigation and visualization features. The quality of papers published so far is good, with a few groundbreaking papers already in the bag.

Publication speed is, in my experience, quite rapid, with the additional advantage that accepted papers are put on the web immediately, even while the paper is being edited into the final version. This can be quite useful for authors in a publishing race.

Where should MCP stake its claim in the publishing food chain? The premier position in proteomics is taken by Nature Biotechnology, and breakthrough biological results will also probably be reported elsewhere. MCP is well positioned to become to proteomics research what JBC is to biological research — a standard place for solid results that have undergone stringent peer review and that will be easily accessible to almost everyone. For this to happen MCP needs to maintain or even strengthen its reviewing standards, and focus on the quality of papers rather than the number published if it is to achieve an impact factor similar to that of JBC.

Once the journal is firmly established and its identity is clear in everybody's mind, there should be no shortage of papers as proteomics methods and proteomic-scale experiments become more commonplace. The Journal of Proteome Research, launched at almost the same time by the American Chemical Society, is likely to concentrate more on technological advances, and Electrophoresis and Proteomics will probably continue to be more focused on the two-dimensional-gel community.

The format of MCP articles varies somewhat, and standardization would make the journal more visually appealing. In extension of its online features mentioned above, MCP could perform a great service by helping to establish some standard as to how proteomics data collections are published and visualized so that they can actually be used by biologists.

In conclusion, faced with the dilemma I outlined at the start, I would encourage you to publish your proteins in MCP. Scientists with similar data should think 'out of the box' and submit their proteomics data for the community to use, and now there is a place for them to do it.