varDB: common ground for a shifting landscape.
Antigenic variation is a phylogenetically widespread phenomenon thought to lead to survival benefits for the pathogen. Although governed by genetic mechanisms, antigenic variation is ultimately manifested in variant proteins. The varDB database is an attempt to gain an overview of common structures and functions of variant proteins related to enhanced survival. varDB provides a wealth of sequence data and several tools to facilitate their analysis, but current limitations preclude achievement of its full promise. A critique of this database and how it could serve the scientific community is provided here.