A protein structure paper published in Nature has been retracted six years after an investigation found evidence of data fabrication, Retraction Watch reports.
The paper from University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers purported to show the protein crystal structure of a key protein from the immune complement system, but its findings were questioned soon after publication. A separate set of researchers said in a letter appearing in Nature that same year that it had analyzed data from the original paper and uncovered "features that are inconsistent with the known physical properties of macromolecular structures and their diffraction data" and questioned the first paper's findings.
A subsequent investigation by UAB determined that this and a number of other papers included fraudulent data, and said that H. M. Krishna Murthy, the senior author on the first Nature paper, likely acted alone in the misconduct.
But why it's taken the journal six years to retract the paper isn't clear, Retraction Watch adds.
"This is a pretty old story, I don't know why Nature took so long," paper co- author Sthanam Narayana from UAB tells Retraction Watch. "Nature asked us maybe two months back, do I have any comment or objection for retracting."
While Narayan and two other co-authors had no objections, Retraction Watch notes that the retraction notice indicates that Girish Kotwal and H. M. Krishna Murthy did not support the retraction and that a sixth researcher couldn't be reached.