Gap subtilis. Introduction of a gap in the B. subtilis sequence allows a better alignment of amino acid residues on either side of the gap. Identical amino acid residues are shaded.

Of course, if a sufficient number of gaps are introduced, almost any two sequences could be brought into some sort of alignment. To avoid uninformative alignments, the programs include penalties for each gap introduced, thus lowering the overall alignment score. With electronic trial and error, the program selects the alignment with the optimal score that maximizes identical amino acid residues while minimizing the introduction of gaps.

Identical amino acids are often inadequate to identify related proteins or, more importantly, to determine how closely related the proteins are on an evolutionary time scale. A more useful analysis includes a consideration of the chemical properties of substituted amino acids. When amino acid substitutions are found within a protein family, many of the differences may be conservative—that is, an amino acid residue is replaced by a residue having similar chemical properties. For example, a Glu residue may substitute in one family member for the Asp residue found in another; both amino acids are negatively charged. Such a conservative substitution should logically garner a higher score in a sequence alignment than does a nonconservative substitution, such as the replacement of the Asp residue with a hydrophobic Phe residue.

To determine what scores to assign to the many different amino acid substitutions, Steven Henikoff and Jorja Henikoff examined the aligned sequences from a variety of different proteins. They did not analyze entire protein sequences, focusing instead on thousands of short conserved blocks where the fraction of identical amino acids was high and the alignments were thus reliable. Looking at the aligned sequence blocks, the Henikoffs analyzed the nonidentical amino acid residues within the blocks. Higher scores were given to non-identical residues that occurred frequently than to those that appeared rarely. Even the identical residues were given scores based on how often they were replaced, such that amino acids with unique chemical properties (such as Cys and Trp) received higher scores than those more conservatively replaced (such as Asp and Glu). The result of this scoring system is a Blosum (blocks substitution matrix) table. The table in Figure 3-31 was generated from sequences that were identical in at least 62% of their amino acid residues, and it is thus referred to as Blosum62. Similar tables have been generated for blocks of homologous sequences that are 50% or 80% identical. When higher levels of identity are required, the most conservative amino acid substitutions can be

Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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