The use of amino acid sequence analysis in assessing evolution.
The thirteen year history of assessing evolution by amino acid sequence analysis has made apparent the limitations imposed upon this system by the finite nature of the characters. This finiteness exists on several levels and ultimately expresses itself as parallelism, back mutation and the retention of primitive characters in the sequences of proteins from present day species and the putative ancestral protein chains. Sequence analysis shares these problems with other molecular approaches, but because it is concerned both with the nucleotide substitutions in the genome and with the functional roles of proteins, it has unique advantages. For example, the large fluctuation in the rate of fixation of mutations in a protein's evolution can be detected and used to point out the unreliability of any molecular clock for estimating divergence dates. Moreover, when consideration is given to studies which assign functional significance to specific amino acid sites in a protein, changes in function during the descent of a protein can be appreciated and their significance correlated with organismal evolution.
Romero-Herrera, AE; Lieska, N; Goodman, M; Simons, EL
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