A statistical physics perspective on alignment-independent protein sequence comparison

Research paper by Amit K Chattopadhyay, Diar Nasiev, Darren R Flower

Indexed on: 09 Feb '16Published on: 09 Feb '16Published in: Quantitative Biology - Quantitative Methods


Within bioinformatics, the textual alignment of amino acid sequences has long dominated the determination of similarity between proteins, with all that implies for shared structure, function and evolutionary descent. Despite the relative success of modern-day sequence alignment algorithms, so-called alignment-free approaches offer a complementary means of determining and expressing similarity, with potential benefits in certain key applications, such as regression analysis of protein structure-function studies, where alignment-base similarity has performed poorly. Here, we offer a fresh, statistical physics-based perspective focusing on the question of alignment-free comparison, in the process adapting results from 'first passage probability distribution' to summarize statistics of ensemble averaged amino acid propensity values. In this article, we introduce and elaborate this approach.