Indexed on: 14 Dec '04Published on: 14 Dec '04Published in: Journal of Molecular Recognition
Based on a study involving structural comparisons of proteins sharing 25% or less sequence identity, three rounds of Psi-BLAST appear capable of identifying remote evolutionary homologs with greater than 95% confidence provided that more than 50% of the query sequence can be aligned with the target sequence. Since it seems that more than 80% of all homologous protein pairs may be characterized by a lack of significant sequence similarity, the experimental biologist is often confronted with a lack of guidance from conventional homology searches involving pair-wise sequence comparisons. The ability to disregard levels of sequence identity and expect value in Psi-BLAST if at least 50% of the query sequence has been aligned allows for generation of new hypotheses by consideration of matches that are conventionally disregarded. In one example, we suggest a possible evolutionary linkage between the cupredoxin and immunoglobulin fold families. A thermostable hypothetical protein of unknown function may be a circularly permuted homolog to phosphotriesterase, an enzyme capable of detoxifying organophosphate nerve agents. In a third example, the amino acid sequence of another hypothetical protein of unknown function reveals the ATP binding-site, metal binding site, and catalytic sidechain consistent with kinase activity of unknown specificity. This approach significantly expands the utility of existing sequence data to define the primary structure degeneracy of binding sites for substrates, cofactors and other proteins.