Molecular Evolution of Protein Atomic Composition

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Science  13 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5528, pp. 297-300
DOI: 10.1126/science.1061052

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Living organisms encounter various growth conditions in their habitats, raising the question of whether ecological fluctuations could alter biological macromolecules. The advent of complete genome sequences and the characterization of whole metabolic pathways allowed us to search for such ecological imprints. Significant correlations between atomic composition and metabolic function were found in sulfur- and carbon-assimilatory enzymes, which appear depleted in sulfur and carbon, respectively, in both the bacterium Escherichia coliand the eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition to genetic instructions, genomic data thus also provide paleontological records of environmental nutrient availability and of metabolic costs.

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