TOOLS: Tracking Protein Evolution

Science  06 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5587, pp. 1615a
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5587.1615a

Some parts of a protein can evolve speedily, whereas other sections remain the same over millions of years. How fast a stretch of amino acids changes can provide insight into its function and the workings of the entire protein. ConSurf, a new search tool crafted by researchers in Israel, Japan, and the United States, lets you hunt down variable and conserved regions within these molecules. Pick your favorite protein, and ConSurf scours the Protein Data Bank for similar sequences, then computes the rate of evolution for different amino acids. In this ConSurf map of the major histocompatibility protein I, which helps the immune system identify pathogens, turquoise indicates the most fickle regions and burgundy marks the most stable.

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