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Introduction to Bioinformatics

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1 Introduction to Bioinformatics
Lecture 6 Substitution matrices

2 What to align, nucleotide or amino acid sequences?
If ORF then align at protein level (i) Many mutations within DNA are synonymous, leading to overestimation of sequence divergence if compared at the DNA level. (ii) Evolutionary relationships can be more finely expressed using a 20×20 amino acid exchange table than using nucleotide exchanges. (iii) DNA sequences contain non-coding regions which should be avoided in homology searches. Still an issue when translating into (six) protein sequences through a codon table. (iv) Searching at protein level: frameshifts can occur, leading to stretches of incorrect amino acids and possibly elongation of sequences due to missed stop codons. But frameshifts normally result in stretches of highly unlikely amino acids: can be used as a signal to trace.









11 PAM250 matrix A 2 R -2 6 N 0 0 2 D 0 -1 2 4 C -2 -4 -4 -5 12
Q E G H I L K M F P S T W Y V B Z A R N D C Q E G H I L K M F P S T W Y V B Z PAM250 matrix

12 PAM model The scores derived through the PAM model are an accurate description of the information content (or the relative entropy) of an alignment (Altschul, 1991). PAM-1 corresponds to about 1 million years of evolution PAM-120 has the largest information content of the PAM matrix series PAM-250 is the traditionally most popular matrix

13 PAM / MDM / Dayhoff -- summary
The late Margaret Dayhoff was a pioneer in protein databasing and comparison. She and her coworkers developed a model of protein evolution which resulted in the development of a set of widely used substitution matrices. These are frequently called Dayhoff, MDM (Mutation Data Matrix), or PAM (Percent Accepted Mutation) matrices: Derived from global alignments of closely related sequences. Matrices for greater evolutionary distances are extrapolated from those for lesser ones. The number with the matrix (PAM40, PAM100) refers to the evolutionary distance; greater numbers are greater distances. Several later groups have attempted to extend Dayhoff's methodology or re-apply her analysis using later databases with more examples. Extensions: Jones, Thornton and coworkers used the same methodology as Dayhoff but with modern databases (CABIOS 8:275) Gonnett and coworkers (Science 256:1443) used a slightly different (but theoretically equivalent) methodology Henikoff & Henikoff (Proteins 17:49) compared these two newer versions of the PAM matrices with Dayhoff's originals. Seed and coworkers extended the extrapolations to even greater distances

14 The BLOSUM series The BLOSUM series of matrices were created by Steve Henikoff and colleagues (PNAS 89:10915). Derived from local, ungapped alignments of distantly related sequences All matrices are directly calculated; no extrapolations are used The number after the matrix (BLOSUM62) refers to the minimum percent identity of the blocks used to construct the matrix; greater numbers denote lesser evolutionary distances. The BLOSUM series of matrices generally perform better than PAM matrices for local similarity searches (Proteins 17:49).

15 The BLOSUM series Blosum30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 62, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90 Blosum62 is based only on blocks in the BLOCKS database with at least 62% identity No extrapolations are made in going to higher evolutionary distances High blosum - closely related sequences Low blosum - distant sequences blosum62 is the most popular

16 The Blocks Database The Blocks Database contains multiple alignments of conserved regions in protein families. Blocks are multiply aligned ungapped segments corresponding to the most highly conserved regions of proteins. The blocks for the BLOCKS database are made automatically by looking for the most highly conserved regions in groups of proteins represented in the PROSITE database. These blocks are then calibrated against the SWISS-PROT database to obtain a measure of the chance distribution of matches. It is these calibrated blocks that make up the BLOCKS database. The database can be searched by and World Wide Web (WWW) servers ( to classify protein and nucleotide sequences.

17 The Blocks Database Gapless alignment blocks

18 GONNET Matrix A different method to measure differences among amino acids was developed by Gonnet, Cohen and Benner (1992) using exhaustive pairwise alignments of the protein databases as they existed at that time. They used classical distance measures to estimate an alignment of the proteins. They then used this data to estimate a new distance matrix. This was used to refine the alignment, estimate a new distance matrix and so on iteratively. They noted that the distance matrices (all first normalized to 250 PAMs) differed depending on whether they were derived from distantly or closely homologous proteins. They suggest that for initial comparisons their resulting matrix should be used in preference to a PAM250 matrix, and that subsequent refinements should be done using a PAM matrix appropriate to the distance between proteins.


20 Specialized Matrices Claverie (J.Mol.Biol 234:1140) has developed a set of substitution matrices designed explicitly for finding possible frameshifts in protein sequences. These matrices are designed solely for use in protein-protein comparisons; they should not be used with programs which blindly translate DNA (e.g. BLASTX, TBLASTN).

21 Rissler et al (1988), Overington et al (1992)
Rather than starting from alignments generated by sequence comparison, Rissler et al (1988) and later Overington et al (1992) only considered proteins for which an experimentally determined three dimensional structure is available. They then aligned similar proteins on the basis of their structure rather than sequence and used the resulting sequence alignments as their database from which to gather substitution statistics. In principle, the Rissler or Overington matrices should give more reliable results than either PAM of BLOSUM. However, the comparatively small number of available protein structures (particularly in the Rissler et al study) limited the reliability of their statistics. Overington et al (1992) developed further matrices that consider the local environment of the amino acids.

22 Amino acid exchange matrices summary
Apart from the PAM and Blosum series, a great number of further matrices have been developed Matrices have been made based on DNA, protein structure, information content, etc. For local alignment, Blosum 62 is often superior; for distant (global) alignments, Blosum50, Gonnet, or (still) PAM250 work well Remember that gap penalties are always a problem; you can follow recommended settings, but these are based on trial and error.

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