PERSPECTIVES AND OVERVIEW Among the major objectives of nucleic acid and protein sequence analysis is the discovery of significant patterns related to gene expression, to protein folding and function, and to the evolutionary development of these patterns. The ability to distinguish what is likely from what is unlikely to occur by chance allows one to identify such patterns and target them for possible experimental study. For the most part, gross average assessments have guided interpretation of molecular sequence data, and researchers have paid little attention to statistical fluctuations. For example, when studying a physical map of restriction sites where adjacent sites are sepÂ arated on average by 64 kb (kilobase pairs)-e.g. NOT I-one might interpret the observation of five sites within 1 50 kb as excessive clustering. However, assuming sites are distributed randomly over the genome, what is the probability that five or more such sites are seen in any IS0-kb stretch of DNA? A complementary question concerns the probability that no such restriction site is seen in a 500-kb stretch. Similarly, consider the locations in a protein of a given amino acid type (e.g. cysteines, acidic residues). How does one assess anomalies in the distribution of the
Annual Review of Biophysics – Annual Reviews
Published: Jun 1, 1991
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