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Can sequence determine function?

John A Gerlt1 and Patricia C Babbitt2

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Biochemistry and Chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

2 Departments of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA

Genome Biology 2000, 1:reviews0005-reviews0005.10  doi:10.1186/gb-2000-1-5-reviews0005

Published: 8 November 2000


The functional annotation of proteins identified in genome sequencing projects is based on similarities to homologs in the databases. As a result of the possible strategies for divergent evolution, homologous enzymes frequently do not catalyze the same reaction, and we conclude that assignment of function from sequence information alone should be viewed with some skepticism.