As Linus Pauling, a double Nobel laureate (Peace 1962 and Chemistry 1954), stated, “If we want to understand cells, we must know their structure in terms of molecules” . With this purpose in mind, to grasp the physiology of living organisms, we study proteins at the molecular level. To illuminate our path, we rely on the potent light shed by the evolutionary process, as nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution .
Gene duplication serves as a major force in evolution. Duplicated genes can become a playground for evolution, and duplicates can split functions of the ancestral protein (subfuntionalization), or gain new functions (neofunctionalization). Sometimes they are mutated beyond rescue and become pseudogenes. Here we would like to demonstrate how InterPro can help researchers to navigate a particular group of duplicated proteins and their taxonomic distribution using their domain architecture. This can help us to understand how the protein evolved and diversified and help us to reach certain taxonomic groups that might be otherwise overlooked.
The genus Homo, to which all human beings belong, is believed to have evolved from Australopithecus around 2–3 million years ago. Lucy, the Australopithecus afarensis ape, whose skeleton was pieced together from several hundred pieces of bone fossils, is the best known example of this genus. A gene duplication event that happened around 3.4 million years ago might have provided Lucy and her descendants with a boost to their brainpower.
A famous cola company launched a new product contained in a gleaming green can last year. As a regular cola drinker, I was intrigued by the packaging. After doing some research, I discovered that this variety of cola contains a sweetener called Stevia.
You may have heard about toxoplasmosis, or read about it in a newspaper or magazine. Toxoplasmosis is a condition caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular parasite that infects a wide variety of warm-blooded animals, including humans. T. gondii has attracted the attention of both the scientific and lay communities, and with good reason. It is one of the most successful parasites, infecting over one third of the human population, with rates varying depending upon geographical location .
Do you have friends that cannot handle alcoholic drinks? Just half a
pint of beer or a few sips of wine, and their faces turn red, possibly with some hangover symptoms, such as headaches and nausea? You may envy their cheap night out, but wonder why these people cannot tolerate alcohol as you do. The phenomenon is called ‘alcohol flush reaction’, also known as ‘Asian flush syndrome’, due to its association with the Asian population. It is a condition caused by the accumulation of acetaldehyde, a metabolic byproduct of the catabolic metabolism of alcohol.