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Bioinformatics – Why is this Emerging Field in Science so Important?

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 7/29/2008

Bioinformatics is emerging in importance among scientists and researchers that will be able to study the protein sequences to compare different species.

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    In order to fully understand the importance of bioinformatics, one needs to understand the concepts behind this new scientific field. When it comes to applying rationale to the understanding of biological processes that occur, there are two key concepts that need to be computed:

    1. There needs to be a more global perspective and procedure for creating an experimental design.
    2. There needs to be the ability to fully grasp and understand the emerging new technology called database mining. This new technology concept is the process that hypotheses that are able to be tested are actually generated to find the functions, structures and makeup of genes and proteins. This is done by being able to identify small sequences in organisms that are better organized.

     

    Scientists believe that the remarkable new capabilities of bioinformatics and the effective managing of the data will break new ground in studying disease on a molecular level. By using model organisms, they are able to study two genes that share a common history through evolution. Not only can this be used as an effective way of studying common genes to help determine the cause of disease, but it can also be used for finding new and exciting relationships between different life forms that have taken place through evolution.

    By using and studying the protein and nucleotide sequences, there is the possibility to discover deep ancestral commonalities between different kinds of organisms. Up until now, it has been found that organisms that are more closely related have similar sequences, while organisms that are more distantly related have different sequences. When scientists are able to study proteins, they are able to then reconstruct a relationship that exists between two different species that has evolved over time, and they can even further study the two species and protein sequences to find out when these changes might have been occurring.

    A process called protein modeling is a way that scientists are using to study the relationships between protein sequences in species and consists of four basic steps:

    1. Identifying the proteins that contain three dimensional type structures that appear to be directly related to the target protein sequence.
    2. Aligning the structures that are three dimensional with the protein sequence of the target sequence, and then be able to determine which structures will be used as templates.
    3. Constructing a model that will be used for the target protein sequence that is based on the template’s sequence structure.
    4. Evaluating the target model with a variety of different of tests and studies to see if it is a satisfactory model to use.

     

    These steps are part of the process that researchers and scientists are using to help them study and understand the differences and information in protein sequences and the comparison of the data among different species. These studies will allow them to further research and studies of how protein sequences from two different species have changed or not changed over time.