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Darwin's famous finches and Venter's marine microbes

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Even though the different kinase families had very little similarity in their sequence, it emerged that 10 key residues were conserved in almost all kinase families, fingering them as being at the core of what it means to be a kinase. Seven of those had been previously known to be important in human kinases, but the other three were unexpected finds.

The other surprising finding was just how innovative and plastic the different families were, even with these core residues, as one or another family had found ways to eliminate any but one of the 10 key residues. Using structural modeling, and patterns of sequence conservation, Kannan was able to show that loss of one key residue could be compensated by changes around other conserved regions of the protein, and that some of these changes in bacterial kinases are also seen in specific human kinases.

Says Manning, "By looking at all these very distant microbial relatives we can understand more even about human kinases and their relationship to cancer and other diseases. We go out into the ocean, we find all this diversity and analyzing what’s new and what’s not new reflects back on the things we thought we knew well."

Research done at the Salk Institute was supported by the Razavi-Newman Foundation.

Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition

The circumnavigating Sorcerer II Expedition, named after the sailboat J. Craig Venter transformed into a marine research vessel, was inspired in part by the journeys of the HMS Beagle and the HMS Challenger in the nineteenth century. But unlike those pioneering expeditions, the Sorcerer II team led by J. Craig Venter and a globe-spanning network of collaborators are after tiny microbes, classifying the species they encounter not by their appearance but by their unique genetic code.

The current studies analyze samples collected from surface waters during the first phase (or first third) of the vo
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Source:Salk Institute


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