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Molecular coordination in evolution: A review in 'Nature Reviews Genetics'
Date:3/5/2013

Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) researchers Alfonso Valencia, Director of the Structural Biology and Biocomputing Programme and David de Juan, jointly with Florencio Pazos, from the Spanish National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC), publish a review on the latest computational methods that, based on evolutionary principles, are revolutionising the field of analysis and prediction of protein structure, function and protein-protein interactions, as well as the short- and long-term expectations for the field.

"The computational and mathematical analysis tools that study how proteins evolve in a coordinated fashion a process known as molecular coevolution have undergone important changes over the past few years", explains Valencia.

This revolution in the study of microscale evolution is allowing researchers to predict interactions between proteins and to understand the structural changes that take place in these molecules. It also represents the basis for understanding how mutations caused by diseases such as cancer or neurodegenerative disease affect their underlying molecular framework.

Proteins just like the different species at the macroscopic level, via competitive or symbiotic interactions do not act in an isolated manner but rather coordinate amongst themselves in order to carry out their functional roles. These biological relationships explain why there is a tendency in evolution to introduce coordinated changes in proteins, which allow for the preservation and modulation of these relationships.

"The development of new, more powerful and more reliable mathematical methods than those available in the 1990s is allowing us to explore these biological problems at the molecular level, and provide a deeper vision of the Darwinian process," says Valencia. "These methods based on coevolution are like a telescope, helping us to observe and understand biological and molecular processes."

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Contact: Nuria Noriega
nnoriega@cnio.es
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)
Source:Eurekalert

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