I heard that some point mutations in proteins are OK, like from alanine to glycine (I'm not sure, it's just an example), some will change the protein significantly. I want to understand deeper but don't know the right keyword. I have tried some but none of them works. Can you give me a good keyword to start searching? Thank you.
There are twenty standard amino acids, and some of them are structurally/functionally similar to each other, such as aspartate and glutamate, or asparagine and glutamine, or glycine and alanine. In general, mutations that cause these amino acid switches don't change the function of the protein, but that's just a general rule - it also depends on where these amino acids are in the protein structure. These are called conservative mutations.
As others have said, although certain amino acid substitutions are considered to be conservative, the effect of a particular substitution will very much depend upon the context. Here are some examples:
I think you are referring to the concept of conserved substitution, which tends not to change the property/function (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequence_alignment) of a protein although thats not necessarily true if the mutated AA (point mutation) changes a functional residue in an enzymatic domain such as GAP or kinase domains or even certain residues that are important for PP interactions such as tyrosine Y, which can become phosphorylated and thats important at times for its interaction with other proteins or the activation/inactivation status of a protein such as receptor tyrosine kinases (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Receptor_tyrosine_kinase). But in most cases it depends where the AA is and the role of the AA. For example two AA can have the same charge/polarity but if their sizes are considerably different, then that could interfere with the way protein folds (conformational changes) and end up affecting its function. So AA substitution and its effects is not necessarily straight forward and its very much dependent on other factors!