This is an analysis question for a lab on the amino acid differences in beta globin amongst different primates, and using such differences to construct a cladogram and infer evolutionary relationships from it. Any input is greatly appreciated!

Question: What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of using amino acid structure of proteins for evolutionary analysis? In your opinion, would it be more useful to use DNA sequences for this type of evolutionary comparison between living and extant species? Why or why not?


closed as too broad by David, AliceD Aug 9 '17 at 6:32

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    $\begingroup$ Since this is homework/coursework, youre usually expected to show your own effort first. But to give you a hint, the real key is in the redundancy of the amino acid sequence. $\endgroup$ – Joe Healey Aug 8 '17 at 17:09

Amino acid (protein) structure has its advantages over raw DNA.

Protein structure already has introns (noncoding regions) trimmed out which aren't obvious from a plain DNA string.

A protein can have different shapes (such as unbound/bound) or even folded/misfolded (as in the case of prions). DNA doesn't have a way of encoding these changes as they are dependent on substrates, environmental factors and available energy.

Visualizing the 3D structure of a protein can give insight into its functionality that you can't read off a DNA string.

  • $\begingroup$ But in the context of this question, we want to use either the DNA or amino acid sequence to build something like a phylogenetic tree. I'm not an expert in phylogenetics, but I assume that important information would be in those introns, because they usually have more freedom to mutate than exons. So two species could have a protein with the same amino acid sequence, but different DNA sequences in their introns. You could use those differences to help identify how they are related. $\endgroup$ – user137 Aug 9 '17 at 9:39

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