A general empirical model of protein evolution derived from multiple protein families using a maximum-likelihood approach

Molecular Biology and Evolution
S Whelan, N Goldman


Phylogenetic inference from amino acid sequence data uses mainly empirical models of amino acid replacement and is therefore dependent on those models. Two of the more widely used models, the Dayhoff and JTT models, are estimated using similar methods that can utilize large numbers of sequences from many unrelated protein families but are somewhat unsatisfactory because they rely on assumptions that may lead to systematic error and discard a large amount of the information within the sequences. The alternative method of maximum-likelihood estimation may utilize the information in the sequence data more efficiently and suffers from no systematic error, but it has previously been applicable to relatively few sequences related by a single phylogenetic tree. Here, we combine the best attributes of these two methods using an approximate maximum-likelihood method. We implemented this approach to estimate a new model of amino acid replacement from a database of globular protein sequences comprising 3,905 amino acid sequences split into 182 protein families. While the new model has an overall structure similar to those of other commonly used models, there are significant differences. The new model outperforms the Dayhoff and JTT models...Continue Reading


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