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Research Article

Resolving the Ortholog Conjecture: Orthologs Tend to Be Weakly, but Significantly, More Similar in Function than Paralogs

  • Adrian M. Altenhoff,

    Affiliations: ETH Zurich, Department of Computer Science, Zürich, Switzerland, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Switzerland

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  • Romain A. Studer,

    Affiliations: Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Switzerland, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, Division of Biosciences, University College London, London, United Kingdom

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  • Marc Robinson-Rechavi,

    Affiliations: Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Switzerland, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

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  • Christophe Dessimoz mail

    dessimoz@ebi.ac.uk

    Affiliations: ETH Zurich, Department of Computer Science, Zürich, Switzerland, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Switzerland, EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, United Kingdom

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  • Published: May 17, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002514

Reader Comments (2)

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The Ortholog Conjecture within the cellular context

Posted by Najmanovich on 29 Oct 2012 at 18:44 GMT

This work represents an important step in understanding the factors affecting the evolution of protein function.

As such, it would be have been interesting to analyze the data with respect to the function within cell or more clearly stated within the molecular network (gene regulatory, metabolic, etc) context.

Likewise, if it were possible to assess the contribution of genes to the fitness of the organisms at the required scales (sufficient number of genes and species), this information would also shed more light into the question.

The authors mention two important factors that need to be controlled type of function and level of specificity (in the description), I feel that these are two extremely relevant issues but little is discussed.

Finally, it also has to be noted that paralogs do not need and indeed at times cannot differ functionally, the two copies being essential to the organism. Divergence can occur at the regulatory level and different copies of the same identical essential gene are present but expressed at different times or cell types.

No competing interests declared.