The sound of proteins

May 03, 2007

Biologists have converted protein sequences into classical music in an attempt to help vision-impaired scientists and boost the popularity of genomic biology. New research published today in the open access journal Genome Biology describes how researchers have found a way to present human proteins as musical notes.

Rie Takahashi and Jeffrey H. Miller from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, have so far transcribed segments of two human proteins into music. But to make their melodies more pleasing on the ear, they had first to overcome a few problems – how to incorporate rhythm, and how to cram the 20 standard amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) into just 13 notes.

The duo focus on codons – sets of three adjacent bases that code for particular amino acids. They decided to include four different note durations with codons that appear more frequently transcribed into longer notes than those which appear less often. Individual amino acids are expressed as chords, in which similar amino acids are paired. For example, the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine are both assigned a G major chord, but they can be distinguished because the notes in the chord are arranged differently. This means the resulting music has a 20 note range spanning over 2 octaves, but with just 13 base notes.

The team find their music more melodic and less ‘jumpy’ than previous attempts, which have focussed on DNA sequences and protein folding, and hence closer to the musical depth of popular compositions. They are currently piloting a computer program, written by a collaborator Frank Pettit, which uses their translation rules to convert amino acids into music and hope it will speed up the translation of large segments of genomes. Further examples of converted proteins and the computer program are accessible for online use [www.mimg.ucla.edu/faculty/miller_jh/gene2music/home.html]. The browser allows anyone to send in a sequence coding for a protein that is then converted into music and returned to the inquirer as a midi file.

Citation: Conversion of amino-acid sequence in proteins to classical music: search for auditory patterns, Rie Takahashi and Jeffrey H Miller, Genome Biology (In press)

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Related Stories

Quantum Criticality in life's proteins (Update)

Apr 15, 2015

(Phys.org)—Stuart Kauffman, from the University of Calgary, and several of his colleagues have recently published a paper on the Arxiv server titled 'Quantum Criticality at the Origins of Life'. The id ...

The remarkable simplicity of complexity

Oct 01, 2014

From the fractal patterns of snowflakes to cellular lifeforms, our universe is full of complex phenomena – but how does this complexity arise?

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

8 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

The math of shark skin

15 hours ago

"Sharks are almost perfectly evolved animals. We can learn a lot from studying them," says Emory mathematician Alessandro Veneziani.

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

20 hours ago

Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark—a cousin of the storied great white—is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.