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/mill… 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: Sheepdogs use just two simple rules to round up large herds of sheep

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers link patterns seen in spider silk, melodies

Dec 08, 2011

Using a new mathematical methodology, researchers at MIT have created a scientifically rigorous analogy that shows the similarities between the physical structure of spider silk and the sonic structure of ...

More than mere pond scum

Apr 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Algae could soon become a valuable biofuel resource, according to research at the University of Arizona.

Recommended for you

New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

39 minutes ago

Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

Zambia lifts ban on safari hunting

2 hours ago

Zambia has lifted a 20-month ban on safari hunting because it has lost too much revenue, but lions and leopards will remain protected, the government said Wednesday.

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

5 hours ago

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

User comments : 0