Visualizing bacterial tRNA identity determinants and antideterminants using function logos and inverse function logos

Eva Freyhult, Vincent Moulton, David H. Ardell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Sequence logos are stacked bar graphs that generalize the notion of consensus sequence. They employ entropy statistics very effectively to display variation in a structural alignment of sequences of a common function, while emphasizing its over-represented features. Yet sequence logos cannot display features that distinguish functional subclasses within a structurally related superfamily nor do they display under-represented features. We introduce two extensions to address these needs: function logos and inverse logos. Function logos display subfunctions that are over-represented among sequences carrying a specific feature. Inverse logos generalize both sequence logos and function logos by displaying under-represented, rather than over-represented, features or functions in structural alignments. To make inverse logos, a compositional inverse is applied to the feature or function frequency distributions before logo construction, where a compositional inverse is a mathematical transform that makes common features or functions rare and vice versa. We applied these methods to a database of structurally aligned bacterial tDNAs to create highly condensed, birds-eye views of potentially all so-called identity determinants and antideterminants that confer specific amino acid charging or initiator function on tRNAs in bacteria. We recovered both known and a few potentially novel identity elements. Function logos and inverse logos are useful tools for exploratory bioinformatic analysis of structure–function relationships in sequence families and superfamilies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-916
Number of pages12
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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