With sequence information in hand, the search for regulatory sites in promoters can be done by computers rather than cloning. But the primary tools for analysis, multiple-alignment algorithms, can only handle a small amount of sequence data. In the August 29 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bussemaker et al. introduce an alternative algorithm that they dub 'MobyDick' (Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 2000, 97: 10096-10100). MobyDick treats DNA sequence as text in which allthewordshavebeenruntogether. It attempts to build a dictionary of 'words' by first finding over-represented pairs of letters. Letter frequency is used to determine the probability that the pairs exist thanks to chance, and this helps determine how larger fragments continue to be built. Bussemaker et al. test their algorithm on a space-less version of the first ten chapters of the novel Moby Dick, then attack a list of all...

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