Help! Definiition of superfamily, family, subfamily

John Hogenesch john at
Wed Mar 6 17:37:15 EST 1996

Molecular evolutionary biologists,
	I'm writing a paper where we identify five new members 
of a gene family.  This brings the total number of identified 
proteins in vertebrates to eight.  In addition there are five 
Drosophila members of this family and one bacterial.  What 
characteristics would make these proteins a superfamily, family, 
or subfamily?  They all contain a conserved domain, and all but 
two contain a second domain shared by bunches of proteins.  The 
splicing patterns of a couple of these proteins have been 
determined, and they are also conserved (in the conserved 
	Any insight would be appreciated, as I can't seem to 
find a cogent definition of these terms.  I get the feeling 
people throw them around a lot.

John Hogenesch
john at

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