John Hogenesch (john at pc029.pharm.nwu.edu) wrote:
: 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.
I doubt you'll find a really clear delineation of these --
there is obviously a continuum of similarity from unrecognizable
to identical. I would tend to just call the largest recognizable
grouping a family, and any subdivisions of that subfamilies,
unless there is prior precedent for naming things differently.
Probably your best bet is to go to Margaret Dayhoff's writings,
since I think she originally defined the term "superfamily".
Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology
Department of Genetics
robison at mito.harvard.edu