Nomenclature of numbering of amino acids

Athel Cornish-Bowden athel at IR2CBM.CNRS-MRS.FR
Wed Jul 15 10:05:03 EST 1998

Are Kristiansen wrote:
> Hallo,
> I have received the proof of an article to be published in BBA. As I do
> not have immediate access to recent editions of the journal and I am
> already late in returning the proof, I direct the question to this
> newsgroup:
> The journal has superscripted all numbers of amino acids. Instead of for
> example Trp28, it reads Trp<superscript:28>, i.e. the amino acid (Trp)
> is normal font, but the number (28) is superscript.
> I suppose this is a misunderstanding in the typesetting, or is it common
> to "superscript" numbers of amino acids?

IUBMB have a web site devoted to amino acid recommendations. As the
original document is quite long it is broken into numerous pages, the bit
most relevant to your query starting at

It doesn't seem to contain a direct unambiguous answer to your query, but
if you examine what it does itself you'll see that it uses Trp-29 (with a
hyphen and no superscript) to refer to the 29th residue of a protein if
this is a Trp, whereas [Trp<superscript:29>]albumin (for example) would be
a modified albumin in which the 29th residue was replaced with Trp.

If I understand your example correctly the superscripts used by BBA would
appear to be a mistake.

Athel Cornish-Bowden

Email: athel at
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