Homology/similarity/identity: proper usage

Thu Jan 31 16:51:09 EST 1991

This is in response to a recent query by David Steffen regarding the use of 
the term "homology."  This controversy has received much attention in recent
years as most of the subscribers of this bulletin board will attest to.  The
author should probably consult these commentaries on the subject: Reeck et 
al., "Homology in proteins and nucleic acids: A terminology muddle and a
way out of it," Cell 50: 667 (1987); Lewin, "When does homology mean 
something else?" Science 237: 1570 (1987).

I tend to agree with William Pearson's suggestions, i.e., without
prior knowledge of whether given genes are "orthologous" it is probably 
a good idea not to say there are homologies between them.  For the past
few years, I have been researching the evolution of the immunoglobulin
multigene family and have encountered similar terminology problems to
that described by Dr. Steffen.

Chris T. Amemiya
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
fish at amoeba.llnl.gov

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