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FLU, an amino acid substitution model for influenza proteins

Author(s): Dang Cuong | Le Quang | Gascuel Olivier | Le Vinh

Journal: BMC Evolutionary Biology
ISSN 1471-2148

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 99;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background The amino acid substitution model is the core component of many protein analysis systems such as sequence similarity search, sequence alignment, and phylogenetic inference. Although several general amino acid substitution models have been estimated from large and diverse protein databases, they remain inappropriate for analyzing specific species, e.g., viruses. Emerging epidemics of influenza viruses raise the need for comprehensive studies of these dangerous viruses. We propose an influenza-specific amino acid substitution model to enhance the understanding of the evolution of influenza viruses. Results A maximum likelihood approach was applied to estimate an amino acid substitution model (FLU) from ~113, 000 influenza protein sequences, consisting of ~20 million residues. FLU outperforms 14 widely used models in constructing maximum likelihood phylogenetic trees for the majority of influenza protein alignments. On average, FLU gains ~42 log likelihood points with an alignment of 300 sites. Moreover, topologies of trees constructed using FLU and other models are frequently different. FLU does indeed have an impact on likelihood improvement as well as tree topologies. It was implemented in PhyML and can be downloaded from or included in PhyML 3.0 server at Conclusions FLU should be useful for any influenza protein analysis system which requires an accurate description of amino acid substitutions.
Affiliate Program     

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona