Send to

Choose Destination
J Theor Biol. 1989 Jun 8;138(3):297-309.

Gap costs for multiple sequence alignment.

Author information

Mathematical Research Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Standard methods for aligning pairs of biological sequences charge for the most common mutations, which are substitutions, deletions and insertions. Because a single mutation may insert or delete several nucleotides, gap costs that are not directly proportional to gap length are usually the most effective. How to extend such gap costs to alignments of three or more sequences is not immediately obvious, and a variety of approaches have been taken. This paper argues that, since gap and substitution costs together specify optimal alignments, they should be defined using a common rationale. Specifically, a new definition of gap costs for multiple alignments is proposed and compared with previous ones. Since the new definition links a multiple alignment's cost to that of its pairwise projections, it allows knowledge gained about two-sequence alignments to bear on the multiple alignment problem. Also, such linkage is a key element of recent algorithms that have rendered practical the simultaneous alignment of as many as six sequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center