Evolutionary Study of Protein Short Tandem Repeats in Protein Families
Tandem repeats in proteins are patterns of residues repeated directly adjacent to each other. The evolution of these repeats can be assessed by using groups of homologous sequences, which can help pointing to events of unit duplication or deletion. High pressure in a protein family for variation of a given type of repeat might point to their function. Here, we propose the analysis of protein families to calculate protein short tandem repeats (pSTRs) in each protein sequence and assess their variability within the family in terms of number of units. To facilitate this analysis, we developed the pSTR tool, a method to analyze the evolution of protein short tandem repeats in a given protein family by pairwise comparisons between evolutionarily related protein sequences. We evaluated pSTR unit number variation in protein families of 12 complete metazoan proteomes. We hypothesize that families with more dynamic ensembles of repeats could reflect particular roles of these repeats in processes that require more adaptability.