Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 239–243 | Cite as

Complementary hydropathy and the evolution of interacting polypeptides

  • Ricardo Renzo Brentani


It has been shown that codons coding for strongly hydrophilic amino acids are complemented by codons that code for strongly hydrophobic ones, leading to a hypothesis stating that peptides thus encoded should interact. Though the principle has been validated in a number of experimental models, its general applicability has been questioned. I have discussed this principle, showing that the correlation between coding and noncoding strand amino acids was maintained, indeed slightly improved, when weighted averages based on codon usage tables were used to determine noncoding strand amino acid hydropathies. The coding capacity of the noncoding strand and its content of open reading frames were also discussed. Another point of contention that was afforded further clarification is the chemical plausibility of interactions between hydrophobic and hydrophilic amino acids implicit in this concept. The extension of complementary domains was also dealt with. Finally, I have discussed what I called the evolutionary drift of primary structure, and I showed as an example that though nucleotide sequences coding for the substance K receptor bear little resemblance to the inverse complement of that which codes for the SK peptide, a peptide spanning residues 130–139 is hydropathically very similar to that predicted from such an inverse complement.

Key words

Complementary hydropathy Amino acid interactions Antisense coding capacity Coevolution of interacting proteins 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Renzo Brentani
    • 1
  1. 1.Ludwig Institute for Cancer ResearchSão PauloBrasil

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