A Scientific Sighting
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 95 14:14:39 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: A Scientific Sighting
Forwarded-by: lanih@irony.Berkeley.EDU (Lani Herrmann)
Forwarded-by: Alix Herrmann Scheurer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(further forwards eaten, originator lost (BMW?))
Pondering the meaning of it all??? Here, perhaps, is a clue!
Examination of nucleic acid and protein sequences compiled in
computer databases has lead to many significant findings of homology
between sequences and shared sequence motifs among divergent organisms. We
wish to report the discovery of a sequence motif of potentially great
importance which is shared by proteins from a number of organisms. The
motif consists of the amino acid sequence Glu-Lys-Val-Ile-Ser; or, in the
one letter amino acid code, "ELVIS."
We examined the Protein Identification Resource, National
Biomedical Research Foundation (NBRF) protein database (release no. 26.0)
using the FASTP algorithm of Lipman and Pearson (1). Of 25814 sequences
contained in this release, we found the ELVIS motif in four proteins,
including the transposase of the IS256 element of Staphylococcus
cerevisiae, the thymidylate synthase from bacteriophage T4, and the
colonization factor antigen I (CFA/1) of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.
We also found the ELVIS motif with conserved changes, such as ELIIS and
ELVIT; these were not investigated further.
Since the fateful day of 16 August 1977 when Elvis Presley,
considered "The King" passed on, there have been many attemts to uncover
evidence that this rock and roll legend is still among us. For the most
part, these efforts have been conducted in a haphazard manner and quite
frankly have lacked credibility. Elvis sightings in shopping malls,
doughnut shops, and aboard alien space craft have yet to be properly
documented. We believe this report is the first credible evidence that
"The King" is still among us, at least with the lower life forms.
The frequency of occurence of the ELVIS motif (1.5 E -4) was
strikingly higher than the frequency of this motif by chance alone (1 in 20
E5 or 3 E -7). As a control, we examined the occurence of the five-letter
name of another legendary musician of a completely different era and style,
namely, Franz Joseph Haydn. The HAYDN sequence motif was absent from the
NBRF database, thus supporting the unique occurence of ELVIS among protein
sequences. Because the frequencies of individual amino acids vary among
organisms, we performed an additional control and searched for the same
five amino acids of ELVIS rearranged to spell "LIVES." None of the 25814
sequences contained this sequence.
The biological significance of the ELVIS motif is not clear at
this time. Additional experiments using site-directed mutagenesis to alter
individual residues in this motif may yeild further insights. The
occurence of ELVIS in the CFA/1 antigen of enterotoxigenic E. coli may
provide a clue. Those who have traveled to areas in which the organism is
endemic have felt the presence of ELVIS in the form of abdominal cramping
and related discomforts.
James B. Kaper
Harry L. T. Mobley
Department of Medicine,
University of Maryland School of Medicine,
Baltimore, MD 21201
Actual letter to a scientifiic journal, I'm not sure which one.
© 1995 Peter Langston