The meaning of the terms 'homology' and 'homologous'

Frem the JCBN/NC-IUB Newsletter 1989 [3]

The term 'homologous' has the precise meaning in biology of 'having a common evolutionary origin', but it has had another looser meaning, frequently used in work on protein and nucleic acid sequences, to mean simply 'similar'. A group of 11 experts recently urged that the interests of clarity were best served by restricting use to the more precise definition ([1], see also [2]). NC-IUB and JCBN agree with the arguments put forward, and wish to draw the attention of biochemists to them.

1. Reeck, G. R., de Haën, C., Teller, D. C., Doolittle, R. F., Fitch, W. M., Dickerson, R. E., Chambon, P., McLachlan, A. D., Margoliash, E., Jukes, T. H. & Zuckerkandl, E. (1987) Cell 40, 667.

2. Lewin, R. (1987) Science (Wash. DC) 237,1570.

3.IUPAC-IUB Joint Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature (JCBN), and Nomenclature Commission of IUB (NC-IUB), Newsletter 1989, Arch. Biochem. Biophys., 1989, 272, 262-266; Biochem. Internat., 1989, 20, 209-214; Bioch. J., 1989, 265, I-IV; Biol. Chem. Hoppe-Seyler, 1989, 370, 1153-1156; Eur. J. Biochem., 1989, 183, 1-4.

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