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Biological Sequences

What are Biological Sequences?

Biological sequences are single, continuous molecules of nucleic acids or proteins and most often refer to a DNA sequence, although it includes many other types of molecules. A part of life sciences, they can be thought of as a multiple inheritance class hierarchy, with one hierarchy being the molecule type (DNA, RNA, or protein) and the other being how the sequence is represented by the data structure (e.g., physical map, genetic map, or composite view including other entries, etc.)

These sequences can be very short, like a single molecule, or incredibly long, such as full chromosomes containing millions of characters. They live in the nucleus of a cell and are present in many crucial biological functions, like describing DNA or RNA. Biological sequences have a small, fixed alphabet, such as “A,” “C,” “T,” and “G” in DNA fragments.

Other Names for Biological Sequences:

  • Protein sequences
  • DNA sequences
  • Genotypes
  • Nucleic acids
  • Nucleotides
  • Protein molecules

Why are Biological Sequences Important?

Biological sequences are important because they contain the information included in vital life molecules like proteins or DNA. Identifying and understanding these sequences helps form an understanding of larger biological processes through bioinformatics research. This is important not only to scientists but innovators as well, as categorizing biological sequences forms the basis for more sophisticated innovations, such as drug discovery or drug development. By organizing these sequences, one can apply them to the intended use with clear direction.

For example, next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a form of biotechnology that uses biological sequencing to sequence whole genomes very quickly; deeply sequence specific therapeutic target regions; identify new pathogens and how to treat them; analyze cancer sequences; and more. One of the most famous examples that uses biological sequencing is CRISPR, the genome editing tool.

By using technology and software to label and categorize biological sequences, an innovator can easily make use of dedicated platforms to transform raw information into connected data points and keep moving the innovation process forward.