In 1987, when Geoff Barton was a graduate student learning computational structural biology at the University of London, just 6000 protein sequences were known, but their numbers were rising exponentially, and it was becoming clear that they had commonalities. Sequences that yield valuable functions have staying power, so they are conserved throughout evolution. Finding these recurring patterns, however, required painstaking pencil and paper comparisons.
A page from Barton's lab book in around 1988. It shows a multiple sequence alignment produced automatically by his alignment softwstrong textare, printed out then coloured by hand to highlight conserved amino acid positions in the alignment. Secondary structure predictions are shown underneath the alignment and there are other features such as intron/exon boundaries shown for some of the sequences. "Doing things …Read More.