SwineFlu Virus disassembly - Good Reading

Monday, September 7, 2009

Comparison to Computer Viruses


How many bits does it take to kill a human?

The H1N1 virus has been comprehensively disassembled (sequenced) and logged into the NCBI Influenza Virus Resource database. For example, an instance of influenza known as A/Italy/49/2009(H1N1) isolated from the nose of a 26-year old female homo sapiens returning from the USA to Italy (I love the specificity of these database records), has its entire sequence posted at the NCBI website. It’s amazing — here’s the first 120 bits of the sequence.
atgaaggcaa tactagtagt tctgctatat acatttgcaa ccgcaaatgc agacacatta

Remember, each symbol represents 2 bits of information. This is alternatively represented as an amino acid sequence, through a translation lookup table, of the following peptides:
MKAILVVLLYTFATANADTL

In this case, each symbol represents an amino acid which is the equivalent of 6 bits (3 DNA-equivalent codons per amino acid). M is methionine, K is Lysine, A is Alanine, etc. (you can find the translation table here). Continue...

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