A workbench for multiple alignment construction and analysis

Proteins. 1991;9(3):180-90. doi: 10.1002/prot.340090304.


Multiple sequence alignment can be a useful technique for studying molecular evolution, as well as for analyzing relationships between structure or function and primary sequence. We have developed for this purpose an interactive program, MACAW (Multiple Alignment Construction and Analysis Workbench), that allows the user to construct multiple alignments by locating, analyzing, editing, and combining "blocks" of aligned sequence segments. MACAW incorporates several novel features. (1) Regions of local similarity are located by a new search algorithm that avoids many of the limitations of previous techniques. (2) The statistical significance of blocks of similarity is evaluated using a recently developed mathematical theory. (3) Candidate blocks may be evaluated for potential inclusion in a multiple alignment using a variety of visualization tools. (4) A user interface permits each block to be edited by moving its boundaries or by eliminating particular segments, and blocks may be linked to form a composite multiple alignment. No completely automatic program is likely to deal effectively with all the complexities of the multiple alignment problem; by combining a powerful similarity search algorithm with flexible editing, analysis and display tools, MACAW allows the alignment strategy to be tailored to the problem at hand.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Chymotrypsin / chemistry
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pancreatic Elastase / chemistry
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Sequence Alignment*
  • Software
  • Trypsin / chemistry


  • Proteins
  • Chymotrypsin
  • Pancreatic Elastase
  • Trypsin