The Evolution of the Human Proteome Initiativeaims to complete the genome sequence coverage of all major nodes of chordate evolution with at least two sequenced species. This will provide data to address two broad aims:
What are the genomic changes that correlate with major morphological and physiological changes during chordate evolution? The active domains for necessary maintenance proteins (such as proteins for the cell cycle, metabolism, ribosomes, signal transduction, and the cytoskeleton) are largely conserved across the animal kingdom. However, each genome also contains species or taxon-specific genes and gene families that represent changes over a variety of timescales. Full coverage of the major nodes of chordate evolution will allow researchers to trace human genes back to their progenitor gene ancestry and better understand how the expansion of protein families has contributed to each evolutionary step in human ancestry.
Within the chordates, what are the conserved sequences within proteins? Finding them will provide insight into protein function. These sequences are characterized by slower evolutionary change compared to e.g. regulatory sequences. To identify them in the human genome will require greater branch-length for sequence comparisons, specifically, obtaining genome sequence information from deeper in the chordate lineage that is represented within the mammals.