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1.  Powerful fusion: PSI-BLAST and consensus sequences 
Bioinformatics (Oxford, England)  2008;24(18):1987-1993.
Motivation
A typical PSI-BLAST search consists of iterative scanning and alignment of a large sequence database during which a scoring profile is progressively built and refined. Such a profile can also be stored and used to search against a different database of sequences. Using it to search against a database of consensus rather than native sequences is a simple add-on that boosts performance surprisingly well. The improvement comes at a price: we hypothesized that random alignment score statistics would differ between native and consensus sequences. Thus PSI-BLAST-based profile searches against consensus sequences might incorrectly estimate statistical significance of alignment scores. In addition, iterative searches against consensus databases may fail. Here, we addressed these challenges in an attempt to harness the full power of the combination of PSI-BLAST and consensus sequences.
Results
We studied alignment score statistics for various types of consensus sequences. In general, the score distribution parameters of profile-based consensus sequence alignments differed significantly from those derived for the native sequences. PSI-BLAST partially compensated for the parameter variation. We have identified a protocol for building specialized consensus sequences that significantly improved search sensitivity and preserved score distribution parameters. As a result, PSI-BLAST profiles can be used to search specialized consensus sequences without sacrificing estimates of statistical significance. We also provided results indicating that iterative PSI-BLAST searches against consensus sequences could work very well. Overall, we showed how a widely popular and effective method could be used to identify significantly more relevant similarities among protein sequences.
Availability
http://www.rostlab.org/services/consensus/
Contact:
dsp23@columbia.edu
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btn384
PMCID: PMC2577777  PMID: 18678588
2.  Powerful fusion: PSI-BLAST and consensus sequences 
Bioinformatics  2008;24(18):1987-1993.
Motivation: A typical PSI-BLAST search consists of iterative scanning and alignment of a large sequence database during which a scoring profile is progressively built and refined. Such a profile can also be stored and used to search against a different database of sequences. Using it to search against a database of consensus rather than native sequences is a simple add-on that boosts performance surprisingly well. The improvement comes at a price: we hypothesized that random alignment score statistics would differ between native and consensus sequences. Thus PSI-BLAST-based profile searches against consensus sequences might incorrectly estimate statistical significance of alignment scores. In addition, iterative searches against consensus databases may fail. Here, we addressed these challenges in an attempt to harness the full power of the combination of PSI-BLAST and consensus sequences.
Results: We studied alignment score statistics for various types of consensus sequences. In general, the score distribution parameters of profile-based consensus sequence alignments differed significantly from those derived for the native sequences. PSI-BLAST partially compensated for the parameter variation. We have identified a protocol for building specialized consensus sequences that significantly improved search sensitivity and preserved score distribution parameters. As a result, PSI-BLAST profiles can be used to search specialized consensus sequences without sacrificing estimates of statistical significance. We also provided results indicating that iterative PSI-BLAST searches against consensus sequences could work very well. Overall, we showed how a very popular and effective method could be used to identify significantly more relevant similarities among protein sequences.
Availability: http://www.rostlab.org/services/consensus/
Contact: dariusz@mit.edu
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btn384
PMCID: PMC2577777  PMID: 18678588
3.  High quality protein sequence alignment by combining structural profile prediction and profile alignment using SABERTOOTH 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:251.
Background
Protein alignments are an essential tool for many bioinformatics analyses. While sequence alignments are accurate for proteins of high sequence similarity, they become unreliable as they approach the so-called 'twilight zone' where sequence similarity gets indistinguishable from random. For such distant pairs, structure alignment is of much better quality. Nevertheless, sequence alignment is the only choice in the majority of cases where structural data is not available. This situation demands development of methods that extend the applicability of accurate sequence alignment to distantly related proteins.
Results
We develop a sequence alignment method that combines the prediction of a structural profile based on the protein's sequence with the alignment of that profile using our recently published alignment tool SABERTOOTH. In particular, we predict the contact vector of protein structures using an artificial neural network based on position-specific scoring matrices generated by PSI-BLAST and align these predicted contact vectors. The resulting sequence alignments are assessed using two different tests: First, we assess the alignment quality by measuring the derived structural similarity for cases in which structures are available. In a second test, we quantify the ability of the significance score of the alignments to recognize structural and evolutionary relationships. As a benchmark we use a representative set of the SCOP (structural classification of proteins) database, with similarities ranging from closely related proteins at SCOP family level, to very distantly related proteins at SCOP fold level. Comparing these results with some prominent sequence alignment tools, we find that SABERTOOTH produces sequence alignments of better quality than those of Clustal W, T-Coffee, MUSCLE, and PSI-BLAST. HHpred, one of the most sophisticated and computationally expensive tools available, outperforms our alignment algorithm at family and superfamily levels, while the use of SABERTOOTH is advantageous for alignments at fold level. Our alignment scheme will profit from future improvements of structural profiles prediction.
Conclusions
We present the automatic sequence alignment tool SABERTOOTH that computes pairwise sequence alignments of very high quality. SABERTOOTH is especially advantageous when applied to alignments of remotely related proteins. The source code is available at http://www.fkp.tu-darmstadt.de/sabertooth_project/, free for academic users upon request.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-251
PMCID: PMC2885375  PMID: 20470364
4.  PSI-Search: iterative HOE-reduced profile SSEARCH searching 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(12):1650-1651.
Summary: Iterative similarity searches with PSI-BLAST position-specific score matrices (PSSMs) find many more homologs than single searches, but PSSMs can be contaminated when homologous alignments are extended into unrelated protein domains—homologous over-extension (HOE). PSI-Search combines an optimal Smith–Waterman local alignment sequence search, using SSEARCH, with the PSI-BLAST profile construction strategy. An optional sequence boundary-masking procedure, which prevents alignments from being extended after they are initially included, can reduce HOE errors in the PSSM profile. Preventing HOE improves selectivity for both PSI-BLAST and PSI-Search, but PSI-Search has ~4-fold better selectivity than PSI-BLAST and similar sensitivity at 50% and 60% family coverage. PSI-Search is also produces 2- for 4-fold fewer false-positives than JackHMMER, but is ~5% less sensitive.
Availability and implementation: PSI-Search is available from the authors as a standalone implementation written in Perl for Linux-compatible platforms. It is also available through a web interface (www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/sss/psisearch) and SOAP and REST Web Services (www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/webservices).
Contact: pearson@virginia.edu; rodrigo.lopez@ebi.ac.uk
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/bts240
PMCID: PMC3371869  PMID: 22539666
5.  PairsDB atlas of protein sequence space 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;36(Database issue):D276-D280.
Sequence similarity/database searching is a cornerstone of molecular biology. PairsDB is a database intended to make exploring protein sequences and their similarity relationships quick and easy. Behind PairsDB is a comprehensive collection of protein sequences and BLAST and PSI-BLAST alignments between them. Instead of running BLAST or PSI-BLAST individually on each request, results are retrieved instantaneously from a database of pre-computed alignments. Filtering options allow you to find a set of sequences satisfying a set of criteria—for example, all human proteins with solved structure and without transmembrane segments. PairsDB is continually updated and covers all sequences in Uniprot. The data is stored in a MySQL relational database. Data files will be made available for download at ftp://nic.funet.fi/pub/sci/molbio. PairsDB can also be accessed interactively at http://pairsdb.csc.fi. PairsDB data is a valuable platform to build various downstream automated analysis pipelines. For example, the graph of all-against-all similarity relationships is the starting point for clustering protein families, delineating domains, improving alignment accuracy by consistency measures, and defining orthologous genes. Moreover, query-anchored stacked sequence alignments, profiles and consensus sequences are useful in studies of sequence conservation patterns for clues about possible functional sites.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkm879
PMCID: PMC2238971  PMID: 17986464
6.  PHOG-BLAST – a new generation tool for fast similarity search of protein families 
Background
The need to compare protein profiles frequently arises in various protein research areas: comparison of protein families, domain searches, resolution of orthology and paralogy. The existing fast algorithms can only compare a protein sequence with a protein sequence and a profile with a sequence. Algorithms to compare profiles use dynamic programming and complex scoring functions.
Results
We developed a new algorithm called PHOG-BLAST for fast similarity search of profiles. This algorithm uses profile discretization to convert a profile to a finite alphabet and utilizes hashing for fast search. To determine the optimal alphabet, we analyzed columns in reliable multiple alignments and obtained column clusters in the 20-dimensional profile space by applying a special clustering procedure. We show that the clustering procedure works best if its parameters are chosen so that 20 profile clusters are obtained which can be interpreted as ancestral amino acid residues. With these clusters, only less than 2% of columns in multiple alignments are out of clusters. We tested the performance of PHOG-BLAST vs. PSI-BLAST on three well-known databases of multiple alignments: COG, PFAM and BALIBASE. On the COG database both algorithms showed the same performance, on PFAM and BALIBASE PHOG-BLAST was much superior to PSI-BLAST. PHOG-BLAST required 10–20 times less computer memory and computation time than PSI-BLAST.
Conclusion
Since PHOG-BLAST can compare multiple alignments of protein families, it can be used in different areas of comparative proteomics and protein evolution. For example, PHOG-BLAST helped to build the PHOG database of phylogenetic orthologous groups. An essential step in building this database was comparing protein complements of different species and orthologous groups of different taxons on a personal computer in reasonable time. When it is applied to detect weak similarity between protein families, PHOG-BLAST is less precise than rigorous profile-profile comparison method, though it runs much faster and can be used as a hit pre-selecting tool.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-6-51
PMCID: PMC1522020  PMID: 16792802
7.  Gapped alignment of protein sequence motifs through Monte Carlo optimization of a hidden Markov model 
BMC Bioinformatics  2004;5:157.
Background
Certain protein families are highly conserved across distantly related organisms and belong to large and functionally diverse superfamilies. The patterns of conservation present in these protein sequences presumably are due to selective constraints maintaining important but unknown structural mechanisms with some constraints specific to each family and others shared by a larger subset or by the entire superfamily. To exploit these patterns as a source of functional information, we recently devised a statistically based approach called contrast hierarchical alignment and interaction network (CHAIN) analysis, which infers the strengths of various categories of selective constraints from co-conserved patterns in a multiple alignment. The power of this approach strongly depends on the quality of the multiple alignments, which thus motivated development of theoretical concepts and strategies to improve alignment of conserved motifs within large sets of distantly related sequences.
Results
Here we describe a hidden Markov model (HMM), an algebraic system, and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling strategies for alignment of multiple sequence motifs. The MCMC sampling strategies are useful both for alignment optimization and for adjusting position specific background amino acid frequencies for alignment uncertainties. Associated statistical formulations provide an objective measure of alignment quality as well as automatic gap penalty optimization. Improved alignments obtained in this way are compared with PSI-BLAST based alignments within the context of CHAIN analysis of three protein families: Giα subunits, prolyl oligopeptidases, and transitional endoplasmic reticulum (p97) AAA+ ATPases.
Conclusion
While not entirely replacing PSI-BLAST based alignments, which likewise may be optimized for CHAIN analysis using this approach, these motif-based methods often more accurately align very distantly related sequences and thus can provide a better measure of selective constraints. In some instances, these new approaches also provide a better understanding of family-specific constraints, as we illustrate for p97 ATPases. Programs implementing these procedures and supplementary information are available from the authors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-157
PMCID: PMC538276  PMID: 15504234
8.  DescFold: A web server for protein fold recognition 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:416.
Background
Machine learning-based methods have been proven to be powerful in developing new fold recognition tools. In our previous work [Zhang, Kochhar and Grigorov (2005) Protein Science, 14: 431-444], a machine learning-based method called DescFold was established by using Support Vector Machines (SVMs) to combine the following four descriptors: a profile-sequence-alignment-based descriptor using Psi-blast e-values and bit scores, a sequence-profile-alignment-based descriptor using Rps-blast e-values and bit scores, a descriptor based on secondary structure element alignment (SSEA), and a descriptor based on the occurrence of PROSITE functional motifs. In this work, we focus on the improvement of DescFold by incorporating more powerful descriptors and setting up a user-friendly web server.
Results
In seeking more powerful descriptors, the profile-profile alignment score generated from the COMPASS algorithm was first considered as a new descriptor (i.e., PPA). When considering a profile-profile alignment between two proteins in the context of fold recognition, one protein is regarded as a template (i.e., its 3D structure is known). Instead of a sequence profile derived from a Psi-blast search, a structure-seeded profile for the template protein was generated by searching its structural neighbors with the assistance of the TM-align structural alignment algorithm. Moreover, the COMPASS algorithm was used again to derive a profile-structural-profile-alignment-based descriptor (i.e., PSPA). We trained and tested the new DescFold in a total of 1,835 highly diverse proteins extracted from the SCOP 1.73 version. When the PPA and PSPA descriptors were introduced, the new DescFold boosts the performance of fold recognition substantially. Using the SCOP_1.73_40% dataset as the fold library, the DescFold web server based on the trained SVM models was further constructed. To provide a large-scale test for the new DescFold, a stringent test set of 1,866 proteins were selected from the SCOP 1.75 version. At a less than 5% false positive rate control, the new DescFold is able to correctly recognize structural homologs at the fold level for nearly 46% test proteins. Additionally, we also benchmarked the DescFold method against several well-established fold recognition algorithms through the LiveBench targets and Lindahl dataset.
Conclusions
The new DescFold method was intensively benchmarked to have very competitive performance compared with some well-established fold recognition methods, suggesting that it can serve as a useful tool to assist in template-based protein structure prediction. The DescFold server is freely accessible at http://202.112.170.199/DescFold/index.html.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-416
PMCID: PMC2803855  PMID: 20003426
9.  Detection of distant evolutionary relationships between protein families using theory of sequence profile-profile comparison 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:89.
Background
Detection of common evolutionary origin (homology) is a primary means of inferring protein structure and function. At present, comparison of protein families represented as sequence profiles is arguably the most effective homology detection strategy. However, finding the best way to represent evolutionary information of a protein sequence family in the profile, to compare profiles and to estimate the biological significance of such comparisons, remains an active area of research.
Results
Here, we present a new homology detection method based on sequence profile-profile comparison. The method has a number of new features including position-dependent gap penalties and a global score system. Position-dependent gap penalties provide a more biologically relevant way to represent and align protein families as sequence profiles. The global score system enables an analytical solution of the statistical parameters needed to estimate the statistical significance of profile-profile similarities. The new method, together with other state-of-the-art profile-based methods (HHsearch, COMPASS and PSI-BLAST), is benchmarked in all-against-all comparison of a challenging set of SCOP domains that share at most 20% sequence identity. For benchmarking, we use a reference ("gold standard") free model-based evaluation framework. Evaluation results show that at the level of protein domains our method compares favorably to all other tested methods. We also provide examples of the new method outperforming structure-based similarity detection and alignment. The implementation of the new method both as a standalone software package and as a web server is available at http://www.ibt.lt/bioinformatics/coma.
Conclusion
Due to a number of developments, the new profile-profile comparison method shows an improved ability to match distantly related protein domains. Therefore, the method should be useful for annotation and homology modeling of uncharacterized proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-89
PMCID: PMC2837030  PMID: 20158924
10.  (PS)2: protein structure prediction server 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(Web Server issue):W152-W157.
Protein structure prediction provides valuable insights into function, and comparative modeling is one of the most reliable methods to predict 3D structures directly from amino acid sequences. However, critical problems arise during the selection of the correct templates and the alignment of query sequences therewith. We have developed an automatic protein structure prediction server, (PS)2, which uses an effective consensus strategy both in template selection, which combines PSI-BLAST and IMPALA, and target–template alignment integrating PSI-BLAST, IMPALA and T-Coffee. (PS)2 was evaluated for 47 comparative modeling targets in CASP6 (Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction). For the benchmark dataset, the predictive performance of (PS)2, based on the mean GTD_TS score, was superior to 10 other automatic servers. Our method is based solely on the consensus sequence and thus is considerably faster than other methods that rely on the additional structural consensus of templates. Our results show that (PS)2, coupled with suitable consensus strategies and a new similarity score, can significantly improve structure prediction. Our approach should be useful in structure prediction and modeling. The (PS)2 is available through the website at .
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl187
PMCID: PMC1538880  PMID: 16844981
11.  FastBLAST: Homology Relationships for Millions of Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3589.
Background
All-versus-all BLAST, which searches for homologous pairs of sequences in a database of proteins, is used to identify potential orthologs, to find new protein families, and to provide rapid access to these homology relationships. As DNA sequencing accelerates and data sets grow, all-versus-all BLAST has become computationally demanding.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We present FastBLAST, a heuristic replacement for all-versus-all BLAST that relies on alignments of proteins to known families, obtained from tools such as PSI-BLAST and HMMer. FastBLAST avoids most of the work of all-versus-all BLAST by taking advantage of these alignments and by clustering similar sequences. FastBLAST runs in two stages: the first stage identifies additional families and aligns them, and the second stage quickly identifies the homologs of a query sequence, based on the alignments of the families, before generating pairwise alignments. On 6.53 million proteins from the non-redundant Genbank database (“NR”), FastBLAST identifies new families 25 times faster than all-versus-all BLAST. Once the first stage is completed, FastBLAST identifies homologs for the average query in less than 5 seconds (8.6 times faster than BLAST) and gives nearly identical results. For hits above 70 bits, FastBLAST identifies 98% of the top 3,250 hits per query.
Conclusions/Significance
FastBLAST enables research groups that do not have supercomputers to analyze large protein sequence data sets. FastBLAST is open source software and is available at http://microbesonline.org/fastblast.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003589
PMCID: PMC2571987  PMID: 18974889
12.  PSI-BLAST-ISS: an intermediate sequence search tool for estimation of the position-specific alignment reliability 
BMC Bioinformatics  2005;6:185.
Background
Protein sequence alignments have become indispensable for virtually any evolutionary, structural or functional study involving proteins. Modern sequence search and comparison methods combined with rapidly increasing sequence data often can reliably match even distantly related proteins that share little sequence similarity. However, even highly significant matches generally may have incorrectly aligned regions. Therefore when exact residue correspondence is used to transfer biological information from one aligned sequence to another, it is critical to know which alignment regions are reliable and which may contain alignment errors.
Results
PSI-BLAST-ISS is a standalone Unix-based tool designed to delineate reliable regions of sequence alignments as well as to suggest potential variants in unreliable regions. The region-specific reliability is assessed by producing multiple sequence alignments in different sequence contexts followed by the analysis of the consistency of alignment variants. The PSI-BLAST-ISS output enables the user to simultaneously analyze alignment reliability between query and multiple homologous sequences. In addition, PSI-BLAST-ISS can be used to detect distantly related homologous proteins. The software is freely available at: .
Conclusion
PSI-BLAST-ISS is an effective reliability assessment tool that can be useful in applications such as comparative modelling or analysis of individual sequence regions. It favorably compares with the existing similar software both in the performance and functional features.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-6-185
PMCID: PMC1187875  PMID: 16033659
13.  Prediction of cis/trans isomerization in proteins using PSI-BLAST profiles and secondary structure information 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:124.
Background
The majority of peptide bonds in proteins are found to occur in the trans conformation. However, for proline residues, a considerable fraction of Prolyl peptide bonds adopt the cis form. Proline cis/trans isomerization is known to play a critical role in protein folding, splicing, cell signaling and transmembrane active transport. Accurate prediction of proline cis/trans isomerization in proteins would have many important applications towards the understanding of protein structure and function.
Results
In this paper, we propose a new approach to predict the proline cis/trans isomerization in proteins using support vector machine (SVM). The preliminary results indicated that using Radial Basis Function (RBF) kernels could lead to better prediction performance than that of polynomial and linear kernel functions. We used single sequence information of different local window sizes, amino acid compositions of different local sequences, multiple sequence alignment obtained from PSI-BLAST and the secondary structure information predicted by PSIPRED. We explored these different sequence encoding schemes in order to investigate their effects on the prediction performance. The training and testing of this approach was performed on a newly enlarged dataset of 2424 non-homologous proteins determined by X-Ray diffraction method using 5-fold cross-validation. Selecting the window size 11 provided the best performance for determining the proline cis/trans isomerization based on the single amino acid sequence. It was found that using multiple sequence alignments in the form of PSI-BLAST profiles could significantly improve the prediction performance, the prediction accuracy increased from 62.8% with single sequence to 69.8% and Matthews Correlation Coefficient (MCC) improved from 0.26 with single local sequence to 0.40. Furthermore, if coupled with the predicted secondary structure information by PSIPRED, our method yielded a prediction accuracy of 71.5% and MCC of 0.43, 9% and 0.17 higher than the accuracy achieved based on the singe sequence information, respectively.
Conclusion
A new method has been developed to predict the proline cis/trans isomerization in proteins based on support vector machine, which used the single amino acid sequence with different local window sizes, the amino acid compositions of local sequence flanking centered proline residues, the position-specific scoring matrices (PSSMs) extracted by PSI-BLAST and the predicted secondary structures generated by PSIPRED. The successful application of SVM approach in this study reinforced that SVM is a powerful tool in predicting proline cis/trans isomerization in proteins and biological sequence analysis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-124
PMCID: PMC1450308  PMID: 16526956
14.  ModLink+: improving fold recognition by using protein–protein interactions 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(12):1506-1512.
Motivation:Several strategies have been developed to predict the fold of a target protein sequence, most of which are based on aligning the target sequence to other sequences of known structure. Previously, we demonstrated that the consideration of protein–protein interactions significantly increases the accuracy of fold assignment compared with PSI-BLAST sequence comparisons. A drawback of our method was the low number of proteins to which a fold could be assigned. Here, we present an improved version of the method that addresses this limitation. We also compare our method to other state-of-the-art fold assignment methodologies.
Results: Our approach (ModLink+) has been tested on 3716 proteins with domain folds classified in the Structural Classification Of Proteins (SCOP) as well as known interacting partners in the Database of Interacting Proteins (DIP). For this test set, the ratio of success [positive predictive value (PPV)] on fold assignment increases from 75% for PSI-BLAST, 83% for HHSearch and 81% for PRC to >90% for ModLink+at the e-value cutoff of 10−3. Under this e-value, ModLink+can assign a fold to 30–45% of the proteins in the test set, while our previous method could cover <25%. When applied to 6384 proteins with unknown fold in the yeast proteome, ModLink+combined with PSI-BLAST assigns a fold for domains in 3738 proteins, while PSI-BLAST alone covers only 2122 proteins, HHSearch 2969 and PRC 2826 proteins, using a threshold e-value that would represent a PPV >82% for each method in the test set.
Availability: The ModLink+server is freely accessible in the World Wide Web at http://sbi.imim.es/modlink/.
Contact: boliva@imim.es.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btp238
PMCID: PMC2687990  PMID: 19357100
15.  Cascade PSI-BLAST web server: a remote homology search tool for relating protein domains 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(Web Server issue):W143-W146.
Owing to high evolutionary divergence, it is not always possible to identify distantly related protein domains by sequence search techniques. Intermediate sequences possess sequence features of more than one protein and facilitate detection of remotely related proteins. We have demonstrated recently the employment of Cascade PSI-BLAST where we perform PSI-BLAST for many ‘generations’, initiating searches from new homologues as well. Such a rigorous propagation through generations of PSI-BLAST employs effectively the role of intermediates in detecting distant similarities between proteins. This approach has been tested on a large number of folds and its performance in detecting superfamily level relationships is ∼35% better than simple PSI-BLAST searches. We present a web server for this search method that permits users to perform Cascade PSI-BLAST searches against the Pfam, SCOP and SwissProt databases. The URL for this server is .
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl157
PMCID: PMC1538780  PMID: 16844978
16.  COMPASS server for remote homology inference 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(Web Server issue):W653-W658.
COMPASS is a method for homology detection and local alignment construction based on the comparison of multiple sequence alignments (MSAs). The method derives numerical profiles from given MSAs, constructs local profile-profile alignments and analytically estimates E-values for the detected similarities. Until now, COMPASS was only available for download and local installation. Here, we present a new web server featuring the latest version of COMPASS, which provides (i) increased sensitivity and selectivity of homology detection; (ii) longer, more complete alignments; and (iii) faster computational speed. After submission of the query MSA or single sequence, the server performs searches versus a user-specified database. The server includes detailed and intuitive control of the search parameters. A flexible output format, structured similarly to BLAST and PSI-BLAST, provides an easy way to read and analyze the detected profile similarities. Brief help sections are available for all input parameters and output options, along with detailed documentation. To illustrate the value of this tool for protein structure-functional prediction, we present two examples of detecting distant homologs for uncharacterized protein families. Available at http://prodata.swmed.edu/compass
doi:10.1093/nar/gkm293
PMCID: PMC1933213  PMID: 17517780
17.  Evaluation of function predictions by PFP, ESG, and PSI-BLAST for moonlighting proteins 
BMC Proceedings  2012;6(Suppl 7):S5.
Background
Advancements in function prediction algorithms are enabling large scale computational annotation for newly sequenced genomes. With the increase in the number of functionally well characterized proteins it has been observed that there are many proteins involved in more than one function. These proteins characterized as moonlighting proteins show varied functional behavior depending on the cell type, localization in the cell, oligomerization, multiple binding sites, etc. The functional diversity shown by moonlighting proteins may have significant impact on the traditional sequence based function prediction methods. Here we investigate how well diverse functions of moonlighting proteins can be predicted by some existing function prediction methods.
Results
We have analyzed the performances of three major sequence based function prediction methods, PSI-BLAST, the Protein Function Prediction (PFP), and the Extended Similarity Group (ESG) on predicting diverse functions of moonlighting proteins. In predicting discrete functions of a set of 19 experimentally identified moonlighting proteins, PFP showed overall highest recall among the three methods. Although ESG showed the highest precision, its recall was lower than PSI-BLAST. Recall by PSI-BLAST greatly improved when BLOSUM45 was used instead of BLOSUM62.
Conclusion
We have analyzed the performances of PFP, ESG, and PSI-BLAST in predicting the functional diversity of moonlighting proteins. PFP shows overall better performance in predicting diverse moonlighting functions as compared with PSI-BLAST and ESG. Recall by PSI-BLAST greatly improved when BLOSUM45 was used. This analysis indicates that considering weakly similar sequences in prediction enhances the performance of sequence based AFP methods in predicting functional diversity of moonlighting proteins. The current study will also motivate development of novel computational frameworks for automatic identification of such proteins.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-6-S7-S5
PMCID: PMC3504920  PMID: 23173871
18.  3PFDB - A database of Best Representative PSSM Profiles (BRPs) of Protein Families generated using a novel data mining approach 
BioData Mining  2009;2:8.
Background
Protein families could be related to each other at broad levels that group them as superfamilies. These relationships are harder to detect at the sequence level due to high evolutionary divergence. Sequence searches are strongly directed and influenced by the best representatives of families that are viewed as starting points. PSSMs are useful approximations and mathematical representations of protein alignments, with wide array of applications in bioinformatics approaches like remote homology detection, protein family analysis, detection of new members and evolutionary modelling. Computational intensive searches have been performed using the neural network based sensitive sequence search method called FASSM to identify the Best Representative PSSMs for families reported in Pfam database version 22.
Results
We designed a novel data mining approach for the assessment of individual sequences from a protein family to identify a single Best Representative PSSM profile (BRP) per protein family. Using the approach, a database of protein family-specific best representative PSSM profiles called 3PFDB has been developed. PSSM profiles in 3PFDB are curated using performance of individual sequence as a reference in a rigorous scoring and coverage analysis approach using FASSM. We have assessed the suitability of 10, 85,588 sequences derived from seed or full alignments reported in Pfam database (Version 22). Coverage analysis using FASSM method is used as the filtering step to identify the best representative sequence, starting from full length or domain sequences to generate the final profile for a given family. 3PFDB is a collection of best representative PSSM profiles of 8,524 protein families from Pfam database.
Conclusion
Availability of an approach to identify BRPs and a curated database of best representative PSI-BLAST derived PSSMs for 91.4% of current Pfam family will be a useful resource for the community to perform detailed and specific analysis using family-specific, best-representative PSSM profiles. 3PFDB can be accessed using the URL: http://caps.ncbs.res.in/3pfdb
doi:10.1186/1756-0381-2-8
PMCID: PMC2801675  PMID: 19961575
19.  Improved Detection of Remote Homologues Using Cascade PSI-BLAST: Influence of Neighbouring Protein Families on Sequence Coverage 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56449.
Background
Development of sensitive sequence search procedures for the detection of distant relationships between proteins at superfamily/fold level is still a big challenge. The intermediate sequence search approach is the most frequently employed manner of identifying remote homologues effectively. In this study, examination of serine proteases of prolyl oligopeptidase, rhomboid and subtilisin protein families were carried out using plant serine proteases as queries from two genomes including A. thaliana and O. sativa and 13 other families of unrelated folds to identify the distant homologues which could not be obtained using PSI-BLAST.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have proposed to start with multiple queries of classical serine protease members to identify remote homologues in families, using a rigorous approach like Cascade PSI-BLAST. We found that classical sequence based approaches, like PSI-BLAST, showed very low sequence coverage in identifying plant serine proteases. The algorithm was applied on enriched sequence database of homologous domains and we obtained overall average coverage of 88% at family, 77% at superfamily or fold level along with specificity of ∼100% and Mathew’s correlation coefficient of 0.91. Similar approach was also implemented on 13 other protein families representing every structural class in SCOP database. Further investigation with statistical tests, like jackknifing, helped us to better understand the influence of neighbouring protein families.
Conclusions/Significance
Our study suggests that employment of multiple queries of a family for the Cascade PSI-BLAST searches is useful for predicting distant relationships effectively even at superfamily level. We have proposed a generalized strategy to cover all the distant members of a particular family using multiple query sequences. Our findings reveal that prior selection of sequences as query and the presence of neighbouring families can be important for covering the search space effectively in minimal computational time. This study also provides an understanding of the ‘bridging’ role of related families.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056449
PMCID: PMC3577913  PMID: 23437136
20.  A comparison of profile hidden Markov model procedures for remote homology detection 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(19):4321-4328.
Profile hidden Markov models (HMMs) are amongst the most successful procedures for detecting remote homology between proteins. There are two popular profile HMM programs, HMMER and SAM. Little is known about their performance relative to each other and to the recently improved version of PSI-BLAST. Here we compare the two programs to each other and to non-HMM methods, to determine their relative performance and the features that are important for their success. The quality of the multiple sequence alignments used to build models was the most important factor affecting the overall performance of profile HMMs. The SAM T99 procedure is needed to produce high quality alignments automatically, and the lack of an equivalent component in HMMER makes it less complete as a package. Using the default options and parameters as would be expected of an inexpert user, it was found that from identical alignments SAM consistently produces better models than HMMER and that the relative performance of the model-scoring components varies. On average, HMMER was found to be between one and three times faster than SAM when searching databases larger than 2000 sequences, SAM being faster on smaller ones. Both methods were shown to have effective low complexity and repeat sequence masking using their null models, and the accuracy of their E-values was comparable. It was found that the SAM T99 iterative database search procedure performs better than the most recent version of PSI-BLAST, but that scoring of PSI-BLAST profiles is more than 30 times faster than scoring of SAM models.
PMCID: PMC140544  PMID: 12364612
21.  CORAL: aligning conserved core regions across domain families 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(15):1862-1868.
Motivation: Homologous protein families share highly conserved sequence and structure regions that are frequent targets for comparative analysis of related proteins and families. Many protein families, such as the curated domain families in the Conserved Domain Database (CDD), exhibit similar structural cores. To improve accuracy in aligning such protein families, we propose a profile–profile method CORAL that aligns individual core regions as gap-free units.
Results: CORAL computes optimal local alignment of two profiles with heuristics to preserve continuity within core regions. We benchmarked its performance on curated domains in CDD, which have pre-defined core regions, against COMPASS, HHalign and PSI-BLAST, using structure superpositions and comprehensive curator-optimized alignments as standards of truth. CORAL improves alignment accuracy on core regions over general profile methods, returning a balanced score of 0.57 for over 80% of all domain families in CDD, compared with the highest balanced score of 0.45 from other methods. Further, CORAL provides E-values to aid in detecting homologous protein families and, by respecting block boundaries, produces alignments with improved ‘readability’ that facilitate manual refinement.
Availability: CORAL will be included in future versions of the NCBI Cn3D/CDTree software, which can be downloaded at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Structure/cdtree/cdtree.shtml.
Contact: fongj@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btp334
PMCID: PMC2712342  PMID: 19470584
22.  Predicting residue-wise contact orders in proteins by support vector regression 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:425.
Background
The residue-wise contact order (RWCO) describes the sequence separations between the residues of interest and its contacting residues in a protein sequence. It is a new kind of one-dimensional protein structure that represents the extent of long-range contacts and is considered as a generalization of contact order. Together with secondary structure, accessible surface area, the B factor, and contact number, RWCO provides comprehensive and indispensable important information to reconstructing the protein three-dimensional structure from a set of one-dimensional structural properties. Accurately predicting RWCO values could have many important applications in protein three-dimensional structure prediction and protein folding rate prediction, and give deep insights into protein sequence-structure relationships.
Results
We developed a novel approach to predict residue-wise contact order values in proteins based on support vector regression (SVR), starting from primary amino acid sequences. We explored seven different sequence encoding schemes to examine their effects on the prediction performance, including local sequence in the form of PSI-BLAST profiles, local sequence plus amino acid composition, local sequence plus molecular weight, local sequence plus secondary structure predicted by PSIPRED, local sequence plus molecular weight and amino acid composition, local sequence plus molecular weight and predicted secondary structure, and local sequence plus molecular weight, amino acid composition and predicted secondary structure. When using local sequences with multiple sequence alignments in the form of PSI-BLAST profiles, we could predict the RWCO distribution with a Pearson correlation coefficient (CC) between the predicted and observed RWCO values of 0.55, and root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.82, based on a well-defined dataset with 680 protein sequences. Moreover, by incorporating global features such as molecular weight and amino acid composition we could further improve the prediction performance with the CC to 0.57 and an RMSE of 0.79. In addition, combining the predicted secondary structure by PSIPRED was found to significantly improve the prediction performance and could yield the best prediction accuracy with a CC of 0.60 and RMSE of 0.78, which provided at least comparable performance compared with the other existing methods.
Conclusion
The SVR method shows a prediction performance competitive with or at least comparable to the previously developed linear regression-based methods for predicting RWCO values. In contrast to support vector classification (SVC), SVR is very good at estimating the raw value profiles of the samples. The successful application of the SVR approach in this study reinforces the fact that support vector regression is a powerful tool in extracting the protein sequence-structure relationship and in estimating the protein structural profiles from amino acid sequences.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-425
PMCID: PMC1618864  PMID: 17014735
23.  Fast subcellular localization by cascaded fusion of signal-based and homology-based methods 
Proteome Science  2011;9(Suppl 1):S8.
Background
The functions of proteins are closely related to their subcellular locations. In the post-genomics era, the amount of gene and protein data grows exponentially, which necessitates the prediction of subcellular localization by computational means.
Results
This paper proposes mitigating the computation burden of alignment-based approaches to subcellular localization prediction by a cascaded fusion of cleavage site prediction and profile alignment. Specifically, the informative segments of protein sequences are identified by a cleavage site predictor using the information in their N-terminal shorting signals. Then, the sequences are truncated at the cleavage site positions, and the shortened sequences are passed to PSI-BLAST for computing their profiles. Subcellular localization are subsequently predicted by a profile-to-profile alignment support-vector-machine (SVM) classifier. To further reduce the training and recognition time of the classifier, the SVM classifier is replaced by a new kernel method based on the perturbational discriminant analysis (PDA).
Conclusions
Experimental results on a new dataset based on Swiss-Prot Release 57.5 show that the method can make use of the best property of signal- and homology-based approaches and can attain an accuracy comparable to that achieved by using full-length sequences. Analysis of profile-alignment score matrices suggest that both profile creation time and profile alignment time can be reduced without significant reduction in subcellular localization accuracy. It was found that PDA enjoys a short training time as compared to the conventional SVM. We advocate that the method will be important for biologists to conduct large-scale protein annotation or for bioinformaticians to perform preliminary investigations on new algorithms that involve pairwise alignments.
doi:10.1186/1477-5956-9-S1-S8
PMCID: PMC3289086  PMID: 22166017
24.  Prediction of enzyme function by combining sequence similarity and protein interactions 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:249.
Background
A number of studies have used protein interaction data alone for protein function prediction. Here, we introduce a computational approach for annotation of enzymes, based on the observation that similar protein sequences are more likely to perform the same function if they share similar interacting partners.
Results
The method has been tested against the PSI-BLAST program using a set of 3,890 protein sequences from which interaction data was available. For protein sequences that align with at least 40% sequence identity to a known enzyme, the specificity of our method in predicting the first three EC digits increased from 80% to 90% at 80% coverage when compared to PSI-BLAST.
Conclusion
Our method can also be used in proteins for which homologous sequences with known interacting partners can be detected. Thus, our method could increase 10% the specificity of genome-wide enzyme predictions based on sequence matching by PSI-BLAST alone.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-249
PMCID: PMC2430716  PMID: 18505562
25.  A rapid classification protocol for the CATH Domain Database to support structural genomics 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(1):223-227.
In order to support the structural genomic initiatives, both by rapidly classifying newly determined structures and by suggesting suitable targets for structure determination, we have recently developed several new protocols for classifying structures in the CATH domain database (http://www.biochem.ucl.ac.uk/bsm/cath). These aim to increase the speed of classification of new structures using fast algorithms for structure comparison (GRATH) and to improve the sensitivity in recognising distant structural relatives by incorporating sequence information from relatives in the genomes (DomainFinder). In order to ensure the integrity of the database given the expected increase in data, the CATH Protein Family Database (CATH-PFDB), which currently includes 25 320 structural domains and a further 160 000 sequence relatives has now been installed in a relational ORACLE database. This was essential for developing more rigorous validation procedures and for allowing efficient querying of the database, particularly for genome analysis. The associated Dictionary of Homologous Superfamilies [Bray,J.E., Todd,A.E., Pearl,F.M.G., Thornton,J.M. and Orengo,C.A. (2000) Protein Eng., 13, 153–165], which provides multiple structural alignments and functional information to assist in assigning new relatives, has also been expanded recently and now includes information for 903 homo­logous superfamilies. In order to improve coverage of known structures, preliminary classification levels are now provided for new structures at interim stages in the classification protocol. Since a large proportion of new structures can be rapidly classified using profile-based sequence analysis [e.g. PSI-BLAST: Altschul,S.F., Madden,T.L., Schaffer,A.A., Zhang,J., Zhang,Z., Miller,W. and Lipman,D.J. (1997) Nucleic Acids Res., 25, 3389–3402], this provides preliminary classification for easily recognisable homologues, which in the latest release of CATH (version 1.7) represented nearly three-quarters of the non-identical structures.
PMCID: PMC29791  PMID: 11125098

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