dissectHMMER: a HMMER-based score dissection framework that statistically evaluates fold-critical sequence segments for domain fold similarity
Date of Issue2015
School of Computer Engineering
Background: Annotation transfer for function and structure within the sequence homology concept essentially requires protein sequence similarity for the secondary structural blocks forming the fold of a protein. A simplistic similarity approach in the case of non-globular segments (coiled coils, low complexity regions, transmembrane regions, long loops, etc.) is not justified and a pertinent source for mistaken homologies. The latter is either due to positional sequence conservation as a result of a very simple, physically induced pattern or integral sequence properties that are critical for function. Furthermore, against the backdrop that the number of well-studied proteins continues to grow at a slow rate, it necessitates for a search methodology to dive deeper into the sequence similarity space to connect the unknown sequences to the well-studied ones, albeit more distant, for biological function postulations. Results: Based on our previous work of dissecting the hidden markov model (HMMER) based similarity score into fold-critical and the non-globular contributions to improve homology inference, we propose a framework-dissectHMMER, that identifies more fold-related domain hits from standard HMMER searches. Subsequent statistical stratification of the fold-related hits into cohorts of functionally-related domains allows for the function postulation of the query sequence. Briefly, the technical problems as to how to recognize non-globular parts in the domain model, resolve contradictory HMMER2/HMMER3 results and evaluate fold-related domain hits for homology, are addressed in this work. The framework is benchmarked against a set of SCOP-to-Pfam domain models. Despite being a sequence-to-profile method, dissectHMMER performs favorably against a profile-to-profile based method-HHsuite/HHsearch. Examples of function annotation using dissectHMMER, including the function discovery of an uncharacterized membrane protein Q9K8K1_BACHD (WP_010899149.1) as a lactose/H+ symporter, are presented. Finally, dissectHMMER webserver is made publicly available at http://dissecthmmer.bii.a-star.edu.sg. Conclusions: The proposed framework-dissectHMMER, is faithful to the original inception of the sequence homology concept while improving upon the existing HMMER search tool through the rescue of statistically evaluated false-negative yet fold-related domain hits to the query sequence. Overall, this translates into an opportunity for any novel protein sequence to be functionally characterized. Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Masanori Arita, Shamil Sunyaev and L. Aravind.
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