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Title: xHMMER3x2: Utilizing HMMER3’s speed and HMMER2’s sensitivity and specificity in the glocal alignment mode for improved large-scale protein domain annotation
Authors: Yap, Choon-Kong
Eisenhaber, Birgit
Eisenhaber, Frank
Wong, Wing-Cheong
Keywords: Sequence homology
Hidden Markov model
Issue Date: 2016
Source: Yap, C.-K., Eisenhaber, B., Eisenhaber, F., & Wong, W.-C. (2016). xHMMER3x2: Utilizing HMMER3’s speed and HMMER2’s sensitivity and specificity in the glocal alignment mode for improved large-scale protein domain annotation. Biology Direct, 11(63), 1-17.
Series/Report no.: Biology Direct
Abstract: Background: While the local-mode HMMER3 is notable for its massive speed improvement, the slower glocal-mode HMMER2 is more exact for domain annotation by enforcing full domain-to-sequence alignments. Since a unit of domain necessarily implies a unit of function, local-mode HMMER3 alone remains insufficient for precise function annotation tasks. In addition, the incomparable E-values for the same domain model by different HMMER builds create difficulty when checking for domain annotation consistency on a large-scale basis. Results: In this work, both the speed of HMMER3 and glocal-mode alignment of HMMER2 are combined within the xHMMER3x2 framework for tackling the large-scale domain annotation task. Briefly, HMMER3 is utilized for initial domain detection so that HMMER2 can subsequently perform the glocal-mode, sequence-to-full-domain alignments for the detected HMMER3 hits. An E-value calibration procedure is required to ensure that the search space by HMMER2 is sufficiently replicated by HMMER3. We find that the latter is straightforwardly possible for ~80% of the models in the Pfam domain library (release 29). However in the case of the remaining ~20% of HMMER3 domain models, the respective HMMER2 counterparts are more sensitive. Thus, HMMER3 searches alone are insufficient to ensure sensitivity and a HMMER2-based search needs to be initiated. When tested on the set of UniProt human sequences, xHMMER3x2 can be configured to be between 7× and 201× faster than HMMER2, but with descending domain detection sensitivity from 99.8 to 95.7% with respect to HMMER2 alone; HMMER3’s sensitivity was 95.7%. At extremes, xHMMER3x2 is either the slow glocal-mode HMMER2 or the fast HMMER3 with glocal-mode. Finally, the E-values to false-positive rates (FPR) mapping by xHMMER3x2 allows E-values of different model builds to be compared, so that any annotation discrepancies in a large-scale annotation exercise can be flagged for further examination by dissectHMMER. Conclusion: The xHMMER3x2 workflow allows large-scale domain annotation speed to be drastically improved over HMMER2 without compromising for domain-detection with regard to sensitivity and sequence-to-domain alignment incompleteness.
DOI: 10.1186/s13062-016-0163-0
Schools: School of Computer Science and Engineering 
Rights: © The Author(s). 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SCSE Journal Articles

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