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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Automatic prediction of catalytic residues by modeling residue structural neighborhood

Elisa Cilia* and Andrea Passerini

Author Affiliations

Information Engineering and Computer Science Department, via Sommarive 14 - I38100 (Povo) Trento, Italy

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BMC Bioinformatics 2010, 11:115  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-115

Published: 3 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Prediction of catalytic residues is a major step in characterizing the function of enzymes. In its simpler formulation, the problem can be cast into a binary classification task at the residue level, by predicting whether the residue is directly involved in the catalytic process. The task is quite hard also when structural information is available, due to the rather wide range of roles a functional residue can play and to the large imbalance between the number of catalytic and non-catalytic residues.

Results

We developed an effective representation of structural information by modeling spherical regions around candidate residues, and extracting statistics on the properties of their content such as physico-chemical properties, atomic density, flexibility, presence of water molecules. We trained an SVM classifier combining our features with sequence-based information and previously developed 3D features, and compared its performance with the most recent state-of-the-art approaches on different benchmark datasets. We further analyzed the discriminant power of the information provided by the presence of heterogens in the residue neighborhood.

Conclusions

Our structure-based method achieves consistent improvements on all tested datasets over both sequence-based and structure-based state-of-the-art approaches. Structural neighborhood information is shown to be responsible for such results, and predicting the presence of nearby heterogens seems to be a promising direction for further improvements.