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Open Access Research article

Incorporating significant amino acid pairs to identify O-linked glycosylation sites on transmembrane proteins and non-transmembrane proteins

Shu-An Chen, Tzong-Yi Lee and Yu-Yen Ou*

  • * Corresponding author: Yu-Yen Ou

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Yuan Ze University, Chungli 320, Taiwan

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BMC Bioinformatics 2010, 11:536  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-536

Published: 29 October 2010



While occurring enzymatically in biological systems, O-linked glycosylation affects protein folding, localization and trafficking, protein solubility, antigenicity, biological activity, as well as cell-cell interactions on membrane proteins. Catalytic enzymes involve glycotransferases, sugar-transferring enzymes and glycosidases which trim specific monosaccharides from precursors to form intermediate structures. Due to the difficulty of experimental identification, several works have used computational methods to identify glycosylation sites.


By investigating glycosylated sites that contain various motifs between Transmembrane (TM) and non-Transmembrane (non-TM) proteins, this work presents a novel method, GlycoRBF, that implements radial basis function (RBF) networks with significant amino acid pairs (SAAPs) for identifying O-linked glycosylated serine and threonine on TM proteins and non-TM proteins. Additionally, a membrane topology is considered for reducing the false positives on glycosylated TM proteins. Based on an evaluation using five-fold cross-validation, the consideration of a membrane topology can reduce 31.4% of the false positives when identifying O-linked glycosylation sites on TM proteins. Via an independent test, GlycoRBF outperforms previous O-linked glycosylation site prediction schemes.


A case study of Cyclic AMP-dependent transcription factor ATF-6 alpha was presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of GlycoRBF. Web-based GlycoRBF, which can be accessed at webcite, can identify O-linked glycosylated serine and threonine effectively and efficiently. Moreover, the structural topology of Transmembrane (TM) proteins with glycosylation sites is provided to users. The stand-alone version of GlycoRBF is also available for high throughput data analysis.