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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Predicting disease-associated substitution of a single amino acid by analyzing residue interactions

Yizhou Li, Zhining Wen, Jiamin Xiao, Hui Yin, Lezheng Yu, Li Yang and Menglong Li*

Author Affiliations

Key Laboratory of Green Chemistry and Technology, Ministry of Education, College of Chemistry, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, PRChina

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BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-14

Published: 12 January 2011



The rapid accumulation of data on non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs, also called SAPs) should allow us to further our understanding of the underlying disease-associated mechanisms. Here, we use complex networks to study the role of an amino acid in both local and global structures and determine the extent to which disease-associated and polymorphic SAPs differ in terms of their interactions to other residues.


We found that SAPs can be well characterized by network topological features. Mutations are probably disease-associated when they occur at a site with a high centrality value and/or high degree value in a protein structure network. We also discovered that study of the neighboring residues around a mutation site can help to determine whether the mutation is disease-related or not. We compiled a dataset from the Swiss-Prot variant pages and constructed a model to predict disease-associated SAPs based on the random forest algorithm. The values of total accuracy and MCC were 83.0% and 0.64, respectively, as determined by 5-fold cross-validation. With an independent dataset, our model achieved a total accuracy of 80.8% and MCC of 0.59, respectively.


The satisfactory performance suggests that network topological features can be used as quantification measures to determine the importance of a site on a protein, and this approach can complement existing methods for prediction of disease-associated SAPs. Moreover, the use of this method in SAP studies would help to determine the underlying linkage between SAPs and diseases through extensive investigation of mutual interactions between residues.