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Open Access Research article

Enhanced protein domain discovery using taxonomy

Lachlan Coin*, Alex Bateman and Richard Durbin

Author Affiliations

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK

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BMC Bioinformatics 2004, 5:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-56

Published: 11 May 2004

Abstract

Background

It is well known that different species have different protein domain repertoires, and indeed that some protein domains are kingdom specific. This information has not yet been incorporated into statistical methods for finding domains in sequences of amino acids.

Results

We show that by incorporating our understanding of the taxonomic distribution of specific protein domains, we can enhance domain recognition in protein sequences. We identify 4447 new instances of Pfam domains in the SP-TREMBL database using this technique, equivalent to the coverage increase given by the last 8.3% of Pfam families and to a 0.7% increase in the number of domain predictions. We use PSI-BLAST to cross-validate our new predictions. We also benchmark our approach using a SCOP test set of proteins of known structure, and demonstrate improvements relative to standard Hidden Markov model techniques.

Conclusions

Explicitly including knowledge about the taxonomic distribution of protein domains can enhance protein domain recognition. Our method can also incorporate other context-specific domain distributions – such as domain co-occurrence and protein localisation.