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Open Access Software

Generating quantitative models describing the sequence specificity of biological processes with the stabilized matrix method

Bjoern Peters* and Alessandro Sette

Author Affiliations

La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 3030 Bunker Hill Street, Suite 326, San Diego, CA 92109, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2005, 6:132  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-6-132

Published: 31 May 2005

Abstract

Background

Many processes in molecular biology involve the recognition of short sequences of nucleic-or amino acids, such as the binding of immunogenic peptides to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. From experimental data, a model of the sequence specificity of these processes can be constructed, such as a sequence motif, a scoring matrix or an artificial neural network. The purpose of these models is two-fold. First, they can provide a summary of experimental results, allowing for a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved in sequence recognition. Second, such models can be used to predict the experimental outcome for yet untested sequences. In the past we reported the development of a method to generate such models called the Stabilized Matrix Method (SMM). This method has been successfully applied to predicting peptide binding to MHC molecules, peptide transport by the transporter associated with antigen presentation (TAP) and proteasomal cleavage of protein sequences.

Results

Herein we report the implementation of the SMM algorithm as a publicly available software package. Specific features determining the type of problems the method is most appropriate for are discussed. Advantageous features of the package are: (1) the output generated is easy to interpret, (2) input and output are both quantitative, (3) specific computational strategies to handle experimental noise are built in, (4) the algorithm is designed to effectively handle bounded experimental data, (5) experimental data from randomized peptide libraries and conventional peptides can easily be combined, and (6) it is possible to incorporate pair interactions between positions of a sequence.

Conclusion

Making the SMM method publicly available enables bioinformaticians and experimental biologists to easily access it, to compare its performance to other prediction methods, and to extend it to other applications.