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Species-specific analysis of protein sequence motifs using mutual information

Jan Hummel1, Nima Keshvari1, Wolfram Weckwerth1 and Joachim Selbig12*

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Mühlenberg 1, D-14424 Potsdam, Germany

2 University of Potsdam, Institutes of Biochemistry/Biology and Computer Science, c/o Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Mühlenberg 1, D-14424 Potsdam, Germany

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BMC Bioinformatics 2005, 6:164  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-6-164

Published: 29 June 2005



Protein sequence motifs are by definition short fragments of conserved amino acids, often associated with a specific function. Accordingly protein sequence profiles derived from multiple sequence alignments provide an alternative description of functional motifs characterizing families of related sequences. Such profiles conveniently reflect functional necessities by pointing out proximity at conserved sequence positions as well as depicting distances at variable positions. Discovering significant conservation characteristics within the variable positions of profiles mirrors group-specific and, in particular, evolutionary features of the underlying sequences.


We describe the tool PROfile analysis based on Mutual Information (PROMI) that enables comparative analysis of user-classified protein sequences. PROMI is implemented as a web service using Perl and R as well as other publicly available packages and tools on the server-side. On the client-side platform-independence is achieved by generally applied internet delivery standards. As one possible application analysis of the zinc finger C2H2-type protein domain is introduced to illustrate the functionality of the tool.


The web service PROMI should assist researchers to detect evolutionary correlations in protein profiles of defined biological sequences. It is available at webcite where additional documentation can be found.