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TMB-Hunt: An amino acid composition based method to screen proteomes for beta-barrel transmembrane proteins

Andrew G Garrow, Alison Agnew and David R Westhead*

Author Affiliations

School of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK

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BMC Bioinformatics 2005, 6:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-6-56

Published: 15 March 2005

Abstract

Background

Beta-barrel transmembrane (bbtm) proteins are a functionally important and diverse group of proteins expressed in the outer membranes of bacteria (both gram negative and acid fast gram positive), mitochondria and chloroplasts. Despite recent publications describing reasonable levels of accuracy for discriminating between bbtm proteins and other proteins, screening of entire genomes remains troublesome as these molecules only constitute a small fraction of the sequences screened. Therefore, novel methods are still required capable of detecting new families of bbtm protein in diverse genomes.

Results

We present TMB-Hunt, a program that uses a k-Nearest Neighbour (k-NN) algorithm to discriminate between bbtm and non-bbtm proteins on the basis of their amino acid composition. By including differentially weighted amino acids, evolutionary information and by calibrating the scoring, an accuracy of 92.5% was achieved, with 91% sensitivity and 93.8% positive predictive value (PPV), using a rigorous cross-validation procedure.

A major advantage of this approach is that because it does not rely on beta-strand detection, it does not require resolved structures and thus larger, more representative, training sets could be used. It is therefore believed that this approach will be invaluable in complementing other, physicochemical and homology based methods. This was demonstrated by the correct reassignment of a number of proteins which other predictors failed to classify. We have used the algorithm to screen several genomes and have discussed our findings.

Conclusion

TMB-Hunt achieves a prediction accuracy level better than other approaches published to date. Results were significantly enhanced by use of evolutionary information and a system for calibrating k-NN scoring. Because the program uses a distinct approach to that of other discriminators and thus suffers different liabilities, we believe it will make a significant contribution to the development of a consensus approach for bbtm protein detection.