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Open Access Highly Accessed Software

PROMPT: a protein mapping and comparison tool

Thorsten Schmidt and Dmitrij Frishman*

Author Affiliations

Department of Genome Oriented Bioinformatics, Technische Universität München, Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan, 85350 Freising, Germany

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BMC Bioinformatics 2006, 7:331  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-331

Published: 4 July 2006

Abstract

Background

Comparison of large protein datasets has become a standard task in bioinformatics. Typically researchers wish to know whether one group of proteins is significantly enriched in certain annotation attributes or sequence properties compared to another group, and whether this enrichment is statistically significant. In order to conduct such comparisons it is often required to integrate molecular sequence data and experimental information from disparate incompatible sources. While many specialized programs exist for comparisons of this kind in individual problem domains, such as expression data analysis, no generic software solution capable of addressing a wide spectrum of routine tasks in comparative proteomics is currently available.

Results

PROMPT is a comprehensive bioinformatics software environment which enables the user to compare arbitrary protein sequence sets, revealing statistically significant differences in their annotation features. It allows automatic retrieval and integration of data from a multitude of molecular biological databases as well as from a custom XML format. Similarity-based mapping of sequence IDs makes it possible to link experimental information obtained from different sources despite discrepancies in gene identifiers and minor sequence variation. PROMPT provides a full set of statistical procedures to address the following four use cases: i) comparison of the frequencies of categorical annotations between two sets, ii) enrichment of nominal features in one set with respect to another one, iii) comparison of numeric distributions, and iv) correlation of numeric variables. Analysis results can be visualized in the form of plots and spreadsheets and exported in various formats, including Microsoft Excel.

Conclusion

PROMPT is a versatile, platform-independent, easily expandable, stand-alone application designed to be a practical workhorse in analysing and mining protein sequences and associated annotation. The availability of the Java Application Programming Interface and scripting capabilities on one hand, and the intuitive Graphical User Interface with context-sensitive help system on the other, make it equally accessible to professional bioinformaticians and biologically-oriented users. PROMPT is freely available for academic users from http://webclu.bio.wzw.tum.de/prompt/ webcite.