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Open Access Research article

State of the art: refinement of multiple sequence alignments

Saikat Chakrabarti*, Christopher J Lanczycki, Anna R Panchenko, Teresa M Przytycka, Paul A Thiessen and Stephen H Bryant

Author Affiliations

National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2006, 7:499  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-499

Published: 14 November 2006

Abstract

Background

Accurate multiple sequence alignments of proteins are very important in computational biology today. Despite the numerous efforts made in this field, all alignment strategies have certain shortcomings resulting in alignments that are not always correct. Refinement of existing alignment can prove to be an intelligent choice considering the increasing importance of high quality alignments in large scale high-throughput analysis.

Results

We provide an extensive comparison of the performance of the alignment refinement algorithms. The accuracy and efficiency of the refinement programs are compared using the 3D structure-based alignments in the BAliBASE benchmark database as well as manually curated high quality alignments from Conserved Domain Database (CDD).

Conclusion

Comparison of performance for refined alignments revealed that despite the absence of dramatic improvements, our refinement method, REFINER, which uses conserved regions as constraints performs better in improving the alignments generated by different alignment algorithms. In most cases REFINER produces a higher-scoring, modestly improved alignment that does not deteriorate the well-conserved regions of the original alignment.