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Open Access Research article

Splice-mediated Variants of Proteins (SpliVaP) – data and characterization of changes in signatures among protein isoforms due to alternative splicing

Matteo Floris, Massimiliano Orsini and Thangavel Alphonse Thanaraj*

  • * Corresponding author: Thangavel A Thanaraj

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

CRS4-Bioinformatica, Parco Scientifico e Technologico, POLARIS, Edificio 3, 09010 PULA (CA), Sardinia, Italy

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:453  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-453

Published: 2 October 2008



It is often the case that mammalian genes are alternatively spliced; the resulting alternate transcripts often encode protein isoforms that differ in amino acid sequences. Changes among the protein isoforms can alter the cellular properties of proteins. The effect can range from a subtle modulation to a complete loss of function.


(i) We examined human splice-mediated protein isoforms (as extracted from a manually curated data set, and from a computationally predicted data set) for differences in the annotation for protein signatures (Pfam domains and PRINTS fingerprints) and we characterized the differences & their effects on protein functionalities. An important question addressed relates to the extent of protein isoforms that may lack any known function in the cell. (ii) We present a database that reports differences in protein signatures among human splice-mediated protein isoform sequences.


(i) Characterization: The work points to distinct sets of alternatively spliced genes with varying degrees of annotation for the splice-mediated protein isoforms. Protein molecular functions seen to be often affected are those that relate to: binding, catalytic, transcription regulation, structural molecule, transporter, motor, and antioxidant; and the processes that are often affected are nucleic acid binding, signal transduction, and protein-protein interactions. Signatures are often included/excluded and truncated in length among protein isoforms; truncation is seen as the predominant type of change. Analysis points to the following novel aspects: (a) Analysis using data from the manually curated Vega indicates that one in 8.9 genes can lead to a protein isoform of no "known" function; and one in 18 expressed protein isoforms can be such an "orphan" isoform; the corresponding numbers as seen with computationally predicted ASD data set are: one in 4.9 genes and one in 9.8 isoforms. (b) When swapping of signatures occurs, it is often between those of same functional classifications. (c) Pfam domains can occur in varying lengths, and PRINTS fingerprints can occur with varying number of constituent motifs among isoforms – since such a variation is seen in large number of genes, it could be a general mechanism to modulate protein function. (ii) Data: The reported resource (at webcite) provides the community ability to access data on splice-mediated protein isoforms (with value-added annotation such as association with diseases) through changes in protein signatures.