Markovian domain fingerprinting: Statistical segmentation of protein sequences

Gill Bejerano*, Yevgeny Seldin, Hanah Margalit, Naftali Tishby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Motivation: Characterization of a protein family by its distinct sequence domains is crucial for functional annotation and correct classification of newly discovered proteins. Conventional Multiple Sequence Alignment (MSA) based methods find difficulties when faced with heterogeneous groups of proteins. However, even many families of proteins that do share a common domain contain instances of several other domains, without any common underlying linear ordering. Ignoring this modularity may lead to poor or even false classification results. An automated method that can analyze a group of proteins into the sequence domains it contains is therefore highly desirable. Results: We apply a novel method to the problem of protein domain detection. The method takes as input an unaligned group of protein sequences. It segments them and clusters the segments into groups sharing the same underlying statistics. A Variable Memory Markov (VMM) model is built using a Prediction Suffix Tree (PST) data structure for each group of segments. Refinement is achieved by letting the PSTs compete over the segments, and a deterministic annealing framework infers the number of underlying PST models while avoiding many inferior solutions. We show that regions of similar statistics correlate well with protein sequence domains, by matching a unique signature to each domain. This is done in a fully automated manner, and does not require or attempt an MSA. Several representative cases are analyzed. We identify a protein fusion event, refine an HMM superfamily classification into the underlying families the HMM cannot separate, and detect all 12 instances of a short domain in a group of 396 sequences.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)927-934
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Yael Altuvia for critically reading an early manuscript, and Arne Elofsson for sharing data. G.B. is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Science, Israel.


Dive into the research topics of 'Markovian domain fingerprinting: Statistical segmentation of protein sequences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this