Segmentation Conditional Random Fields (SCRFs): A New Approach for Protein Fold Recognition

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Protein fold recognition is an important step towards understanding protein three-dimensional structures and their functions. A conditional graphical model, i.e., segmentation conditional random fields (SCRFs), is proposed as an effective solution to this problem. In contrast to traditional graphical models, such as the hidden Markov model (HMM), SCRFs follow a discriminative approach. Therefore, it is flexible to include any features in the model, such as overlapping or long-range interaction features over the whole sequence. The model also employs a convex optimization function, which results in globally optimal solutions to the model parameters. On the other hand, the segmentation setting in SCRFs makes their graphical structures intuitively similar to the protein 3-D structures and more importantly provides a framework to model the long-range interactions between secondary structures directly. Our model is applied to predict the parallel β -helix fold, an important fold in bacterial pathogenesis and carbohydrate binding/cleavage. The cross-family validation shows that SCRFs not only can score all known β -helices higher than non-β -helices in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), but also accurately locates rungs in known beta-helix proteins. Our method outperforms BetaWrap, a state-of-the-art algorithm for predicting beta-helix folds, and HMMER, a general motif detection algorithm based on HMM, and has the additional advantage of general application to other protein folds. Applying our prediction model to the Uniprot Database, we identify previously unknown potential β -helices.