Protein sequences containing more than one structural domain are problematic when used in homology searches where they can either stop an iterative database search prematurely or cause an explosion of a search to common domains. We describe a method, DOMAINATION, that infers domains and their boundaries in a query sequence from local gapped alignments generated using PSI-BLAST. Through a new technique to recognize domain insertions and permutations, DOMAINATION submits delineated domains as successive database queries in further iterative steps. Assessed over a set of 452 multidomain proteins, the method predicts structural domain boundaries with an overall accuracy of 50% and improves finding distant homologies by 14% compared with PSI-BLAST. DOMAINATION is available as a web based tool at http://mathbio.nimr.mrc.ac.uk, and the source code is available from the authors upon request.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.