Exhaustive enumeration of protein domain families

J Mol Biol. 2003 May 2;328(3):749-67. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2836(03)00269-9.


Domains are considered as the basic units of protein folding, evolution, and function. Decomposing each protein into modular domains is thus a basic prerequisite for accurate functional classification of biological molecules. Here, we present ADDA, an automatic algorithm for domain decomposition and clustering of all protein domain families. We use alignments derived from an all-on-all sequence comparison to define domains within protein sequences based on a global maximum likelihood model. In all, 90% of domain boundaries are predicted within 10% of domain size when compared with the manual domain definitions given in the SCOP database. A representative database of 249,264 protein sequences were decomposed into 450,462 domains. These domains were clustered on the basis of sequence similarities into 33,879 domain families containing at least two members with less than 40% sequence identity. Validation against family definitions in the manually curated databases SCOP and PFAM indicates almost perfect unification of various large domain families while contamination by unrelated sequences remains at a low level. The global survey of protein-domain space by ADDA confirms that most large and universal domain families are already described in PFAM and/or SMART. However, a survey of the complete set of mobile modules leads to the identification of 1479 new interesting domain families which shuffle around in multi-domain proteins. The data are publicly available at ftp://ftp.ebi.ac.uk/pub/contrib/heger/adda.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Databases, Protein
  • Homeodomain Proteins / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary*
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / classification
  • Sequence Alignment*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Proteins