Automatic prediction of protein function

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003 Dec;60(12):2637-50. doi: 10.1007/s00018-003-3114-8.


Most methods annotating protein function utilise sequence homology to proteins of experimentally known function. Such a homology-based annotation transfer is problematic and limited in scope. Therefore, computational biologists have begun to develop ab initio methods that predict aspects of function, including subcellular localization, post-translational modifications, functional type and protein-protein interactions. For the first two cases, the most accurate approaches rely on identifying short signalling motifs, while the most general methods utilise tools of artificial intelligence. An outstanding new method predicts classes of cellular function directly from sequence. Similarly, promising methods have been developed predicting protein-protein interaction partners at acceptable levels of accuracy for some pairs in entire proteomes. No matter how difficult the task, successes over the last few years have clearly paved the way for ab initio prediction of protein function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology*
  • Databases, Protein
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology
  • Structure-Activity Relationship*


  • Proteins