Enhanced membrane protein topology prediction using a hierarchical classification method and a new scoring function

J Proteome Res. 2008 Feb;7(2):487-96. doi: 10.1021/pr0702058.


The prediction of transmembrane (TM) helix and topology provides important information about the structure and function of a membrane protein. Due to the experimental difficulties in obtaining a high-resolution model, computational methods are highly desirable. In this paper, we present a hierarchical classification method using support vector machines (SVMs) that integrates selected features by capturing the sequence-to-structure relationship and developing a new scoring function based on membrane protein folding. The proposed approach is evaluated on low- and high-resolution data sets with cross-validation, and the topology (sidedness) prediction accuracy reaches as high as 90%. Our method is also found to correctly predict both the location of TM helices and the topology for 69% of the low-resolution benchmark set. We also test our method for discrimination between soluble and membrane proteins and achieve very low overall false positive (0.5%) and false negative rates (0 to approximately 1.2%). Lastly, the analysis of the scoring function suggests that the topogeneses of single-spanning and multispanning TM proteins have different levels of complexity, and the consideration of interloop topogenic interactions for the latter is the key to achieving better predictions. This method can facilitate the annotation of membrane proteomes to extract useful structural and functional information. It is publicly available at http://bio-cluster.iis.sinica.edu.tw/~bioapp/SVMtop.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Computational Biology*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / classification*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein*
  • Solubility


  • Membrane Proteins