Background: Protein binding site prediction by computational means can yield valuable information that complements and guides experimental approaches to determine the structure of protein complexes. Predictions become even more relevant and timely given the current resolution of protein interaction maps, where there is a very large and still expanding gap between the available information on: (i) which proteins interact and (ii) how proteins interact. Proteins interact through exposed residues that present differential physicochemical properties, and these can be exploited to identify protein interfaces.
Results: Here we present VORFFIP, a novel method for protein binding site prediction. The method makes use of broad set of heterogeneous data and defined of residue environment, by means of Voronoi Diagrams that are integrated by a two-steps Random Forest ensemble classifier. Four sets of residue features (structural, energy terms, sequence conservation, and crystallographic B-factors) used in different combinations together with three definitions of residue environment (Voronoi Diagrams, sequence sliding window, and Euclidian distance) have been analyzed in order to maximize the performance of the method.
Conclusions: The integration of different forms information such as structural features, energy term, evolutionary conservation and crystallographic B-factors, improves the performance of binding site prediction. Including the information of neighbouring residues also improves the prediction of protein interfaces. Among the different approaches that can be used to define the environment of exposed residues, Voronoi Diagrams provide the most accurate description. Finally, VORFFIP compares favourably to other methods reported in the recent literature.